Logo of ICEVI-Europe and link to the Home Page

2nd Workshop
Training of Teachers of the Visually Impaired in Europe

[ Previous Topic ] [ Table of Contents ] [ Next Topic ]

Opening session 2
4. Short reports about developments since the first workshop in 1997


AUSTRIA, Report by Gerti Jaritz

In 1997 the final phase of finishing the process of reforming the curriculum for the teacher training course of the visually impaired was completed. It was possible to add some useful information of the Budapest workshop. Now new legislation is being prepared. Hopefully it will be completed before our next teacher training course for the visually impaired in the year 2000. The third Austrian training course for the Early Childhood will start in January 2000 as well.


(French-speaking) BELGIUM, Report by Mrs Francoise Neyens

Training of teachers of the handicapped has existed since 1913. Nowadays, teachers of the visually impaired are trained in Brussels. It is a two-year, part-time curriculum to be followed in the evenings and some weekends. The first year is dedicated to general information about all handicaps and comprises 227 hours. The second year is divided between the different handicaps with 6 possible choices. For visual impairment, the curriculum consists of 196 hours including practical lessons.
Until recently, you had to be a qualified teacher and work at a school for visually handicapped to be allowed to attend this specific course of training. Nowadays, everyone can be admitted on a modular basis: for example, parents can attend parts of the curriculum they are interested in. Of course, only qualified teachers can obtain the certificate of specialised teacher and teach in special education.
The Province of Hainaut also provides a two-year part-time training for qualified teachers. It is given every two years.

In both training courses trainers are practitioners and specialists of the handicap and work in the field. Students from the whole country have access to those 2 schools.

The law does not require a special certification to be teacher of the visually handicapped (or any handicap). It is the responsibility of the school board to determine what kind of extra training they wish their teachers to receive.


(Dutch-speaking) BELGIUM, Report by Mr Leo Delaet

Teacher training


CROATIA, Report by Mrs Andrea Fajdetic

A very important event took place two years ago: the University of Defectology changed its name to Faculty of Special Education and Rehabilitation. Furthermore, there were some changes in the curriculum names and programmes. The general curriculum called "Diagnostics in Defectology" now has different programmes. One of these is called "Assessment of the visually handicapped persons". It covers the area of instruments, methods, techniques etc.
Also the general curriculum "Ophthalmology" has been changed, enabling the student to gain more practical knowledge.
Furthermore, students can choose an elective subject "Professional rehabilitation of visually impaired". This subject may benefit the future professionals because unfortunately, Croatia has the visually impaired adult (and children) war victims and with this special group new problems have arisen that need to be dealt with.


DENMARK, report by Mrs Winnie Ankerdal and Mr Peter Rodney


ESTONIA, Report by Mrs Anne Koiv


FINLAND, Report by Mrs Solveig Sj�stedt and Mrs Tanja H�nnik�inen

Finland participated in the EU group modifying/creating the new model for teacher training for visually impaired. Since January 1999 our country has introduced new legislation in the area of education describing new competencies for specialist teachers. Our aim is to start teacher training from autumn 2001.


FRANCE, Report by Mrs Marie-Renee Hector (F�d�ration Nationale des Instituts de Sours en d'Aveugles de France)

Training for teachers of the visually impaired has improved because of better co-operation between the Health/Social Services Ministry and the Education Ministry. The Ministry of Education is planning to introduce distance education programmes for training teachers of the visually impaired.


FRANCE, Report by Mrs Nathalie Lewi-Dumont (Centre Nationale d'Etudes et de Formation pour l'enfance inadapt�e)

The CNEFEI located in Suresnes near Paris, is a National Center for training the school teachers for handicapped and learning disabled children and youngsters (deaf, blind and visually impaired, physically, mentally handicapped). It is financed by the Ministry of National Education. The students who attend it already work as teachers for "regular" pupils. In France, it is the only institute where teachers for the visually impaired are trained.

The exam they take is not a university exam (e.g. a master degree) but a professional exam. There are three units which must be passed through to become a specialised teacher. The first two ones are theoretical. The second one deals with the specific handicap or disability the teacher has chosen (here visually impaired). In the next year, after having passed the first two units, the teacher is allowed to take the third examination which takes place in the teacher's classroom (or in a mainstream situation). The CNEFEI also provides a course to headmasters of specialised schools and inspectors of specialised teachers.


GERMANY, Report by Mrs Helga Weinl�der (Heidelberg)

I am working in training of teachers for blind and visually impaired children at the P�dagogische Hochschule Heidelberg which is one of four universities in Germany to teach this specialisation. I am responsible for the psychology part of the education.
I also attended the last conference which I felt was a good opportunity to learn about the different possibilities in Europe. With regard to new developments taking place there is not much to report; in a way we have been busy to keep up the standards in a time when funding is being reduced. For this workshop I liked the reader which was sent to the participants and I am looking forward to the workshop.


GERMANY, Report by Mrs Emmy Cocsan (Dortmund)

At the University of Dortmund a new team of colleagues begun the work in 1997. The changes in the teacher training for Visually Impaired during the last two years can be summarised as follows:


HUNGARY, Report by Mrs Krisztina Kovacs

The following changes can be mentioned:


THE NETHERLANDS, Report by Mrs Maryam Mildenberg and Mrs Sytske Brandenburg

In August 1998 the New Special Education Act was introduced. This Act deals with the organisation of clustering schools for special education into regional centres of Expertise. Another aspect of this Act is the financing of special education which has been changed considerably. As a result, integration has been given a more official status. So far, no legislation with regard to qualification of teachers in special education has been effected.

Our Faculty for teacher training, the Seminarium for Orthopegagogiek at Utrecht started the process of changing all our modules (about 200 different ones for all teachers who work with children with special needs). These changes concern both updating the content - which takes place every year - and, most importantly, changes of method. Gradually, all the modules will enable teacher trainers and students to use the methods used in the Bratislava Workshop: methods in which all participants have an active part and are equally responsible.


POLAND, Report by Mrs Jadwiga Kuczynska-Kwapisz

There have been many changes in Poland during the last few years:

The changes pertain to the whole educational system, including special education. Integration of special needs children is encouraged and reflected in the provisions of the educational reform.

All these new developments present new challenges to our college. Our students should be prepared for working in the new system. Therefore, we are in the process of changing our curricula. In the area of blindness & visual impairment we have introduced two paths: rehabilitation of the visually impaired (including O&M, activities of daily living, vision rehabilitation, early intervention) and education of the visually impaired (including training to work in a six-grade primary school, kindergarten and dormitory as a teacher or house parent). As a member of the committee on education for special needs children at the Ministry of Education I am aware of a number of problems we need to face, for example how to provide textbooks for visually impaired students or how to integrate visually impaired students without jeopardising the quality of education. I hope the exchange within the ICEVI network will help resolve many of the issues we are facing.


RUMANIA, Report by Mrs Mirela Arion and Mr Vasile Preda

Some research/action projects:


SPAIN, Report by Mrs Griselda Tubau

In our department we are presently occupied with two subjects, one of them based on the evolutive and educational aspects of visual handicaps and the other based on the language of the blind child.


SWEDEN, Report by Mrs Kerstin Fellenius

There are two fte's (full time equivalents) for lecturers (divided among 3 individuals). The courses start every autumn with approximately 15 students and lasts 3 years (part-time), the full-time equivalent lasts 1,5 year. During the first year the emphasis lies on generic topics in special education and after that the emphasis shifts towards counselling and teaching v.i. children and young people.

The courses are delivered in the form of both distance courses and lecturing at the Institute. The students visit the Institute about once a week. During the rest of the week, they work in local study-groups, discuss literature, do the fieldwork etc. and report via IT (e-mail or conference system) to the Institute. Some lessons are also on videotape and could be worked with on the local level.
Practical subjects such as braille, O&M etc. are introduced at the Institute.


UK, Report by Mrs Chris Arter

There have been many government-initiated changes over the past 2 years. There has been a government Green Paper opening a discussion and consultation in the area of special needs teaching. It is possible that the mandatory basis of the course for teachers of the visually impaired might disappear. It is feared that teachers will be expected to take generic special needs programmes with just one or two VI modules. We have submitted our views to the government strongly opposing this. It looks less likely that this will happen but we await the full government decision. When the decision is published we will need to revise our programme content to take account of any changes.

As part of the emphasis on research we are planning to attract more research students at M.Ed, M.Phil and PhD. levels.

With the increased emphasis on research we work as a team with staff in the Research Centre for the Education of the Visually Handicapped (RCEVH) at the university.

[ Previous Topic ] [ Table of Contents ] [ Next Topic ]