European Newsletter - Issue 17
Volume 6 number 3, December 2000
- The Cracow conference
- Low Vision in Early Intervention, Comenius 3.2 Staff Development Course (by Marianna Buultjens)
- Recommendations from the Geseke conference
- A Baltic ICEVI odyssee
- The boarding-school for the visually impaired, Kaunas Lithuania
- Education of visually impaired children in Belarus
- EBU International Conference on Education
Montegrotto Terme, Padua, Italy - 19/23 July 2000
- Centennial anniversary school in Cluj
- Centennial anniversary of BARCZI GUSZTAV FACULTY OF SPECIAL EDUCATION
of the Elte University in Budapest, 19-20 October 2000
- First Balkan ICEVI conference
Innovations in Curricula, Strategies and Management, Varna (Bulgaria), 26-30 October 2000
The magical year 2000 is coming to an end.
We, the ICEVI Community in Europe, have set the course in Cracow for the years to come: called the 'new century' in the conference motto, more realistically reduced to the 'next decennium' by Renate Walthes in her keynote address to the conference.
This issue will provide more information about the above conference, both in writing and in pictures: about the conference itself, about 'all' around the conference, about the post conference workshops, requesting your special attention for the report of the workshop for parents.
In the week after our conference the European Blind Union (EBU) as well held its conference on Education, focussing on the consumers' point of view. You will find the most important conclusions in this Newsletter.
Furthermore we have included a report about a very special twinning contact: between the Nordic and the Baltic countries: a report of the visit of the principals of the Nordic schools to the four schools in the Baltic countries.
In October two important institutes celebrated their Centennial Anniversary: the school for the Blind in Cluj Napoca in Romania and the College of Special Education Barczi Gusztav, Faculty of Special Education of the Elte University since January 2000 in Budapest.
We will provide some information about the conferences held on both occasions.
the first ICEVI Balkan Conference held in Varna Bulgaria and a workshop about Early Intervention, organised by Comenius project group "Low Vision in Early Intervention" in Geseke (near Paderborn), Germany.
ICEVI Europe has opened her own website during the closing session of the Cracow conference: you can find it under: http://www.icevi-europe.org
It is my dream that, in the years to come, this site will develop into a key source of information for all people, parents and professionals who are involved in the education of children and youth with a visual impairment in Europe. Our European Newsletter will be published on this website as well.
I wish all of you a bright turn of the year and much happiness in your personal life and in your work. I hope it will take you one step further towards the realisation of your ideals and plans.
Herman Gresnigt, European chairman ICEVI
The Cracow conference
From what I have heard from many participants I can safely draw the following conclusion: the European Conference was a very special event and a very special experience. The nearly 500 participants are privileged people. From the reception until the farewell party: nearly all highlights.
What has struck me most: much has happened in 5 years' time, a lot of changes for the better. Budapest 1995 was good, Cracow 2000 was excellent. This was shown first of all by the level of the lectures and posters: the core of a conference. There was much more depth and differentiation, both with regard to themes and origin of the lecturers and presenters of posters, than 5 years ago. This does not imply criticism on Budapest 1995, on the contrary: without Budapest 1995 no Cracow 2000 or: as you sow (in Budapest), so shall you reap (in Cracow).
A selection of highlights:
- The keynote address by Renate Walthes. (You do not have to wait for the Proceedings, it is already available on the website: visit it!).
- The opening reception in Sukiennice
- The almost perfect proceeding of the programme (quite an achievement of the Polish Host Committee, especially Mrs Barbara Planta)
- The dynamic poster presentation although space was a little cramped
- The exhibitions of the schools for the visually impaired
- The Gala concert in the Filharmonia by the pupils of the schools for the visually impaired : 240 performers. Most participants considered this an absolute highlight of a high artistic level, sometimes moving.
- The impact of the conference on Elena Nasibulova, mother of a 4-year-old blind daughter, expressed by her in poetic words.
- The excellent lunches (Tony Best: food better than it needed to be, but very welcome)
- The many young participants: a promise for the future
- (especially from my point of view): The meeting with the contact persons: each country now has its own contact person, which I hope will be an advantage for the functioning of ICEVI in Europe.
- and last but not least: the sparkling farewell party at the Royal Castle Niepolomice.
In my opening speech at the conference I have stated: ICEVI is alive in Europe. After the end of the conference I think I can say: 'alive' implies: dynamic, inspiring, creative, innovative. LET'S KEEP IT THIS WAY!!
Of course there were also minus points: we have received a number of suggestions to further improve the quality. We have taken note of them, and I will gladly pass them on to the organisers of the next conference.
To conclude, I am convinced that the conference has meant a lot to those whose working conditions are far from ideal yet. I hope that this will benefit the children and youth to whose course we dedicate ourselves daily.
- 450 participants, 35 accompanying guests
- 200 participants from Central and Eastern Europe
- 175 participants granted a so-called supported place
- participants from 38 European countries, also from the USA and Gabon (Africa)
- 20 presentations in plenary sessions
- 120 presentations in parallel sessions
- 70 poster presentations
- 6 languages: English, French, German, Polish, Russian, Spanish
The ICEVI website has been officially opened during the closing session of the conference:
- The European Newsletters of this year
- The full reports of the two workshops on training of teachers of the visually impaired (Budapest 1997 and Bratislava 1999)
- The report of the workshop on Vocational Training and Employment, Helsinki 1999
- The keynote address by Renate Walthes
- A calendar
- names and addresses of all contact persons
- possibly, a webpage for each country in Europe
- possibly the lectures of the Cracow conference, arranged according to subject.
Each suggestion with regard to our website is welcome!
We have collected nearly all lectures and posters and are working hard on the composing of the Proceedings. We aim to publish it in February 2001. Each participant will get a copy.
To develop visions about the education of people with visual impairment means to enter a field on which you can only move securely at the very beginning.
Report on post conference workshop on multi-disabled visually impaired children
Cracow, Poland 14 July 2000
This workshop was organised by ICEVI Europe.
24 Participants joined in a unique occasion at ICEVI-Europe with the first ever post conference workshop on multi-disability. The purpose of the day was to identify priority projects that could be undertaken by ICEVI. Over 30 issues were identified and from these, eight were selected as priorities. These ideas are now being examined by the ICEVI sub-committee on multi-disability to find ways to put some of them into action.
The day started with Tony Best describing the types of projects that might be organised by ICEVI. He talked about possible topics that could be put on our "menu" of possibilities and suggested 7 different activities that could be organised.
- Materials development group, perhaps preparing a video to train staff
- Expert workshop to examine a specific topic such as communication
- Exchange of staff, between services in different countries
- Training event/ course such as using an assessment procedure with MDVI
- Internet forum for posting information, for example curriculum documents
- Newsletter for information on new ideas, service descriptions
- Research investigation to collect data on a topic such as registration legislation
From discussion by participants came the following suggestions of topics that were important:
- Curriculum: content
- Legislative requirements and how we meet the needs of MDVI within these restrictions
- Special needs curriculum and how MDVI can fit in, or need supplementary material
- A curriculum to meet the needs of the whole child, not just academic skills
- How interaction can be achieved by (and with) children without formal communication
- How to work with children who show challenging behaviour
- Vocational training for realistic employment
- Mobility and movement, including for children in wheelchairs
- Developing the use of vision
- Materials for assessment and how to evaluate children's performance
- Schools as centres of education - or should they be medical, social, psychiatric centres
- How to start a service - by developing a curriculum and assessment procedure
- Delivering quality support services, without the presence and experience of a special school
- Organisation of services to meet the needs of the whole child
- Changing society attitudes to MDVI children, including that of professionals
- Meeting the needs of low-incidence sub-groups, such as deafblind, Battens, and sub-sub-groups such as CHARGE syndrome children
- Providing high quality life-long care for MDVI young people
- How to ensure early detection and registration, including legislation on registration
- Defining parental involvement to opportunities, rights and limitation of parents
- Providing flexible services to meet government requirements for inclusion with support
- Defining what skills, knowledge and attitudes are needed and how this can be provided for:
- Specialist staff
- Staff in centres for mental retardation
- Updating staff who have some experience of MDVI
- Changing staff skills to meet needs of a new population
- Training staff in EI programmes, integrated situations
- Training in how to influence politicians and policy makers
- Training in how to deal with death
- Parents training professionals in how to behave
- Training families
- Preventing staff burn-out
- Reducing staff isolation
It was agreed that a small number of issues were probably of a high priority, although none of the above topics were considered unimportant. From our discussions we were able to identify those topics that we felt had highest priority.
- Defining the future role of special schools so that MDVI children receive a quality education.
- Post-school placements: what happens in them and how can they meet the needs of individual young people.
- Giving specialist skills to staff who work with children in a non MDVI-specialist setting.
- Defining the role of parents and successful practices in working with professionals so they can be involved satisfactorily in the education of their children.
- Support activities for families; examples of materials for use with and by families, and how families can be helped with educating, and issues concerning, their MDVI child. Includes parents, siblings and grandparents.
- Successful multi-disciplinary teams; examples of how professionals work together for the benefit of MDVI children and their families.
- Achieving attachment in MDVI children; exploring the concept of attachment and how it can be achieved. Relate this to services, particularly those providing residential education.
- Establishing the right of MDVI to receive an education, where possible in accordance with parental wishes.
These are the topics that the special committee are examining. We hope to create some activities during 2001, and will announce them in the Newsletter.
Tony Best, UK
Report on post conference workshop on parents
Cracow, Poland 14 July 2000
Together Everyone Achieves More
Together Europe Achieves More
I have enjoyed this conference (despite the fact that I was leading a workshop!) more than any others I have attended, simply because we, as parents, ACHIEVED something. The majority of blind and partially sighted children in many developing countries have limited access to education and independent living skills services. ICEVI is the international forum for education and recognises the lack of services in those countries. This European Conference recognised the valuable contribution of parents and we applaud them for facilitating this workshop.
Everyone who participated at the workshop was very enthusiastic. I hope that participants will remain "enthusiastic" now they are back at home and/or behind their desks! I will do my very best to take the new T.E.A.M. network forward for the first couple of years anyway.
The workshop on Parents was based on the LOOK London model of setting up and running local parent support groups. Participants were asked to consider the value of such groups. Presentations were made from participants who have had experience working with parents in parent support group settings in their own countries. It was an interactive day with views expressed and ideas and suggestions put forward and discussed. The theme of the workshop was: Together Everyone Achieves More
There were participants from 39 European Countries at the conference. During the week I talked to representatives of over 30 countries - 21 of them in depth - about a European Network of Parent Support Groups. The response was very positive and most wanted to have details of the outcome of the workshop. Several participants from over twelve countries were present at the workshop. Not all of them spoke English but we soon found some interpreters among us. It was great fun.
The focus of this workshop was to forming a European Network of parent support groups. By putting the foundations of this project in this conference we could affirm the importance of parents establishing an effective partnership with the service providers and educators in the provision of education, independent living skills and employment services for our children and young people.
The value of setting up a European Network of Parent Support Groups and, perhaps, lay the foundations of such a network was discussed in depth. After many contributions and much discussion it was decided that there is a need to "join the efforts" of parents in different countries through the establishment of parent support groups in countries without such networks. The T.E.A.M. idea (Together Everyone Achieves More) can be applied to co-operation across Europe
Some of the goals identified were:
- Exchange of information between countries through the Internet
- Unification of standards of services for families and for VI children/students
- Working towards unification of regulations.
- Exchange of students / parents
We called the European Network "T.E.A.M." to carry out the theme of our workshop but also because we believe that "Together Europe will Achieve More". The European Network will, in due course, provide a framework for dealing with common problems and reaching goals unachievable by its members acting alone.
Any suggestions ideas or contributions are most welcome. Please contact Tula Baxter at:
25 Newlands Avenue,
Thames Ditton, Surrey KT7 0HD, UK
Fax/phone: +44 (0)20 8224 0735
Report on post conference workshop on early intervention
Cracow, Poland 14 July 2000
Friday July 14, immediately after the ICEVI European conference, there was a post conference workshop on Early Intervention. The conference was held at a priest seminar in Cracow, where the present Pope was educated. Approximately 70 people had registered for it.
With the lectures and posters at the conference as a starting point, the aim of the post conference workshop was to identify what the needs are in Europe. We started off with a summary of the papers and discussions from the main conference regarding early intervention. (Terezie Hradilkova & Johanna Enqvist). Before we split up in six discussion groups, Frank Laemers presented the EU supported, Sokrates/Comenius project on "Low-Vision in early intervention", and the results of that survey.
The groups and group leaders were:
- detection and screening, Lea Hyvärinen
- staff training, Grazyna Walczak
- team work, Marianna Buultjens
- co-operation with parents, family support, Mercé Leonhardt
- methodology and materials, Marina Strothman
- legislation, organisation, methods and programmes of Early Intervention, Terezie Hradilkova
Furthermore the groups where asked to discuss the following topics:
- Early Intervention in your country
- What is your need for further steps?
- How do you define the role of ICEVI?
The discussions where so intense, that most of the groups found it very difficult to end, but eventually we all got together again to summarise the discussions. The conclusion will appear on the ICEVI Europe website, under Early Intervention later this year.
Even the nice walk along the river to lunch at the school for the Visually Impaired, was used for discussions.
Johanna Enqvist, Sweden
Adviser on special education
The National Swedish Agency for Special Needs Education, SIH
Low Vision in Early Intervention, Comenius 3.2 Staff Development Course
(by Marianna Buultjens)
In an earlier edition of this newsletter we told you about the questionnaire we sent around Europe to find out what Early Intervention services are available for young multiply disabled children with visual impairment (MDVI). That was the first of three aims of this Comenius project.
The second was to develop the structure and content of a 'Core Curriculum' for staff development of professionals involved in this work. We have developed the structure and some of the content as a result of our third aim: to run a six day staff development course open to participants from all over Europe. This course took place from 22-28 September 2000 in a beautiful castle in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany. The programme followed the structure of the 'Core Curriculum': Child development; Visual system; Assessment; Intervention.
The 29 course participants came from 14 different countries: Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic , Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, UK (England, Scotland, Wales).. A few were new to Early Intervention or Multiple Disability but the majority were experienced and shared their experience with each other and the course organisers/deliverers.
The programme was very full, starting at 9.00 each morning and running until 17.30. There were also evening video sessions organised by the participants as well as an afternoon session called 'The market Place' where participants and course organisers showed materials they had brought with them. One of the aims of the course was that participants would become 'multipliers' on their return home. That is they would share their new knowledge with other colleagues. By the end of the course many had already identified how they would do this.
Another outcome of the course is "The Dortmund Recommendations", a list of strong suggestions for governments on the provision of services for young children with MDVI. These recommendations had been prepared by the project team and were discussed, amended and agreed at the last session of the course. The participants will keep up the momentum of the experience of the course by email, the Low Vision web site discussion page (http://www.isar-projekt.de) and perhaps a follow-up meeting. The project team have applied for further funding to run shorter versions of this course in Eastern and Southern Europe.
Professor Renate Walthes and Frank Laemers, University of Dortmund, Germany;
Dr. Lea Hyvarinen, University of Tampere, Finland;
Merce Leonhardt, ONCE, Spain;
Eberhard Fuchs, German association for teachers / educators working at institutions fot the visually impaired (VBS), Wuerzburg;
Marianna Buultjens, Scottish Sensory Centre, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Recommendations from the Geseke conference
University of Dortmund, Faculty 13
44221 Dortmund, Emil-Figge-Str. 50
Tel. 0231/755 4559
Education with Blindness and Visual Impairment
Prof. Dr. Renate Walthes
"The Comenius-Group Low Vision in Early Intervention"
The Representatives of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment in Europe (ICEVI)
The Participants of the Geseke-Conference
Low Vision in Early Intervention in Europe
The diagnosis of vision of infants and children with multiple disabilities is very difficult. Epidemiological investigations in several countries have shown that about 30 percent of the children with intellectual disabilities are also visually impaired. It appears likely that the number with reference to children with multiple disabilities caused by brain damage would be considerably higher. We can assume that up to now only a small number of children with multiple disabilities have access to low vision assessment and intervention. This has to be changed.
In each European country, intervention and research on low vision are being dealt with rather differently. The instruments and possibilities of diagnosis developed in ophthalmology have considerably changed and improved. The specific programmes, concepts and training possibilities developed by individuals as well as organisations for people with visual impairment, have not yet been collected, nor have they been compared and analysed as to their compatibility. Since the training of people with low vision is an educationally and therapeutically oriented task and the present state of debate a thoroughly technology based one, discussion about children's autonomy and self-determination and the processes of perception and intervention is imperative.
After questioning experts on the situation of low vision assessment and intervention in Europe people from 14 countries participated in a conference in the course of the Socrates-Programme of the EU in Geseke and formulated the following recommendations:
Low Vision in Early Intervention:
The Dortmund Recommendations
To give young children with multiple disabilities and visual impairment the best chance in life to become as autonomous as possible we make the following recommendations:
- In all European countries, early diagnosis and retraining habilitation of children with low vision needs to become a priority.
- Every child diagnosed with a disability or an impairment, including those with multiple impairments, should have both a medical and a functional assessment of vision and hearing immediately after the impairment has been diagnosed or at the age of 6 months at the latest at the latest orimmediately after the impairment has been diagnosed.
- Vision assessment of both anterior and posterior processes [eye and brain functions] should be carried out by an interdisciplinary team. According to the Hyvärinen's classification of t The main focus should be first and foremost on the visual ability for interaction and for orientation and daily living skills in natural surroundings.
- Children with disabilities communicate and act from personal experience, and thus with expertise, even if they are unable to speak. It is imperative that T these children and their parents must be present and have a central role in at all planning and decision making.
- Medical teams and Early Intervention teams should have a reciprocal obligation of to notify each other about children with multiple disability and visual impairment who they are aware of. With the permission of the parents, the functional diagnosis should be shared among all professionals concerned given to everybody who works with the respective child: Medical and Early Intervention teams should have a reciprocal obligation to notify each other about children with multiple disability and visual impairment of whom they are aware.
- Countries should build establish or strengthen centres of excellence for the diagnosis of low vision and early intervention services for in children so that families are able to ask forhave access to specialist assessment and advice.
- Training of professionals such as ophthalmologists, paediatricians, psychologists and early intervention staff members should have a greater focus oninclude assessment of low vision in children with multiple disabilities and its implications for development, and learning. and intervention.
Dortmund, 28 September 2000
The Comenius-Group 'Low Vision in Early Intervention'
(Marianna Buultjens, Edinburgh)
(Eberhard Fuchs, Würzburg)
(Dr. Lea Hyvärinen, Helsinki)
(Frank Laemers, Dortmund)
(Mercé Leonhardt Barcelona)
(Prof. Dr. Renate Walthes Dortmund)
The ICEVI Europe Group
(Dr Herman Gresnigt, Grave, the Netherlands)
(Johanna Enqvist, Stockholm)
A Baltic ICEVI odyssee
One year ago the Baltic and Nordic principals of the schools for the visually impaired decided that the Nordic principals would make a "grand tour" and visit all the Baltic schools for the visually impaired. This was carried out during the last week of September. As the schools were the same as the ones I visited together with Herman Gresnigt three years ago I had a wonderful chance to compare the development in the intervening years. And I could hardly believe my eyes!
Three of the schools were in the middle of renovation. New toilets, newly painted walls, new rooms, new beds for the boarding house, promises of a new building. It was a pleasure to walk around and feel the faint "scent" of new paint. And the computer classes!
New equipment and excellent work done both with the students and with the teachers, and plans for further Baltic co-operation in this field. Also the number of technical aids and educational materials had increased dramatically - both the ones bought and those produced by the teachers themselves.
Considering the intended future co-operation between the Baltic and the Nordic countries it was of vital importance that the Nordic principals were able to see the work that is being done in the Baltic countries.
During the trip we also had the opportunity to look at the programme we have decided upon for this co-operation. We plan to have courses in Early Intervention, Visual Assessment, Vocational Rehabilitation, Computers and Mathematics and to invite teachers and other experts from the Baltic schools to participate in seminars held in the Nordic countries. We also hope to be able to let boarding staff visit the Nordic schools to follow the way we work with the children in the boarding house.
All the Nordic principals extend their sincere thanks to the schools in Tarto, Riga, Kaunas and Vilnius for their hospitality and the efforts they have put in to make our trip an unforgettable one.
ICEVI representative for the Nordic and Baltic countries
The boarding-school for the visually impaired, Kaunas Lithuania
The education for the visually impaired was started in Kaunas seventy years ago. The Institute for the Blind was founded in 1930.
Kaunas Boarding School for the Visually impaired was founded in 1975. Blind or partially sighted children attend this school. Kaunas Boarding School provides secondary education. The pupils attend the universities, colleges or vocational training courses after the school. The children from the different districts of Lithuania have the opportunity to live in the Boarding School.
Kaunas Boarding School renders professional physical, psychological and social rehabilitation and assistance. The school applies the methods and instruments of special education for the visually impaired. The children can attend some additional educational courses:
- Body language
- study of plastic arts
- weaving club
- music club
- sport and tourism club "We", etc.
The education is organised on the basis of individual programmes with the staff of specialists (speech therapist, ophthalmologist, physiotherapist, special pedagogue, orientation and mobility teacher, educational psychologist, paediatrician) and the parents of the child taking part.
Seeking to improve the development of independent, socially valuable personalities, special attention is paid to physical rehabilitation: the development of motor skills, body sensation and correction of development disorders.
The physical rehabilitation includes:
- curative swimming
- adapted physical activity
- additional education "body language"
- recreational sports
- training of fine motor skills, e.g. study of plastic arts, weaving club.
The psychological assistance rendered at school solves the problems of adaptation (acceptance of the health state, integration into the society, adaptation in the community); problems of interrelations (training of communication skills, dealing with conflicts, teaching of discussion techniques); individual psychological problems (adequate perception and acceptance of the reality, the possibility to get to know and evaluate oneself, formation of values, development of the motivation to learn, self-expression).
The psychological assistance rendered by Kaunas Boarding School for the visually impaired includes the following areas:
- formation of interrelations
- individual psychological consulting, therapy
- support groups.
The social assistance rendered at the school manifests itself by developing self-dependence both in family life and in the area of making decisions, evaluating; public relations (excursions, contacts with various communities, information exchange, vocational guidance taking into account the health and capabilities of a child).
The main instrument applied in the rehabilitation and integration of the visually impaired child is special educational teaching and training. The system of the social, psychological and physical means of rehabilitation is intended for the prevention of the possible motor, cognitive, emotional disorders or disorders of personality. Such an integrated programme of prevention can be implemented if properly used by adjusted and executed physical activity and the systems of psychological and social assistance.
The staff of the Kaunas Boarding-School would like to thank Cristoffel mission of the blind (CBM) for the support.
Vilma Juodzbaliene, Janina Stuopeliene, Genovaite Vaitkuviene
Kaunas Boarding-School for the Visually impaired
Taikos pr. 6A, 3009 Kaunas, Lithuania
Tel./Fax. 370-7 33 18 24, 370-7 33 20 42
Education of visually impaired children in Belarus
In Belarus the systematic education of children with severe visual impairment was begun in 1897, when the first school for blind was opened in the city of Minsk. Today, after more than a hundred years, an advanced system of education for visually impaired people exists in the Republic of Belarus. It distinguishes itself by the variety of forms and is capable to meet the requirements of different categories of children with visual impairment.
More than 1500 Byelorussian children in the age from 0 to 18 have a severe visual impairment and require the special psychological and pedagogical help. There are several types of educational institutions providing special educational service (special kindergartens, schools, centres and etc.). All of them are included in the state educational system. Their activity is regulated by a number of legal provisions. According to these provisions the education of visually impaired is obligatory, carried out by the state standards and is adapted to the child's psycho-physical abilities. All kinds of educational services are provided free-of-charge, the family has the right to choose the form of educational service (integrated in the system of common education, in special institution, individual training at home).
The educational structure
It consists of four basic blocks.
1. Early pedagogical assistance to children under the age from 0 to 3. It is carried out on the basis of special training centres and special kindergartens. It includes diagnostics, consulting, medical, psychological and pedagogical support of a child, help to his/her family. This block is starting to develop and hasn't got sufficient diagnostic and methodical basis for today.
2. Pre-school education - from 3 to 7 (4 years). It provides psycho-physical development of a child, his/her elementary adaptation to an environment and preparation for school.
3. School education - from 7 to 18 (12 years). It includes 3 stages: primary school (4 years), basic school (6 years), lyceum or gymnasium (2 years).
Different types of teaching and educational establishments carry out pre-school and school education of visually impaired children. In Belarus, there are 8 special kindergartens, 7 special schools, 70 educational centres rendering assistance to children with various psycho-physical impairments (special centres only for visually impaired children do not exist in the Republic). The active work in the field of integrated education was started several years ago. Children have an opportunity to attend a common school on a residence and to receive special educational service. Multi-handicapped visually impaired children (motor, mental, speech and etc.) are not gathered in separate teaching and educational establishments. They learn in special classes at schools for visually impaired or in educational centres.
4. Vocational training is carried out through common system of secondary vocational training schools (by creation special groups for visually impaired), through the system of special industrial enterprises of Byelorussian Union of the Blind and through the system of higher education. This approach to the solution of the problem of vocational training of visually impaired is not effective enough. The graduates of schools are limited in the choice of profession and multi-handicapped visually impaired children are practically deprived of the opportunity to receive labour training.
Educational materials and equipment
Establishments providing educational service to visually impaired children have developed these educational materials. They create the conditions for medical rehabilitation, special pedagogical work, studies, sports and leisure.
There is a methodological centre in the Republic, which is engaged in the preparation of, as well as in the issuing of textbooks and manuals for visually impaired children. The Pupils are provided with educational literature within the school programme free-of-charge. There are certain difficulties in providing the children with special technical means. They are not produced in Belarus and the schools have insufficient funds to buy them in other countries.
Prospective development of education of visually impaired children
The process of reforming special education is in progress in Belarus. Organisation, content and technology of teaching and education of the children with peculiarities of psycho-physical development (visually impaired ones also) have been essentially updated. Integrated education will be actively developed in the next few years. Plans have been made to expand educational structures with an integrated profile and to strengthen their material and methodical base. Early pedagogical assistance service will be kept in the centre of state attention. It is considered a significant improvement of its diagnostic and methodological functions, an increase of possibilities to provide educational service to the families living in rural area.
Dr Svetlana Gaidukevich
Special Education Department
State Pedagogical University
EBU International Conference on Education,
Montegrotto Terme, Padua, Italy - 19/23 July 2000
EBU International Conference on Education, entitled:
"The role of associations and families in the improvement of the status of the education of the Blind and the Partialy Sighted" held in Montegrotto, near Padua, Italy, 19 - 23 July 2000.
About 75 participants from 20 countries attended this conference. Below you will find the most important conclusions from the final report of the chairman of the Commission on Education, Mr Enzo Tioli.
EBU International Conference on Education
Montegrotto Terme, Padua, Italy - 19/23 July 2000
Having heard the papers and brief papers presented by experts from several European countries;
Having seen that school integration, which is only fulfilled in a few countries, must be asserted all over Europe;
Considering that the status of the blind and partially sighted at mainstream schools differs greatly from one country to another;
Considering that there are still numerous unresolved problems;
Convinced that considerable improvements can be made, thanks to international co-operation and rational use of available resources
Considering that special schools can carry out a decisive role as educational resource centres supporting school integration;
The participants in the EBU International Conference on Education put forward the following proposals:
- get member organisations to obtain quality education for the blind, that is to say education that meets the specific needs of the individual allowing him/her to live a life as normal and truly integrated as possible in the social context they belong to; - plan international initiatives capable of spreading and supporting the use of Braille which is still indispensable for access to culture and the world of work for the blind.
- set up a group of experts for the unification, completion and constant updating of special Braille codes, such as the mathematics code, scientific code, music code, computer code etc;
- foster international co-operation so that member organisations that have resolved specific problems can help those that have not yet obtained completely satisfactory results;
- identify the most suitable ways for the exchange of secondary school children and university students, between organisations in different countries, making use of the ways most commonly adopted by organisations for international exchanges of the sighted, in order to promote mutual understanding between young people and the learning of foreign languages;
- foster and finance the preparation of a descriptive manual of activities that are organised in various European countries to promote meetings between blind and partially sighted children and youths attending mainstream schools (summer camps, sports activities, special learning courses etc);
- get member organisations to promote as much co-operation as possible between special schools and mainstream schools attended by visually impaired pupils. Special schools should operate as educational resource centres supporting school integration;
- co-operate more and more closely with the International Council for the Education of Persons with Visual Impairment (ICEVI), above all as regards the training of teachers and educators of the blind and partially sighted.
- encourage the setting up of an international network of representatives of parents' associations that could co-operate with the EBU Board, as well as national associations of the blind, and support the EBU Board's demands for an improvement in life conditions for the blind and partially sighted.
Chairman of the EBU Commission on Education
Centennial anniversary of the School for children with visual impairment in Cluj Napoca,
Romania, 13 - 15 October 2000
This school, the oldest school for visually impaired children and youth in Romania, celebrated this milestone in its history with a conference, entitled: "Past, Present, Future in Visual Deficiency Teaching".
Both national and international experts presented a number of important themes with a keen sense of the past and an eye for the future.
The situation has improved considerably compared to a number of years ago although there is still a lot of work to do. This is often hard to realise, not because of a lack of vision or ideas but because of a lack of funds. This is also one of the main reasons why integration of visually impaired children in mainstream schools has not been effected yet.
In a final resolution the following aspects are presented to the Ministry of Education:
- The development of the instructive-educational and professional-formative activity in such a way that no infringement from the principle of the equality of chances with sighted pupils should be done.
- In the perspective of the application of the principle of equality of chances, the pupils will have access to all means of study and necessary instruments of work, compulsory handbooks in Braille and in large print, to the basic equipment for visually impaired children and, in the shortest period of time, to the adapted information technology.
- The urgent reformation, according to realistic data on a short and medium period of time of the professional-educational system in Romania at a post-secondary school level and of specialisation at a post high-school level.
- The imperative foundation of a centre of re-adaptation, rehabilitation and professional re-qualification of the persons who lose sight at adult age and the endowing of this centre with the necessary specialists and the appropriate technology.
- In addition, increased attention will be given to the formation of social and inter-personal intercourse, as well as to the modelling of the emotional values of the children and young people.
- All the applied principles and means of the education of the visually impaired must take into consideration the values of human rights and particularly those of the Children's rights. The whole process should be in harmony with the standards of the European Community, in the perspective of the integration of Rumania into this continental organisation.
Again, there is no lack of vision: only the dedication of the teachers to promote good education of visually impaired children deserves to be recognised by the authorities.
A celebration of an important milestone in the school's history.
Centennial anniversary of BARCZI GUSZTAV FACULTY OF SPECIAL EDUCATION of the Elte University in Budapest, 19-20 October 2000
The College of Special Education, Faculty of Special Education of the Elte University since January of this year, celebrated its centennial anniversary on 19-20 0ctober of this year. It is the oldest college of Special Education in Europe, perhaps even in the world.
It offers a broad range of training courses in the area of Special Education, including also training for teachers of the visually impaired.
In his opening speech the Minister of Education of Hungary emphasised the importance of full inclusion of children with special needs, and the role that the faculty can and must play in this respect.
There is clearly a shortage of special teachers in Hungary. He promised additional funds needed to train more special teachers.
The video presentations on the first day of the conference and numerous posters on the second day gave an impressive picture of the state of art of Special Education in Hungary.
Six young promising staff members from the Faculty gave high-quality presentations about their Ph.D. theses, which were either finished or still in a preparatory phase.
A boat trip on the Danube, which naturally reminded me of the final party of our Budapest conference in 1995, concluded the festive event.
First Balkan ICEVI conference,
Varna (Bulgaria), 26 - 30 October 2000
Innovations in Curricula, Strategies and Management
Of old, it has been the custom in Bulgaria to organise a five-yearly conference on the education of visually impaired children for the teachers and staff members of both schools (in Sofia and Varna) and for the staff of the Faculty of Special Education of the University of Sofia.
The driving force behind the organisation and the programme of these conferences is Vladimir Radoulov, professor in Special Education of the visually impaired at the Sofia University, member of the European Committee of ICEVI, representing the Balkan Countries since 1997.
As proposed by the European Chairman it was decided to extend this Bulgarian Conference into a Balkan conference.
There were 60 participants from 8 Balkan Countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Turkey and Yugoslavia. The only country that was not represented was Bosnia Herzegowina.
It was a unique event: many representatives from the different countries met each other for the first time. Each country was given full opportunity to present itself: it appeared that problems were often similar and people learned from each other how to search for possible solutions. The many informal contacts during the breaks and the social events were very fruitful.
On the last morning there were three discussion groups: one about innovations of the school curriculum, one about education of children with multiple disabilities and one about school management.
A lot of agreements have been made with regard to the exchange of school teachers, university teachers, children and students and with regard to developing common strategies about the improvement of the curriculum, the production of braille books, the use of volunteers etc.
There was a remarkable amount of attention from the mass media: radio, TV and newspapers.
De conference languages were Bulgarian and English. The conference itself and the participation of representatives from the different Balkan countries was also made possible thanks to financial support from the Soros Open Society Foundation.
A very successful conference, which will be remembered by all participants with a lot of pleasure.
For this we owe many thanks to: Mr Peter Petrov, for his hospitality. He is the principal of the school for the visually impaired in Varna where the conference took place. We also want to thank prof. Vladimir Radoulov the chairman of the programme and organising committee.
Greece has promised to examine whether it can act as host for the Second Balkan ICEVI Conference, possibly in the autumn of 2001.
TEACHING CHILDREN WHO ARE DEAF-BLIND
Contact, Communication and Learning
Edited by Stuart Aitkin et al.
David Fulton Publishers Ltd, London
Written by practitioners from a variety of backgrounds, this book is intended for teachers, residential staff and students who wish to understand more about the education of children and young people who are deaf-blind.
The development of an accessible website or web-based multimedia product.
Eric Velleman and Henk Snetselaar
For more information / to order: E-mail: M.Voorburg@bartimeus.nl>
You should read this book if you are serious about the visual accessibility of your website or other web-based products.
Information for designers of Public Access Terminals
Published by R.N.I.B., United Kingdom
This booklet is also available at: www.tiresias.org/pats
Lighthouse International, New York
Lighthouse publishes a monthly WEBLETTER, the second edition is from october 2000.
To subscribe to this free Newsletter: http://www.lighthouse.org/subscribe/
VirTouch Ltd, Jerusalem, Israel
A virtual touch system: a special mouse, giving the blind and visually impaired remote tactile access for mastery of multiple Windows applications.
For information: http://www.virtouch.co.il
Tactile Colour Ltd, Brighton, UK
For information: http://www.tactile.net
GLOBE, adapted for visually impaired children
An educational relief globe is a device which enables visually impaired children to imagine a spatial model of the Earth, accompanied by information on its main areas.
- As an aid in group teaching in school/class.
- As an aid in individual work with a child.
- As an aid for self-study at home
The set consists of the following elements:
- A model relief Earth of diameter of 70cm.
- A CD- player ( specially adapted for use by disabled persons)
- Two CDs - NAVIGATOR (operating instructions)
- A CD set for self-study and play.
Sixty characteristic regions are distinguished on the surface of the globe, which are marked depending on the kind of disability:
- numbers in Braille notation
- numbers 1, 2, 3, ......, 60
For every distinguished region, information on the CDs has been prepared concerning the following fields of study: geography, history, biology, music, ecology, social science.
The whole of the information materials is available in three options for:
- intermediate learners
- advanced learners
All interested persons are invited to co-operate in the dissemination of the product on local markets.
Tel/fax: (00 48) 89 5431862
Andrew Kowalczyk "Sail Service"
ul. Krasickiego 9/17, 10-685
The first words that blind little Ralph said:
"Now I can see everything: it is like a film"