TouchYou, Touch Me!
Education For All – VI update
Larry Campbell, President, International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment
It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to bring you up-to-date on developments related to the Global Campaign on Education for All Children with Visual Impairment (EFA-VI) launched by ICEVI in mid-2006 in partnership with the World Blind Union (WBU). As most of you will know from earlier updates, this initiative is directed at reaching the more than 4 million children in the developing world with visual impairment (including those with additional disabilities and children with deafblindness) who currently have no access to education.
The EFA-VI program is making strong efforts to work within the framework of the broader Education For All (EFA) initiative launched in 1990 by UNESCO, the World Bank and UNICEF. While the broad EFA program has made good progress in opening up primary education to millions of children in the developing world over the past two decades; the needs of children with disabilities have been consistently overlooked.
Despite this discouraging scenario we do see some real prospects for change on the horizon. Recently, Dr. Penny Hartin, WBU CEO and I met with the Acting Director of the Fast Track Initiative at the World Bank and were very encouraged by his interest in our work. He fully understands that the needs of children with disabilities have been largely overlooked and has expressed the desire of the World Bank to change this situation and work more closely with us in the months and years ahead. For your part, if you live and/or work in a developing country we urge you to do all you can to encourage your government to include the needs of children with disabilities in their national plans for EFA. For further information on the EFA Fast Track Initiative you may wish to visit www.worldbank.org/education/efa. We also ask you to encourage your government to urge UNESCO to be sure that the issue of disability is on the agenda of the 9TH Meeting of the Higher Level Group on Education For All scheduled for late February, 2010 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Our target for Phase I of the EFA-VI program (2006-2010) is to reach at least 14 developing countries where active national task forces are in place, national plans developed and increasing numbers of children with visual impairment are attending school. While we have not quite met that objective as yet, we have reached 12 countries (see list below) and hope to have the program active and operating in at least two more countries before we convene our 13th World Conference and General Assembly in Jomtien, Thailand on August 9, 2010.
Africa: Ethiopia and Mozambique
East Asia: Vietnam and China
Latin America: Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic
West Asia: Nepal and Pakistan
Expanding the reach of the program to include children with deafblindness has been quite challenging and this is why we look forward to the greater involvement of Dbi in the Global Campaign. The single exception to our failure to embrace children with deafblindness as much as we had hoped can be seen in Latin America where there has been excellent collaboration between the EFA-VI program, national governments and our partners at CBM, ONCE/FOAL and the Hilton-Perkins Program. This has meant that the needs of children with deafblindness are being seen as an integral part of the national plans as they are developed. National Task Forces of the Campaign have been asked to strengthen collaboration with local organizations working for deafblind children in these countries and to prepare teachers with expertise in this area.
We hope that many of our colleagues from Dbi will join us at our 13th World Conference in August and we look forward to the participation of Dr. Bernadette Kappen 1st Vice President of DbI at the EFA-VI Global Task Force and Executive Committee meetings of ICEVI in Bensheim, Germany in December.
Finally, may I ask that you share with us any important events connected with the services for children with deafblindness, so that we can post these on our website www.icevi.org in an effort to build stronger and broader awareness of the needs of deafblind children. Please send that information to ICEVI’s Secretary General, Dr. M.N.G. Mani,
A significant symbol…
Creating and sharing a beautiful art object
Ricard Lopez, from Apsocecat in Catalonia, discusses the way that art can change lives…
My organization has recently started collaborating with Guido Dettoni, an artist with a wide professional background in the world of disabilities. Two wonderful projects have emerged from the exciting relationship between the artist and our organization. To start with, we have devised the creation of an experimental workshop targeted at deafblind people and their interveners: Moreover, Guido Dettoni has conveyed his own vision of deafblindness through his own artistic work and has created a piece of art he has called Deafblind Shape.
The experimental creative workshop for deafblind people and their interveners has been created within the “handsmatter” framework, an artistic project created by Guido Dettoni which is based on experimenting with malleable materials. Our interveners and our congenital and acquired deafblind people have discovered a new way of communicating through plastic expression by sharing in their hands a ductile material to create different forms and to set a unique dialogue “played by four hands”.
Guido has also contributed his personal talent and has produced a beautiful sculpture called “deafblind shape”. Created shortly after his introduction to deafblind people and linked to his close contact with interveners, this tactile form shaped at hands’ size, conveys a positive outlook to the world of deafblindness with an unusual sensitivity and a great expressive power.
We both know how difficult it is to transmit the experience of any disability to the people who do not have a close contact with it. With Guido’s work, I have been able to confirm how art can provide communication bridges where other codes do not work. The tactile form that Guido Dettoni offers, the “deafblind shape”, manages to evoke our sensibilities. It is a tactile symbol of human and social nature; it is the witness of a reality. I believe this beautiful object could be a symbol of deafblindness all over the world.
We have been sharing a common dream for many years and we have been working together towards the integration and the full development of deafblind peoples’ potential. However, our horizon often fades away amidst the daily work and it is hardly noticed beyond those affected by any disability. In this sense I am convinced of the usefulness of a symbol where our values can be focused.
Associació Catalana Pro Persones Sordcegues