European Newsletter - Issue 20
Volume 7 number 3, December 2001
- Important: Candidates for the new European Committee
- Important: Invitation to the 2nd Balkan Conference
- Changes in Sweden
- Low Vision in Early Intervention in Europe. End of the Comenius Project - And a Job to be Continued.
- 130 Years of education of visually impaired in Latvia
- Two important projects on integration:
- Training od ADL instructors in Europe
- A new network: of directors of Institutes of Rehabilitation, Vocational Training and Employment of Persons with Visual Impairment.
Before you lies the 20th issue of the European Newsletter, the 20th issue since the publication of the first newsletter at the European Conference in Budapest in July 1995. Articles from or about nearly all European countries are published, with most articles contributed by Poland and Romania.
Our mailing list now contains about 1,500 addresses in Europe (and about 100 addresses from outside Europe): a real sharing of information about the education and rehabilitation of children and youth with visual impairment, one of the major aims of ICEVI.
In continuation of the article about the future of ICEVI Europe in the last issue of the Newsletter you will also find the list of candidates for the New European Committee for the period 2002-2005.
There is a lot of networking and new projects in Europe with regard to different aspects of the education of the visually impaired. In the last issue we informed you about the MDVI Euronet (Multiply Disabled Visually Impaired European Network) and the TEAM Network for parents. In this issue more information about two new projects with regard to Integrated education, the Fluss-project and the ISaR-project, a starting network on training of ADL instructors in Europe and a network of directors of institutes in the field of rehabilitation, vocational training and employment in Europe.
Last October two schools celebrated important anniversaries: the school in Budapest celebrated its 175th Anniversary, the school in Lviv, Ukraine, its 150th Anniversary.
In Budapest they celebrated this with a really very interesting conference with participants from neighbouring, central European countries. Next year the school in Riga, Latvia, will celebrate its 130th Anniversary: more about this school in this newsletter.
By the time you have received this newsletter you will also receive or will already have received the registration brochure for the World Conference in 2002. About 180 of the 320 abstracts that were submitted to the programme committee were of European origin, something to be proud of. I hope to meet many of you at this conference, next year in the Netherlands.
My advice to the people who will apply for a supported place: send in your registration form as soon as possible !!
Attached I send you my seasonal wishes and I hope you can realize many of your wishes in 2002.
Copy for the next issue has to be submitted, if possible by e-mail, before 1 February 2002.
Dr Herman A.A.Gresnigt
European Chairman ICEVI
Mook, The Netherlands
Important: Candidates for the new European Committee
In the last Newsletter (2-2001, September 2001) we informed you about the procedure with regard to the election of the New European Committee of ICEVI. According to this procedure we will publish the names of the candidates in this issue of the Newsletter: one candidate for the chairmanship, and one for each sub region.
The sub regions (for the composition of the sub regions: see page 3 of the September issue) have the opportunity to propose other candidates until 15 March 2002. If there is more than one candidate, either for the chairmanship or for one or more sub regions, elections will take place at the World Conference in 2002.
Candidates must be prepared to assume responsibility for a substantial sub task, for example as a secretary, treasurer, editor of the Newsletter, tasks with regard to the preparation of the next European Conference, workshops or the activities of a special interest group.
We, the nomination committee, are very happy to have found a number of excellent people who have promised to be prepared for membership of the committee. Together they can form a good team to further improve the activities of ICEVI in Europe.
For Chairmanship: Mr Eberhard Fuchs, Germany
For the different sub regions:
- Baltic and Nordic Countries: Mrs Marika Carlborg, Finland
- English-speaking Countries: Mrs Marianna Buultjens, Scotland
- French-speaking Countries: Mr Francis Boé, France
- South European Countries: Mr Mariano Valle del Abad, Spain
- German & Dutch speaking Countries: Mr Hans Welling, The Netherlands
- Central European Countries: Mrs Grazyna Walczak, Poland
- East European Countries: Mrs Natalia Belyakova, Russia
- Balkan Countries: Mr Vladimir Radoulov, Bulgaria
Again: If you like to propose an alternative candidate either for the Chairmanship or for your sub region: please send in her/his name no later than 15 March 2002 to my e-mail address below, of course after having made sure that she/he agrees to be candidate under the conditions mentioned above. If something is not clear or if you still have questions about this matter, do not hesitate to contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Invitation to the 2nd Balkan Conference
Employment Rehabilitation & Vocational Training for the Blind, Low vision, Deaf- blind and Multihandicapped 15-19. January 2002, Athens Greece
The Lighthouse for the blind of Greece, the Pan Hellenic Federation of the blind, the Center of Education and Rehabilitation for the Blind of Greece in cooperation with the Employment Committee of the European Blind Union (E.B.U.), and the International Council for Education of people with Visual Impairment (I.C.E.V.I.) have the pleasure to invite you participate at the 2nd Balkan Conference.
The theme of the conference is:
Employment Rehabilitation & Vocational Training For the Blind, Low vision, Deaf- blind and Blind with additional disabilities
This has been chosen to promote and introduce models of employment rehabilitation and ideas on vocational training, that had been established in other countries.
Framework of topics:
- Employment Rehabilitation for the Blind
- New Technology
- Employment opportunities for low vision population
- New employment opportunities
- Models of employment for blind with additional disabilities
- Participants are responsible for their travel costs.
- Conference languages will be English and Greek.
- Deadlines for submitting abstracts: 13th of November 2001
- Deadlines for applications: 5th December 2001
For more information about the Conference you can e-mail at Mr. Menelao Tsaousis Orientation and mobility Instructor at the Center of Education and Rehabilitation for the blind: Balkanconference@yahoo.gr
Also you can send either your abstract or your application form via e-mail.
We are looking forward to meet you in Athens
Scientific Director, Lighthouse for the Blind of Greece
17 Athinas str., Kallithea 17673, Athens - Greece
Tel. +301 941 5222, Fax. +301 941 5271, Mobile phone: +3093 6040630
Changes in Sweden
On July 1, 2001, a new government authority in Sweden entered the scene. Its name is the Swedish Institute for Special Needs Education.
A school for all
The basic principle in the Swedish educational system is that the municipality is responsible for the education of all children from the pre-school level through the upper secondary level. "A school for all" is the central concept in the education policy.
With more than 270 municipalities ranging in size from the City of Stockholm to small rural municipalities with a population of less than 5000 you can't expect each of them to have the knowledge of educating children with rare and very special needs.
The involvement in special needs education by the state, the central government, started already in the 19th century with the establishment of a national school for the blind. Step by step the involvement of the state increased, e.g. by taking the responsibility for itinerant teachers for the visually impaired and the establishment of a centre for production of educational materials. Similar initiatives were taken for other groups of children with disabilities.
A new authority
To gather the state support to the municipalities under one umbrella the Swedish Institute for Special Needs Education was created. With this creation a number of previously independent authorities ceased to exist. Among them was National Agency for Special Needs Education (SIH), Ekeskolan Resource Centre (ERC) and Tomteboda Resource Centre (TRC).
Such an extensive reorganization is not done all at once. The process started a number of years ago when the Government appointed a Committee of Inquiry into the Education of Pupils with Disabilities. The report from this committee and the bill presented in the Parliament caused a very heated debate about the future education of visually impaired pupils with additional disabilities.
Resource Centre Vision
In the new institute the two previous resource centres (ERC and TRC) have become one unit called Resource Centre Vision. As the centre is located in two places as before the addition of Stockholm and Örebro is used to separate them.
The debate about the closing of the special school for visually impaired pupils with additional disabilities resulted in a kind of compromise. Ekeskolan was allowed to accept new pupils up to June 30, 2001. The pupils accepted by the school have received a guarantee to fulfil their compulsory education in Örebro. Resource Centre Vision Örebro will also be able to offer visually impaired pupils a short-time placement in the future. So far there is no official definition of what short-time placement means.
The special school at TRC was closed already in 1986. The resource centre model created at that time is also the core model for the other resource centres established in Sweden since then. Important ingredients in this model are courses for professionals and parents, assessment of children, training visits and social activities for the students and, in the case of TRC, also research.
In the new organization Sweden is divided into five regions. Each region is supposed to develop a support system depending on the specific conditions ithe region.
The core of the region will be the advisors previously employed by SIH, e.g. those working as itinerant teachers for the visually impaired. In the new authority they are supposed to swift the attention from the individual student with a disability to become an advisor for the municipality. The advisor is also supposed to be more generic in the future, i.e. not only specialized in visual impairment but also in special needs in general.
The advisor, as well as the resource centre, is in the future supposed to be resources that the municipality can call for assistance. The initiative is with the municipality. If they need help they call the National Agency for Special Needs Education, not the vice verse.
Each region will in due time have one or several areas of national responsibility. So far only two regions have received this responsibility. The Eastern Region with an office in Stockholm, will have a national responsibility for visual impairment. However, it is too early to say what a national responsibility means.
Autumn 2001 and spring 2002 will be used for fine-tuning the new organization. In due time you'll find information on www.sit.se explaining in English the new services [new window] based on the concept "a school for all". In the meantime you can use this address to access the websites of former ERC and TRC.
The postal addresses and telephones to ERC and TRC are still the same although the names have changed.
Director of Research & Development
Resource Centre Vision Stockhoom
Vice President ICEVI
Low Vision in Early Intervention in Europe
End of the Comenius Project - And a Job to be Continued
The project "Low Vision in Early Intervention in Europe" has already been described in previous editions of the IVECI newsletter. In August the three-year period of support by the European Union came to an end. In June the project group joined in a final meeting in Rome.
In the course of the project period the following activities were carried out:
- A survey of the level of low vision diagnostics and training in Europe.
- Development of a further education curriculum with modules in the area "Low Vision in Early Intervention with blind, multiply disabled, visually impaired children".
- Planning, organisation, realisation and evaluation of a further education programme in September 2000, in which 30 people from 14 European countries participated. More further education meetings will be planned in collaboration with the ICEVI.
- Working out "Recommendations for Low Vision in Early Intervention", which will be forwarded to the authorities responsible through the country's representatives of ICEVI Europe.
- Preparing a multimedia CD-ROM with essays, videos and links on the issue "Low Vision in Early Intervention". A second completely revised edition will be available in October 2001.
- Setting up a home page with a list of references and further information on the project.
The Comenius Project Low Vision in Early Intervention in Europe ended in August 2001. However, work on this topic will continue. ICEVI will take over the coordination of future courses; the home page http://www.isar-projekt.de will continue [new window] and will extend its range of topics.
At the final meeting of the project, in which ICEVI President Herman Gresnigt and Johanna Enqvist, ICEVI Early Intervention Group, took part, it became clear that one of the major problems is that there is no information system that shows all the activities in early intervention staff development throughout Europe. The group at the meeting decided to try and change this situation. A databank will be created on the homepage of the University of Dortmund (Prof. Dr. Renate Walthes) which will give information on every person and every organisation which offers courses, workshops, staff development or lectures anywhere in Europe. There will also be a short description of each event. In this way we will try to ensure the development of a system which will provide information on all courses and activities on Early Intervention in Europe.
We invite all who are involved in the area of Early Intervention to enter their activities in this databank and so contribute to the development of this information system. If this system proves successful, you will be able not only to find out about staff development opportunities but you will also get ideas for potential lecturers for your own courses. We hope that this will be the first step in the process of coordinating all the numerous activities which take place throughout Europe.
Visit us on our home page under the topic: 'What's going on?' and send us all the necessary information. This way, we will all grow a little closer together!
Contact & Further Information:
Frank Laemers / Renate Walthes
University of Dortmund
Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences
D-44221 Dortmund, Germany
130 Years of education of visually impaired in Latvia
Historically, the educational system of blind people in Latvia was founded in 1872 as a one-year class mainly for teaching of different handicrafts. Wilhelmine Reimers, a rich merchant's widow, and Ida Walentinowitsch, daughter of a poor Polish landowner, were the first to show some care for visually impaired people. In 1919 the school was reorganised into a four-year, but in the thirties as a six-year school. In 1947, the start of realising a programme of secondary education was made.
Changes in the system of education of the visually impaired started to be realised in the middle of 1996. Until that time the work with blind and partially sighted children was generally concentrated in the Boarding School and kindergartens for visually impaired in Riga and in some special groups in mainstream kindergartens in other cities of Latvia.
Since the beginning of 1997, Strazdumuiza Boarding School has been changed into Training Centre for Blind and Visually Impaired Children by the decision of the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia. It became a kind of link between all stages of education of visually impaired children. The main task of the newly-established Board of Methodological is to supervise the work of this centre.
The result of these changes was to broaden the functions of the school. The main goal of these changes was to give parents the right to choose the place and form of education for their child.
The functions of the School/Centre are:
- Providing education for every visually impaired child at the age from 6 to 20 with the accomplishing diploma of secondary education;
- Providing special teaching aids for the educational process;
- Providing special lessons of orientation & mobility, low vision training, curative physical training, daily living skills, logopaedics for pupils of the school.
- Providing the register of all visually impaired children in the country;
- Providing consultations for the families of visually impaired children;
- Providing special lessons for children who are visiting the Centre for consultation;
- Organisation of consultations, seminars, courses for staff that is working with visually impaired children;
- Work with mainstream schools: with visually impaired children who visit regular schools, their parents and teachers;
- Work with visually impaired children who do not yet attend the school/centre (pre-school age children).
Since special teachers and educators of visually impaired children are not trained in Latvia, Strazdumuiza Boarding School/Training Centre for Blind and Partially Sighted Children functions as a training centre in this field.
When Latvia regained independence, the school activities were characterised by an intensive seeking for contacts with similar educational organisations in the West. As a result of this work, regular co-operation has been started with schools and centres in all Scandinavian countries, Great Britain, Germany, Israel, America, Austria, Poland, Australia and the Czech Republic. Regular meetings of educationists and pupils take place with colleagues and peers in the Baltic States, contacts have been renewed with like-minded persons in Russia, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, Georgia.
Ligita Geida, deputy director
The ISaR project - Integration of Students with Visual Impairment at Regular Schools
A New Project Presented
of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences of the University of Dortmund, Germany.
- Various experiences with the integration of visually impaired children in regular schools have been gained in more than 30 years.
- Integrative counselling and support of visually impaired children in regular schools and other special schools is a field raising very specific questions and problems.
- A great deal of questions and problems arising in a specific situation are solved with much dedication and expertise, materials have been worked out, methods tested.
- However, the specific knowledge still refers to one particular case. A continuous exchange and thus a further development of the concepts cannot be achieved.
- We aim at making this knowledge as well as the proven strategies available to as many people as possible working in this field and furthering a network of existing expertise.
I Integration or Inclusion
S Students/children with a visual impairment
R Regular schools or other special schools
The ISaR project is based on the know-how and expertise of the staff, students, mothers and fathers.
ISaR intends to collect and systematise approaches, efforts, concepts, strategies and materials and make them available to all interested people.
This can be achieved if a large number of parents, teachers from regular schools and schools for the blind and visually impaired as well as students work together.
Therefore, ISaR relies on your support, participation and interest in working together.
I. Developing up a data bank
Consisting of specialist literature and reports, translated textbooks and material for interactive teaching.
II. Developing and establishing a pool of didactic information
Consisting of drafts, proposals and teaching units to realise teaching which respects the perception and strategies of the visually impaired students.
III. Network and development of further education programmes
For teachers of all kinds of schools, as well as a network of the already existing programmes.
IV. Building up a co-ordination centre
With the objective to support all people involved in the process of interactive teaching.
The key to a further development of education of people with visual impairment lies in the mutuality and a network of expertise and resources. What is mutually developed will again support and facilitate the individual work.
"Together everybody achieves more"
University of Dortmund
Faculty of Rehabilitation Services
Rehabilitation and Education of Blindness & Visual Impairment
44221 Dortmund, Germany
Tel: +49-231-755 5874
Fax: +49-231-755 4558
Homepage: http://www.isar-projekt.de [new window]
The FLUSS project
FLUSS: EU Project Comenius 3.1 for Further Education of Regular School Teachers
a Comenius project of the EU, co-ordinated by the School for the Visually Impaired in Schleswig, Germany.
The FLUSS Project is part of the Socrates Programme of the European Union. FLUSS is an acronym for Fortbildung von Lehrkräften für gemeinsamen Unterricht mit sehgeschädigten Schülern, i.e. further education for teachers in classes including visually impaired pupils. The project is co-ordinated by the State School for Blind and Low Vision Pupils in Schleswig, Germany, which co-operates with six other institutions in four different European countries.
These partners are:
- Blindeninstitutsstiftung Würzburg, Germany
- Altalanos Iskola es Diakotthon Budapest, Hungary
- Universität Dortmund, Germany
- Odilieninstitut Graz, Austria
- Visio Onderwijsinstelling Noord, Haren, The Netherlands
- Tartu Emajöe Kool, Estonia
Basic concept of the FLUSS - Project
Teaching in classrooms including visually impaired pupils (integration) is increasing in all European countries. Further education for teachers who include these pupils in their classroom is essential to ensure that special needs will be met.
One fundamental aspect of good co-operation among the supporting organisations (resource centres) and the local (inclusion) schools are further education courses for the teachers in these schools. They will then be better prepared and very aware of the special needs of visually impaired pupils.
The specific methods and concepts for further education developed by the local institutions and organisations who support the process of integration of visually impaired children must be collected and processed to make them available to other teachers who are involved with further education in this special field.
The participants in this project will collect and discuss concepts and methods of further education for teachers in order to create guidelines for special teachers who must conduct courses for teachers in classrooms including visually impaired pupils in primary schools.
The plan is to develop modules for further education courses to cover all important topics and aspects and convey information about useful materials and media for supporting the process of integration.
Some of the important topics (modules) are:
- Visual impairment
- Basic questions about inclusion
- Physical development/sports
- Responsibilities of the resource centre
- Environmental modification (media)
- Curricular adaptations (teaching methods)
- Social and psychological factors
These topics include approximately fifty different aspects linked to visual impairment and focus on the situation of blind and low vision pupils included in regular schools.
Presumably from the beginning of 2002 current results are available under www.sfs-schleswig.de. Proposals and amendments are welcomed very much. The final results of this project (guidelines) will be available at the beginning of 2003.
Dr Peter Appelhans, Schleswig, Germany.
Training of ADL instructors in Europe
(compiled by Antonina Adamowicz-Hummel, Academy of Special Education, Warsaw, Poland. e-mail: email@example.com).
Colleagues from 8 European countries, involved in the training of ADL instructors in Europe met each other in Copenhagen, Denmark.
One of the things they discussed were the results of a questionnaire to determine Personal Preparation of European ADL instructors for blind and low vision persons.
26-28 April 2001: the first Meeting on Cooperation Between European Educational Programmes for Instructors in the Area of Activities of Daily Living (ADL) was held in Copenhagen at the initiative of Pamela Cory from IRIS, Hamburg. It followed an informal working meeting of several ADL instructor trainers attending the 7th European Seminar on Education of Orientation and Mobility Instructors in Budapest, 1999.
Twelve people from seven countries were able to attend: Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Switzerland, UK and The Netherlands. The purpose was to learn from each other, exchange experiences and ideas, and strengthen the identity of the profession in a European context. The participants were pleased - both with the content of the meeting and with the atmosphere at the venue, due to organisational work and hospitality of the colleagues of the Institute for the Visually Impaired in Copenhagen.
Each participant presented an overview of training programmes in his or her country. Pam Cory presented a very interesting report on the results of the survey she carried out among the European training programmes for ADL instructors. The questionnaire had been developed to determine how ADL teachers for blind and low vision persons are trained. Its purpose is to foster communication among ADL personnel preparation programmes and to improve the quality of ADL Teaching in Europe.
In an open discussion, the participants brought up various philosophical issues, such as shared definition of ADL, determining what services the client receives and working issues, such as particular training techniques, for example client simulations, use of blindfolds and low vision simulators, video-teaching, etc.
One of the issues discussed was the need to establish a forum for professional exchange, the primary purpose being to develop training standards similar to the standards for Teachers of the Visually Impaired developed at ICEVI teacher training seminars. European seminars, together with the O&M instructor trainer seminars, could serve as such a forum. However, the difficulty O&M trainers have faced, and ADL trainers are going to face, is the lack of a body capable of carrying out the organisational work, fundraising and lobbying. Both groups of professionals are examining the possibility of working with ICEVI Europe in this respect.
Materials from the Meeting have been gathered in a report. This report is published by Dorte H. Silver from Denmark. Free copies of this report are available at the Visual Impairment Knowledge Centre in Hellerup, Denmark:
tel: ++45 39 46 01 01, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will contact this centre to ask permission for the publication of this report on our website.
Antonina Adamowicz-Hummel, Poland
A new network: of directors of Institutes of Rehabilitation, Vocational Training and Employment of Persons with Visual Impairment.
During the past few years an inspiring collaboration has grown among several European institutes for the visually impaired.
This collaboration was mostly based on European projects subsidised by the European Community (for instance Umbrella).
Because of the project-based collaboration there was no guarantee for continuity.
We thought it necessary to establish continuity in the collaboration by founding a Council for Directors of European Institutes for rehabilitation, vocational training and employment of the visually impaired.
After the founding conference in Het Loo Erf (Apeldoorn, Netherlands) ECSerProVip was established in Linz (Austria) in March 2001. The network is called: ECSerProVIp.
This means: European Council of Service providers for Visually Impaired persons, especially within the EU.
The aim of this council is to promote the activities of these institutes in their work to improve the position of visually impaired persons. ECSerProVip is aware of the growing European unification and the necessity of co-operation on a permanent basis within the EU.
One of the most important objectives of the Council is selecting and discussing subjects for necessary collaboration among the institutes and finding financial resources for the realisation of the projects.
At this very moment we are working on a project to develop a European qualification model for professionals in our institutes working with visually impaired persons to create a qualification standard within the partner institutes. The partner institutes are located in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
We meet twice a year in one of the participants' institutes.
The Council has a board with a president (Rob Meijer, Het Loo Erf, Netherlands), vice president (Hans Joachim Zeissing, BFW Düren, Germany) and a treasurer (Francis Guiteau, Institut Monteclair, France).
Every year two new institutes will be admitted based on an established procedure.
The Council is willing to have close co-operation with relevant European organisations such as EBU, EASPD and naturally ICEVI.
A pleasant contact has already taken place with the European chairman of the ICEVI, Mr. Herman Gresnigt.
Rob H. Meijer
(general director Het Loo Erf, Netherlands)