ONCE invites young Europeans with a visual impairment to recount their Erasmus experiences

ONCE, the Spanish National Organisation of the Blind, will host an event to enable young visually impaired university students from the European Union to relate their first-hand experiences of studying abroad thanks to the Erasmus programme.

In the framework of its 80th anniversary celebrations, ONCE reaffirms its commitment to blind and partially sighted people who decide to cross the border to continue their further education. With the goal of enriching the experience for future visually impaired Erasmus students, the gathering aims to look into the challenges and difficulties they face to ensure that nothing will undermine the hunger for learning and to learn about different cultures which the programme, now in its fourth decade, offers.

As we all know, Erasmus is a European Union exchange programme which provides support in the shape of grants for students to matriculate for at least three months in a foreign university in one of the participating countries. The countries currently part of the programme are the 28 EU member states (including the United Kingdom), the FYR of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey. Although few students with visual impairment signed up for Erasmus during the first years of the programme, ONCE has noticed a growing number in the past few years, both from their own membership and students who chose Spanish campuses to hone their professional skills.

During this period, ONCE developed and adopted a tailor-made protocol which enables agreements with several Spanish universities to secure help and assistance for blind and severely partially sighted EU citizens who choose to travel to Spain to study part of their degree as part of the Erasmus programme. On this occasion, the meeting of former Erasmus students aims to clarify the roles played by ONCE, universities and other organisations of and for blind people, with a view to identifying areas for improvement and ensuring Erasmus embraces disability as a key element in European diversity.

The event will be held from July 5th to 8th 2018 at the ONCE Educational Resource Centre in Madrid and is open to former Erasmus students of both sexes who have a visual impairment compatible with ONCE membership and are under 26 years old on the dates indicated. A total of 50 places are available and English will be the working language for the sessions. ONCE will cover accommodation and meals, so participants will only have to pay for their own travelling expenses.