|www . ICEVI - Europe . org|
Volume 18 number 3, December 2012
The year 2012 will be over before we realise. It has been a year in which many of you have made great efforts to support the parents of children and adults with a visual impairment. This commitment is always impressive.
2012 was also the year in which the Board of ICEVI-Europe and the Organising Committee in Turkey started preparations for the 8th European ICEVI conference in 2013.
At the same time many professionals have held meetings to share their experiences with colleagues and to try to improve the quality of education and re/habilitation for people with a visual impairment.
In Cluj Napoca (Romania) the 6th ICEVI Balkan conference took place with the title: New Developments in Educational Policies, Research and Practices in Visual Impairment.
In Chemnitz (Germany) the VBS organised the 35th Congress of the Association of Pedagogy for the Blind and Partially Sighted.
In Nantes (France) the 48es Journées Pédagogiques du GPEAA took place with the title: Comment réinventer l’établissement pour enfants déficients visuels : fondamentaux et resources.
In November the first WBU/ICEVI Conference took place in Bangkok, Thailand.
More than 1000 participants attended the conference. In this conference much attention was paid to the campaign: Education for All, Children with Visual Impairment. Several Board members of ICEVI-Europe attended the conference, in contrast to previous ICEVI Conferences, which had been accessible only for a limited group.
Now for the New Year, 2013: we look forward to our 8th European Conference, which will take place in Istanbul, Turkey.
The conference promises to be a true meeting place for people who are involved with the education and re/habilitation of people with a visual impairment of all age categories.
An important issue is that the conference is based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), a system that is used more and more internationally and contributes to a new concept of support and a mutual language for all involved in the field.
We will be free from the medical and social concept of support. Increasingly human rights will hold the prominent position. This is a huge development, which also places responsibility with governments and service providers.
Please do not forget to pay your membership fees of ICEVI-Europe. It will provide you with voting rights in the General Assembly, which will be held next year during the European Conference. The payment of membership fees also entitles you to a discount on the conference fee.
I wish you all Merry Christmas holidays and a Happy New Year.
I hope to see many of you in Istanbul.
On behalf of the Board of ICEVI-Europe,
Drs J.A. (Hans) Welling, Chairman
For the first time the Board of ICEVI-Europe has decided to present an award to three people who have made a special contribution to the lives of people with a visual impairment.
Therefore each individual or corporate member of ICEVI-Europe is invited to submit to the Awards Committee the nominees who meet the following criteria:
Nominations should be prepared in an abstract that does not to exceed two single space typewritten pages. This document should explain how the person meets these criteria and why they would be a worthy recipient.
It would be valuable when the nomination contains letters of recommendation.
Please send nominations to the secretary,
Elly Aardoom firstname.lastname@example.org
The Board will appoint a committee, who will judge the nominations and make a final choice.
Maths and sciences are difficult for braille users and severely visually impaired learners, because these subjects are highly visually orientated. But, when the right adaptations, alternative methods and materials are provided, maths and sciences surely are accessible for them!
More and more visually impaired pupils are integrated in mainstream secondary schools. For the maths and science teachers it is not self-evident to give them some extra attention in the classroom without depriving the sighted peers. Furthermore, these mainstream teachers aren’t trained to teach blind pupils.
Especially in the field of maths and sciences, teachers have low expectations of braille pupils. Sometimes these pupils get less challenging assignments and less feedback. In some cases, fields of maths and sciences that are regarded as being ‘too difficult’ are left out of their curriculum. In the end, they perform at a lower level than their sighted peers. And because of this, the expectations of the teachers and the braille pupils diminish even more. We call this ‘the Pygmalion effect’: the impact of expectations. Only successful experiences in the field of maths and sciences can change this negative spiral into a positive one.
Because of these reasons, far too little blind and severely visually impaired pupils study maths and sciences in secondary school, and even less in higher education. Therefore we, a group of specialists in the field of education for visually impaired pupils and students, decided to start a European school project on this topic.
‘Touching maths’ is a European project on maths and sciences for severely visually impaired pupils and students. It is a Comenius partnership of six schools and resource centers. The two-year project started out in September 2010 and finished in September 2012. The following partners are involved:
Our goal is to stimulate greater equal opportunities for braille users in the field of maths and sciences, by providing them and their special teachers and mainstream teachers with better methods and educational materials. Our message: maths education is important for all students, including blind and visually impaired pupils. Maths & sciences may be less accessible for them, but it is possible and rewarding.
Since our target group of severely visually impaired pupils and experts in the field of maths is very small, it was necessary to gather expertise on an international level. The many positive reactions of schools for the blind, counselling centers, transcription centers, etc. all across Europe indicated the need for this kind of cooperation. All of us are looking for solutions for the same problems, without knowing what’s already being done in other countries.
For the project we gathered the expertise of six different European schools and resource centers. We all have our own traditions, habits and educational systems. We have different points of view on education and integration, on independence and autonomy. Sometimes we crashed into intense discussions. Do we have to adapt the national maths exams for the braille pupil? Is that fair? What is the best for the braille students and their independancy? Although we often had different opinions, we always discussed respectfully. It was very interesting and useful to talk about these topics.
Since there is no uniformity in the organisation of special education and itinerant teaching, it is difficult to give a uniform advice. Each system has advantages and disadvantages. And we are not the ones who have the power to change the systems.
Furthermore, every nation has its own (mathematical) braille code. In some countries all pupils work in a digital way, in others braille books are still printed on paper, although digitalisation is in progress everywhere. For these reasons the development of technical tools has to be done locally. We believe a European mathematical braille code could have a unifying function, could enlarge the scope of the target group, and could lower the costs of technical aids and adaptations. But we also experienced this is a utopic idea on short term. Nevertheless cooperation on a national and international level is necessary to share and gather expertise.
As a final product we created the website www.touchingmaths.net, which is a pedagogical tool for pupils, itinerant teachers and mainstream maths teachers. We presented this tool on different occasions in various countries. On the 25th of May 2012 we organised a training course in Bruges, Belgium, to present our project and website. We gave 4 workshops: 'Working with graphs', 'Methods for linear calculating', 'Alternatives for calculators' and 'Relief drawings & objects'. You can find information on these topics on our website.
We think it is important that all students get the opportunity to develop their capacities in maths to reach their utmost potential, braille pupils included. For now, this isn’t the case yet. We believe this project was a step in the right direction, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. There is a need for more research and activities on a European level. For example, a project to improve cooperation in maths between the normally sighted peers and the braille pupil would be very useful.
Furthermore we believe that the expertise of the special schools for the blind should be preserved, certainly in the field of maths and sciences. Integration is a trend in European education, especially for the pupils who are cognitively strong. We support the idea of integration. But we do believe that itinerant teachers have the task to transfer the expertise of the special schools into the mainstram education. They should guard especially the level of maths and sciences of the braille pupils. Therefore they should have a scientific degree, or at least the option to ask for assistance of a colleague who’s an expert in maths and sciences for braille students.
In order to optimize the transition from secondary to higher level, this pedagogical expertise is needed to open up options in education. Too often braille pupils are discouraged to study maths and sciences, and more difficult fields of the curriculum are being left out for convenience. A good itinerant teacher assists the mainstream maths teacher by offering accessible documents, pre-teaching to prepare the pupil for the classes, tactile objects and relief drawings, sufficient descriptions or other alternative methods. During individual sessions, he checks if the braille pupil has understood the subject matter. This solid base in secondary level is a precondition for a smooth transition to higher level education.
Concerning tasks and exams, we think it is important to permit adaptations. Doing so you offer the braille pupil the opportunity to perform on the same level as his peers. These adaptations should be made by an expert and are designed to stimulate independency. Eg. Blind pupils will need a sighted assistant to perform non-adapted tasks based on the output of a graphic calculator. We believe it is more important to test whether the braille pupil has understood the subject matter, and if he can use an alternative and accessible calculator such as Excel, rather than to oblige him to use the same method as his peers. By expecting them to use the same method, their independency and growth are being limited.
Many mainstream teachers are afraid to teach a braille pupil in the setting of a large group of sighted peers. They are in great need of teaching tips and additional educational materials. We hope they will find inspiration and advice on our website. We believe that having a braille pupil in the classroom is an enrichment for the peers. The maths teacher is challenged to choose for a different approach and to explain subject matters in an alternative way. The use of verbal descriptions and tactile objects requires the peers to address more senses than usual. And this cumulation of experiences will deepen everybody’s mathematical insight.
DOWNLOAD Touching maths leaflet [PDF, 13,3 MB]
Sarah van Liefferinge, Secondary School Spermalie, Bruges, Belgium
Annemiek van Leendert, Royal Visio, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
The first of three Annual Conferences organised by the EC Grundtvig Network Project Lifelong Learning Needs for Ageing People with Sensory Disabilities (SensAge) (www.sensage.eu) took place in Zagreb, Croatia, on September 30, 2012. This SensAge one day conference focused on the current state of knowledge in this field, and presentations gave to the Conference the widest available review of developments in Europe and Quebec for Ageing People with Sensory Disabilities.
It was organised in association with the University of Zagreb (www.ufzg.unizg.hr).
After the Welcome by Professor Ljubica Pribanic of the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, Anne Rabiller, Directrice Pôle Handicap, Personnes Agées et Soin, Mutualité Française Anjou-Mayenne, Angers, France – the Managing Partner of SensAge - set the tone of the meeting by emphasising that the ageing population should not be regarded as a burden and a cost but should be cherished as transmitters of knowledge and experience and the quality of their lives should be increased. The Key Note Presentation on Dual sensory impairment in the older population, a challenge for epidemiological approaches, prevention, rehabilitation and professional training was given by Marie-Dominique Lussier, Geriatric Doctor, ANAP, France; this was followed by very informative and wide-ranging presentations by Alan Suttie, Teaching and Social Work, Fife Society for the Blind, Scotland, UK; Ivona Salaj, Educational and Rehabilitation specialist, Croatian Association of Deafblind Persons DODIR, Croatia; Valerie Wood-Gaiger, Retired Volunteer, Learn with Grandma, Wales, UK; Isabella Ballesteros, FIBHGM, Spain; Marit Bjerke, Special Education Teacher, Oslo Voksenopplaering Skullerud and Thorhild Løkkeberg Pedersen, Head of Department, OVS, Norway; Félix Villar Gómez, President of ONCE’S General Council’s Commission for Ageing Members and Trainer of Special Needs Teachers, ONCE, Spain; Gudbjorg Arnadottir, National Institute for the Blind, Visually Impaired, and Deafblind, Iceland; Krisztina Kovács, Lecturer, ELTE University Bárczi, Faculty of Special Education, Hungary; Peter Verstraten, Senior Project Manager/Science Coordinator, Royal Dutch Visio, the Netherlands; Stefana Cankova, Office and Membership Officer, EASPD, Belgium; Blaithin Gallagher, Head of Projects & Research, NCBI, Ireland; and Sylvie Bilodeau, Directrice des services professionnels et de réadaptation, Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille, Québec, Canada.
During the Conference, Life is for Living: Let’s Live it! – a DVD presentation by Joe Ballard (Ireland) – was introduced and shown by Blaithin Gallagher (NCBI) and the short video was amazingly inspiring and motivating for all.The topics of presentations and discussions ranged from dual sensory loss in older people to the European context and covered various topics such as Education and rehabilitation of elderly deafblind in Croatia; Creating an international network for Intergenerational Learning, Deaf people in hospital situations; Ageing people with sensory disabilities - deaf and hearing impaired, Social services by and for the ageing members of ONCE; Ageing People with visual impairments - the Icelandic approach; The role of functional vision assessment in the overall rehabilitation of ageing people with visual impairment; A project in the region of Den Bosch with three aims: setting up a local network, implementation of vision screening in nursing homes, and transfer of expertise; and Independent living and acquired vision loss in older people - rehabilitation services for ageing people with sensory disabilities in Québec, Canada.
The conference included an introductory presentation on the set-up of the SensAge Interactive Knowledge Base by Erica Smit, Knowledge Broker, Royal Dutch Visio, the Netherlands, Froukje Veenstra, Senior Knowledge Broker, Royal Dutch Visio, the Netherlands and Katinka Bergmans, Functional administrator intra- and internet, Royal Dutch Visio, the Netherlands, followed by examples collected by CENTICH on ICT for Autonomy – SensAge by Erve Sylvie, Head Manager, CENTICH, MFAM, France and Jawad Hajjam, Development Manager, CENTICH, MFAM, France.
John Harris, SensAge Project Coordinator, Vision Europe Limited, UK gave the closing speech and emphazised the need for developing resources and a knowledge base in the theme of the Project for the future of Europe.
The participants found great potential in the transfer of know-how and the sharing of knowledge on a European level. At the moment, too little information is available on a European level about the learning needs of ageing people with sensory disabilities and the Project aims to be a cornerstone and the reference point within the European Union for developments in lifelong learning and enablement for ageing people with sensory disabilities in order to maintain their independence and to improve their quality of life
If you would like to keep in contact with SensAge and become part of our growing network of correspondents, please contact our Coordinator
John Harris, Vision Europe Limited
The presidents of Enviter, Steven Scheffer and of ICEVI-Europe, Hans Welling have signed an agreement of cooperation.
Both organizations will inform each other about actual matters. Also managerial exchange will take place. In this way the objectives of both organizations will be better realized.
For further information about this agreement visit our website www.icevi-europe.org
The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh is the only residential school in Scotland for children and young people who are blind or visually impaired (VI). The school caters for those whose single disability is VI, together with those who have VI and additional support needs (ASN) and those who have severe and complex multiple disabilities and visual impairment (MDVI).
The Royal Blind School is one of only seven national Grant-Aided Special Schools (GASS) in Scotland. Although the grant comes from the Scottish Government, who set the broad general guidelines for education in Scotland, decisions about education are devolved to the 32 Local Government Authorities. Legislation makes a ‘presumption to mainstream’ except in specific circumstances.
Over the past 5 years, the pupil roll of the Royal Blind School has been declining as pupils are increasingly educated in the mainstream or in areas close to the family home. At the time of writing the total population is 62 pupils across both campuses although the school is able to accommodate in excess of 120 pupils including 54 with MDVI.
In early 2012, the Board commissioned the principal of the Royal Blind school, Julie Fardell, to undertake a Strategic Review of the Royal Blind School, whose purpose was to provide a basis for firm decisions regarding Royal Blind’s contribution to the education of children and young people with VI in the medium and long-term future.
The Scottish Government had, in 2010, commissioned Peter Doran to carry out the broader ‘Strategic Review of Learning Provision for Children and Young People with Complex Additional Support Needs’. The Doran review was subsequently published in November 2012.
The Royal Blind Board considered the findings and recommendations of the Royal Blind School Strategic Review at the end of June 2012, and the result is a new long term strategy for the school. This report is a summary of the important findings of the review.
The methodology used to carry out the Strategic Review included:
The staff is rightfully proud of the School and what it has achieved for many pupils over the years. While they would like to see the school return to the full enrolment of 120 pupils of mixed abilities, most realize that this is highly unlikely and that we have to change our staffing and practices to reflect current and future needs. They presented many ideas for diversification of both Royal Blind School and Royal Blind services which can be used to inform future development.
There was unanimous agreement on what were important considerations for enrolling their child at the Royal Blind School:
The considerations graded as less important were:
Although not explicitly stated as a condition of GASS funding, the school has always operated on the understanding that part of its national remit is to provide a range of outreach services to support learners with VI across Scotland. However, there is at present no explicit mechanism for funding these services.
As previously mentioned, the Strategic review of the Royal Blind School occurred concurrently with the Scottish Government –commissioned Doran Review, the ‘Strategic Review of Learning Provision for Children and Young People with Complex Additional Support Needs’. On 15 November the Scottish Government published the report produced by the Doran Review.
The report, entitled “The Right Help at the Right Time in the Right Place” is the result of a thorough review of the system as it operates at the moment, taking in views and evidence from parents, pupils, professionals and organisations.
There are many recommendations in the report that aim to maintain and improve opportunities for children in mainstream schooling and Scotland’s resource pool of experts in the specialist fields that are needed.
Importantly for the Royal Blind School, the report recognises the great value of the grant aided special schools and argues strongly that this provision on a national level is needed. The report also endorses the value of new services like the resource centre that the Royal Blind School is already planning to develop. Also encouraging is that the Scottish Government has issued a response accepting the recommendations.
Much of the report sets out an agenda for future actions. Among these is the need to establish a new way of commissioning and funding the special schools.
Julie Fardell, Principal
Royal Blind School, Edinburgh (Scotland)
Eden College Durban
This project has an interesting history, but has evolved to primarily offer blind children an opportunity of listening to children’s stories anywhere, anytime, as the stories are saved in MP3 format and available on the internet (similar to Tape Aids for the Blind – but rather MP3 Aids for blind children).
The original project had 3 sub-sections and all of these are represented on the website –
The main focus has become the MP3 stories. Whereas Tape Aids for the Blind is for adults and needs a repository, fine-tuned admin and logistics as well as an efficient postal service, MP3 Aids for the Blind is focused on blind children aged 4 to 10 years and is internet based. It is therefore available 24/7 around the globe; its only limitations being that you need a computer and the internet.
My grade 8 English class at Eden College Durban seemed weaker at reading than I expected, and I needed an intervention. I offered them their own voice and a real world audience. Working collaboratively and using their mobile phones as recording devices, they were able to improve on their reading and writing skills and have fun whilst interacting with modern technology. The confidence and improvement in their reading ability jumped markedly over a two week period.
Although the process started out as a ‘sighted children reading for blind children in English’ project, it has developed substantially since then with adults and celebs becoming progressively more involved. The pupils were challenged to Pay it Forward, and have done so. They requested pages for various languages so they could challenge their friends around the world – not just in Anglophone countries. I was hesitant because of the sheer scope of this ‘little project’, but ultimately relented and stories in various languages have now begun filtering through. Plans are currently underway for managing the data on a far larger scale and more permanent basis as it appears that potentially, a huge number of stories may soon be directed at the site. The site has had over 1 500 visitors in August 2012 (as at 15/08/2012).
This project started out with a bang, but has grown organically since then. At present the future plans include:
The main issues encountered included:
Should you have any further queries, please contact Mr Charli Wiggill at email@example.com OR on school phone at +27 (0)31 205 3357 OR mobile phone at +27 (0)72 2971 639
Mr Charli Wiggill, Deputy Principal
Eden College Durban
Tel: +27 (0)31 205 3357
Mobile: +27 (0)72 2971 639
Inclusive education is strongly endorsed by the UNESCO Salamanca Statement of 1994 and by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 2006. The European Union and most member states have committed themselves to carry out the necessary changes at all levels to achieve inclusive education. In this context the general aim of the European project ‘Pathways to Inclusion’ (P2i) coordinated by the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) is to contribute to national and European implementation processes of inclusive education for persons with disabilities who have special educational needs (SEN). The P2i-project aims to raise awareness of the rights of pupils with disability and to develop ways to ensure they can benefit from high quality education in an inclusive setting, where special needs are taken into consideration and pupils do not face discrimination due to their disability.
Download EASPD materials in PDF format:
European Central Bank, EUROSYSTEM
Contact person: Vicente Ventura
Tel.: +49 69 1344 7876
8 November 2012
We would like to inform your organisation that a second series of euro banknotes will be launched in May 2013, starting with the new €5 banknote.
The banknotes of the second series will be introduced gradually over several years and in ascending order. Thus, the €10 banknote will follow the €5. The second series will have the same denominations as the first: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500. After the introduction of the second series, the first and second series of banknotes will circulate in parallel for some time. The date on which banknotes of the first series cease to be legal tender will be announced well in advance. More information on the second series and, in particular, on the new €5 banknote is available online in the official EU languages (www.ecb.europa.eu/euro and www.newfaceoftheeuro.eu).
For visually impaired users, the second series of euro banknotes shows the value numeral in large bold letters and in raised print, which is easy to feel, on the front of the banknote. The distinct main colours of the different banknotes remain the same in the second series to make it easy to distinguish between the individual denominations as before (neighbouring denominations have sharply contrasting colours, for example grey for the €5, red for the €10 and blue for the €20). These features are also expected to be of help for the elderly population.
For users with no residual sight, the denominations can be told apart from each other by their individual dimensions. When partitioning their wallets prior to making purchases, blind users can easily feel the different sizes of the banknotes. As a further aid, tactile marks near the edges of the banknotes will be included in all denominations of the second series, including the new €5.
Finally, from January 2013 short video clips containing general information on the second series of euro banknotes and descriptions of their security features will be available at the internet addresses cited above. This video material will have subtitles and voice-over in the official languages of the EU. We would ask you to consider including a link to this information on your website. We would also suggest that you circulate this letter among the members of your association.
Should you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Mr Vicente Ventura at the ECB (Tel.: +49 69 1344 7876; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Elisabeth Ardaillon-Poirier, Director Communications
Ton Roos, Director Banknotes
Kaiserstrasse 29, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Postfach 16 03 19, 60066 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Tel: +49 69 13 44 0,
Fax: +49 69 13 44 60 00,
Please use your membership of ICEVI-Europe:
But pay your membership fee on time.
ICEVI-Europe cannot exist without your financial support.
Therefore, here is a reminder for membership 2012 and the following years.
The membership fees are:
The NEW international bank account number of ICEVI-Europe in Huizen, The Netherlands is:
ING, account number: 4890207
IBAN: NL90 INGB 0004 8902 07
Contributions can be made by Internet or payments can also be made during the European Conference in Istanbul.
Please be aware that the conference fees for workshops and the European conference are considerably less expensive for members.
Please also read the newsletter of July 2012, where you will find important information about the conference and the General Assembly.
Ana Isabel Ruiz López will continue being the representative of the Southern European Sub region.
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