(director of a school for vocational training in Rimnicu Sarat)
Plenary session 4, Thursday 13 July 2000, 14.00 - 15.30
I'm presenting an opinion not as a specialist, I'm not graduated in special education, but this is the opinion of somebody who works in a school and fights to solve the day-to-day problems for the children and staff.
In the session presenting the report of ICEVI over the last five years Dr. Herman Gresnigt asked if we consider it necessary that ICEVI continues to promote twinning contacts. I think there is no one in this aula (study room) who has any doubts the use of these contacts. I, myself, felt the concrete support of the council through Dr.Herman Gresnigt and Mrs Maria Venhuizen. The opportunities they offered to me turned to opportunities for my school and finally for the children with their own specific needs.
These days were beautiful and fruitful for me. I felt part of an organisation that knows what to do and does it well. A European conference creates an atmosphere of good relations between countries. It is a good thing that you can talk to each other there. During the sessions you have the feeling that the problems you have in your organisation can be solved and sometimes good ideas are offered to you.
And solutions will indeed appear. Not for all of them, not always useful, but they appear and offer another pillar to continue your work. It is possible that, for a part of the audience, the presentations offer concrete solutions. For others it will create new problems to consider for which they will try to find solutions. Finally it is a challenge for the minds that decided to work in this world of visually impaired. And of course, both the visually impaired and the sighted world will win.
Not only these particular days but the days to come, when everybody will have absorbed the information, I do believe that other contacts will be initiated between persons and their institutes represented here. I have watched the presentations in social education, integration, low vision and vocational training and I have noticed some ideas.
Somebody said that a person who works with visually impaired children has to observe, to analyse, to tolerate, to understand, to have the ability to work in a group.
A presentation of low vision underlined the necessity of transdisciplinary working presenting a subject in connection with another one studied before.
These things are also useful and necessary in the education of the children without a handicap. If the money is available this implies that the visually impaired children benefit from more conditions. It is an opinion and I'm asking if it would not be better to create a strategy to integrate normal children in classes for visually impaired.
Paying more attention to the lighting, to the colours of the objects used in a classroom or in a studyroom, to the contrasts of colours and all other problems that form a study item for working with visually impaired people, will lead to less difference between the conditions of education for normal and visually impaired children.
So there will be less steps to take towards integration.
And I repeat, this is a personal opinion, good or bad you will say it.
"Learn children to increase their effort instead of having them wait for the others to help them".
I have heard about strategies to make the students have positive expectations about themselves, at the same time as their sighted colleagues.
A very important point to pay attention to is not to lose sight of possibilities and limitations. And I think it is about the visually impaired persons as well as about the sighted ones that work to help them. I consider that creating a strategy for my subjects I do not have to forget my own possibilities and limitations to be realistic in my work.
In various parallel presentations people talked about understanding blindness and low vision and about changing attitudes towards visually impaired people. It is not very difficult to do this with the students preparing to work in this field, but what about the others, the common people? I have noticed, and I do believe that I am not the only one, it is much easier for a sighted person to understand and to accept a blind person than a partially sighted. That is because the sighted person will never have a good understanding of the measure of the deficiency.
It is more difficult to understand the limits of the vision than the total lack of it. To what extent should the visual handicap be considered in the performance of a partially sighted person?
About training: different institutes created training programmes starting of course from their own needs, considering their specific work.
Again ICEVI is the organisation that has an overall view and will be in the position to offer assistance to different requests or to present alternatives to those who are interested. Surely, not everything should be left to ICEVI and people should not just wait to be helped as the visually impaired children mentioned above, but if you cannot find a solution on your own it is possible to find one there.
As far as my school is concerned I have collected some ideas to better organise the work with the children and the staff. Possibly, there will be more contacts with the schools and with the universities to consider the day-to-day problems in our schools, to collect specific problems and to initiate discussions and meetings to try and solve them.
Finally, a remark about human contacts. These contacts, face to face, can never be completely replaced by other forms such as internet, e-mail etc. Working in a world that helps people with impaired sight it appears more obvious that we, who do not have this problem, can use our eyes to look at our colleagues, to our potential partners to create stronger links to improve the quality of our work. Let our eyes express ourselves!
Mrs Steluta Bageag
Scoala Profesionala Speciala Strada Industriei nr 2
5250 Rimnicu Sarat
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