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European Workshop
Vocational Training and Employment of Visually Impaired

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Closing Speech
Herman Gresnigt, ICEVI

Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues and Friends

We are at the end of this workshop! We have shared a lot of information and experiences. I hope that each of us will be able to apply some of this information, some of the experiences, to his or her own work setting, in his or her own country. I would like to wish all of you a lot of creativity and wisdom to realise something of what you have heard in your own country.

Obviously, the participating countries show immense differences:

But I am quite sure that each of us is capable of taking a step forward in the various aspects we have discussed:

In the discussion groups, which formed the most interesting and stimulating part of this workshop I think, we have experienced that these four themes are closely related to each other, although it is good and useful to distinguish them. I would like to advise all of you to make up your mind about what you have heard, learned during these three days and to choose two, three or four topics which you will realise during the next school year, in your school, centre, in your country. This way, the workshop will have direct effects.

It is very difficult to summarise the workshop.
Some tendencies:

In my opinion, too little emphasis was placed on the dangers of paternalism and patronising. We should not forget that many visually impaired people will find or need to find this independently.

How to continue:
I will send you an evaluation form, together with the report. I hope you will complete this form honestly (please, be critical) and send it back as soon as possible.

In this form, I will also ask you:

Depending on your answers, the ICEVI (together with the EBU) will organise a second workshop, if possible in Central or Eastern Europe. Please, promise me to return your completed evaluation form.

Yesterday, Marika promised me that the report on this workshop will be ready in October or November. Of course, each of you will receive a copy.

These last few days, we have met each other. And now, we more or less know each other. We have the list of addresses. So, in the near future, we can contact each other to discuss particular aspects of problems, to exchange experiences, and perhaps to visit each other, and if possible to set up common programmes, not only within the EU, but also with our colleagues from Central and Eastern Europe to set up twinning contacts.

Please, make use of the European Newsletter!

A workshop such as this is not possible without the efforts of many people:

I would like to thank all of you with heartfelt gratitude!

And thanks to the Arla Institute, for its hospitality, the pleasant and inspiring atmosphere, and for all the work you have done in preparing and mailing the papers, in print, in large print, in braille, etc.

A central role in all this has been played by Marika. Many, many thanks.

Please, give her a warm applause! These flowers are for you.

Lastly, thank you all for your participation. I hope to meet you again in one of the other ICEVI events, probably in Cracow. I have asked Marika to present a lecture about 'the results' of this workshop, at one of the main sessions of the Cracow Conference.

May I conclude with a thought from this booklet I received from her, entitled 'Rosy Gate', written by a blind poet from Finland: Pirjo Kallio:

"The best way to help people in need is to help them to find their inner resources and their self-confidence."

Thanks, goodbye

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