Association IRSAM


IRSAM logo

About us:

Founded over 165 years ago in Marseille by Père Dassy and originally developed by the Religious Congregation of the Sisters of Mary the Immaculate, IRSAM is a non-profit organisation with official charitable status, which belongs to the medico-social sector.

It supports people with disabilities (mainly sensory impairment) in its specialised centres, as well as in their daily life or school environment, and in learning and training centres.

It currently runs 27 centres or services in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Rhône-Alpes regions and on the island of Réunion.

It caters for almost 2400 children, teenagers, adults and elderly people with disabilities and has over 1024 employees (full-time).

Below you will find information about two IRSAM facilities which provide support on a daily basis for visually impaired young people.

The Arc en Ciel Sensory Educational Institute

This centre is situated in the very heart of Marseille, in the shadow of Notre Dame de La Garde Basilica.

The institute supports visually impaired children and teenagers, with or without associated disabilities, from birth to the age of 21. The care they receive takes different forms ranging from weekly boarding to full-time support in mainstream education for school-age children.

Care and support is provided for young people subject to referral from the Maison Départementale des Personnes Handicapées (Departmental Centre for Disabled People) and is conditional upon their visual acuity not exceeding 4/10 in the better eye with correction whilst taking into account the visual field.

The Arc-en-Ciel Sensory Educational Institute cares for and organises support for children and teenagers as follows:

  • 95 places in its Specialised Education and Training Unit and its Initial Vocational Training Unit
  • 60 places in its Visually Impaired with Associated Disabilities Section.
  • 70 places in its Family Support and Early Education Service and its Autonomy Acquisition and Integration into Education Service

By creating individual care plans and implementing compensation techniques tailored to each disability, the facility is able to provide:

  • early multidisciplinary support to encourage the baby or child’s development, provide assistance and advice for parents and provide technical back-up for early childhood programmes
  • support in mainstream education through guidance and specialised rehabilitation
  • more significant support, when necessary, through educational workshops and/or groups, shared schooling (between the mainstream school and classes at the Sensory Educational Institute) or full-time schooling at the Sensory Educational Institute
  • care in a section for visually impaired young people with associated disabilities who may present disorders on the autistic spectrum
  • work towards socialisation, independence, personal development… in preparation for support in a protective environment: ESAT (Care through Employment Service), occupational workshop, specialised care home… depending on an individual’s social integration capabilities
  • support pathways to help young people, from building their career plans to becoming integrated into working life

The IRSAM Les Primevères Institute

The centre is situated in Lyon’s 9th arrondissement, in a 1.5 hectare wooded park 15 minutes from the city centre.

The IRSAM Les Primevères Visually Impaired is approved for the provision of medico-social and educational support for visually impaired young people with complex clinical histories (sometimes including rare disabilities) as follows:

  • 78 visually impaired children and teenagers with associated disorders
  • 18 children and teenagers with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and associated visual impairment

The care provision options (residential, semi-residential, temporary placements...) are decided together with the parents according to the young person’s needs and individual care plan.

Respecting legal requirements and the recommendations for good professional practice drawn up by ANESM (National Social and Medico-social Evaluation Agency) and HAS (National Authority for Health), the facility can:

  • Provide each young person with an education which allows him/her to develop his/her potential so as to achieve the greatest possible degree of autonomy (capacity to make one’s own decisions) and independence (capacity to implement what one wants for oneself)
  • Guarantee a warm and supportive environment which prioritises the children’s well-being, the care and involvement of pupils and their parents, so as to encourage the development of the child or teenager
  • Encourage learning of all types so as to facilitate social integration (within their home area and in the facility for adults) and professional integration
  • Act as a partner in academic research into the care of visually impaired young people with associated disorders, including rare disabilities and autism with associated visual impairment


Contact Person:

Philippe PILLON
IRSAM General Manager

Public contacts:

Christophe KEDZIA
IRSAM Lyon Manager


+336 01 40 12 41


Postal Address

Association IRSAM
1, Rue Vauvenargues

Member Location