Immediately after India’s independence, a few blind individuals assembled in Surat, then part of Bombay province, to discuss at length well-being of blind brethren including their education, training, rehabilitation and employment. They also considered to take-up suitable steps with the help of medical fraternity about the prevention of preventable blindness and cure of curable blindness. Amongst these blind individuals who assembled in Surat were Mr.Siraj A.Basrai, Mr. Mangulal Shah, Dr.Rajendra T. Vays, Mr.Kanti Shah and Mr.Shanti Shah etc.
At the end of their discussion, they resolved to establish an organization “Andhjan Mandal (Blind Men’s Association)’ which would work in Western part of India in the field of Blind Welfare. October 19, 1947 was the day when BMA (Blind Men’s Association) was founded.
Initially the Headquarter of Association was in Surat but it was shifted to Mumbai in 1948 under the leadership of Barrister Rustom Merwanji Alpaiwalla.The Association convened the first provincial conference for the Blind in Bombay in which it was decided to organize a national level conference for the Blind. Subsequently, the first All India Conference for the Blind was convened in January 1952 in Mumbai at Cawasji Jehangir Hall, which was attended by blind delegates from all over India along with their sighted well-wishers. At this Conference, a resolution was moved by Honorable Shri Balasaheb Kher, the then Prime Minister of Bombay State, and unanimously approved by all to establish ‘The National Association for the Blind’ with its Headquarters in Mumbai.
During the decade of 1950 Padmashree Mr.Jagdish Patel who was visually impaired and his friends took initiative in establishing Blind Men’s Association at Ahmedabad.Similarly, Mr.Tukaram S. Bamankar established Poona Blind Men’s Association around 1955.These branches in Ahmedabad and Poona were given autonomous status and they made progress and developed its activities independently.
Blind Men’s Association, Mumbai was instrumental in starting Braille reading and writing competitions from 1959 onwards and it also established a Braille Library in Mumbai and a part-time Librarian used to distribute Braille Books to the inmates of Victoria Memorial School for the Blind, Happy Home and School for the Blind, NSD Industrial Home for the Blind and Dadar School for the Blind Girls. The Association also organized regular visits of the students of these schools to Bal Bhavan at Charni Road which gave opportunity to blind students to integrate with the sighted children. The Association was also instrumental to start a unique project of “Car Rally for the Blind” in 1985 in association with Ceat Tyres and Indian Automotive Racing Club (IARC) .It was a navigational rally, and the route for the rally was given to visually challenged navigator in Braille. This activity became so popular that other organizations working in the field of blind replicated the same in other parts of the country.
The activities of the organization were conducted from the office of Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind ( RCSB) and the National association for the Blind respectively. However, it started its independent Administrative office at Tilak Nagar, Chembur, Mumbai in 1993.But due to redevelopment of the building at Tilak nagar, the association again shifted its office in the premises of NAB in 2006. We continue to work from this place till date.
Right from the foundation days, our organization was known as BMA (Blind Men’s Association) but over the years, we all realized that this name is reflecting a gender bias and hence unanimously it was decided by the Managing committee to change it to Blind Persons’ Association (BPA). Accordingly, a constitutional amendment was moved in the year 2004 in the general body of the organization and since then the establishment is now known as Blind Persons’ Association.