International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment

ANNUAL REPORT

2004

INTRODUCTION

Dear Friends and Supporters:

It is with pleasure that we share with you a brief report of the work of ICEVI in 2004.

With each passing year the work of ICEVI expands as we reach out to assure that
the basic right to education is available to all children with visual impairment. While
we are still far from reaching our goal of “equal access” for all children with visual impairment, you will learn from the information that follows that we are making steady progress.

However, we cannot be satisfied with the current pace of progress, particularly in regions where access to education is the exception rather than the rule. ICEVI is now working on the development of a global campaign to draw attention and resources to the needs of blind and low vision children in Africa, Asia and Latin America where, on average, less than 10% of these children now have access to education. In the year ahead you will be learning more about our plans for this ambitious global initiative and you will be invited to join the campaign that we hope to launch at our 12th World Conference and General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July, 2006.

This 2004 annual report presents our activities as measured against the strategic goals of the ICEVI that were adopted at the start of this quadrennium and are presented on the next page.

May I use this opportunity to thank all of those organizations that have supported our work in 2004. In particular the contributions of the Dr. Richard Charles and Esther Yewpick Lee Charitable Trust, the Asian Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness, Christoffel Blindenmission, Sight Savers International and the Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles (ONCE) have been particularly important to ICEVI in achieving the wide range of activity that is summarized in the pages that follow.

We hope that in 2005 this list of international partners will expand. We invite all of you who share our vision of a world where all children with visual impairment have equal access to education to consider joining us in this global effort.

Sincerely,

Larry Campbell
President

STRATEGIC GOALS OF ICEVI

GOAL 1 : To ensure access and full participation in education for all visually impaired children and youth by 2015.

GOAL 2 : To promote and assist in building of local capacity to develop curricula, to provide training and to identify and provide equipment and materials to children and youth with visual impairments and their parents, teachers and others in their communities.

GOAL 3 : To collaborate with and make use of networks to ensure that substantially more visually impaired children and youth receive quality and comprehensive education.

GOAL 4 : To ensure that ICEVI initiatives are based on current evidence of best practice.

GOAL 5 : To provide information on ICEVI and its services through all possible and appropriate media to all target groups.

GOAL 6 : To build an appropriate and sustainable organizational structure for ICEVI, to include the required financial base.

SUMMARY OF 2004 ACTIVITIES

In response to the Strategic Goals of ICEVI, the activities and accomplishments of 2004 are presented under the following headings:

ACCESS TO FULL PARTICIPATION IN EDUCATION
Following the formulation of a joint policy statement on inclusion, the ICEVI and the World Blind Union (WBU) strengthened their collaborations by publishing a detailed joint education policy statement, which is widely acclaimed by organizations and individuals involved in providing services to persons with visual impairment. ICEVI has also taken on board the views of international non-governmental organizations which have specific policies on education and prepared a draft INGO policy for strengthening its global campaign to facilitate education for every child with visual impairment by the year 2015. The draft policy document prepared by ICEVI along with a detailed action plan will be launched at the world conference of ICEVI in 2006. The systematic approach to this education for all campaign will be laying more emphasis on national level networking and making education as a fundamental human right for children with visual impairment in the respective countries. By doing so, the implementation of action plans of ICEVI will be monitored by persons at the local level. Similarly, ICEVI is also attempting to bring the education component in every development program of international organizations dealing with visual impairment.

For example, ICEVI is campaigning with the Lions Clubs International to provide impetus to education in its SightFirst program so that the Lions Clubs activities throughout the world embrace educational services to children with visual impairment. The interface with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness to orient medical professionals on early detection and services to children with visual impairment is also aimed at improving the educational access to children with visual impairment. ICEVI is glad that it could play a catalyst role to influence the World Bank to include disability in the Bank’s development programs. Realizing the need for promoting access to education of children with visual impairment, two of ICEVI regions – The West and East Asia regions will be organizing regional conferences in January and February 2005 with the overall theme on “Inclusion” as a strategy to achieve education for all. As these two regions have the largest number of children with visual impairment in the world, conducting these conferences in the regions is likely to improve access to children with visual impairment in this part of the world. Therefore, ICEVI marches on with its forward looking strategies for education for all.


CAPACITY BUILDING OF TEACHERS AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS:
ICEVI believes that quality education to children with visual impairment is directly linked to the quality of service providers – particularly those teachers and grass-root level workers. ICEVI was fortunate to have collaboration with Drs. Richard Charles and Esther Yewpick Lee Foundation for its generous grant to ICEVI to organize capacity building programs in Africa, East Asia, Latin America and West Asia regions.

During the year 2003, ICEVI focused on awareness creation and improving the skills through 79 projects, which helped 3855 teachers and professionals who could transfer their learning in helping over 55000 children with visual impairment. With the solid support and goodwill received for the implementation of the Lee projects in 2003, the ICEVI decided to focus on impact oriented projects for the year 2004, thereby identifying a few vital key areas in each region that could have long-term impact and supporting projects to strengthen such identified areas. This concept of impact projects was also well received by the executive committee of ICEVI.

The ICEVI regions decided to focus on teacher preparation, early childhood education, inclusive education, mathematics and science education, education of multiply disabled visually impaired children, and low vision education as the priority areas for the rest of the quadrennium.

During the year 2004, the ICEVI regions conducted 62 projects on these focus areas and trained 2628 teachers who in turn helped 34385 children with visual impairment. The funding from the Lee Foundation also helped in networking among different nations by conducting sub-regional meetings. The grant was of great help in many countries within the Latin America region, as the ICEVI initiated capacity building programs in collaboration with many other international organizations working in the region.

The Lee Project Handbook was translated into Spanish and this provided more visibility to the Lee Foundation Scheme in the region. Considering the fact that China, Indonesia, and Vietnam are huge countries within the East Asia region, where more number of children with visual impairment are present, the Lee Grants were used in these countries to develop national level networking. The development of uniform Braille code in Nepal with the help of the Lee Foundation grant has a profound impact in educating blind children in the country in the years to come. The master trainers of the Africa region trained in the area of low vision education have already organized country level programs in seven countries in the southern Africa sub-region and therefore, the ripple effect of transfer of learning at the grass-root is faster than expected.

The above are just examples of how the Lee Foundation Grants are used for creating impact in educational services to children with visual impairment in developing nations. With the most conducive climate created over the past two years at the global, regional and national levels for education of children with visual impairment, the ICEVI/Lee Foundation collaboration in the future may work at the sub-national levels too to expand educational services. Therefore, the collaboration in the future is vital for capitalizing on the constructive environment developed during the current quadrennium. Though miles away, the Lee Foundation from Hong Kong could make a significant impact on the lives of children with visual impairment in countries in the Africa, Asia, and Latin America regions and therefore, ICEVI values this collaboration. In addition to these four regions, our other three regions, viz., North America and Caribbean, Europe and Pacific also organized a number of capacity building programs and seminars at the national and regional levels.

COLLABORATION AND NETWORKING
ICEVI believes that the strategic goals can be realized only through collaboration and networking with organizations. Following the successful collaboration with the World Blind Union which resulted in the formulation of joint policy statements on inclusion and education, and the memorandum of understanding signed with the Hadley School for the Blind to further the cause of distance education to build the capacity of teachers and professionals in the area of visual impairment, ICEVI signed a MoU with the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) to lay importance to sports activities under the overall umbrella of education. The initiative to formulate a joint INGO policy on education in collaboration with CBM, Sight Savers International, Helen Keller Worldwide, WBU and other organizations is a testimony to the commitment of ICEVI for collaboration and networking.

Another significant result of the collaboration is evident from the fact that many of the projects implemented by ICEVI through its regions are co-funded by other funding agencies to avoid duplication of resources in the disability sector, which is already constrained by financial resources. The initiative through Lions Clubs is yet another effort to bring the potential stakeholders to work for education and rehabilitation of persons with visual impairment. ICEVI and the WBU are currently working together to bring out a pictorial resource directory listing essential devices for the education of children with visual impairment at various levels. This directory will be of help to educational institutions to know the nature of the devices and the source of procuring them.

On the advocacy front, ICEVI is determined to bring more organizations to becoming subscribing members through a scheme endorsed by the executive committee to strengthen its work to provide education for all children with visual impairment. More organizations are also invited to become international partners on the executive committee of ICEVI. In summary, ICEVI believes that the collaboration is the key to bring synergy to services for persons with visual impairment, particularly in developing countries, and therefore, its collaborative efforts will continue in the years to come.

FORMULATING BEST PRACTICES
Development of concept papers: During the executive committee meeting held in February 2004, it was decided that significant time should be allocated in the future meetings to deliberate on academic issues that would have impact on services to persons with visual impairment. The meeting in February 2004 itself spent considerable time to discuss the draft EFA paper prepared by ICEVI and offered a number of suggestions.

Based on the suggestions made by the members about the need to develop concept papers on various subjects, ICEVI made a survey to find out areas which are considered most essential by the members of the executive committee. Developing minimum standards, early childhood education, inclusion, multiply disabled visual impairment and low vision emerged as the top priority areas and therefore, work has been initiated to prepare position papers on these subjects, which are expected to list appropriate guidelines for implementation of services by funding agencies, government and non-government organizations. The Educator, the bi-annual magazine of ICEVI will carry information about the development of these concept papers.

Teacher Education Curricula: Teacher preparation is a vital area to facilitate education for all children with visual impairment and in this context, development of competency based curriculum becomes vital. In this connection, ICEVI appreciates the initiative taken by our Europe region in strengthening teacher education curriculum and offering teacher training programs keeping in mind quality in special education teacher preparation. As teachers are prepared at different levels in most countries, ICEVI took up an exercise of developing model curricula for teacher preparation at the diploma, degree, and post-graduate level. The curricula suggest that the basic requirements for preparing competent teachers should be adhered to by the countries and each country may provide additional inputs to the curricula according to local specific situations. The curricula will be placed at the forthcoming executive committee meeting in Madrid in March 2005 and will be made available for wider circulation through the website of ICEVI.

Research on Educational Strategies: ICEVI also believes that models of service delivery should be supported by hard evidences so that countries implementing educational programs can opt for appropriate models based on empirical evidences. With this view in mind, ICEVI on the recommendation of the executive committee took up a research in 2003 to find out the factors that should be in place to make education of children with visual impairment successful in local primary schools in Uganda. Uganda was preferred for the research as the country has a policy for inclusion. The study is expected to provide evidences for setting up parameters that should be in place for implementing such policies for inclusion.

The methodology adopted by ICEVI in gathering data for the study from the points of views of different stakeholders such as students, teachers, parents, voluntary organizations, funding bodies, and government machineries makes the results more authentic for generalization. The preliminary results have provided useful information about education at local primary schools and funding agencies have already recommended that such studies should be replicated in some other developing nations in Africa and Asia to provide more and context specific information about inclusion. ICEVI is glad that the effort undertaken in Uganda is yielding positive results to formulate best practices on the basis of empirical evidences. ICEVI is likely to undertake similar exercises in the future too to formulate best practices in teacher preparation, teaching-learning materials, assistive devices, etc.

Developing Teaching-Learning Materials: In the area of teaching-learning materials and methodologies of teaching, ICEVI is collaborating with the Overbrook Nippon Network on Education Technology (ON-NET) to develop effective methodologies for teaching mathematics to blind children. An instructional package on teaching mathematics has already been developed and a training of master trainers was also conducted for countries in the East Asia region in 2004. The package is likely to be published in late 2005. In the present context where accessibility is being discussed as a vital issue, the West Asia region developed e-text materials for more than 120 books in 2004, which can be used by students of higher education in the region. Therefore, ICEVI ventures into development of teaching-learning materials too besides carrying out its advocacy activities to benefit the cause of education of children with visual impairment.

Promoting Distance Education: The ICEVI-Hadley Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2003 to promote distance education on various areas of visual impairment for parents and teachers is drawing the attention of various countries to update the skills of teachers. The regional chairs are discussing about this GLOBE (Growth and Learning Opportunities in Blindness Education) All program at appropriate forums to make use of this opportunity to promote continuing education among professionals. Based on experiences of this collaboration ICEVI will also initiate academic collaborations with other organizations in the future.

Therefore, the goals of strategic plan to formulate best practices are being realized faster than the target fixed during 2002. ICEVI is willing to keep up this momentum and take up more need-based areas in the future to formulate cost-effective best practices.


INFORMATION EXCHANGE:
In the present world of technology, information exchange plays a vital role for making any organization useful to the society. ICEVI made effective use of technology to exchange information about education of children with visual impairment. The strategies adopted by ICEVI included print media, cyber world, conducting regional conferences and organizing world assembly. In all the four areas of information exchange, ICEVI made significant strides in 2004.

The Educator, the biannual magazine of ICEVI and the Newsline, biannual electronic newsletter of ICEVI reach more than 4000 organizations and individuals around the world. The Educator is already available in English, Spanish, English Braille and Japanese versions. Efforts are on to get it translated in French and Chinese languages. ICEVI is proud that The Educator is the only magazine in the education of blind children available in so many leading world languages.

The Newsline too is shaping as a magazine as it has changed from the original version of being a in-house information sharing document to becoming a full-fledged electronic newsmagazine. The clientele is increasing for every issue and ICEVI wants to capitalize on the power of technology to reach more persons around the world to exchange information on education of children with visual impairment. Besides the Newsline and The Educator, ICEVI has also published the print version of ICEVI-WBU joint educational policy statement and the ICEVI-Hadley GLOBE All (Growth and Learning Opportunities in Blindness Education) program for the benefit of its clientele.

In addition to providing a fresh look, ICEVI website is accessible to persons with visual impairment and every material posted on the website is tested thoroughly for accessibility by our webmaster, who himself is a technology savvy and person with visual impairment. Though ICEVI website carries information about the regions on their regional pages, three regions have their regional websites too. You can visit the European website at www.icevi-europe.org, Latin America region at www.icevi-americalatina.com.ar and West Asia region at www.iceviwestasia.org for more information about the regional activities. Besides being accessible, what is unique about ICEVI website is that it has a “links page” which is constantly updated with the listing of leading international organizations which are involved in serving persons with visual impairment.

At present, more than 60 such organizations representing various regions have been listed on the links page and this list is growing. Therefore, log on to ICEVI website and you can access information on visual impairment any where in the world. The website not only describes information about what is happening around the world but also provides all issues of The Educator in html format, publications, concept papers, etc., and therefore, it provides a wealth of information which a library is intended to give.

Many researchers log on to ICEVI website to view the articles published in various issues of The Educator for research purposes too. Though ICEVI in principle is providing more emphasis on accessibility than the visual beauty of the website, you can observe that the ICEVI website is accessible as well as visually attractive. The number of visitors of the ICEVI website is steadily increasing and we are happy that ICEVI is doing its modest work in promoting educational services for persons with visual impairment through its information exchange using the website.

In addition to the use of electronic media, face-to-face interaction is also facilitated by ICEVI through conduct of regional level conferences. These conferences keep in view the global agenda of ICEVI and stimulate interest among Governments and professionals around the world about the commitment to education for children with visual impairment. The Asia region’s two regional conferences with “Inclusion” as the main theme will deliberate on various issues including legislation, practices and advocacy for expanding educational opportunities for persons with visual impairment. The other regions have also organized a number of sub-regional level activities focusing on education for all. Therefore, the regional activities are strengthened to fulfill the global objectives of ICEVI stated in its strategic plan.

The world conference to be held in July 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has already generated interest among professionals around the world. Abstracts have started coming in and a professional organizer has been appointed by the Host Committee to facilitate faster communication with those who want to attend this international event. Post-conference workshops are also being planned. As “Achieving Equality in Education: New Challenges and Strategies for Change” is the theme of the conference, the resolutions of the conference will highlight the modus operandi to achieve education for all children with visual impairment in the decade starting from 2006. With the pressure being mounted by ICEVI through international organizations, print and cyber media, conferences, and projects, the rate of services to these children is bound to increase in the years to come.

FUTURE CHALLENGES

2005 promises to be a year of more challenges for ICEVI. Four of the seven regions of ICEVI will be holding their regional conferences in 2005 and implementing the resolutions of these conferences at the regional levels will become a priority of ICEVI. ICEVI will be working with major international organizations, UNESCO, and other UN bodies in 2005 for the finalization of the INGO policy on education for all so that it may be launched during the world conference in 2006.

Publication of the ICEVI/ON-NET math package for teachers is scheduled for late 2005. Following the publication of this material the task of organizing master training programs in various regions will take significant effort. Mathematics instruction has long been an area requiring attention. With more and more children integrated into the general education system the challenge has become greater than ever before. ICEVI hopes to undertake work in this area in a phased manner over the next several years.

Replicating the Uganda research in additional countries will be important if we are to gather hard evidence related to the challenges of effectively implementing inclusive education. Many regions have expressed the need to strengthen teacher preparation as critical in reaching the global objective of education for all. ICEVI will be working with Universities and institutes of higher education in a number of countries to develop competency-based teacher preparation programs.

ICEVI will be working with other organizations in support of a UN Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We will also work with The World Bank, Lions Clubs International, UNESCO, and other international organizations and international non-governmental organizations to provide priority to services for children with visual impairment. Working through our regional units ICEVI will assist countries to formulate legislation and policies to serve children with disabilities.

In addition to all of this ICEVI will continue its initiatives in Africa, Asia and Latin America through the ICEVI-Lee initiative to create and expand awareness related to the needs of children with visual impairment and to strengthen the capacity of teachers and parents.

We hope those of you who read this report will have a greater understanding of the wide ranging activities of ICEVI and the progress that is being made in creating a rights-based, barrier free and inclusive society for all children, but most especially those with visual impairment.

THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS

ICEVI wishes to place on record our sincere thanks to the many organizations that have made financial and in-kind contributions to our work in 2004. Your support is allowing our mutual vision of educational equity to move “from dream to reality” for thousands of children with visual impairment around the world. THANK YOU!

Major International Donor Partners

Asian Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness
Christoffel-Blindenmission
Drs. Richard Charles and Esther Yewpick Lee Charitable Foundation
Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles
Sight Savers International

Other Supporting Organisations
African Braille Centre
American Foundation for the Blind
Associations and Federations of the Blind in all countries
Blind People’s Association
Blindeninstitutsstiftung
Cataract Foundation Philippines Inc.
Deafblind International
Hadley School for the Blind
Hibiki no Kai (Echo Society), Japan
HSBC, Hongkong
International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness
International Blind Sports Federation
International Mobility Conference
Lions Clubs International Foundation
Mazars Worldwide
Overbrook School for the Blind
Perkins School for the Blind
Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya
Royal National Institute of the Blind
The Hong Kong Society for the Blind
The World Bank
Tsukuba University
UN Bodies
University of Birmingham
University of Melbourne
World Blind Union

For further details, contact :

President :
Larry Campbell (larry@obs.org)

Principal Officers/Regional Chairs
(log on to ICEVI Website www.icevi.org)

Secretary General :
M.N.G. Mani (sgicevi@vsnl.net)

ICEVI Secretariat, IHRDC Campus
Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya
Coimbatore – 641 020
INDIA