THE VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATION OF VISUALLY IMPAIRED YOUTH (VOVHY) AS A FACTOR OF THEIR SOCIAL ADAPTATION AND INTEGRATION
Transition: Change in the Community
Head of the Rehabilitation Department
cultural and educational institution “Vyspa” of the BAVH
st. Yakubovskogo, 56-88, 220018, s.Minsk, Republic of Belarus
History of the foundation of the VOVHY
At the beginning of the 90-es there studied quite a great number of the visually handicapped in the higher educational institutions of Minsk who like me also experienced difficulties while reading the ink printed literature, writing reports, presentations, undergraduate and diploma theses, while attending libraries under the lack of reading books.
Due to the availability of speech interface software the visually handicapped people of the Republic of Belarus have been able to independently work with personal computers (PC).
There was founded in Minsk an initiative group of the blind users. The group members tried to get the opportunity to independently work on PC. For that purpose they searched for the speech software in the countries of the former Soviet Union using their personal contacts without any state support. The speech software was spread on diskettes that were passed on from one person to another. There appeared their own amateur program-engineer among the blind youth in Minsk who assisted the beginning blind users to install and utilize that speech software.
There was originated the idea of combining the efforts in teaching the PC operation equipped with the speech synthesizer as well as in coordinating the activities of the visually handicapped youth by founding the VOVHY.
As a result the VOVHY was registered by the justice department of the Minsk City Executive Council on August 23, 1999. The postal address is as follows: 4 Amuratorskaya Str., 220004 Minsk, Republic of Belarus. Tel.: (017) 223 14 73; http://yfb.iatp.unibel.by; e-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Structure of the VOVHY and the total number of its members
It shall be the assistance of the younger visually handicapped people integration into the society, the protection of their legal rights and interests for the active participation in the construction of the society of social justice and progress.
Executive Board Control and Auditing Commission
Information and Cultural and Recreation and Tourism Intercourse Club
Teaching Depart- Educational Department
54 persons are active members of the VOVHY, 41 of them are visually handicapped.
The VOVHY activities are aimed at rendering information, cultural, educational and other assistance to more than 300 young visually handicapped people living in Minsk and in the Republic.
The VOVHY is a local independent non-governmental association.
The VOVHY cooperates actively in the Republic of Belarus: with resource centres “Joint way”, “Independent society of legal investigations”, Internet-centre IATP (Internet access and training program), NGO “Next stop new life”, public association “Different – equal”, cultural and educational institution “Vyspa” of the BAVH.
The VOVHY has submitted projects for getting grants to the following foundations: “Counterpart”; European Commission “European initiative for the democracy and human rights”; program of mini-projects for the countries of Eastern and Central Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Mongolia; “Sophia”; “Youth information centre”.
The ENGOVH has established contacts with the “Integration” club in Moscow, NGO “Window to the world” in Kiev, with the visually handicapped programmers living in the cities of Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Kiev, Zaporozhie”. The YNGOVH members have subscribed for the following teleconferences on the problems of the visually handicapped users in the CIS: Blinduniar in Liovov, Edumail – in Kiev, information dissemination of the “Integration” club in Moscow.
Information and Teaching Activities
The project “Window to the world” (Youth information centre, 1999).
The objective is to promote realization of rights of the blind and partially sighted youth in receiving and exchanging of information. The project implementation was intended:
The project “Electronic textbook” (Foundation “Counterpart”, 1999).
The objective is to provide the blind and partially sighted students, school children, students of the vocational training institutions with the electronic literature facilitating the elimination of their restrictions while working with the ink printed literature. The project implementation was intended:
The project “Talking Eye” (TACIS, 2000).
The objective is to reduce the discrimination of the visually handicapped youth in the field of getting education, information exchange, access to the Internet resources through the foundation of the information and educational Internet centre for the blind called “Talking Eye”. The project implementation was intended:
There have been organized the open city youth festivals “Starting field-2000, 2001, 2002”. The objective is to discover young gifted visually impaired performers, to raise their performance skills, to integrate the youth initiatives, to attract public attention to the problems of the young disabled people.
The participants of the “Starting field-2000, 2001, 2002” were more than 200 visually handicapped people: pupils of schools for the blind and partially sighted of Minsk, Shklov, Zhabinka, Ezerishche and Grodno, the youth of the BAVH vocational training enterprise “Svetopribor”, students of higher and vocational training institutions. Instrumental ensembles, solo-singers, bards, performers of conversation genre. Those festivals were held on the integration basis: both sighted and blind youth took part in them. The festivals were covered by mass media.
There took part over 40 beginning blind poets at the age of 8-35 in the open city competition for the blind youth and school children “I have devoted my lyre to…” (2001). The objective is to find out and to support young gifted visually impaired poets, to popularize their creative work, to attract public attention to the problems of the young disabled people.
The project “Heart ray” (Youth information centre, 2001). The objective is to assist in the implementation of the right for freedom of speech, to support and to develop the gifted visually impaired youth.
The implementation of the project was intended:
In summer 2000 the VOVHU took part in the international fair of social projects with its own project “Talking eye” and was awarded a diploma of prize-winner “For the problem actuality”.
There have been organized and held 3 festivals “Starting field”, literature competition “I have devoted my lyre to…”, round table on the problem of the blind youth employment, youth party “Where are you, student?”
40 audio cassettes of the first festival have been recorded; 40 CD – of the second festival; there has been made video-recording and published the anthology “I have devoted my lyre to…” (totally 150 copies); 50 CD with the software for the blind users and the selection of teaching literature, fiction and poetry.
Due to the foundation of the VOVHY, active work of its members the number of blind users is constantly increasing. We spread and disseminate PC speech interface programs among the blind users; provide access to the Internet for the blind, change telephone numbers for access to the Internet without a password.
It is planned to establish an information and teaching centre for the blind PC users. On the basis of that centre there will be organized courses for the blind PC users, will be provided information, technical and other services; will be organized converting ink printed literature into the electronic format.
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