Low Vision and partial sight
The new EBU video 'Low Vision - Impact and Action' is now online. This new awareness raising video on low vision and its impact, is part of EBU´s campaign for dedicated low vision services in Europe to be available to every partially sighted person in need of support.
- The EBU clear print guidelines in docx and pdf format. (January 2017)
These guidelines are intended to assist all organisations, companies and individuals who want to make their documents accessible. The document offers basic principles with good practice examples that you can easily apply in all your printed and electronic communication activities.
Making your texts accessible benefits people with sight loss as well as a far wider audience: the general public. By implementing the principles of Inclusive Design (also called Universal Design) you too can make an important contribution to a more accessible and inclusive society!
- Implementing standards for LOW VISION SERVICES in Europe
A toolkit with examples and references which will be useful when undertaking action nationally to promote and lobby for high level low vision services to be made available and accessible to everyone with sight loss in need of support, in doc and pdf formats.
- The EBU brochure 'Minimum standards for low vision services in Europe' (pdf file 4.5 MO) to download.
There are far greater numbers of people with partial sight than with blindness. The solutions and measures needed for people with partial sight are often quite different from those for blind people.
EBU raises awareness on the specific needs of persons with partial sight as well as on the many different forms of partial sight and the implication in the daily life of so many Europeans.
Low vision aids, such as magnifying equipment and Closed Circuit Television are important tools that make life easier for partially sighted persons.
EBU promotes the different guidelines related to accessibility and partial sight.
Many partially sighted persons fall under the category of people losing sight as they grow older.
Partial sight and low vision: two names for same condition.
Our list of low vision sites in the useful links page and
LOW VISION IN EUROPEBy Alenka Bera, Fritz Buser and Krister Inde
Published in EBU Newsletter 63 (July-August 2008)
According to estimates, 2 % of Europeans are visually impaired and 90 % of these have low or reduced vision. This raises the question of terminology which apparently still needs to be settled so that accurate data and strategic planning for this group of people can be achieved. The issue of the definition of low or reduced vision matters because access to services and support largely depends on whether or not an individual falls into a certain category. Efforts are being made to adopt a functional definition which would not only take the medical aspects into account but also the impact on the basic daily skills of the person with reduced vision.
Approximately one out of three people over the age of 75 has Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which is the most common cause of reduced vision. With its ageing population, Europe faces a tremendous need for low vision care in the near future. In responding to this need, however, we should not neglect early intervention services and education support for children as well as comprehensive low vision and rehabilitation services for youths and adults. We need to acknowledge that “a partially sighted person tries to use his or her visual capacities as much and for as long as possible, even if these capacities deteriorate over time.”
Low vision services include three important aspects: magnification, appropriate lighting and emotional support. These services must be provided by properly trained and highly skilled professionals as well as low vision organisations.
The most advanced service delivery systems in Europe are found in the Nordic countries. Together Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Denmark have 90 low vision centres. The centre in Stockholm is the biggest with 82 staff members and five multidisciplinary units of excellence. The Spanish low vision centres, created through ONCE, are modelled after Swedish services. In Italy low vision care has been incorporated in 14 centres. In Switzerland there is a network of about 20 multidisciplinary centres specialised in low vision and blindness.
Some countries are also involved in research and development. In Great Britain a new project aims to discover the best way of using residual eccentric vision and in Germany the EU-funded AMD Read Project has involved several research partners.
Service development is a great challenge in many countries in Eastern Europe. Efforts are being made in countries such as Poland and Hungary, but it is urgent to meet low vision needs as we are facing rapidly growing demographics. However, these Eastern European countries should not be seen as the only places suffering from underprovided low vision care. Countries like France, Germany and England are developing countries in terms of low vision service delivery.
It was an ophthalmologist who took the initiative to develop the first low vision clinic in Europe in Copenhagen in 1960. That is also the case in countries like Germany and Italy. But where and who is not what matters. According to the Oslo Document “Toward a Reduction in the Global Impact of Low Vision from 2004”, instigators may come from rehabilitation, medicine or education. The important thing is that we as stakeholders can inspire entrepreneurs, researchers and practitioners to start providing low vision services and training for children, adults and the elderly now.
Visually impaired organizations must also play an educative role to raise awareness on what partial sight is, on our specific needs and the adequate solutions. Partially sighted people are too often afraid of sighted people's reaction when using specific devices, but using low vision aids in public is and will be a normal situation that we should not be ashamed of.
This raises another issue: promoting the principles of design and society for all so that access to the built environment, media and public services is ensured and the need for specialized solutions and adjustments is minimized.
EBU has shown great awareness of the special needs entailed by low or reduced vision by establishing a dedicated Low Vision Steering Group. A Low Vision session was held during the last General Assembly. However, low vision should not be seen as a separate issue and should be on the working agenda of each Commission since EBU is committed to supporting both blind and partially sighted people.
EBU is made up of blind and partially sighted people so the knowledge is there and the responsibility is on us. Out-reaching and raising awareness is basically a matter of good campaigning. We should not just wait for things to change, we need to create change.
Low vision services in Europe have much to share and learn from one another. Role models and examples of good practice from different countries can be implemented everywhere while taking into consideration cultural variations and differences.
Further information from Alenka Bera, Low Vision SG Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
a New Scandinavian Vision Enabling Project for AMD Participants
In the Scandinavian countries with 20 million inhabitants and well established low vision service programs at approximately 70 low vision centers with more than 500 professionals serving persons with low vision. The average patient is a 75 years old woman with macula degeneration (AMD). Nevertheless, there is no existing common strategy or rehab program in relation to optometric rehabilitation and low vision training established for persons with AMD within this organization.
This pilot study will challenge this demand in developing new tools and methods for different levels of visual performance in dry AMD, in many cases in the age group 80+. In each level of the progressive disease the project will present certain pathways of assessment, training and mental comfort and awareness with individual variations. The material presented will make the work easier and also more professional in Scandinavia by publishing all materials in three languages. Persons with AMD will be more able to adjust to shorter working distance and using magnification step by step both at various distance.
Project SEEnior had its start up in December 2007. The first phase is an inventory period, where current ideas and methods used at a sample of high quality low vision centers are investigated. In the next creative phase of the project a range of tests and training materials are being developed - optical, non-optical and pre-optical methods in a close cooperation between Norwegian, Swedish and Danish low vision therapists and optometrist. The production of the material will take place during fall 2008 and a number of Scandinavian seminars will take place in the beginning of, 2009 presenting the SEEnior materials and methods to professionals and patient organizations.
From this strategy a wider and longitudinal EU financed study and project will be initiated. This work will evaluate and further develop the approach and the value of training with methods used in optometry and education today for patients with AMD.
It is a wish to be made come through that this study will continue on a European level involving more countries than the Scandinavian partners cooperating today. Since AMD is the most common visual impairment in the western part of the world, with a rapidly ageing population, it will be more important to work together.