International approach strategies to strengthen the EFAVI campaign in Latin America
Rocío López M.
The Global Campaign “Education for all children with visual impairment” – EFAVI is a global program of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI)1 that, acting in partnership with the World Blind Union (WBU)2 and backed by UNESCO3 and UNICEF4, promotes the access of children and youth with visual impairment to an inclusive and high quality education. This can be achieved through the joint efforts of international bodies and consequently, thanks to the mobilization of resources in support of programs and services in favour of the visually disabled population whose education is in process.
Among other goals, this campaign cooperates with the developing countries in the world to increase inclusion in education centres, enhance educational performance, diminish school dropout and optimize the access to equipment and materials for the blind.
In 2006, Latin America answered to this proposal by constituting a Regional Working Group (RWG) with the participation of the following organizations: ICEVI, CBM International5, Perkins International6, the Latin American Union of the Blind (ULAC)7 and the Solidarity Foundation for Latin American Blind Persons (FOAL)8 of the Spanish National Organization of the Blind (ONCE)9.
As the world financial crisis increased in this new millennium, on September 11 and 12, 2013, the RWG held a meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in support of the achievement of regional goals. It aimed at “discussing approach strategies to strengthen the development of the EFAVI campaign in Latin America as well as the links among partner organizations and the maximization of resources.”
The following representatives of the partner organizations participated in the meeting:
Lord Colin Low (World President), Lucía Piccione (World 1st Vice President), Cristina Sanz (Regional Chairperson, Latin America), and Imelda Fernández and Fernanda Oliva Rizzi (EFAVI Country Coordinators)
Martin Rupenthal (Latin American Director) and Rocío López (Consultant and Coordinator of EFAVI countries)
María del Carmen Peral Morales (Technician for Latin American projects), since Fernando Iglesias, Director, could not be present due to unforeseen family circumstances that forced his return to Spain.
• PERKINS INTERNATIONAL:
Steve Perreault (Latin America and the Caribbean Coordinator), Graciela Ferioli (Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Representative) and María Elena Nassif (Advisor).
Volmir Raimondi (President), Lucía Pestana (Education and Culture Secretary). Judith Varsavsky (interpreter).
Two important agreements were adopted:
The first one was about the legalization of ICEVI Latin America. Cristina Sanz, Regional Chairperson, worked with the lawyers Mariano Godachevich (Argentina) and Víctor Hugo Vargas Chavarri (Peru) on a proposal that she had submitted to ICEVI EXCO, and is now being studied by ICEVI President.
The second one was the development of an EFAVI Latin American Strategic Plan 2013–2016. Each partner organization nominated a technical representative to accomplish this task and the group was initially constituted by:
• Cristina Sanz and Lucía Piccione, ICEVI.
• Graciela Ferioli, Perkins International.
• Lucia Pestana, ULAC.
• María del Carmen Peral Morales, FOAL.
• Rocío López, CBM.
Helen de Bonilla was subsequently included in the group as a family representative.
Taking into account that these persons live in different countries (Argentina, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Spain, respectively), they are working on line, via Skype.
They started by developing a diagnosis of the situation through the SWOT mechanism10 and as a result, the decision of working on the following priority issues was taken:
• Communication, information and dissemination of information in order to integrate and enrich the region.
• Teamwork in order to increase the active participation of organizations of persons with disabilities and families.
• Advocacy of public policies that strengthen the coordination with governments and the compliance of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities11.
• Detection, since it is necessary to increase the timely attention of the needs of the target population.
• Low vision, to promote appropriate approach strategies to take care of the needs of the target population.
• Provision of resources and optical and non optical aids to cover the needs of the target population.
• Multiple disabilities and deafblindness, to increase their participation in the campaign.
• Capacity building and professional training, since it is essential to take into account methodological strategies to approach the education of persons with visual impairments.
• Early intervention, since the promotion of strategies to include these services in the educational system is required.
• Childhood and gender protection are aspects that require being strengthened in the region.
Taking into account these issues, the following strategic objectives were adopted:
1. Communication, Information and Teamwork
• To promote teamwork (information, communication, articulation, dissemination of information, coordination).
• To identify persons with visual disabilities, multiple disabilities and/or deafblindness through other national and international bodies that work in the EFAVI focus countries so as to increase together the outreach and quality of EFAVI
• Internal communication (National Working Group – NWG and RWG; external communication (with the civil society by means of websites, incidence in public policies, childhood and gender protection) and detection (in coordination with health, social welfare and other services) are taken into account.
2. Training and Capacity Building
• To contribute to the training and capacity building of the social actors that have to do with inclusive education of children and youth with visual impairment, multiple disabilities and deafblindness, in the EFAVI focus countries.
• To offer training opportunities about the rights of persons with disabilities in collaborative work with professionals, families and persons with disabilities themselves.
• To provide awareness and training by collaborative teams constituted by families, persons with disabilities, professionals and governmental authorities, in order to achieve empowerment and policy incidence that will ensure the exercise of the rights of persons with disabilities.
• To share information with governmental and non-governmental bodies about non-identified populations.
• To foster the establishment of higher and/or university degrees to approach visual disability, multiple disabilities and deafblindness.
• To encourage the inclusion of attention to diversity in higher education and university degrees.
• To share information with governmental bodies to achieve the inclusion of early intervention in the education system, as well as to provide opportunities of continuous training and capacity building.
• To share information with governmental and non-governmental bodies about the vulnerability of this population.
• To share information with governmental and non-governmental bodies to achieve the consideration of low vision as a unique condition with specific needs within the field of disability.
• To provide continuous training and capacity building opportunities.
The target population include teachers, technicians, the civil society, youth, families and organizations of persons with disabilities, as well as authorities.
3. Access To Technology
• To make the best use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the benefit of operation and interaction among the members of EFAVI Campaign (NWG and RWG), as well as to generate and circulate information to contribute to monitoring and achieving success in the actions developed in the framework of the EFAVI Campaign.
• To encourage the use of low cost technology and the production of technical instruments with recycled material to contribute to the quality of life of children and youth with multiple disabilities and deafblindness.
• To promote the quest of technical and technological resources through the campaign focus country governments and by means of international cooperation agreements.
• The priority axes are ICTs, production and distribution of low cost technology with recycled materials and provision of technical aids (optical, auditory, augmentative and alternative communication, mobility).
As of February 2015, we are working on the definition of strategies, deadlines and responsible persons of each goal.
To wind up this report…
This has been a process of learning and getting reward; it has enabled us to get to know each other better, to find a common path of sharing instead of competing, to join efforts for the benefit of a Latin America with greater and better opportunities.
As Abraham Lincoln so wisely said, “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.”
And following Helen Keller’s inspiring example of perseverance: “True happiness is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
Rocío López M. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Consultant ICEVI; CBM, Perkins International.
EFAVI Campaign Coordinator in Guatemala and El Salvador.
1 icevi.org. ICEVI is a DbI partner organization.
5 www.cbm.org. CBM is a large corporate member of DbI.
9 www.once.es. ONCE is a large corporate member of DbI.
Adapted Physical Education