Rehabilitation of the blind and partially sighted in the Nordic countries is a key concern among the organizations of the blind and partially sighted. The central theme of the conference in Helsinki has been the future of vision rehabilitation in the Nordic countries and finding ways forward on various topics pertaining to rehabilitation issues.
- The conference urges the governments to secure funding for training of vision rehabilitation professionals E.G. ophthalmologists and other vision rehabilitation professionals, thus providing the means to offer good quality rehabilitation services to blind and partially sighted persons, as we know that demand for rehabilitation services is growing as the aging of the population is increasing.
- The conference strongly urges the relevant government agencies to take all due necessary actions to ensure that early intervention and prevention of visually impairment are improved. Including early diagnostic and possible treatment of the onset of eye conditions that can cause visually impairment or blindness. The early intervention can decrease the overall costs for society, which in turn can be used on better rehabilitation.
- The conference emphasize the need for the early initiation of vision rehabilitation for persons who become visually impaired or blind as research shows that early intervention greatly increases the likelihood of the person obtaining a good quality of life. Thus promoting better overall mental health and the ability to live a social and engaging life. In addition, thereby decreasing the chances of the onset of other lifestyle diseases or other equally undesirable conditions.
- Studies show that a multi-disciplinary approach to vision rehabilitation greatly increases the quality and success for rehabilitation training that blind and partially sighted receive. This regardless of whether this is at the onset of the rehabilitation or as follow-up training.
Further, the conference urges the responsible government agencies to facilitate a conducive environment that encourages collaboration between various vision rehabilitation professional groups, in order to improve the overall quality of service.
- Lastly the conference strongly urges the governments to set up programs and such educational training as needed to ensure that professionalism prevails at all levels of vision rehabilitation services, regardless of whether this is at the local, regional or national level.
International conventions and agreements supporting improvements for the lives of Blind and partially sighted in the Nordic countries and globally
The Nordic countries have all ratified and approved the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities as well as actively promoting reaching the Sustainable development goals. The governments of the Nordic countries should emphasize and strengthen the focus on the goals set forth in the Sustainable development Goals (SDGs) of special concern for improving vision rehabilitation is
Goal 3, which is to Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all, ages.
Goal 4, which is to Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all and
Goal 8, which is to Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Further, the conference urges the Nordic governments to continue strengthening the incorporation of the principles on rehabilitation set forth in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities (CRPD) Article 26, which among other provisions stipulates Article 26 – Habilitation and rehabilitation.
1. States parties shall take effective and appropriate measures, including through peer support, to enable persons with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence, full physical, mental, social and vocational ability, and full inclusion and participation in all aspects of life. To that end, states parties shall organize, strengthen and extend comprehensive habilitation and rehabilitation services and programs, particularly in the areas of health, employment, education and social services, in such a way that these services and programs:
a) Begin at the earliest possible stage, and are based on the multidisciplinary assessment of individual needs and strengths;
b) Support participation and inclusion in the community and all aspects of society, are voluntary, and are available to persons with disabilities as close as possible to their own communities, including in rural areas.
2. States parties shall promote the development of initial and continuing training for professionals and staff working in habilitation and rehabilitation services.
This resolution is send to the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Welfare Center. The national associations of the blind and partially sighted are sending the resolution to the relevant authorities in the countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.