Key note speakers

Föreläsare / Key note speakers

Foto av Klaus Miesenberger, Österrrike

“The only thing stable is change”

Coping with the challenges in service provision in the information age

Klaus Miesenberger, Vice head of Institute Integriert Studieren at the University of Linz, Austria

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution is entering almost all aspects of our lives. A re-construction process has been started bringing established frameworks, which we took for granted over decades or even longer in discussion and making them fluent. This supports our ideas and concepts of inclusion and an open participation of all in society including those with disabilities, concepts we were fighting for decades. The digital revolution is a key enabler in this inclusive change. On the other hand we all are affected by this societal transformation both in terms of new possibilities but also in terms of seeing what we took for granted is getting fluent. We have to learn and change over our lifetime. And it is said we fear nothing more than changing.

This talk will invite to reflect these challenges for low vision and blind people (LVBP) and the service sector where we moved from special schools to integration using mobile support based in resource centers. From here we saw a switch to inclusion with community based support structures including sometimes reallocating power from public service provision to personal empowering private budgets and personal assistance. And in some areas, in particular when dealing with multiple disabilities, we are moving back to specialized educational situations.

Constant change and change management seems to be what is expected from us demanding for new and not only technical skills. Services go beyond the borders of organizational structures as school, job, training and therapy organization making the whole environment subject to inclusion and empowering people for self-determined and independent living. Who when not you (or we) as experts in the domain can support mainstream and end-users in implementing these expectations in times of constant change.

This keynote will outline where this fundamental power of ICT, in particular for people with disabilities, comes from and how it affects the role of all domains of inclusion and of service provision. We will look into the potential (and risks) of emerging technologies (e.g. Internet of Things, Virtual/Augmented Reality, Eye Tracking, Robotics, Personalized Interfaces) and our changing role in support and service provision related to Assistive Technology (AT) provision, eAccessibility, therapy and training.

This talk should help structuring this important discourse about the wide range of emerging technologies. It will argue and bring into discussion that

  1. emerging technologies, to beneficial, have to seamlessly integrate and adapt to proven interaction and communication standards,
  2. skills in using AT/ICT as the universal tools for inclusion have to become part of all levels of education, both for learners and teachers and basics in eAccessibility in all domains of society,
  3. elaborated methods, techniques and competences of LVBP in interacting with content must not get lost but adapted and get used for advanced ICT solutions, and
  4. it will be the challenge for us to reach out and facilitate the implementation of accessibility in all domains of society

Klaus has a background in computer science and economics.He is Head of Institute Integriert Studieren at the University of Linz, Austria and responsible for R&D and teaching at the institute which also runs a service centre for students with disabilities. In 2000 he was guest professor at the Université Claude Bernard, Lyon II. He gives lectures at different Austrian universities and teacher training academies. His research and teaching is related to Assistive Technologies, eAccessibility and Design for All. He has been involved in more than 60 national and international R&D projects in these fields.

Foto av Kim de Verdier

“One size does not fit all”

Children with blindness: developmental aspects with special focus on blindness and autism

Kim de Verdier Lic. psychologist, National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (SPSM)PhD student, Stockholm University, Department of Special Education

In 2015 a population-based study was conducted with the aim to describe developmental characteristics of Swedish children with congenital or early acquired blindness. The study comprised the vast majority of all blind children (with total blindness or light perception at the most) born between the years 1988 – 2008 (n=150). Variables such as common causes of blindness and the prevalence of developmental disorders and additional disabilities were examined. Special interest was directed towards children with blindness and autism spectrum disorders. Blindness and autism is a complex dual disability, which entails very specific support-needs. A great responsibility lies on the environment to provide opportunities for optimal development. In order to investigate experiences of the support offered to these children and families, an in-depth interview-based study was recently completed. This study included a sample of six children with blindness and autism, with or without intellectual disability, as well as their parents and teachers. In this lecture findings from both studies will be shared and discussed

Svartvitt foto av Tony Panzell









Visual requirements and obstacles for normal reading function

Tony Pansell, Universitetslektor/optiker Forskare, Karolinska Institutet Stockholm

A normal reading function is important for many everyday activities. A reduced reading ability inherently leads to difficulties in for example education and acquiring new information. Vision is important for a normal reading function, and visual impairment often leads to a reduced reading ability. Since many vision impairments can be compensated for with optical solutions, it is important to offer correct visual treatment to those who suffer from reading difficulties due to visual impairments. In this lecture I will review some common visual causes of impaired reading and the principles of how to treat them.

 Foto av den isländske föreläsaren Runar Unnborsson

Sound of Vision – system for helping with sensing environment and mobility 

Rúnar Unnþórsson Professor Universitiy of Iceland 

The H2020 project Sound of Vision is developing a wearable system for assisting visually impaired persons to both navigate and perceive indoor or outdoor environments.

The system provides information using spatial audio and tactile representations of the environment.  The system works without the need for predefined tags/sensors located in the surroundings.

The project places a huge emphasis on the role of training as it is expected that the users of the Sound of Vision’s system will require extensive training in order to achieve a high level of competence in using the Sound of Vision system.

Training is conducted under the supervision of mobility instructors and is split into three phases a) training in a 3D virtual training environment, b) training in laboratory settings and c) training in real environment.  In each phase the level of difficulty is increased with individual user’s competency until the mobility instructor decides that the user is ready to advance to next phase. In the presentation, the Sound of Vision system will be described, the challenges explained and results from training and testing sessions presented.

Thomas Ragnarsson ansikteKarin Jönsson ansikte

Digital ADL för personer med svår synnedsättning

Karin Jönsson Expertstöd kring teknik och hjälpmedel Nationellt center för dövblindfrågor, Datapedagog, Horisont, Lund

Thomas Ragnarsson Synpedagog, Rådgivare Specialpedagogiska skolmyndigheten, Örebro

Synrehabilitering har alltid handlat om kombinationen av att anpassa omgivningen och att ge individen kunskap att hantera den trots synbortfall. Problemen personer med svåra synnedsättningar stöter på har inte förändrats särskilt mycket, men idag har vi fått en mycket stor mängd nya verktyg till vårt förfogande. Ny teknik öppnar helt nya möjligheter och gör många anpassningarna enklare och billigare. Vi vill försöka inspirera genom att visa en del av dessa nya möjligheter, samt förhoppningsvis också ge en liten glimt av hur framtiden skulle kunna se ut.


Morten Hjelholt ansikte


Det automatiserede individ Studier af overgangen til digitale samfund

Morten Hjelholt Associate Professor and head of reserach group: Design, Innovation and Digitalisation, IT-Universitetet i Köpenhamn

Digitalisering og automatisering er i løbet af de seneste årtier blevet fænomener som de fleste har et forhold til. For mange opleves disse som forbedringer der effektiviserer og gør hverdagen lettere. For andre er overgangen til digitale samfund dog mere problematisk da menneskelige kontaktflader gradvist udfases til fordel for centralt styrede digitale portaler. Denne udvikling er ikke kun et spørgsmål om teknologi, men i høj grad også et udtryk for politik, forhandlinger og beslutninger. Der er tale om politiske digitale strategier der efterhånden har gennemsyret de skandinaviske lande (og store dele af Vesteuropa).

Med udgangspunkt i konkrete forskningsprojekter om udsatte borgere og digitale samfund vil lektor ved IT-Universitet og medlem af Det Centrale Handicapråd, Morten Hjelholt gennemgå digitaliseringsudviklingen de seneste årtier. Ud fra ideer og perspektiver tilbage fra blandt andet Salamanca Erklæringen (1994) og Americans with Disablilties Aact (1992) vil oplægget indeholde en diskussion af, hvorledes inklusion af synshæmmede og andre grupper kan sikres i den hastige digitale udvikling.

Morten pratar om hvilke faktorer som kan føre til udelukkelse og hvordan man måske kan imødegå dette. Det er en af konklusionerne på et etårligt projekt fra ITU, som afslører et åbenlyst modsætningsforhold mellem politiske ambitioner på digitaliseringsområdet og ditto ambitioner om inklusion af mennesker med funktionsnedsættelser som Downs syndrom, ADHD, ordblindhed og nedsat syn.

“I Danmark forventer vi, at næsten alle borgere skal være digitale. Dette omfatter både sociale forventninger om online tilstedeværelse og lovmæssige krav om at kommunikere digitalt gennem NemID og digital post. Problemet er, at kravene ikke fungerer, når det kun er 80 procent af borgerne der er i stand til at anvende digitaliseringen,« siger Morten Hjelholt, projektleder og lektor på ITU, der har udført projektet sammen med Mette Grønbæk Rasmusse”.

Foto av Robson

The World’s Best Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Patient and what the title means


Robson has lived in 6 countries before the age of 11. Has always loved sports and competed in; motocross, snowmobiling and sailing. Robson has a BS of Economics and is a Lieutenant (Reserves, Marines) and Ironman finisher.

Robson offers a unique insight into what it is like to live with Traumatic Brain Injury and vision impairment related to TBI. “I tell my story, as it is, full disclosure and why it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. However, TBI is often dark, depressing and at times it drives even the most positive person to the brink of suicide and insanity. I know this because I have experienced this first hand.”

Robson has been lucky enough to get a look into both worlds: suffering from TBI but simultaneously looking perfectly healthy on the outside. He even sounds healthy. But the way he sounds, moves and thinks couldn’t be further from the illusion. The illusion, that he looks healthy on the outside. “I am far from it. But getting there.” states Robson with his signature smile.

Robson’s rehab process has included extensive work with visual rehabilitation. Robson was left with visual impairment after the he suffered from TBI. This process will be detailed in his presentation.

“When a person goes through a major event, each person needs to decide: if we let the event define us or we define the event. An event like this is no small issue to admit. Especially, when you are an Ironman finisher. Personally, I have chosen to define the event. Therefore, I decided to become the World’s Best TBI Patient.” 

“If you think I’m going to be all serious and depressing on stage. Well, you have another thing coming. I am in no way undermining the seriousness of my, or anyone’s, road to recovery. Things are just easier when you smile and laugh. Pictures also say more than 1000 words and that is why I love to include pictures Jenna Lindqvist has taken of my recovery in my presentation.” 

Foto av Gunwor Wilhelmsen

Presentation av projekt

Gunvor Birkeland Wilhelmsen. Høgskolen på Vestlandet, Førsteamanuensis, AL-Pedagogikkseksjonen, GLU og prosjektleder for tverrfaglig prosjekt i Tanzania

 Forskningsrådet, Norad og Innovasjon Norge har til sammen gitt 14,911 millioner kroner til det tverrfaglige prosjektet som skal bidra til å bedre leseevnen til grunnskolebarn i Tanzania. Prosjektet startet opp 1. april 2017

– Vi vet at det kan være vanskelig for barn med vanlige, lettere synsforstyrrelser å få med seg det som skjer i klasserommet i afrikanske land. De er gjerne femti elever i en klasse, og alt de skal lære skjer fremst i rommet på en dårlig tavle. De har ikke bøker, og det som skal skrives ned må skrives av fra tavlen, forteller hun.

Det viser seg at barn i ti-årsalderen nærmest ikke har fått med seg noe lærdom fra de begynte på skolen som seksåring, og dette kan i stor grad skyldes dårlige visuelle forhold i klasserommet som spesielt påvirker barn med lettere synsforstyrrelser. I prosjektet vil det inngå kurs for lærerne i grunnskolen i hvordan de kan legge bedre til rette for undervisningen visuelt sett. De vil få lære mer om hvordan de kan forstå barns syn, og de vil lære at de ikke kan ha samme forventninger til yngre som til de større barna. De yngste kan ha mye vanskeligere for å få med seg alt som skjer rundt dem i et klasserom med ulike distraksjoner. For eksempel trenger de gjerne sterkere visuelle kontraster for å få ting med seg.

Det overordnede målet med dette prosjektet er å redusere fattigdom i Tanzania. Gjennom å bedre forholdene i klasserommet for barna som lider av lettere synsvansker, vil en av konsekvensene være at flere unge vil forbedre lesekunnskapene sine og klare å gjennomføre grunnskolen.

Ved Universitetet i Tanzania blir det utdannet synspedagoger, og disse vil få egne kurs gjennom dette prosjektet. De fire sammenhengende målene for å oppnå dette dreier seg om enkelteleven, forholdene i klasserommet, opplæring av grunnskolelærere og synspedagogstudenter og etableringen av et forskningssamarbeid med Tanzania der en ser på effektene av de tiltak en gjør i og utenfor klasserommet.

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