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1st Network Conference

EC Project Number: 517916-LLP-1-2011-1-FR-GRUNDTVIG-GNW

The first of three Annual Conferences organised by the EC Grundtvig Network Project Lifelong Learning Needs for Ageing People with Sensory Disabilities (SensAge) (www.sensage.eu) took place in Zagreb, Croatia, on September 30, 2012. This SensAge one day conference focused on the current state of knowledge in this field, and presentations gave to the Conference the widest available review of developments in Europe and Quebec for Ageing People with Sensory Disabilities.

It was organised in association with the University of Zagreb (www.ufzg.unizg.hr),

After the Welcome by Professor Ljubica Pribanic of the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, Anne Rabiller, Directrice Pôle Handicap, Personnes Agées et Soin, Mutualité Française Anjou-Mayenne, Angers, France – the Managing Partner of SensAge - set the tone of the meeting by emphasising that the ageing population should not be regarded as a burden and a cost but should be cherished as transmitters of knowledge and experience and the quality of their lives should be increased. The Key Note Presentation on Dual sensory impairment in the older population, a challenge for epidemiological approaches, prevention, rehabilitation and professional training was given by Marie-Dominique Lussier, Geriatric Doctor, ANAP, France; this was followed by very informative and wide-ranging presentations by Alan Suttie, Teaching and Social Work, Fife Society for the Blind, Scotland, UK; Ivona Salaj, Educational and Rehabilitation specialist, Croatian Association of Deafblind Persons DODIR, Croatia; Valerie Wood-Gaiger, Retired Volunteer, Learn with Grandma, Wales, UK; Isabella Ballesteros, FIBHGM, Spain; Marit Bjerke, Special Education Teacher, Oslo Voksenopplaering Skullerud and Thorhild Løkkeberg Pedersen, Head of Department, OVS, Norway; Félix Villar Gómez, President of ONCE’S General Council’s Commission for Ageing Members and Trainer of Special Needs Teachers, ONCE, Spain; Gudbjorg Arnadottir, National Institute for the Blind, Visually Impaired, and Deafblind, Iceland; Krisztina Kovács, Lecturer, ELTE University Bárczi, Faculty of Special Education, Hungary; Peter Verstraten, Senior Project Manager/Science Coordinator, Royal Dutch Visio, the Netherlands; Stefana Cankova, Office and Membership Officer, EASPD, Belgium; Blaithin Gallagher, Head of Projects & Research, NCBI, Ireland; and Sylvie Bilodeau, Directrice des services professionnels et de réadaptation, Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille, Québec, Canada.

During the Conference, Life is for Living: Let’s Live it! – a DVD presentation by Joe Ballard (Ireland) – was introduced and shown by Blaithin Gallagher (NCBI) and the short video was amazingly inspiring and motivating for all.

The topics of presentations and discussions ranged from dual sensory loss in older people to the European context and covered various topics such as Education and rehabilitation of elderly deafblind in Croatia; Creating an international network for Intergenerational Learning, Deaf people in hospital situations; Ageing people with sensory disabilities - deaf and hearing impaired, Social services by and for the ageing members of ONCE; Ageing People with visual impairments - the Icelandic approach; The role of functional vision assessment in the overall rehabilitation of ageing people with visual impairment; A project in the region of Den Bosch with three aims: setting up a local network, implementation of vision screening in nursing homes, and transfer of expertise; and Independent living and acquired vision loss in older people - rehabilitation services for ageing people with sensory disabilities in Québec, Canada.

The conference included an introductory presentation on the set-up of the SensAge Interactive Knowledge Base by Erica Smit, Knowledge Broker, Royal Dutch Visio, the Netherlands, Froukje Veenstra, Senior Knowledge Broker, Royal Dutch Visio, the Netherlands and Katinka Bergmans, Functional administrator intra- and internet, Royal Dutch Visio, the Netherlands, followed by examples collected by CENTICH on ICT for Autonomy – SensAge by Erve Sylvie, Head Manager, CENTICH, MFAM, France and Jawad Hajjam, Development Manager, CENTICH, MFAM, France.

John Harris, SensAge Project Coordinator, Vision Europe Limited, UK gave the closing speech and emphazised the need for developing resources and a knowledge base in the theme of the Project for the future of Europe.

The participants found great potential in the transfer of know-how and the sharing of knowledge on a European level. At the moment, too little information is available on a European level about the learning needs of ageing people with sensory disabilities and the Project aims to be a cornerstone and the reference point within the European Union for developments in lifelong learning and enablement for ageing people with sensory disabilities in order to maintain their independence and to improve their quality of life

If you would like to keep in contact with SensAge and become part of our growing network of correspondents, please contact our Coordinator

John Harris, Vision Europe Limited

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