How it all began at Indian Association for Blind (IAB)

The late Mr. S.M.A Jinnah passed away in 2013 at the age of 70. He was born and bought up in a small village near Madurai. He lost his mother at the age of 3 and was later abandoned by his father. He came from a lower middle class family. A truck hit him when he was 8 and rendered him visually impaired for life. His over-protective uncle undertook the responsibility of his care. He was never allowed to leave the house. One day, while Jinnah was listening to the radio, he heard about a school named Pallemkottai School for the Blind. Knowing his uncle would not allow him to obtain an education, he ran away from home, and made it to the school on his own. Here a teacher accompanied Jinnah back home and persuaded his uncle to allow Jinnah to obtain an education.

Jinnah was enrolled in Grade 1. His progress in the study of Braille was so good that within three months he was promoted to the next grade. He displayed an outstanding memory and topped his class in Braille. Once he completed Grade 10, he refused an offer for vocationally training, preferring instead to pursue higher education. However his teacher V. C. Jayraman, advised him to join vocational training and begin a correspondence course alongside to continue his education, which Jinnah agreed upon. He excelled in his correspondence courses in higher secondary school and he won a gold medal. With the assistance of a scholarship, he studied at Perkinson University where he obtained a diploma in teaching the Blind. He was offered a job on their campus, but declined the offer. He moved to India and began to pursue his dream of educating visually impaired children.

The year was 1985 when he began his first school with his meager savings. This was the first school for the Blind in Madurai. This school was taken over by the government. Jinnah then moved to a small building in Sundarajan Patty Village. He began with four students there, which slowly increased to 10 students. He taught Braille and extracurricular activities. Slowly the staff and the students increased in number. Most students were from underprivileged families in rural areas. Jinnah’s dream was to help as many children as possible. With the assistance of donations Jinnah began a Braille unit and a center for higher education.

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