ICEVI, with support from The Nippon Foundation, is implementing a unique higher education initiative in Cambodia, Indonesia, The Philippines and Vietnam. This initiative focuses on three critical areas in an effort to improve and expand access to higher education for students with visual impairment:
1) expanding use of assistive technology to improve access to curricula materials, 2) creating more welcoming university environments for all disabled students through programs of awareness and training for faculty and non-disabled students and 3) working with universities and Ministries of Education to create policies that expand the number of inclusive universities in these four countries. This initiative commenced in 2006 in Indonesia where excellent outcomes in two large cities where the pilot project was carried out led The Nippon Foundation to suggest further expansion to other areas of Indonesia and, over the next three years, to Cambodia, The Philippines, Vietnam. In the coming years ICEVI plans to expand the project to additional countries in the region.
This initiative has dramatically increased university enrollment of blind and visually impaired students. Prior to the launch of this project the total enrollment of blind and visually impaired students in all four countries was only 214. Today more than 1,200 students are enrolled in higher education in these same countries, drop-out rates have decreased and the general satisfaction of these students has markedly improved.
In each of the four countries there are lead organizations responsible for planning and carrying out project activities. ICEVI and The Nippon Foundation are grateful to have as our national partners: Krousar Thmey (Cambodia); the Indonesia Union of the Blind; Resources for the Blind (Philippines) and in Vietnam the Sao Mai Computer Center for the Blind and the Vietnam Blind Association.
ICEVI views this initiative as an integral element of the education continuum embraced by our global campaign Education For All Children with Visual Impairment (EFA-VI). While this higher education initiative specifically focuses on students with visual impairment it is having a much wider impact that is improving the university climate for all students with disabilities.
ICEVI is strengthening its network with various international agencies such as the IABP, WBU, IBSA, and DbI to augment services for persons with visual impairment