International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment, European region

National Page of France

National representatives

Mr Francis Boe
e-mail: francis.boe at free.fr

Mrs Marie-Renée Hector
President of the GIAA
Groupement des Intellectuels aveugles ou amblyopes
5, avenue Daniel Lesueur
75007 Paris
Website: GIAA website E-mail: marie-renee.hector@giaa.org
Personal e-mail address: mrhector@noos.fr
Office phone nr: +33 1 47 34 95 42
Personal mobile nr: +33 6 87 31 97 76

Mrs Michelle Collat (French speaking)
e-mail: michele.collat at orange.frNew e-mail!

Organisation of schooling, education and rehabilitation for visually impaired children in France

The organisation of support for visually impaired children in France has been undertaken for a long time by specialised institutions which accommodated the children, often in boarding schools which took care of their schooling, education and rehabilitation. In the last few decades, this situation has changed and there has been a move towards the opening up of these establishments to the ordinary system of schooling and the creation of services which support children in mainstream schools.

The law of February 11, 2005, "for equal rights and opportunities, for the participation and the citizenship of people with disabilities" accentuated this movement by giving responsibility for the schooling of all disabled children to the services of the Ministry of National Education.

The law works on the principle that any child or adolescent affected by a disability must be able to be provided with schooling in the school nearest to his/her place of residence. If a specialist organisation is needed, which does not exist in the local school, the pupil can be registered in another school, in the ordinary or special sector. The institutions and services of the Ministry of Health and Solidarity supplement the ordinary school system, when this system cannot meet the specific needs of the child or teenager.

General organisation of support for disabled people

The law of February 11, 2005 creates a single centre intended to make the steps easier for disabled people: the departmental house for disabled people (in French: MDPH, Maison Départementale des Personnes Handicapées). This offers, in each department, centralised access to the rights and services planned for disabled people. The MDPH "fulfils a mission of reception and information, gives support and advice to disabled people and their family, and makes all citizens aware of disability". Its missions are as follows:

For more information:
www.handicap.gouv.fr [nw],
Liste des Maisons départementales des personnes handicapées [nw]

For visually impaired children

Within the general framework defined above, the law works on the principle of a personal plan of compensation which provides different aids to the person to live in the ordinary and the adapted system.
For visually impaired children, the plan of compensation is discussed within the MDPH, with the family of the child, who contribute to the assessment of needs for their child. From this appreciation of the specific needs, the CDA must propose to the child, to his parents or to his legal representative a choice between several adapted solutions. The parents play an important part in the development of the personal plan of compensation, in the choice of the institution or service which will help them. The admission to an institution or a service constitutes a measure of compensation, registered in the personal plan of compensation.

The schooling of visually impaired children

When children are 3 years old, if their family request it, they can go to the nursery school. Each school has to accommodate the children in its sector of recruitment. To meet the particular needs of disabled pupils, a personal project of schooling organizes the schooling of the pupil, with measures of support decided by the Commission for Rights and Autonomy (C.D.A.), such as, for example, support from a specialist service, assistance from a school auxiliary...

From the elementary school (at 6 years of age), school integration can be individual or collective:

However, these collective classes do not exist in all the départements. It is then more often the individual school integration that is the choice. When this can’t continue or is not adapted any more to the needs of the child or the teenager, the orientation towards a specialist institution can be proposed or required by the child and his family.

Thus, the specialist institutions propose adapted schooling for the particular difficulties encountered by some children or teenagers who cannot continue their schooling in the ordinary system. Specialised vocational trainings are also proposed by some establishments.

Concerning higher education, the support is ensured on the one hand by the Missions Handicap of the Universities and on the other hand by services and associations specialised in the assistance of disabled students. Special funds of the CNSA (Caisse Nationale de Solidarité pour l’Autonomie) were assigned to this mission. The needs assessment for the person is carried out by the MDPH. The association Droit au Savoir is a national group of associations for access to higher studies and vocational training of young disabled people. It has on its site www.droitausavoir.asso.fr much information about these organizations.

For more information:
www.education.gouv.fr/cid207/la-scolarisation-des-eleves-handicapes.html [nw].

Institutions and services

In France, many institutions are spread out over the whole of the territory. Depending on their agreement and their project, they accomodate children or teenagers, providing school or not, in boarding school or semi-boarding school, with initial or vocational training, for children with multiple disabilities.

In the majority of the départements, local services were created to support the children and their families in their schooling and their everyday life. These services have variable denominations, generally SAFEP (Service d’Accompagnement Familial et d’Education Précoce) for children from 0 to 3 years old and SAAAIS (Service d’Aide à l’Acquisition de l’Autonomie et à l’Integration Scolaire) from 6 to 20.

There is not, to our knowledge, an exhaustive official list of the institutions and services in the French territory. The ONISEP (www.onisep.fr [nw]) publishes a guide to the establishments, services and school establishments for visually impaired young people. Many other sites (such as those listed below) however count a large number of structures. The MDPH of the départements are able also to provide information concerning their département.

For more information :
www.sante.gouv.fr/sdrees/etude-resultat/er-pdf/er288.pdf [nw]

Types of support provided by institutions and services

Each institution or service defines its own means of action depending on the population it serves, its age, its needs and the regional resources. The types of support implemented are:

The specialised institutions and services are organized gradually to become Resource Centres for all questions relating to visual impairment. They have to answer the requests of all their partners concerning questions of information, sensitisation, accessibility.... and to put the competences acquired for visual impairment at the disposal of anybody, with the aim of supporting the inclusion of all visually impaired people in the community.

Training for specialised staff

Training for people who work with visually impaired children is ensured by different organizations:

The FISAF is an organisation for continuous training which proposes formations and training courses with the institutions and services. Various organizations also propose meetings and annual congresses where professionals can exchange ideas and continue their training. This is the case in particular for GPEAA, ALFPHV, ANPEA.....

Associations

National associations of parents, professionals, institutions, indexed below facilitate contacts and exchanges between the individuals who provide support for the visually impaired children and their families.

Associations of parents:

Associations of professionals:

Federation of establishments and services:

For more information:

April 2007