What is VISAL for?

Although they represent an increasing part of the population, visually impaired (VI) seniors are one of the most marginalised communities in terms of lifelong learning. This is a clear obstacle to their active involvement in society. The VISAL training course is tailor-made to both the age- and disability-related specific learning needs of elderly VI persons.
In 2013 and 2014, the course was experimented in Austria, Croatia, Slovakia and the UK, and later on has later been implemented in France, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Portugal.
The course is targeted at VI senior citizens in Europe, whose proportion in the population is increasing. The VISAL project also helps European VI organisations face the challenge of an ageing population by providing them with an adapted learning opportunity for their elderly members to be included within their service provision strategy.

Watch the VISAL presentation video made by RNIB in English

VISAL presentation video in English

Latest news

  • 06/03/2018 - 31 blind and partially-sighted elderly persons participated in VISAL courses in three new countries in late 2017: Greece, Iceland and Poland.
  • 27/02/2017 - VISAL sessions were held in Croatia, France, Hungary, Lithuania and the Netherlands in late 2016. 66 visually impaired seniors attended!
  • 15/11/2016 - Following the European facillitators training course, a full course will be held in Zadar from 09/11/2016 to 21/12/2016. Also, with financial support from the Croatian Ministry for Social Welfare, two new facilitators in Croatia will be trained in early 2017. They will hold VISAL courses in the cities of Požega and Slavonski Brod! More than 30 blind and partially sighted seniors are expected to participate in those courses.

Latest facts and figures (06/03/2018)

  • 13 countries involved: Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and the UK
  • 288 visually impaired seniors trained
  • 231 VISAL learning sessions
  • 74 national facilitators trained to facilitate VISAL sessions
  • VISAL toolkit available in Croatian, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Slovakian
  • 4 national conferences on elderly VI persons and lifelong learning

Resources available

  • VISAL toolkit: It is designed to enable you to help and encourage older people with visual impairments to participate actively in their local community. It offers a step-by-step guide to planning, organising and following up the VISAL programme to help a group of older people with sight loss to gain in confidence, skills and awareness to the best of their individual abilities. The toolkit is available in Croatian, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Slovak
  • Train-the-trainer manual and powerpoint presentation (English)
  • Additional exercises (English)
  • Additional evaluation resources (English)
  • Leaflet in Croatian, Dutch, English, German and Slovak
  • Pictures

When no link is available, please ask the EBU office.

VISAL conference

Entitled “VISAL, a key to civic engagement for the visually impaired in older age”, the project's final conference was held in Bratislava (Slovakia) on 2-3 October 2014.
Documents available: programme, final report, powerpoint presentations and audio recordings. When no link is available, please ask the EBU office.


One of the objectives of the project was to give older visually impaired people a voice, as 94 year-old Ben from the UK says "I may have had my day - but I still have a say!" Other participants in the project have their say below.

Erna Zepke, aged 83, from Austria Being part of the VISAL-project showed me that it is very important to involve my generation in such kinds of activities. I learned a lot from the young facilitators and I realized that they can also learn from us.
What I enjoyed the most was that I could co-determine parts of the sessions and so for example introduce my usual morning gymnastics to the other participants, which they all liked a lot.

A project like this should take place in much more countries because it enables blind and partially sighted seniors not only to learn something new, but to learn from one another! That's what I really liked about the project: we didn't just do things with the help of the trainers but we, the blind seniors, did things together and learned from each other!


    Stipe and Ljiljana in converstaion with Ljerka

Stipe and Ljiljana from Croatia (aged 86, 81)
During the period of VISAL sessions we were especially fond of Mondays, our day of group meeting. We must confess that, before the sessions started, we were a bit skeptical about joining and reluctant to get out of the house. This proved to be unjustified concern, as we were „hooked“ right after the first meeting and from then on were looking forward very much to each session. It was like our weekly mini-trip to downtown: getting tangled up in the social tissue of the city – from public transport and walking the streets, to meeting new people and having nice discussions on many topics we consider important. It felt we all have many things in common, although each of us has a different background and life story. What we liked the most was openness for sharing ideas and opinions and overall atmosphere of acceptance.


HUNGARY - Participants getting to know each other

CROATIA - Participants share information, in groups of 2

SLOVAKIA - Participants enjoying their workshop

For more information, please contact the EBU Information Officer, by email at or by telephone at +33 1 47 05 38 20.