The Valentin Haüy Association for the blind and visually impaired
Since its creation, the Valentin Haüy Association has supported and assisted blind and partially-sighted persons. With a presence all over France, the association helps people affected by visual disabilities to gain greater autonomy and to overcome isolation in their daily lives.
An association that has served the blind since the 19th century
Up until the 18th century, blind and partially-sighted people were among those excluded from society, and it was not until Denis Diderot’s Letter on the Blind for the Use of Those Who Can See, in 1749, that the attitudes of sighted people began to change.
The philosopher’s publication had a strong impact on one individual in particular: Valentin Haüy. As a man of letters, it sparked his interest in education for the blind, and he notably founded the first school dedicated to blind pupils in 1785. It was this school that in the 19th century welcomed a young Louis Braille, the future inventor of an eponymous tactile writing system of raised dots.
In 1844, the institution gained a new student, Maurice de La Sizeranne, who had become blind at the age of 9, and who would dedicate his entire life to the cause of blind and visually impaired people. In 1889 he set up the Valentin Haüy Association, which was recognized as a public interest organization in 1891.
A mission to guide and assist
For over 130 years now, the Valentin Haüy Association has contributed to the implementation of a large number of services, schemes and activities all over France.
The association’s goal is to help the blind and partially-sighted to lead normal, active and autonomous lives.
It counts on a pool of over 3,500 volunteers, both sighted and visually impaired, and over 120 local units to carry out all its work.
In 2012, the creation of the Valentin Haüy Foundation enabled the expansion of the association’s activities, which now include supporting innovation and ophthalmological research.