During the recent AER conference, we held a roundtable of people who have done work blindness/visual impairment field in a variety of world regions. One man invited from Lebanon was not able to make it via teleconference, but he typed out his answers to the pre-made questions for the panel. His responses are below. He has done some work with the organization Empowerment Through Integration. You can find out more information at http://www.etivision.org/
introduce yourself and the region you represent.
My name is Alaa Al-Jarash
I am 30 years old
I have 7 years of experience in social work
I am a graduate from medical social assistance
I have been worked with people who have visual impairment since 3 years until now
Tell us about your experiences in [your region].
It was an enjoyable and rich experience of mutual experience between me and these people.
I really felt that I was leaving a big impact on their lives through the positive comments I received from my managers at work
What are the perceptions of people who are blind and visually impaired in your region (from various perspectives-family, government, society in general)?
Unfortunately, so far there is not enough interest from the parents or the community with these people.
Some parents may be ashamed to take their children out of the house or even to find enough schools to teach blind people
What does your region do to address the need for work in this population?
Unfortunately so far there are only some shy entries from some international associations here
What types of educational supports exist for people who are blind and visually impaired in your region?
There may be one or two private schools to educate the blind on their own language, which is the Braille language in the absence of a government curriculum for inclusion in public schools
What are strengths regarding services for people with blindness and visual impairment in [your region]?
Unfortunately, although there are large numbers of people with visual impairment, there is no association or institution capable of exploiting this weakness to develop programs to help these people
What are pressing issues for people with visual impairments in [your region]?
Orientation and mobility
If appropriate, how can people outside of [your region] work together to help meet local goals?
Perhaps through continued cooperation and support through awareness-raising courses and seminars about what these people are going through and what they are able to do positive things within their communities and benefit from their experiences
To your knowledge, what are the hopes of an ideal world for people with visual impairments in [your region]?
In two words, I will say their integration into their communities positively and effectively
Anything that has been left out that should be addressed?
[Title: Signature of Kevin McCormack]
Kevin McCormack, COMS
Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist
PhD Student in Global Inclusion and Social Development
University of Massachusetts Boston
[Title: COMS logo] [Title: UMass Boston logo]