European Newsletter - Issue 22
Volume 8 number 2, July 2002
by Dr Herman A.A.Gresnigt, European Chairman ICEVI, The Netherlands
- Trends and changes in education and rehabilitation for the V.I. in the Netherlands over the last 10 years.
by C.R.A. van Dijk, Research & Development department, Sensis
- English as a second language
by Alenka Bera and Herman Gresnigt
- Retrospect by Keld Stochholm, Denmark
Deputy Chairman, European Committee ICEVI
- Retrospect by Krisztina Kovács, Hungary
- Quinquennial report
European region ICEVI 1997 - 2002 (by Herman Gresnigt)
- Meeting of the European Committee
Budapest, 2-5 May 2002 (by Herman Gresnigt)
- Membership and Membership fees
- Venue of the European conference in 2005
- Agenda of the meetings of ICEVI-Europe
during the World Conference in the Netherlands
- MDVI Euronet Meeting in Lisbon,
14-16 March 2002
- Third workshop on training of teachers of the visually impaired
by Grazyna Walczak, Senior lecturer at the Academy of Special Education in Warsaw
- Published: Guide in mathematics for teachers on its way
by The Nordic Light Team (Emmy Csocsán, Oliv Klingenberg, Kajsa-Lena Koskinen, Solveig Sjöstedt)
This issue of the European Newsletter appears at the occasion of the 11th World Conference of ICEVI, not only for the people who receive the Newsletter regularly, but also for all participants at the conference.
It is the last issue during my European Chairmanship, the 22nd since the European Conference in 1995 in Budapest, when the 1st issue was published.
This Newsletter has a clear position within ICEVI Europe, as a communication channel with regard to the latest developments in the field of Education of the visually impaired in Europe. The mailing list includes about 1600 subscribers from all over Europe.
As the World conference takes place in the Netherlands, I asked Ineke van Dijk to write an article about the present situation with regard to education and rehabilitation of persons with a visual impairment in the Netherlands.
During the World Conference there will be two meetings of the ICEVI regions. In this issue you will find the agenda for these meetings, the candidates for the new committee, proposals with regard to membership and membership fee, and for the venue of the next European Conference in 2005 and the quinquennial report 1997-2002.
I asked two members of the committee to give a retrospect of their 15, respectively 10 years of membership of the committee. Furthermore reports of the 3rd workshop on training of teachers of the visually impaired and of a meeting of the MDVI European Network.
On the back you will find the announcement of a new publication, entitled: Guide in Mathematics for teachers, which will be launched during the World Conference.
Finally, thanks to all colleagues from really all European countries who wrote articles for this Newsletter since 1995.
To all of you: au revoir, but not completely adieu!
Trends and changes in education and rehabilitation for the V.I. in the Netherlands over the last 10 years.
Herman Gresnigt, who has been for 10 years the chairman of the European ICEVI Europe for ten years, iswill be leaving this job in the summer of 2002. Before this ICEVI functionpost , he was the director of the Theofaan institute (which has changed its name to at this moment name "Sensis" ). He asked me to give an overview of the developments and trends in the education of the VI. in the Netherlands in the last ten years. It is with pleasure that I respond to this request. This overview regards support for children, parents, teachers. Some mention is made of support for adults and special care for special populations.
In the Netherlands, a small but densely populated country, we live with 16 million people. About 200,000 of them (1.2 % ) have serious visual impairments. 4000 Persons are suspected to be blind.
The most general and influential movement in the country is the growing emphasis on self-determination: people with visual impairments make their own choices. This universal right is transformed in new policies and legislation.
The strategy of organisations responsible for education and rehabilitation for people with visual impairments is identified as inclusion, which means: "education and rehabilitation is aimed at optimising social participation and delivered in integrated settings as much as possible". Only "special" education when needed or wanted.
In this policy the organisations in the field of Education and Rehabilitation of the visually impaired work closely together and realise a network of regional supporting services.
In the Netherlands three organisations are active in this field: VISIO, in the north and west part of the Netherlands, BARTIMEUS in the central and east part of the Netherlands and SENSIS in the southern region of the Netherlands. Together they have about 15 so-called Regional Centres which provide services for people with visual impairment of all ages.
The various kinds of support services as provided by these regional centres are different for the different age groups.
Participation in the different domains of life is crucial for a sense of well-being. The domains in which VI people require support are education, living and family life and work. The people with VI can count on advice and information, assessment of visual and other functions, visual aids training, special education or educational support, training in daily living skills and social or emotional counselling. In the next paragraphs we describe this impact on educational and rehabilitation practices.
1. trends in early intervention
The regional centres provide assessment and intervention for young children with VI from the moment the child is identified as visually impaired.
In a symposium dedicated to the "25 years of Early Intervention in the Netherlands" (1999) we reflected on the gains and progress in theory and practice. The proceedings of this conference and the planning for the future are published in the book "Looking forward" and will be presented at the World Conference ICEVI 2002.
Some achievements of the recent past are e.g.
- Growing attention and expertise for assessment of visual functions of children. Now it is standard that children are referred in their first month of life. It is only rare that children are referred at school age.
- A growing number of referrals for children with CVI and less referrals of totally blind children
- Application of screening and detection programmes for visual impairments in risk populations such as children with mental or cerebral impairments.
- Multidisciplinary intervention based on an individualised plan is common practice. The support is focussed on the demands and needs, and therefore flexible and variable. Sometimes primarily focussed on the child, sometimes more on the parents or other care providers.
- Professional training is enhanced, not only by (inter)national knowledge creation and exchange but also by drafting curricula for professionals in this field.
Early intervention for visually impaired children stood as a model for early intervention for children with other kinds of developmental problems. This has been established in nearly all communities or regions. Now it happens that a family and child focussed approach is taken over by the "integral early intervention program".
2. Trends in support during school years
Traditionally, the Netherlands were famous for having 14 kinds of special schools. Now we consider this as outdated and even contributing to a segregated society.
At this moment the special schools are combined in four categories of special education:
- Schools for children with visual impairment and children with visual and multiple disabilities
- Schools for children with auditory or communicative (or multiple) impairments
- Schools for children with physical and/or serious mental disabilities
- Schools for children with serious behaviour and psychiatric problems.
The number of children with VI known in the educational system is about 2300. 1600 Of these children ask for educational support in mainstream schools. 700 Children need special education in schools for visually impaired children for a certain length of time. The choices are always made with the parents and the children themselves. The schools for VI children are transformed in Regional Centres of Expertise or Resource Centres.
The aim of special education has become 'civic education' more purposefully directed at the 'integration-skills' such as social skills, job preparation, use of low vision and computer aids. The obligation for blind children to spend the introduction in braille literacy in the special school has been abandoned years ago.
The use of low vision aids
Low vision assessment and advise and training in low vision aids is a regular service for VI schoolchildren. This support is accessible for all low vision pupils and organized in co-operation with the above-mentioned regional centres, who all have a low vision department. Recently a small survey in the actual use in low vision aids showed that use of optical aids in special schools is more widespread than the use of these aids by VI pupils in mainstream schools. So there can be some quality improvement in the low vision service for integrated low vision children.
The use of computers
Children in special and regular school can have assessment and training in computer aids if needed. To facilitate the opportunities for the children in the use of computer aids teachers follow courses for "their digital driving license".
3. Support in the transition years
When entering the transitional years, the pupils are really supported to make their own choices not only in the educational programmes but also with respect to working life and personal living conditions. Vocational guidance, Jjob preparation and job finding skills are central in the educational programmes.
Support for students with disabilities in university and higher education is provided by a national organisation.
4. Support for adults
The regional centres cover most of the demands of adults with a visual impairment. Visual assessment and advise in visual aids can be combined with training in use of these aids and adaptive skills or compensatory strategies. Support for job related task can be provided. Those who need special job training can follow courses in a national job training centre or a national rehabilitation centre for VI., respectively in SONNEHEERDTSonneheedt in Ermelo and in HET LOO ERF in Apeldoorn.
Finally: Support services for special groups with very special needs
- It has become known from recent research that the prevalence of visual impairment in the mentally retarded population should be estimated between 20 - 60%. The occurrence of visual impairment is strongly related to the level of cognitive functioning and the severeness of the neurological damage. Visual screening programmes for this population have been developed and are carried out in the settings for mentally retarded people. In fact, doctors for the mentally retarded nowadays use a protocol of screening sensory impairments. The outreaching care for mentally retarded and visually impaired is provided in order to make adaptations of the physical and social environment relating to their sensory and mental capacities.
- Visual impairments in people with vascular accidents can be detected and programmes for treatment are being developed. Dual sensory impairments in the elderly and their needs to optimise social participation is one of the topics at this moment.
- Another topic of actual and great concern is the education and rehabilitation of children and adults from other cultures. Non-Dutch speaking immigrants and people from centres of asylum hardly have any access to educational and rehabilitation programmes. New methods and new ways of co-operation must be started.
Growing co-operation between the educational facilities for VI children and between visual rehabilitation centres on a national level has proven to be successful. Sometimes this co-operation results in organisational merger.
Some results of this shared policy are:
- A national structure and programme for scientific research called "Invision". The aim of Invision is to give practices in education and rehabilitation a scientific basis.
- A national structure for professional training in the field of VI.
- A national programme for quality improvement in schools for VI.
C.R.A. van Dijk
Research & Development department, Sensis
English as a second language
In the past years people have asked me many times whether ICEVI can do something to promote teaching and learning English as a second language. To be honest, until 2001 I made no effort to answer this question. But then I met Alenka Bera, a student in English language in Ljublijana, Slovenia, who was my interpreter during my visit to Slovenia May 2001. Later that year she contacted me with the question if I could help her to find literature for her thesis on teaching English as a second language for visually impaired children and youth.
I asked the librarian of Sensis, Mrs Rieky Benz, to collect some articles on this subject.
Together with Alenka Bera I composed the list below. I hope some of our readers can use this information.
In July 1990, R.N.I.B., London, published a bibliography on this subject, entitled: Teaching foreign languages to blind people.
Further important information to be found on their website: www.rnib.org.uk/curriculum/issu8.htm [new window]
- Paula Conroy: Total Physical Response: An Instructional Strategy for Second-Language Learners who are visually impaired. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 1999, 93 no 5, 315-318.
- Carol Gray: Coping with the National Curriculum in Modern Foreign Languages: An equal opportunities issue? (part one of two), The British Journal of Visual Impairment, 1997, 15 no1, 10-14.
- Carol Gray: Coping with the National Curriculum in Modern Foreign Languages: An equal opportunities issue? (part two of two), The British Journal of Visual Impairment, 1998, 16 no1, 23-26.
- Carol Gray: Modern Foreign Languages, in: H. Mason and Stephen McCall: Visual Impairment: Access to Education for Children and Young People. David Fulton Publishers, London, 1997, Chapter 26, 253-263.
- Holly Guinan: E.S.L. (English as a second language) for students with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 1997, 91 no 6, 555-563.
- Huebner, K.M.: Foreign Languages, in: Scholl, G.T. (Ed.): Foundations of education for blind and visually handicapped children and youth: Theory and Practice. American Foundation for the Blind, New York, 1986, p.381-385.
- Madeline Milian: Teaching braille reading and writing to students who speak English as a second language, in Wormsley, D.P. & D'Andrea, F.M. (Eds): Instructional strategies for braille literacy. American Foundation for the Blind, New York, 1997, Chapter 6, 189-230.
- Maria L. Monoz: Second Language Acquisition and Children with Visual and Hearing Impairments, See/Hear Newsletter, Vol 5 no 2.
- Tihomir Nikolic: Teaching a foreign language in schools for blind and visually impaired children. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 1987, 81 no 2, 62-66.
- Valerie Price: The teaching of Modern Foreign Languages to Visually Impaired Children. The British Journal of Visual Impairment, 1993, 11 no 3.
- Yu-hsi Wu: Teaching English as a foreign language to blind children: A progress report. The Educator, 1994, 7 no 1, 6-9.
- Yu-hsi Wu: Teaching blind children English: Material development. The Educator, 1995, 8 no 1, 20-29.
Alenka Bera, Slovenia, e-mail: email@example.com
and Herman Gresnigt
I asked two members of the European Committee, Keld Stochholm from Denmark and Krisztina Kovacs from Hungary who will both leave the committee after having been members for 15 and 10 years respectively, to write something about their experiences as members of the committee.
Retrospect by Keld Stochholm, Denmark
Keld has been a member of the European Committee of ICEVI for 15 years The last 10 years of this period, he has fulfilled the position of Deputy Chairman.
For more than 25 years he was the director of Refnaesskolen, National Institute for Blind and Partially Sighted Children and Youth in Kalundborg, Denmark, which celebrated its Centennial Anniversary in November 1998. He retired in July 2001.
I want to express my gratitude for 15 very interesting years as a member of the European Committee of ICEVI. The first 5 years under Elizabeth Chapman's inspiring and motherly leadership, the last 10 years under equal leadership by Herman Gresnigt. I have valued our dialogue and have tried to make myself useful as vice-chairman of the Committee.
I first learned about ICEVI in 1977 at the world conference in Paris. I was, and still am, bad at English. In spite of this, I felt that it was important I, as Principal of Refsnæsskolen, National Institute for Blind and Partially Sighted Children and Youth, should inform others about the work with blind and partially sighted children in Denmark. Integration started early in Denmark. Denmark "invented" that integrated blind and partially sighted children need advisory service. So do their parents, teachers, schools and institutions. This did not have the effect that the national institution was reduced. The institution took up the important role as supervisor and co-ordinator of all professional groups and institutional units taking part in the process of bringing up and developing blind and partially sighted children. I.e. hospitals, physicians, therapists, social workers, educators (care staff), teachers, psychologists, case officers within the local social authorities and later on advisers for the blind and partially sighted.
The task of the national institute is to constantly build up new interdisciplinary networks and concepts able to summarise variations in background for development and learning.
This calls for interdisciplinary and family efforts of a holistic nature. Methods and aids being used in the process by the blind people are never enough. The advisers/supervisors should not only procure materials and aids, ergonomics, lighting, methods etc. delivered at discretion. Advisory service demands developmental advisers, not "ironmongers".
Especially the above-mentioned subjects and the possibilities of Braille, including 8 dot Braille, in the knowledge and information society, have been essential to me as Principal of Refsnæsskolen, National Institute for Blind and Partially Sighted Children and Youth and as well as a member of the European Committee of ICEVI. Although there are many organisational and practical items on the Committee's agenda, it seems to me that the discussions have been technical rather than stimulating for the future work. International co-operation is an important source of inspiration to give blind and partially sighted children hope for the future and may enable them to become equal citizens in the knowledge and information society.
It is my hope for ICEVI that it will succeed, both at a global and European level, in promoting knowledge and information in the work with blind and partially sighted children. The knowledge and information should be generated for the benefit of the national development and made use of in international relationships, so that the future development of the work with blind and partially sighted persons is strengthened through ICEVI activities. I want to thank Herman Gresnigt and the other members of the committee for good co-operation and friendship through the years. I wish you and the care for the blind an eventful future.
I wish the future committee a great deal of commitment to developing concepts for the blind and partially sighted in Europe. My personal advice is creation of professional networks across frontiers, e.g. through Internet. No doubt world conferences, European conferences and workshops are valuable, but a system procuring the daily knowledge development for the benefit of parents and professionals will be even more fruitful.
Deputy Chairman, European Committee ICEVI
Retrospect by Krisztina Kovács, Hungary
Krisztina is Lecturer at the Faculty of Special Education Gusztav Barczi, Elte University in Budapest. She has been member of the European Committee of ICEVI since 1992.
She took the initiative to hold the European Conference in 1995 in Budapest. She carried out almost all the organisational preparations for this conference as well as for the 1st Workshop on Training of Teachers of the Visually Impaired, held in Budapest in 1997.
A few thoughts on my inclusion...
I will never forget my first participation in an international conference. It was the 5th ICEVH (as it was called those days) International Conference in Bangkok, Thailand in 1992. I was really amazed by the knowledge and expertise of people in the field of visual impairment.
My favourite moments were the two meetings for the European region. The chairperson, Ms Elisabeth Chapman and other members of the European Committee were discussing solidarity with the developing countries as well as some common problems in Europe in the field of education of children with visual impairment. As a newcomer I was impressed and awed by the experiences and ideas shared during these meetings. I was listening carefully for some time. Then I felt urged to stand up and talk. I do not know why and how I got my strength.
At that time Eastern European countries were not sufficiently taken into consideration. This was the time in which many of the former Eastern block countries just gained their freedom and started to build their own democracies. Hungary - the country I come from - itself had been independent for three years then. My feeling was quite ambiguous when I realised that although the iron curtain had been broken down, it was still in people's minds. I started to talk about my region and our needs. I had an idea of co-operation between East and West but I do not remember the specific topic or the reactions. What I can remember was that the most positive answer came from Herman Gresnigt after the second meeting of the European region when he was elected as the new chairman of the European Committee. Herman invited us, less than 10 participants from Eastern Europe, to discuss the importance of strengthening the co-operation and exchange of ideas among the formerly divided regions in Europe. Herman also mentioned the possibility of organising the next European Regional Conference in one of the Eastern parts of Europe as a special occasion for starting a new relationship.
As soon as I went home, I started to look for this possibility with Budapest as a conference venue. All the principals in the special schools for visually impaired children and other institutes expressed their approval and promised their help. With the great support of Herman our dream became reality in 1995 when Budapest acted as a host for the ICEVI European Conference. This is how I started to get involved in the European Committee and widened my scope to international events in our field.
As a member of this committee I had the chance to meet other professionals from different countries and learn from them. Here I would like to mention those people of the committee whom I worked with closely in organising conferences and workshops and who thus influenced my way of thinking most essentially. Namely Juliet Stone, a former representative in the committee with her sensitivity and friendship and Herman Gresnigt with his responsiveness, willingness for active help and European mind.
All other members of the former and present European Committee of the past 10 years have inspired me and have improved my knowledge and skills. But most importantly, each of them helped me and my fellows in the region to feel inclusive in Europe.
Budapest, 27 May 2002
Quinquennial report, European region ICEVI 1997 -2002
The quinquennium 1997-2002 can be considered as a further expansion of activities, which already started under the inspiring leadership of Ms Elizabeth Chapman during the quinquennium 1987-1992, and continued since I took over the European Chairmanship in 1992. Without exaggerating I can say that ICEVI is alive in Europe, it means: dynamic, inspiring, creative and innovative.
This quinquennium started with two regional meetings during the 10th World Conference in Sao Paulo, July 1997. During these meetings a large number of proposals/suggestions with regard to the new plan of action were made and the new European Committee was elected. For the first time representatives of the 8 European subregions were democratically elected.
The new European Committee consisted of the following persons:
Herman Gresnigt (the Netherlands) and Keld Stochholm (Denmark) were re-elected as chairman and deputy chairman.
Representatives of the subregions:
- for the Nordic and Baltic countries: Mrs Solveig Sjostedt (Finland)
- for the English-speaking countries: Mr Tony Best (UK)
- for the German and Dutch-speaking countries: Mr Eberhard Fuchs (Germany)
- for the French-speaking countries: Mr Francis Boe (France)
- for South European countries: Mrs Maria Rosa Villalba Simon (Spain),
in 2000 succeeded by: Mr Mariano Del Valle Abad (Spain)
- for Central European countries: Mrs Krisztina Kovacs (Hungary)
- for the Balkan countries: Mr Vladimir Radoulov (Bulgaria)
- for East European countries: Mrs Helen Keller(Russia)
in 2001 succeeded by: Mrs Natalia Belyakova (Russia)
Other members of the committee:
Mrs Johanna Enqvist (Sweden), representing the Special Interest Group on Early Intervention Mrs Grazyna Walczak, (Poland), representing the Host Country of the European Conference.
The Committee met 6 times:
In Amsterdam in November 1997, in Cracow in May 1998, in Wurzburg in June 1999, in Madrid in April 2000, in Condover Hall, UK in May 2001 and in Budapest in May 2002. Until 2000, the European Conference was the main topic of discussion, after that the future of ICEVI Europe after 2002.
During each meeting, at least half a day was spent on developments in the different sub regions and the implications of these developments for the education of the visually impaired. Especially the tendency in several countries from more specific to more general caused anxiety with regard to the danger to loose the specific knowledge and know-how built up in many, many years, which is not in the interest of our target group: children and youth with a visual impairment. Furthermore many other activities were discussed and prepared.
The highlight of the quinquennium was undoubtedly the European Conference, held in Cracow in July 2000: nearly 500 participants from 38 European countries. More than 200 from Central and East Europe, of whom about 175 on a so-called supported place.
In the Newsletter after the Conference I wrote, and I like to repeat it here:
"What has struck me most: so much has happened in 5 years' time, a lot of changes for the better. Budapest 1995 was really 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 more depth and differentiation, both with respect 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)."
The conference was followed by 4 post-conference workshops: on Early Intervention, MDVI, IT and Parents. During the last workshop the Network of Parent Organizations was launched under the name: TEAM, which means: Together Everyone Achieves More.
During the Closing Session of the Conference the Website of ICEVI-Europe was launched.
From that time on it contains more and more information, among others the full proceedings of the Cracow Conference.
We are greatly indebted to Mrs Martina Kobolkova from Slowak Republic for all the work she did and still does as our webmaster.
Workshops on Teacher Training
As continuation of the 1st Workshop on Training of Teachers of the Visually Impaired, held in March 1997 in Budapest, during the current quinquennium two more of such workshops were organized: the 2nd in September 1999 in Bratislava, the 3rd in Warsaw in April 2002.
The theme of the 2nd Workshop was: "Competences of teachers of the V.I.", and of the 3rd
"Preparing teachers of the V.I. to support integration / inclusion". There were respectively about 45 and 60 participants from respectively 22 and 26 countries.
Reports of both workshops are published and are available on our website.
Workshop on Vocational Training and Employment
Because employment of people with a visual impairment is a big problem in nearly all European countries we organized a workshop on this subject together with the staff of the Arla Institute in Finland. The workshop took place in Finland in June/July 1999. There were about 45 participants from 20 countries. We published a report of this workshop too, and it is also available on our website.
he importance of this subject is evident from the fact that two more conferences were organized about this subject: the Conference: "Employability Enhancement of V.I. people", held in November 2001 in Bratislava, and the 2nd Balkan Conference, held in January 2002 in Athens.
Next year the EBU will organize a conference on this subject: "How can specialized associations and organizations in the area of visual impairment promote the employment of their members". ICEVI Europe is invited to present a paper. The conference will take place in Paris in July 2003, within the scope of the 'European Year of Persons with a Disability'.
The Balkan Conferences deserve special mention; they were organized by committee member Vladimir Radoulov. What was first 'only' a quinquennial Bulgarian Conference has developed into conferences for the whole Balkan region. The 1st was in October 2000 in Varna, Bulgaria, the 2nd in January 2002 in Athens. The 3rd is being prepared and will be held in Yugoslavia, and in 2005 the 4th will be in Varna again at the occasion of the Centennial Anniversary of Education of the V.I. in Bulgaria.
All over Europe there were a great number of conferences and workshops, in which ICEVI was involved either as a co-organizer or indirectly, as a lecturer or participant.
Many times such conferences take place at the occasion of a special Anniversary of Education of the Blind/V.I. in general in the country, or of a school or other facility for the V.I..
Without pretending to be exhaustive I mention the following occasions:
- 1997 Arad, Romania, 75th Anniversary of the School of the Visually impaired.
- 1997 Minsk, Belarus, Centennial Anniversary of education of the blind.
- 1998 Vilnius, Lithuania, 70th Anniversary of the School for the V.I..
- 1998 Ankara, Turkey, Conference on Education of the V.I. to which ICEVI-Europe made a considerable contribution
- 1998 Nurnberg, Germany, 125th Anniversary VBS, Organization of teachers of the V.I.
- 1998 Kalundborg, Denmark, Centennial Anniversary of the School for the V.I.
- 1999 Thessaloniki, Greece, Conference on Early Intervention.
- 2000 Hull, UK, XX/20 Vision Conference.
- 2000 Thessaloniki, Greece, Conference on Early Intervention.
- 2000 Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Centennial Anniversary of the School for the Blind.
- 2000 Budapest, Hungary, Centennial Anniversary of Gusztav Barczi College of Special Education.
- 2000 Paris, France, Year 2000, young people with visual impairment.
- 2001 Lviv, Ukraine, 1st Lustrum Centre Lewinia.
- 2001 Budapest, Hungary, 175th Anniversary of the School for the Blind.
- 2002 Riga, Latvia, 130th Anniversary of the School for the Visually Impaired.
I made a custom of it, if at all possible, to participate in this kind of events, not only because I like festivities and festive dinners, but above all because these events are excellent opportunities to meet many people, not only from the organizing institute/centre/facility, but also from the whole country and sometimes from neighbouring countries as well, and to introduce them to ICEVI. I am sure that this is one of the reasons why ICEVI is alive in Europe.
Since ICEVI Europe launched the idea of twinning contacts between schools and other facilities of different countries, especially between East and West Europe, many of these kinds of contacts were initiated. Within this context I must specially mention the contacts which have been established since 1998 between the Nordic and Baltic countries. I draw your attention to our committee member Solveig Sjöstedt (Finland), who initiated these developments.
During the Quinquennium 1997-2002, 15 issues of the European Newsletter appeared, with information from nearly all European countries.
During the current quinquennium there were 2 Low Vision Conferences, in 1999 in New York, in the week prior to our World Conference in Götenborg, Sweden.
NB: I really hope that ICEVI will finally take the lead in effecting more co-ordination between the different conferences of ICEVI, Low Vision, O&M etc. Already during the Low Vision Conference in Madrid (1996) the then president Bill Brohier drew attention to this problem, but nothing has happened since then!
Contacts with the European Blind Union (EBU)
The relations with the EBU are really good, which appears among others from mutual attendance at each other's General Assemblies and Conferences. I was invited to attend the EBU General Assembly in November 1999 in Prague. In 1997 the EBU started up a Commission on Education. As European Chairman I was invited to participate as an observer from the very beginning. This Commission organized a Conference on Education, entitled: "The role of associations and families in the improvement of the status of the education of the blind and partially sighted", in July 2000, one week after our European Conference, in Montegrotto, near Padua, Italy. I was invited to present a lecture about the training of teachers of the v.i. The contacts with the EBU Office in Paris are good as well, especially with the director Mokrane Boussaid.
Officers' meetings and Exco Meetings
As in the former quinquennium the regional chairpersons were involved in ICEVI policy on a world level, in the first years, during the presidency of Coen de Jong, mainly together with the principal officers, later on, during the presidency of Larry Campbell, again as in the past within the context of Exco. Officers' meetings were held in 1998 in HongKong (China) and in 1999 in Philadelphia (USA), Exco meetings in 2001 in Chihuahua (Mexico) and in 2002 in Bensheim (Germany).
During all these years the main subject of discussion was the Constitution, resulting in: nearly the same constitution as before. The last meeting was devoted to the strategic plan for the next period. A popular version of this strategic plan will be published in the next issue of the Educator and during the next World Conference.
It is good news that ICEVI will receive financial support from CBM (Germany) and SSI (UK) to establish a Secretariat General: Dr Mani from Coimbatore, India, is appointed as first Secretary General. He will be the Regional Chairman of West Asia until the next World Conference. He has been active in ICEVI from 1982.
I mentioned only a selection of activities in this report. This does not imply that the things that have not been mentioned are not important. On the contrary, much more has been done by many, many people to improve the education of the visually impaired, not in the spotlights but during the daily work in families, in the classroom, in individual lessons, in rehabilitation activities, many times in difficult circumstances: but many times I was moved by the creative solutions.
I experienced the decade as European Chairman as particularly interesting and inspiring.
Together with many people from all over Europe much could be done to improve the education and rehabilitation of the visually impaired.
I am greatly indebted to many colleagues within ICEVI, within ICEVI Europe, within the field of Education of the visually impaired.
A special word of thanks to the Board and Management of Theofaan, now called Sensis, for the generous financial support during the years I have been European Chairman, which enabled me to fulfil this position and to realise the activities described in this report and more.
Meeting of the European Committee Budapest, 2-5 May 2002
Early May the entire European Committee met in Budapest, the 6th and last meeting of the Committee in the current quinquennium. Our host was the School for the Partially Sighted in Budapest. On the opening evening we had a reception and dinner in the School for the Blind.
We had two new members in our midst: Natalia Belyakova from Russia, the successor of Helen Keller and Mariano Del Valle Abad from Spain, the successor of Maria rosa Villalba Simon.
As usual the first important items of the Agenda were the reports from the 8 sub regions: always interesting to keep a finger on the pulse with respect to developments all over Europe.
In connection with the reports about the Special Interest Groups we discussed the role of ICEVI with regard to different initiatives on specific subjects, like MDVI Euronet and others. The committee highly appreciates these initiatives but on the other hand, thinks it would be best to carry out these initiatives within the context of ICEVI to prevent undesirable developments such as dissipation of energies which would lead to a great deal of obscurity. ICEVI does not pretend to be the only organization with regard to education and rehabilitation of children and young people with a visual impairment, but wants to function as an umbrella organisation, disseminating all what is going on in this field by means of the newsletter, website, conferences, workshops etc.
The main subject of discussion was ICEVI in the next term. We already published on this subject in the 2nd issue of the European Newsletter in 2001, under the title: The Future of ICEVI Europe (2001-2, page 2 and 3). Based on the line of thought of this article we published the names of nominees for the committee for the next term in the 3rd issue of 2001.
Since we did not receive reactions to this article in the form of new candidates, the committee supposes that everyone agrees with the election of these persons in the meeting of the European Region during the World Conference.
Then there were lengthy and intensive discussions about membership and membership fee in the future. An organization like ICEVI cannot function in Europe without regular income: income assembled by people who subscribe the intentions, the aims and activities of ICEVI in Europe and who find it worth wile to become a member and to pay a membership fee. The situation that has existed for the last 10 years, that just one organisation, Theofaan, now called Sensis, pays all the running costs of ICEVI Europe cannot be continued. We have written about this before in the above-mentioned article in the Newsletter 2001-2.
Therefore, the committee took the decision to start a campaign to enlist members, who will be prepared to pay a membership fee. We made a distinction between umbrella organizations, which means organizations who run various schools, centres etc., corporate members like schools, resource centres, other facilities and individual members. For the level of the fee: see Membership and Membership fees.
We decided that umbrella organizations will be approached individually.
To enlist corporate and individual members a flyer should be produced, which will be distributed, after we made a decision about membership and membership fee during the meeting of our region, which is scheduled during the World Conference.
The committee does not have the intention to organize activities only for its members. Even the European Newsletter will be sent to all persons interested in the activities of ICEVI, but the committee hopes that there are many organizations and people who will guarantee further continuation of the activities of ICEVI by becoming a member and by paying the membership fee.
Of course, the committee is aware that there are countries where organizations and individuals do not have the opportunity to pay a membership fee at this moment; the campaign will therefore be focussed primarily on organizations and people in West-European countries.
Finally we discussed the proposals of Karsten Hohler from Chemnitz, Germany, with regard to the next European Conference in 2005 and decided to present these proposals during our regional meeting during the World Conference.
As usual, the meeting was pleasant and fruitful and took place in a brotherly and friendly atmosphere. At the end I thanked the members of the committee, especially the members who will leave the committee, for their efforts in the past period. It has been a real pleasure to be the chairman of this committee.
Membership and Membership fees
We will distinguish between:
- Individual members: fee 25 Euro a year, 100 Euro for 4 years
- Corporate members: fee between 100 and 500 Euro a year, depending on the number of people employed at the school, institute, centre etc.:
100 Euro for schools etc without own budget,
200 Euro for schools etc with less than 100 employees,
350 Euro for schools etc with between 100 and 200 employees,
500 Euro for schools etc with more than 200 employees.
Individual members receive a 10% reduction of the Conference fee of the European Conference.
Corporate members receive 10% reduction:
* for 2 persons if they pay 350 Euro or less a year,
* for 3 persons if they pay 500 Euro or more a year.
Annexed to this Newsletter (printed version) you will find a flyer:
Please fill in the application form and return it as soon as possible
Venue of the European conference in 2005
Shortly after the European Conference of Cracow I received an invitation of the Major of Chemnitz, Germany, to hold the next European Conference in Chemnitz. The reason was that the "Berufs-Bildungs-Werk fur Blinde und Sehbehinderte" (the Vocational Training Centre for Blind and Partially Sighted Persons) will celebrate its Centennial Anniversary in 2005, the year of our next European Conference.
After a discussion in the meeting of the European Committee in May 2001 Eberhard Fuchs and I visited the Centre and the City. We saw excellent facilities.
After the visit, we asked the director of the Centre, Mr Karsten Hohler to explore the possibilities in greater detail, and to present the outcome in our meeting in May 2002.
On the basis of Karsten Hohlers' presentation at our meeting. the committee decided to take over his proposals and to present Chemnitz as venue for our next European Conference.
Mr Karsten Hohler will present his proposals during the meeting of our region on Thursday 1 August.
Some more information:
The Vocational Training Centre in Chemnitz was founded in 1905 as the Royal Saxon Institution of Education for the Blind. Today it is a school for blind and visually impaired people with a department for MDVI. Furthermore, there is a vocational college, a vocational training centre and a college of medicine for the training of masseurs and physiotherapists.
Chemnitz, in the former Communist time named Karl Marx Stadt, is situated halfway between Berlin and Prague, not so far from Dresden and Leipzig.
There is a Technical University with excellently equipped conference facilities: a main auditorium with more than 700 places, and more than 10 smaller rooms.
There are good hotels for reasonable prices and in the Training Centre there are 200 places in inexpensive single and double rooms.
We will provide more information during the Regional Meeting on Thursday 1 August.
Agenda of the meetings of ICEVI-Europe during the World Conference in the Netherlands
During the World Conference two so-called series of Regional Meetings are scheduled:
on Monday 29 July, 16.00 - 17.30
on Thursday 1 August, 16.00 - 17.30
The meetings of the European Region will take place in the Main hall, Rotonde.
Agenda first meeting:
- Quinquennial report by the European Chairman
- Comments and evaluation by the participants
- Introduction and explanation of election procedure
- Introduction of the nominees
- For Chairmanship: Mr Eberhard Fuchs (Germany)
- For the various sub regions:
- Baltic and Nordic countries: Mrs Marika Carlborg (Finland)
- English speaking countries: Mrs Marianna Buultjens (UK)
- French speaking countries: Mr Francis Boe (France)
- South European countries: Mr Mariano Del Valle Abad (Spain)
- German and Dutch speaking c. Mr Hans Welling (the Netherlands)
- Central European countries: Mrs Gazyna Walczak (Poland)
- East European countries: Mrs Natalia Belyakova (Russia)
- Balkan countries: Mr Vladimir Radoulov (Bulgaria)
- Introduction and explanation about membership and membership fee
- Announcement election and meeting of contact persons
- Sub regional discussion about proposals and action plan for the next term
Agenda second meeting:
- Short reports from the sub regional meetings
- Decision about membership and membership fee
- Presentation of the venue of the next European Conference in 2005
- Turning over of Chairmanship
- Maiden speech of the new Chairperson
- Any other issues
MDVI Euronet Meeting in Lisbon, 14 -16 March 2002
Co-ordinators of MDVI Euronet, the European network gathering professionals from organizations involved in education of children and youth with multiple disabilities including visual impairments met in Lisbon between 14 and 16 March 2002. The meeting was hosted by the Department of Basic Education of the Ministry of Education and was attended by members from Italy, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal, Czech Republic, United Kingdom and Germany.
The aim of this meeting was to give the activities of MDVI an official start by deciding on specific topics to address in the near future, identify tasks to be achieved and discuss application for European Funds.
The group also decided on a logo to identify MDVI Euronet and worked on a poster to be used at the ICEVI Conference in Amsterdam as a visual illustration of the network's main concerns. The poster identifies four MDVI priority areas, i.e., Resource Centres, Independent Living, Staff Training and Changing Needs of Children and Young People.
As stated during an initial meeting in Dublin, warmly hosted by St. Joseph's School for the Visually Impaired in April 2001, MDVI addresses nine subjects:
- Assessment and visual assessment;
- Early intervention family support;
- Mobility for visually disabled children and youth with additional disabilities;
- Changing from school to resource centre. Inclusion;
- Teacher/staff training. Pedagogical materials;
- Prevocational training;
- Visually impaired children with emotional disturbances;
- Implications of change in population in assessing models, education strategy, etc.
Throughout the meeting each group identified aims and methodologies to be used in the development of projects concerning:
Assessment and Visual Assessment, Early Intervention and Family Support, Mobility for the Visually Disabled Children and Youth with Additional Disabilities, Changing from School to Resource Centre, Staff Training, Communication and Implications of the Change in Population. Co-ordinators of each area will contact group members interested in the subject to inform about such projects and motivate their participation. Groups welcome professionals interested in the area who want to share and discuss their knowledge and practice. Anyone interested in a particular topic is encouraged to contact the group co-ordinator (see contacts below) or the MDVI Euronet chairperson. firstname.lastname@example.org
The group also decided to apply for European funds to support four main projects:
- Early Intervention and family support
- Implications of change in population in assessing models and education strategies
- Access to the environment through mobility and communication
- Changing from school to resource centre. Inclusion.
MDVI Euronet is a three-year project, working mainly through the use of internet services. Co-ordinators of each subject will meet once a year to assess progress and define new orientations for the network.
Group 1 - Assessment and visual assessment
Eberhard Fuchs - BISFox@t-online.de
Group 2 - Early intervention family support
Jude Thompson - email@example.com
Group 3 - Mobility For Visually Disabled Children And Youth With Additional Disabilities
Patrizia Ceccarani - firstname.lastname@example.org
Group 4 - Changing from School to Resource Centre. Inclusion
Brian Allen - email@example.com
Group 5 - Teacher/staff training. Pedagogical materials
Isabel Amaral - firstname.lastname@example.org
Group 6 - Prevocational training
Marika Carlborg - email@example.com
Group 7 - Visually impaired children with emotional disturbances
Pauline Carmichael - pauline.Carmichael@rnib.org.uk
Group 8 - Communication
Kevin Tansley - firstname.lastname@example.org
Group 9 - Implications of change in population in assessing models, education strategy, etc.
Patrizia Ceccarani - email@example.com
Third workshop on training of teachers of the visually impaired
The European Committee of ICEVI and The Academy of Special Education in Warsaw were the organizers of the 3rd Workshop on Training of Teachers of the Visually Impaired in Europe, held in Warsaw, 3 - 7 April 2002.
The subject of the workshop was: preparing Teachers of the Visually Impaired to support Integration/Inclusion.
This year the Academy celebrates its 80th anniversary and the Workshop was a very important element in this celebration. There were about 60 participants from 26 European countries, all professionally involved in the training of teachers and other staff who work with the blind and visually impaired. As was intended, the majority of the workshop participants were from Eastern and Central Europe. There were also special guests from the Ministry of Education and the directors of schools for the visually impaired from Poland.
The official opening of the workshops took place in the Porczynski Gallery with performances of blind artists.
The workshop programme was realized in two ways; in plenary sessions and in parallel group discussions.
On the first day, during the plenary session experts from Germany and UK presented their introductory speeches, namely:
- Dr Steve McCall (University of Birmingham) spoke about the possibility of integration in different situations.
- Prof. Emmy Csocsan (University of Dortmund) presented a report about the integration of visually impaired children in mainstream schools.
- Dr Christine Burger (The Centre for Visually Impaired Children in Wurzburg) presented a lecture about the problems of training of the teachers working in mainstream classrooms attended also by visually impaired pupils.
During the plenary sessions, the representatives of different countries presented the current state of affairs within the integrated education of the visually impaired in their country.
In 5 parallel working groups participants thoroughly discussed the following problems, which are important for so-called itinerant teachers, teachers who support visually impaired pupils in mainstream schools:
- Communication - the role of an itinerant teacher to supply the mainstream school teachers with information, knowledge about the needs and possibilities of visually impaired children.
- Organisational aspects of integrated teaching.
- Classroom management if there are visually impaired children in mainstream schools.
- Various other fields of competence such as O&M, ADL, etc
- The role of new technology in the process of integrated teaching.
The parallel group discussions were recorded by specially appointed reporters whose duty was to present the reports at each plenary session and to prepare the final report of all the group sessions.
The full report of the workshops, including the reports of the parallel group sessions, will be published in print and on the website of ICEVI Europe: www.icevi-europe.org (section publications).
All these materials will be distributed among the participants and the institutions dealing with the problems in question in Europe. They will also be presented at the ICEVI World Conference held on 27.07-2.08 2002, in The Netherlands.
Those workshops took place thanks to the sponsors:
The Batory Foundation, Poland; the Catholic Foundation for Blind and Partially Sighted people, The Netherlands; Academy of Special Education, Poland and the Ministry of Education in Poland - to all of them a lot of thanks.
Senior lecturer at the Academy of Special Education in Warsaw.
NB The full reports of the 1st and 2nd Workshop on Training of Teachers of the Visually Impaired, held in Budapest in 1997 and in Bratislava in 1999, can also be found on the ICEVI website.
Guide in mathematics for teachers on its way by The Nordic Light Team
The "Nordic Light Team" consisting of Dr. Emmy Csocsán, professor in education of the Visually Impaired at the University of Dortmund; educator for the visually impaired, Oliv Klingenberg from Tambartun Resource Centre in Norway; head teacher Kajsa-Lena Koskinen from the Swedish School for the Visually Impaired and Honorary Education Counsellor Solveig Sjöstedt from Finland, has finished the manuscript of a guide in mathematics for primary teachers with blind children in their classes.
The team has concentrated on the primary school level because the foundation for all future learning in mathematics is cemented during the first school years. A child who has only "empty numbers" to cope with will never grasp the idea of a maths task on a higher level. Number understanding and the relation parts to whole as well as a functioning formation of concepts are the prerequisites for coping with maths on all levels.
The more we worked on the book the more certain we became that it can also be used in special schools and university teaching. The book gives a whole new approach to teaching mathematics for children who are blind. It does not only concentrate on the what and how but also on the why.
Even though the focus of this book is mathematics, it also contains new philosophical approaches to teaching children with severe visual impairment. We hope it will give any reader interested in the education of these children an insight into this exciting field of special education.
The book is a good example of the possibilities flowing from twinning contacts within the framework of the ICEVI. The first contacts between the participants were made during ICEVI meetings. The book is to be published in at least English and Swedish before the ICEVI World Conference in Holland in 2002 and will be available there. Further languages will at least be German, Norwegian, Hungarian and Finnish.
The Nordic Light Team
Emmy Csocsán, Oliv Klingenberg, Kajsa-Lena Koskinen, Solveig Sjöstedt