Gabriel Deshayes, “father” of the deaf and dumb in the Institute did not found any schools for the blind; however, on 15 December 1841, two weeks before he died, he spoke of his plans for the education of the blind during a meeting of three hundred Sisters celebrating the feast of their Superior General; it was then that he said these well-known words: “You may think that I am getting a bit old to plan all these things. It is true; but even if I had only a week to live, I would still concern myself with good works.”

It fell to the Daughters of Wisdom and the Brothers of Saint Gabriel to carry out the wishes of their father. The Brothers took in their first blind pupil at the end of 1843 at Fives-les-Lille, where they were already running a school for the deaf. After Fives, the school at Scissons took blind pupils in 1857, then the one at Marseilles in 1866 (long before the Brothers arrived there in 1919), then at Bordeaux in 1880, (a year before the Brothers arrived there), at Nantes in 1891 and Poitiers in 1898. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that arrangements were made to separate the blind pupils from.the deaf, as the teaching methods are entirely different and have no common purpose. The school in Poitiers was the first where the blind pupils were divided from the deaf and they moved to the school for the blind in Bordeaux in 1954.1n 1963 at Merignac close by, a centre for vision-impaired pupils was opened. The centre at Ambares founded in 1977 resulted from the merging of the Bordeaux schools: Merignac and Talence (for blind girls).ln 1976 the blind pupils at La Persagotiere moved to Vertou; they celebrated the centenary of their school in Nantes on 30 June 1991. In 1976 the deaf pupils in Marseilles had moved to the outskirts of the city and only the blind pupils were left in the school at the bottom of the hill topped by the statue of Notre­ Dame-de-la-Garde.

Outside France:

– the Spanish Brothers took charge of the CIESOR School in Medellin, Colombia, in 1961 (See 1 May), and of a boarding school for the blind in Madrid, Spain, in 1966;

– in 1964 the Indian Brothers opened a school at Chennai (Tamilnadu) (See 6 February) another one at Tura (Meghalaya) in 1997, and a third at Belagola (Kamataka) in 1999;

– in 1991 a French Brother and two Brothers from Zaire took over from a local Congregation the management of a school for the blind at Kikwit (Democratic Republic of Congo).