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ICF visual profile Graz

Austria 19 may till 21 may

ICEVI Europe Hans Welling and
with great enthusiasm Gerti Jaritz from the Odilien-instituut Graz Austria.

We had a very warm welcome on Wednesday evening. During diner we met all the other participants of the conference. We saw and recognised people we knew from other conferences in Dublin, so this was a very good beginning. There were different professionals from the visual impaired field like: psychologists, ophthalmologists, regional coordinators, different types of rehabilitation workers, low vision therapists, early intervention advisers, experts for VI and CVI, independent researchers/ educators, low vision trainers, special education teachers, and a parent from the Netherlands, so the group was a variety of people involved in the field of ICF. During the week we had lots of presentations and information Paul Looyensteijn presented the knowledge based network visual profile www.visualprofile.info, by Karin van Hemelrijk and Joke Luyten of Ganspoel from Belgium (www.ganspoel.be) who work with children and youngsters with CVI presented their working methods. I liked very much Roxanna Elena’s (Romania) great presentation about multidisciplinary research concerning cerebral visual impairment in children with brain damage and Dorthe Marie Degn’s (Denmark, www.ibos.dk) presentation about the dilemmas in implementing ICF for VIP Both stressed the importance of knowing what is necessary to realise interdisciplinary cooperation between the various disciplines in support of clients with visual impairments, and their family.

During these 4 days it showed that the ICF-model is like a puzzle and that it is not simple to use in the support of people with visually impairment and their family.
When everybody cooperates and asks their colleagues from other disciplines for information it could be working. But this requires time, expertise of each other’s disciplines and sometimes brings to light gaps in communication or cooperation or even expertise. A worse problem is that only too often people assume they know all about the other colleague’s discipline and don’t ask. The parents or family of the visual impaired were affirmed to be important, yet often not (enough) consulted sources of information about the environment. COOPERATION and TRUST can be the magic words.

We had different workshops with practical cases from the field. These brought to light how everybody approached the case from different viewpoints and said different things. For example: concerning health condition, body functions and structures most of us where in one line. Concerning activities, participation, and above all personal and environmental factors however, points of view differed widely. Also we saw that legislation differs in the different European countries on many points. So the puzzle is not (even) the same in every country.

Negotiations with others in the field is essential: find out together what is best for this particular client. What are his wishes or dreams analysed through the professional, in cooperating with the parents or family. As is the active involvement of the client, the child and/or his parents. Their dreams and wishes must be taken into account. They are the ones who have to - be empowered to - realise the plans, with important but timewise relatively very little support of professionals in rehabilitation, education and care.
Be aware of what you as a professional are doing. Dare to look to all elements also outside your own discipline. Notice that every person is different and there cannot be one approach or solution for every blind or low vision client.
Always remember that it is the client who can reach the set goals, and the professional who may help set conditions and who may coach, but only with the magic words cooperation and trust. There is no handbook that will give you the right solution. For each individual client a tailor made solution must be found. The ICF-model offers a guide to take into account all important factors. Depending on his components of ICF.
Never forget that the client (/child and/or parent) sees you as the knowledgeable expert and wants to put trust in you and the support system. If the client feels he can trust you, he will be very motivated to follow your advice, use aids and cooperate. Keep in mind that it only works if the client totally agrees with the set goals and if different professionals give well coordinated advices; that will settle and deepen the clients faith both in your expertise and in the system.

This was a great conference with a great atmosphere. Many thanks to Gerti Jaritz; she did a hell of a job. Also many thanks to al the presenters with all the information about this ICF model. Let’s hope the conference will work like a snowball; the more we talk about it, the more it can help all of us to do even better for the visual impaired child or client.

I ended my short review stating that the involvement of clients and/or parents is of utter importance. For the ICEVI world wide this cooperation is growing; we already are cooperating with parents form USA, Malaysia, New Zeeland , Israel, etc. Elke Wagner stated that the partnership of professionals with parents in ICEVI should increase.

I have offered the Foundation Mita stimabo (www.mitastimabo.nl) will help realising this. Please pass on to me at mitastimabo at planet.nl names, websites and e-mail addresses of parents’ organizations you know. I will then contact them. Dr. Elke Wagner and me will see what we can do for supporting parents who want to be involved in ICEVI. Dr. Wagner is contact person for parent’s organizations for Germany. The next ICEVI Europe conference in 2013 in Turkey. It a challenge to go for a solid participation of parents there.

I am looking forward to hear more about the parent meeting in Austria and or Romania.

Many thanks again to Gerti Jaritz; it was super, it was great, the whole program including the teamwork, the social program and the atmosphere. Thank you all again colleagues and presenters from the ICF visual profile teachers congress.

Foundation Mi ta stimabo.

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