JOINT POSITION PAPER ON INCLUSIVE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT
The International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment
The World Blind Union
The International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) is a voluntary, non-governmental, non-sectarian global association of individuals and organisations that represents educators of blind and low vision (partially sighted) children and youth throughout the world. ICEVI promotes equal access to appropriate quality education for all visually impaired children and youth so that they can achieve their full potential.
The World Blind Union (WBU) is the only organisation entitled to speak on behalf of blind and low vision (partially sighted) persons of the world, representing 180 million blind and visually impaired persons from about 600 different organisations in 158 countries. WBU promotes appropriate quality education in either integrated/inclusive education programmes or at special schools for all visually impaired children and youth so that they can achieve the best education possible and reach their full potential in life. The parents’ informed choice, access to trained teachers, and the availability of essential equipment and materials are the guiding principles which will ensure high-quality education.
ICEVI and WBU,
Conscious of the gross inequalities in educational opportunities for blind and low vision (partially sighted) children and youth, especially in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, where 90% of all children with visual impairment live and where less than 10% of these children currently have access to any type of formal or non-formal education:
- Affirm the human right of all children who are blind or have low vision to equal access to appropriate quality education as provided for in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the World Declaration on Education for All (1990), the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disability (1993), the UNESCO Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action (1994), and the Dakar Framework for Action (2000);
- Urge all governments, which have not yet done so, to include the special educational needs of children with visual impairment in their respective National Education Plans for achieving Education for All by 2015 which were to be submitted to UNESCO by the end of 2002, as agreed and committed to at the World Education Forum, April 2000;
- Request all governments to also ensure adequate financial provisions for the successful implementation of the above plans for children who are blind or have low vision;
- Endorse the concept of child-centred pedagogy, as enunciated in the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, 1994;
- Support inclusive education as one of the alternative models of service delivery, on condition that all necessary steps are taken to first put in place the required number of teachers trained in the special needs of blind and low vision children and the essential support systems, the necessary equipment, Braille books, and low vision devices to guarantee true inclusion;
- Promote a high-quality education in special schools as an alternative to inclusive or mainstream education;
- Recommend and advocate the continued support for valued alternative forms of education, both formal and non-formal, for those who cannot benefit from an inclusive, integrated or special education programme;
- Encourage the provision of early detection, early intervention, and pre-school services which include the parents, other family members, and the community in general;
- Assure governments of their joint and separate fullest support, especially in terms of advocacy, professional advice, and technical assistance.