Photo from ICEVI-Europe event

European Newsletter - Issue 33

Volume 13 number 1, March 2007



Announcement: Workshop Training of Teachers

Title: 5th Workshop on Training of Teachers of the Visually Impaired in Europe
Training Specialist Teachers for Children with Visual Impairment: Exploring the Role of Learner-Centered Instructional Approaches

Workshop venue:

Hotel DRUBA (hotel part of a student residence)
Slovak Republic


May 18 - 19, 2007 (arrival 17 May)


Limited number - 42 participants (1 - 2 people per country).
Practitioners engaged in training specialist teachers of children with visual impairment.
The language of the training will be in English.

Participation fee:

100 Euro / participants from EE countries
200 Euro / participants from other countries
for persons, who are not a member of ICEVI-Europe the fee will be 50 extra
In case of additional sources acquisition organizers will contribute towards the travel costs to participants from EE countries.

The conference registration fee provides you with:

The conference registration fee does not include:

Participants who will prefere accommodation on a higher level, they can choose one of other hotels available at her/ his own charge (

More detailed information:

There will be detailed info about the workshop, workshop venue, registration, payment, travel connection, ...


1. ICEVI - Europe

Mr. Hans Welling, chairman
Royal Visio
National Foundation for The Visually Impaired and Blind
Postbus 1180, 1270 BD Huizen, The Netherlands
tel.: 00 31 35 6973200
fax: 00 31 35 6973201
e-mail: hw at

2. Comenius University in Bratislava

Support Centre for Visually Impaired Students
Mlynska dolina, 842 48 Bratislava
Slovak Republic
tel./ fax: +421-(0)2-65424862, 60295166
E-mail: tt-info at


Registration with the following information has to be sent by email to hanswelling at

Name organization:
International telephone number:
Email address:

The subscription is valid when the fee has been received at:

Account number
Name of the bank: Fortisbank

Account name: Koninklijke Visio, LSSB
Amersfoortsestraatweg 180
1272 RR Huizen
The Netherlands

IBAN number: NL90 FTSB 0213 4343 34
BIC number: FTSBNL 2R

Please mention: TT workshop and name of the participant

Deadline for registration and payment is March 30th, 2007


Training Specialist Teachers with Children with Visual Impairment: Exploring the Role Of Learner-Centred Instructional Approaches

Background and context

The environment in which learning and teaching takes place in Higher Education is changing at a rapid pace. Recent practice has seen a shift in emphasis from teaching students to that of facilitating learning through:

Further, recent developments in educational technology can provide important functions not only in increasing learner access to educational resources, but also in facilitating interaction among students, as well as between students and tutors, thereby opening up new opportunities for the learner to participate in dedicated learning communities.


With a particular focus on the training of teachers who support children with visual impairment, the two-day workshop provides opportunities for participants to:

  1. explore the development and use of learner-centred instructional approaches within Higher Education
  2. participate in a range of instructional approaches that have relevance to the training of teachers of children with visual impairment;
  3. reflect on the relevance of such approaches to their own professional practice.


The workshop will have particular relevance to practitioners engaged in training specialist teachers of children with visual impairment within Europe. The maximum number of participants will be 42. Participants should have a good working knowledge of English and be prepared to participate in a range of active learning techniques!

Workshop facilitators

Dr Steve McCall,
Lecturer in Education (Visual Impairment)
School of Education, University of Birmingham

Dr Mike McLinden,
Lecturer in Education (Visual Impairment)
School of Education, University of Birmingham


Board meeting of ICEVI-Europe in Athens, Greece

On November 17th and 18th 2006 the board members have had an intensive meeting.

Harry Svensson, principal officer of ICEVI, attended the meeting for the first time. He has succeeded Steve McCall.

William Stuart, director of Planning St. Joseph's Services for the Visually Impaired in Dublin, also attended the meeting. On behalf of St. Joseph's he has been appointed to organize the ICEVI conference in Dublin in 2009.

The meeting started with an exchange of ideas about the changes which are taking place in Europe concerning rehabilitation and education of people with a visual impairment.
Deinstitutionalisation and decentralisation continue, while in the meantime there are contrary movements also occurring.
The question remains, what does this mean for the professionals and the existing institutes?
The social model invites further contemplation.
After this brainstorming, the sub regional reports were discussed as well as the conference in Kuala Lumpur, the meeting of psychologists in Denmark and the Balkan Conference.

Important matters were stated in the first initiative of the European Programme 2007 - 2009

As usual we have plans enough, but there are not enough funds to realize these plans.
The new treasurer Karsten Hohler encouraged paying the contributions in time.

Although the articles of association have not been formalised yet, it was decided to make a first yearly report 2006 of ICEVI-Europe.
The members of the board will be occupied with the question how to present ICEVI-Europe properly to representatives of the EU. Preparing a brochure is a necessity.
The board has been occupied with the campaign, which was presented during the ICEVI-conference in Kuala Lumpur, Education for All Children with Visual Impairment.
The members will try to collect financial means for this campaign within Europe.

Connected to this, it was interesting to be informed about the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
This convention has been agreed upon in December 2006 during a general meeting of the UN and will be an important guideline for ICEVI.

Hans Welling
Chairman ICEVI-Europe


Profile contact person

During the conference in Kuala Lumpur the position of the European contact persons has been discussed.
Because of the new articles of association a new profile is proposed.


Job description of contact persons in Europe.


  1. The contact person is a member of the general meeting of ICEVI-Europe, conform article 16.2 of the articles of association.
  2. The contact person takes part of the meeting in the sub region, which is leaded by the member of the board.
  3. The contact person observes and points out special events and activities that could be important for the European Board, European chairperson and for the European Newsletter, such as conferences, workshops, anniversaries.
  4. The contact person communicates with the sub regional member of the board and/or European chairperson about needs and demands in his or her country and about possible twinning contacts.
  5. From time to time, the contact person supplies copy for the European Newsletter about what is happening in his or her country.
  6. The contact person supplies agenda items for the meeting of the European board.
  7. The contact person improves and updates information for the member of the Board and for the website.

From the contact person is expected:

  1. He or she has to be employed in the field of education and rehabilitation of the visually impaired.
  2. He or she should have a good network of contacts in his or her country in the field of the education and rehabilitation of the visually impaired.
  3. He or she has time to fulfil the function and is able to attend the meetings.
  4. He or she is able to communicate in English (or by means of someone else).


  1. Membership of ICEVI-Europe
  2. The nomination has to be done with a written letter of support from the representative organisation in the country or sub region.
  3. The appointment takes place by the General Assembly and the duration is 4 years. Reappointment is possible.
  4. Before the official appointment the board can decide to appoint under the condition of approval of the General Assembly.
  5. The appointment will be confirmed in writing.

Accepted in the board meeting of November 2006


Social Skills and Visual Impairment

The question of social skills or social competence has for a long time been central in the debate on visually impaired students' inclusion in the mainstream educational system and their access to the labour market.

Visual impairment cannot by itself be the explanation for a failure in the process of inclusion. We often see two different persons with the same eye condition performing very differently in the educational system. One manages well, has a lot of friends and is successful in the labour market. The other person quite the opposite.

The reason for these differences is often hard to understand. What often awakens curiosity is the fact that the visually impaired person does not automatically become a part of the social life of a group. It raises the question: How does the social life of visually impaired people develop?

I am often faced with a fear of speaking of the "blind personality". People are somehow afraid of labelling the visually impaired as somehow different from other people. The thinking behind assumptions like this is the outdated individualistic concept of impairment. Modern understanding takes its thinking from the social model of impairment. A person does not develop himself or herself, does not understand himself or herself, does not become an individual, as an isolated human being. You become a person by experiencing the reactions from your surroundings and by interaction with your surroundings.

This means, that what we see when we analyse the behaviour of a visually impaired person, is the result of many interpersonal processes. What we notice is not a special type of personality, but the internalization of interaction between people.

When we talk about social issues, several expressions are often used.

My definition tells me that:

Social skills are

Social understanding is

Social competence arises when:

The process of development of social competence has two levels or angles:

The process can occur without reflection. You only develop from the response you get from the surroundings. This is what we often see among small children, but certainly also with adults.

With reflection, is where the development of social competence is a learning process that requires thoughts about yourself in your relationship to others. The person creates a kind of social understanding, which only develops, when you see yourself "with the other person's eyes" or from the other person's perspective.

Can you train social skills? Or how to work on compensatory skills

On the level of perception, i.e. the visual impairment itself, you must work with social skills. This means that you must work with what is accessible for the visually impaired child, e.g. body-language and knowledge on the meaning of visual information, one of the often used methods is "social skills training", which is a form of behaviour therapy.

On the level of personal interaction you must work with social understanding. This is a theoretical communicative process where you change and correct the images the visually impaired person has of him/herself as a social person. This task also includes working with the environment, the family, the peer group and the professionals themselves. The content of this learning process is the attitude towards - or the way of thinking about visual impairment. It is important to underline that this must be focused both on the visually impaired person and on the environment. One of the methods is to create reflective settings, a kind of cooperative cognitive therapy.

When you want to create social competence it must be done in an environmental context, in the settings where it is to be practiced. This means that you cannot attend a course in social understanding. It can only be developed in "real life situations"; this also excludes technical products like "step by step" and other commercial social training material.

When the processes mentioned above are integrated into both the person and the environment, social competence arises.

Peter Rodney


ICEVI-European Conference 2009

St. Josephs' school for the visually impaired, Dublin are pleased to up date you on advance plans for the next ICEVI European Conference to be help 5th - 9th July 2009.

Having been honoured by Hans Welling and the ICEVI committee with the task of holding the conference our first priority was to find a venue that was suitable. Many places were discussed and finally we settled on Trinity College Dublin. Ireland's first university was found by Royal decree of Queen Elizabeth I in 1592 (we weren't always independent!) and has a beautiful old world charm which mixes very well with the modern Arts block when the sessions of the conference will be held. The university also has single and twin rooms which we reckon will accommodate around 240 delegates. Trinity also enjoys a city centre location which is very good news for those who like to shop and sightsee, but only in the evening!!!! A wide range of hotels within walking distance of the university are also available. It is hoped that in the not too distant future a dedicated web page will be established to provide not only information about Dublin, the conference but also booking and reservation access.

The conference will open on the Sunday afternoon with a ceremony in the Mansion House, home to Dublin's Lord Mayor who will offer a cead mile failte (a hundred thousand welcomes) to all those who attend.

While it is still early to anticipate the theme and content of the conference Hans Welling has established an ICEVI working committee to examine themes and content. This group met at the end of the Athens meeting in November and will meet twice this year, in the spring in Prague and Seville in the autumn. You own thoughts and suggestions would be welcome.

Tenders have already been received by four companies who specialise in professional conference organisation. Interviews will take place in mid-February and we hope to be able to engage one of them shortly thereafter.

The 2009 conference will formally conclude with a ceremony and reception in Dublin Castle.
While July 2009 may seem a long way off, we in Dublin feel it is getting closer by the day. Lots have already been organised and lots more need to be done. But that's our job, yours will be to put July 5-9, 2009 in you planner and to encourage as many of you colleagues to attend and participate in what we all hope will be a learning and worthwhile experience for all.

In the meantime, enjoy your own work and let's stay in contact.

William J. Stuart
Member Programme Committee


The third Balkan ICEVI conference - Transition in education and rehabilitation - the new possibilities

Belgrade September 30th - October 2nd 2006.

The continuity of the ICEVI Balkan conferences has been established. The third Balkan ICEVI conference was held in Belgrade on the ground of nomination at the second ICEVI Balkan conference held in Athens in 2002. and confirmed by the chairman of the chairman of ICEVI European Regional Committee at 6th ICEVI European conference in Kemnitz (Germany) 2005.

This Balkan conference was organized by Belgrade University Faculty of special Education and Rehabilitation (FASPER) and "Veljko Ramadanovic" school for visually impaired pupils in Zemun. The Faculty of special Education and Rehabilitation was the general patron, and the school was coorganizer.

The representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Netherlands, Slovenia, The Republic of Srpska, Turkey and Serbia participated at the conference. As far as Serbia is concerned, the representatives of all educational institutions for the visually impaired came to the conference.

The work of the conference was supported by The Union of The Blind of Serbia, The City Education Secretariat, The Ministry for Science and Environment saving of The Republic of Serbia, The Ministry for Education and Sports of The Republic of Serbia, The Ministry for Labor and Social policy.

Mr. Hans Welling, the chairman of the ICEVI European Regional Committee, Mrs. Betty Leotsakos, the Balkan ICEVI coordinator and dr Herman Gresnight, ex chairaman of European ICEVI paid their active and precious contribution to the preparatory activities for the conference.

PhD Dobrivoje Radovanovic, the FASPER' dean and Hans Welling were heading the Program Committee, while PhD Dr Branka Eskirovic and PhD Vesna Vucinic were at the head of the Organizing Committee of the conference.

The following program areas were performed at the Faculty of special Education and Rehabilitation during first two conference days: the ceremonial session, two opening plenary sessions "The Achievements in developing of the Special education and rehabilitation of the VI in the Balkan and other countries", and "The ICEVI strategies in Harmonization of Accessibility of special education and rehabilitation of the VI In Europe"; the round table: "Family, school and Society in Transition of Special Education and Rehabilitation of the VI"; and four parallel sessions:

And the poster presentations: The special Education and Rehabilitation, the Way to a Successful Social Integration of the VI. There were 59 papers.

Dr Slobodan Vuksanovic, minister for education and sports, dr Dobrivoje Radovanovic, FASPER'S dean, Hans Welling, Mrs. Betty Leotsakos and Mrs. Vesna Mirovic, high representative of City Education secretariat and Mr. Dragia Drobnjak secretary of Union Blind of Serbia addressed the participants of the conference opening ceremonial session.

The presenters of the next two opening plenary sessions spoke about the key elements of special education and rehabilitation of VI persons in their countries, beginning from some interesting, mainly unpublished historic data, modern systems of education, habilitation and rehabilitation of VI persons, ending with just started innovative projects and ideas. The high ICEVI representatives pointed out the significance of presented ideas and sublimated the actual projects in development of education and rehabilitation of VI persons in Europe. It was stressed that the Balkan countries have a long and precious tradition in development of education and rehabilitation of VI persons and firm strategies towards the most important directions to developments in the areas of establishing new models of education, early intervention and improvement of methods of work with MDVI children, the ways of achieving full social competence and possibilities of the new technologies.

Referring to the presentations at the plenary sessions, European ICEVI chairman Mr. Hans Welling said: "What is very fascinating in transition process, is your syntagmas the richness of similarities and diversities, because We are living in the worlds with many similarities and many diversities; and there is no just one way, but there are many ways. When I heard the lectures, I would say that, in my opinion, we are on the roadin your country, on the road in Europe; and the road could mean not the same road in each country. He also added: "Nevertheless, the most important thing in contemporary education is the alternative approach; a visually impaired child must attend special schools well as the regular school. Acontemporary school must be a mediator between a visually impaired child and a regular school".

At the Round Table, the essential issues of the role of the family, school and society were considered, dealing with attainment of the highest standards in prevention, habilitation, and rehabilitation of implications of visual impairment. The crucial determinants of the new stage in this area, the significance of interaction of families, schools and society in the transitional processes, the key elements of establishment of a flexible and opened educational net for the visually impaired children, the promotion of the new methods of work with the MDVI children and current achievements in professional orientation of VI students were pointed out.

The parallel sessions' presentations displayed a great interest in abit forgottenpossibilities of prevention, habilitation and rehabilitation through new pedagogical approaches. Medical, psychological and social aspects of visual impairment were treated thoroughly. The new possibilities in prevention and early intervention were stressed. Very heterogenious experiences of inclusive processes were transferred.

Serbian and English were the official conference languages. The simultaneous translation contributed to the close followup of the presentations. Mr. Tihomir Nikoli, ICEVI contact person for Serbia, was one of simultaneous translators. Interest in all forms of work and presentations at the conference was obviously great and could be registered by lively discussions. On the second day, after the paralel session and poster presentations, the meeting of the Balkan countries contact persons was held. It was chaired by Hans Welling and Betty Leotsakos. Itwas decided that Turkey would be the host of the next, 4th ICEVI Balkan conference.

The bilingual book of abstracts with cataloguization contributed significantly to the successful work of the conference.

On the third conference day, the prticipants paid a visit to the "Veljko Ramadanovic" school for the visually impaired pupils. They had an opportunity to learn about almost all the school activities. They visited Veljko Ramadanovic memorial room. There, they got information on school history and Veljko Ramadanovic, the father of organized education of persons with disability in Serbia. The school library treasury room, which dates back to 1917., was also visited. This school and its library were established in the Town of Biserta, in Tunisia in 1917. There, Veljko Ramadanovic started special educational work with blinded Serbian war veterans. In addition, the conference participants visited the relevant segments of teaching, educational and corrective work. The guests showed a particular interest in talk to schoolchildren of a preschool class, reading and writing activities and other skills. The innovative work was demonstrated through presentation of talking books library and the Serbian speech software "Anrider".

The final session completed the official conference program. The sightseeing of Belgrade and the farewell dinner were the social events.

On Tuesday, October 3rd, Hans Welling visited "Dr Milan Budimir" lybrary of the blind of Serbia, the Union of the blind of Serbia, "Progress" Belgrade chess club of the blind. In the Union of the blind of Serbia he was received by Mr. Milan Stosic, the chairman of the Management board.

They had constructive and useful talks. Mr. Welling showed a great interest in the work of the library, activities of the Union and the achievements in promoting the chess game among the blind.

The volunteers/students of special education and rehabilitation of the VI at FASPER gave an enormous and precious contribution to solving many technical and organizational problems before, during and after the conference.

The high European ICEVI representatives, the Balkan ICEVI coordinator and the representatives of all Balkan countries/participants expressed positive remarks and opinions, referring to the organization, work and results of the conference. It should be noted that, in spite of full schedule and rich program, the participants had the opportunity to renew and make new contacts and friendships between special pedagogues and professionals in various institutions dealing with special education and rehabilitation of VI persons. They were schools, resource centers, ministries, faculties, mobile services, early intervention services, preschool departments, museums etc. It has been already announced that the next ICEVI Balkan conference is going to be held in Turkey in 2008.

Further details on the contents and work of the conference could be found on the ICEVI website, following the abstracts of the presented papers.

The list of contact addresses of he participants are given to the contact persons of each country/participant.

PhD Branka Eškirovic,
PhD Vesna Vucinic,
Mas.of Scy. Tihomir Nikolic


International conference on deafblindness a great success!
Visio hosts successful ADBN conference

The conference on deafblindness organised by Royal Visio, the National Foundation for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and held in the autumn of 2006 under the banner of the ADBN (Acquired Deafblindness Network) was a great success. The ADBN was established in 1989 and is recognised by Deafblind International (DbI). Its aim is to develop and maintain a network of people who are active in the field of acquired deafblindness. Visio is a member of the ADBN.

The theme of the five-day conference was 'the art of communication'. Just under 200 health-care professionals from 15 countries and a group of deafblind participants and their interpreters expressed their enthusiasm afterwards. They said the conference was very interesting, educational and entertaining. The 2008 conference will be held in Bergen, Norway.

Further information:
Bernard de Vries
Senior Consultant at Visio
bernarddevries at


Visio participates in European research on accessibility of e-learning systems

Visio is the only Dutch partner in the European Union's E-Learn-VIP project, which completed its testing and measuring of the accessibility of electronic learning resources in October 2006. The results of this major survey revealed that 92% of digital learning environments are inaccessible to people with a visual impairment. The systems that provided reasonable accessibility to digital learning environments were Ilias, It's Learning, Atutor and Sakai. Visio is keen to do more for people with an impairment who would like access to e-learning, and has therefore launched three follow-up projects. AHVIIT uses a digital tactile board to assist learning, ECOVIP trains trainers to support remote learning, and Visio is also involved with C4EA, an international consortium for e-learning.

Users in the field also say they are pleased with the research project. Victor Maijer of the University of Amsterdam and a Sakai user says, 'I think I can tell you why Sakai scored so well in your study. Sakai has a group that only works on accessibility. Its work is taken seriously too, so improvements can be put in place relatively quickly. It is obvious to Sakai that there should be good accessibility.'


Tactual Profile observation instrument (Visio) receives prestigious Dutch award

The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development, ZonMw, has given Visio's 'Tactual Profile' observation instrument its 'Pearl' award. The organisation selected the instrument for its above-average results and its obvious potential for innovation and improvement in practice.

Tactual Profile is an instrument for assessing the tactual functioning of children from birth to 16 years with a severe visual impairment. The scientifically validated instrument is based on practical experience tested against recent literature and developments in the field of touch.
In the coming period, Royal Visio, the National Foundation for the Blind and Visually Impaired, will be working on a number of activities designed to optimise the use of Tactual Profile, including expanding the website by adding an interactive section and a monitoring system for users. Collecting data in the system will help to clarify the children's development. These data will be available for follow-up research later.

Further information:
tactualprofile at


ICEVI European Discussion forum at

Let me introduce new internet discussion forum of ICEVI, European Region. How to start? Register, Read the confirmation mail and Login!

1st step: Registration

At the moment, only moderator could create new accounts.
Please, send the message containing your

to the moderator of discussion board.

2nd step: Confirmation e-mail wit activation code

When the Account is created, you will obtain the confirmation e-mail with activation code from International.Council.for.Education.of.People.with.Visual.Impairment at This code will be needed for the first login.

3rd step: Login

Enter your "Username", "Password" and press "Login" button. After that, activate your account by filling in the "Activation Key", you received in the confirmation e-mail, and pressing "Activate Account" button. Alternatively, follow the activation link in your e-mail. Then press "Activate Account" button.

If you didn't receive such e-mail yet (even in the junk or spam folder), write to the webmaster.

Now, welcome to the ICEVI European Discussion Board. The General Board is waiting for your experiences, questions, ... Later on, we can create new boards, change different setting.

See you soon on

Martina Kobolkov
ICEVI European webmaster

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