Report on the educational inclusion of visually impaired children and young persons in Latin America. Dean Lermen González - PDF

Report on the educational inclusion of visually impaired children and young persons in Latin America Dean Lermen González 01/05/2014 Dean Lermen González Socal Communicator and Journalist from Universidad

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Report on the educational inclusion of visually impaired children and young persons in Latin America Dean Lermen González 01/05/2014 Dean Lermen González Socal Communicator and Journalist from Universidad Externado of Colombia, with a master s degree in Political Studies from Universidad Javeriana. As the Director of the National Institute for the Blind INCI ( ) he supported the development of public policy towards the inclusion of visually impaired persons in every aspect of national life, and introduced the use of the latest technology for access to information and communication for persons with visual impairment, such as production of Braille material and audio books. Since 1997 he has worked as a professor in various universities in Bogotá. He has been Consultant for CERLALC, the Regional Center for the Promotion of Books in Latin America and the Caribbean, where he did research on production of reading material and availability of library services for the visually impaired in Latin America and the Caribbean. He coordinated the Commission for Prevention of Blindness of ULAC, the Latin American Blind Union, and he was part of the team that negotiated the Convention on Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities with the United Nations. Since 2008 he has acted as an adviser for DICAPTA and Closed Caption Latina in Video Description for Hispanic television to be broadcast in the United States of America. He was Consultant for the Fundación Corona IDB in Communications for a Business Program for the Promotion of Labor for Persons with Disabilities Pacto de Productividad. He formed the research group of the Observatory of Society, Government and Information and Communication Technology of the Universidad Externado of Colombia for the evaluation of the impact of disability projects developed by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology MinTic, in In 2010, he was Consultant for the Interdisciplinary Studies Institute of the Universidad Externado of Colombia, for the making of the document The Process of Construction of Public Policy for Access to Information, Communications and Information and Communication Technology for Persons with Sensory Disabilities (Proceso de Construcción de la Política Pública para el acceso a la información, las comunicaciones y las tecnologías de la información y las comunicaciones para las personas con discapacidad sensorial). Since 2007 he has been spreading information about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and promoting the appropriation of the Convention by blind and visually impaired persons and their organizations throughout the country. As a representative for CONALIVI, the National Coordinator of Organizations of the Visually Impaired, he supported and assisted the formulation of Law 1680 of 2013 and the Licencia País project CONVERTIC to guarantee the access to information, communication and information and communication technology to blind and visually impaired persons in Colombia. He is currently a member of two of ULAC s Commissions, the Commission on Strategic Planning and the Commission on Human Rights. Mábel Cárdenas Ruiz Professional with experience in management and coordination of research projects. She has been Dean Lermen s collaborator since As Director of Planning for the National Institute for the Blind, from March 1992 to December 2004, she was in charge of the coordination of interdisciplinary teams for the design, presentation and execution of investment projects; of controlling their budgetary execution; and of compliance verification over goals and objectives and feedback action implementation. She was in charge of the Institute s Subdirectory, from February to December 2002, where she coordinated the work of technical teams responsible for advising service providers to guarantee the attention of the visually impaired population in education, health, economic development, access to information and ITC usage, among others. Paula Gutiérrez Cárdenas Licensed in Modern Languages by the Universidad Javeriana, she is currently finishing a master s program in Economics in the Universidad Católica Argentina. She has been Dean Lermen s editor, translator and collaborator since 2004. It is not blindness that categorizes us as strange, foreign or exotic. Discrimination is based on the fanatical cult, of persons who see, towards shape and color. The persons who see are constituted as true devotes of fetishes and adorers of the eyes and the light, they have made of truth and knowledge a religion of the optical and they renounce science, civilization and the concept of humanity to remain stationary in comfort, in laziness and in negligence, due to that biological preference for the path of least resistance. Although I maintain a healthy respect for evolution, I have come to believe that it can be explained basically as a product of the Universal Law of Laziness. This law preaches convenience and usefulness: the path of least resistance. Light is free (daylight, I mean). It doesn t cost a thing to use it. And what happens? If you tumble the evolutionary drive that takes advantage of the fact that light energy is free and easy to catch, you get plants that make their own food, or you get a patch of skin that becomes an eye and can make images of the external world. All of this comes from taking the low road. Take what works and discard what doesn t, and above all avoid risks. 1 Dean Lermen 1 Llinas, Rodolfo R. (2001). I of the Vortex: from Neurons to Self. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. p. 108. Presentation The International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI), on its Executive Committee meeting (EXCO) that took place in London, in February 2013, considered that the regions should be able to furnish parallel reports on the state of the education of visually impaired children, using the tools of the CRPD and the World Blind Union (WBU). These reports could be shared with international non-governmental organizations and those under the United Nations. Thus, the Regional President for Latin America transmitted this concern to the representatives of our organization in every country. Dr. Dean Lermen furnished and presented a proposal to undertake an investigation stemming from ICEVI's field of action to make a report on the educational inclusion of visually impaired children and young persons in the region. An instrument was designed for the recollection of information. The proposal was accepted and the document was produced with support from Universidad Externado de Colombia, Colombian Fundación Ver, and professors Mabel Cardenas and Paula Gutierrez. The recollection of information was done during 2013 through the team of ICEVI's contributors and an answer was received from 14 countries. In the EXCO meeting that took place in Vienna in November, our region was the only one that presented a research paper, all the members considered that due to the global nature of the instrument it could be adopted for all the regions and they expressed their interest in seeing the results once they became available. This year, the team furnished the final report. I am pleased to share this report with all of you today. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Dr. Lermen and to the team that carried out the investigation. The analysis of the results urges us to look for strategies that allow us to overcome the reality the report exposes. Even though we have international means to guarantee the educational inclusion of visually impaired children and young persons, it is clear that we have not achieved this. We must unite our efforts to take definite actions in order to guarantee the full exercise of the right to education for visually impaired children and young persons. Cristina Sanz Latin America Regional President ICEVI Report on the educational inclusion of visually impaired children and young persons in Latin America Shadow Report Analysis The Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities CRPD established forms and means for its follow up and monitoring through the presentation of reports by the Participant States in the Convention and Optional Protocol. Once the requirements of the Convention and the Protocol were met, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was formed. The Committee has already fixed the procedures and requirements for the presentation of reports and communications by the Participant States in the Convention and Protocol. 2 It also set the mechanisms for preparing and presenting the shadow reports regarding compliance with the Convention in each country, and indicated that these reports should be presented by people with disabilities and their organizations, and by people with disabilities individually, in groups, or through those who carry their legal representation. It is not usual to think of a continental or regional shadow or alternative report. 3 These can rely in reports presented by the Participant States in the Convention and in the Optional Protocol, and have to do with the observance and the advances in favor of the population that is subject to special protection by treaties or international agreements. Shadow reports aim to broaden the perspective and to establish effective monitoring and follow up mechanisms to international treaties by civil society organizations, and can include specific Human Rights violation cases to particular persons. Any civilian from a Participant State can prepare and present a shadow report even if the state has not presented the corresponding report. What should be the role of an international organization? An international organization is not called to prepare or present a report or shadow report, taking into account that the Optional Protocol is very clear in establishing who presents reports and who presents individual communications. However, international organizations have played an important role in the construction and approval processes of the Convention by the United Nations, and also in the ratification of the Convention by the countries. Moreover, they continue to work in the promotion and protection of Human Rights of people with disabilities. 2 Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (December 2006). New York: United Nations. Article 1, Number 2: No communication shall be received by the Committee if it concerns a State Party to the Convention that is not a party to the present Protocol. 3 Regardless of the term national included in the text of the Convention, the mechanisms provided in Article 33 can be replicated at the local level (provincial, regional or municipal), as stated in Numbers 32 and 58 of the Study of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the structure and role of national mechanisms for the implementation and monitoring of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (January 2009). United Nations. Here we propose a methodology for international organizations to support those who can and should present shadow reports regarding observance to the Convention in their countries, and also to promote the reporting of cases of Human Rights violations by people with disabilities and their organizations to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is recommended to start with a recollection of information that allows the identification, in each country, of the degree of knowledge held by civil society, people with disabilities and their organizations, about the CRPD and the Optional Protocol, about their ratification, and about the progress and developments made. Experts in related topics, people with disabilities, organizations that represent them and their families should be involved in the gathering of information. It is recommended to work with the following aspects in each country, taking into account the field of action of the ICEVI: 1) Construction of the alliance for the preparation of shadow reports To set up a team composed of associations of blind and visually impaired persons, associations of parents of blind and visually impaired children, associations of educators of blind and visually impaired children, nongovernmental organizations specialized in education, protection and promotion of Human Rights, universities and Human Rights watch institutions, networks and experts. 2) Study and analysis of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities CRPD and the Optional Protocol 3) Verification of CRPD and Optional Protocol ratification in the country and judicial status given to the Convention 4) Knowledge of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its regulations 5) Study and analysis on shadow reports, what they are for, how they are made and presented to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 6) Study and analysis of the inclusion indicators of the UNESCO 7) Study and analysis of government reports about the progress and developments of the Convention the on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, if they exist 8) Identification of agreements and disagreements with governmental reports, if they exist We propose a survey as a tool that will allow the gathering of information about the situation in each country, and will facilitate regional information consolidation to the ICEVI and to organizations that might be interested, aiming to provide support in the preparation of its agenda on political incidence regarding educational inclusion at national and international levels. Context Education and Disability are the subject matter of research and analysis that start from the circulation and analysis of the high indicators on exclusion from the educational system. As a first point, we would like to recall the obligations of the States Parties of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilites as they are expressed in Article 24 - Education, Number 3: a) Facilitating the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring; b) Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community; c) Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development. 4 In the Report done by the United Natons Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Vernor Muñoz admits that the right to education is not recognized to an alarming amount of persons with disabilities in most parts of the world and asserts that: As the estimate of persons with disabilities is between 500 and 600 million persons (of which 120 to 150 million are children, 80 to 90 per cent of whom live in poverty in developing countries) and some 15 to 20 per cent of all students have been estimated as having special needs at some point in their educational careers, the current and potential future impact is both unacceptable and causes considerable concern. 5 Below, he condemns the deficiency of public supervision on the education of persons with disabilities and expresses that notwithstanding the lack of precise data on the degree of exclusion from the educational system, available information shows that: First, while the net enrolment rate in primary education in the developing world has now increased to 86 per cent over all regions, estimates of the number of children with disabilities attending school in developing countries range from less than 1 per cent to 5 per cent. Second, literacy rates for disabled women are 1 per cent, as compared to an estimate of about 3 per cent for people with disabilities as a whole. The magnitude of these numbers is confirmed two years later in the Study Las personas con discapacidad en América Latina: del reconocimiento jurídico a la desigualdad real (Persons with Disabilities in Latin America: from Legal Recognition to Real Inequality), which emphasizes that, according to the data for 2009 from the United Nations, more than 90 per cent of boys and girls with disabilities do not attend school. 6 Regarding the subject of disability and information and communication technologies the Consultant for Latin America, Dr. Pilar Samaniego concludes that in this region There are no specific policies on digital inclusion, much less on the use of ICTs for persons with disabilities and even though there has been some progress with respect to the constitutional framework on Human Rights, more specific, integrating legislation is required to ensure access, use, accessibility and usability. 7 On the topic of visual impairment, the World Health Organization informs that 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind ( ). 8 In addition, the 2011 Consultative Expert Meeting Report on Accessible ICTs concluded that: 4 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (December 2006). New York: United Nations. Article 24, Number 3: States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. 5 Muñoz Villalobos, V. (February 2007). Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 entitled Human Rights Council (A/HRC/4/29). United Nations. p Stang Alva, M. F. (April 2011). Las personas con discapacidad en América Latina: del reconocimiento jurídico a la desigualdad real. Santiago de Chile: Naciones Unidas, CEPAL, Centro Latinoamericano y Caribeño de Demografía (CELADE) - División de Población de la CEPAL. p Samaniego, P., Laitamo, S., Valerio, E. & Francisco, C. (March 2012). Report on Using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Education for Persons with Disabilities. Quito: Artes Gráficas Silva. p Visual Impairment and Blindness, Fact Sheet No (October 2013). World Health Organization. In total, an estimated 186 million children with disabilities worldwide have not completed their primary school education1. Thus, children with disabilities make up the world s largest and most disadvantaged minority in terms of education. Meanwhile, both governments and educational authorities face the challenge of meeting the Millennium Development Goals which have set a target of full enrolment and completion of primary school for all children by Concerning the population with visual impairment, there are no trustworthy figures for Latin America. Existing data present much variation, derived in the most part from the differences in the methodology used. To come the closest possible to the real situation we must say that, as is the case with persons with disabilities in general, 90 per cent of this segment of the population lives in developing countries and has serious shortages in nutrition, health and education. Likewise, there are no trustworthy numbers on access to education, ICT usage, nor mobile education for boys, girls or young people with disabilities. On the matter of specific information about this type of disability, the Global Report on ICTs for Persons with Disabilities explains that the term disability encompasses different types of disabilities. It also presents the technologies by the specific functionalities that support persons with particular conditions. However, the studies conducted in the field of education tend to provide information about persons with disabilities in general and not about each particular type of disability. 10 Similarly, the Model Policy for Inclusive ICTs in Education for Persons with Disabilities reaffirms the fact that indicators about persons with disabilities in general are not very precise. 11 Consequently, to inquire on the progress made by type of di
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