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Dear Colleagues,

Once in every four years a reputable European Conference in the field of people with visual impairments is organised by the International Council for Education and Rehabilitation of People with Visual Impairment, European Region (ICEVI-Europe), in cooperation with a host committee and local partners. Being a regional association of ICEVI International which is a worldwide organization recognized by the Commission of Social Services in the United Nations, UNICEF and UNESCO, along with maintaining an extensive network of highly qualified professionals- individuals and organizations- in the field of visual impairment, are elements that constitute ICEVI-Europe an important umbrella organisation in this area. The last ICEVI European Conference took place in Istanbul, Turkey on June 30-July 5, 2013 with the participation of hundreds of distinguished professionals working in the field of VI across Europe.

Within this context, BLL (Blindenzorg licht en liefde), Spermalie and Centrum Ganspoel, three organizations situated in Flanders, have decided to join forces for the organization of the 9th ICEVI European Conference in Bruges, which will be held July 2-7 2017 at the facilities of the Sint-Lodewijkscollege in Bruges, Belgium. The theme of the conference will be “Empowered by Dialogue,” centered on the Quality of Life Framework by Dr. Robert Schalock. For further information, please visit our conference website.

With this announcement, we have the pleasure of inviting you to join us and urge you to forward this information to other people and professionals in the field of visual impairment interested in its content. Take advantage of the opportunity to become an active part of the exchange of knowledge and expertise and sharing of best practises within a network of people and institutions promoting the social inclusion of people with visual impairment. Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful city of Bruges in Belgium; an attractive unique pedestrian medieval town listed as a UNESCO World Heritage and often called the "The Venice of the North," where you will enjoy various touristic offers in culture, history, art and gastronomic Belgian cuisine. To be more specific, we will welcome you in Flanders, which has a long tradition of well-organized public Welfare and Health Care and especially long history in supporting people with visual disabilities.

Our three organizations cooperate intensively and structurally in order to ensure a complementarity of expertise. This way, we take care of babies, toddlers, children, youngsters, adults and elderly people with visual and multiple visual impairments and we realize a continuum in intensity of support through different support services: mobile support, ambulant support, semi-residential support, residential support and outreach.

We invite all stakeholders to join the 9th ICEVI European Conference in Bruges: the individual person with visual impairment and his environment; the individual professionals, regular or specialized, their teams or organizations and services; the volunteers and their network; communities and policy makers.

We are sure, in dialogue, we will empower each other, and we will be looking for a way to improve the independence, social participation and wellbeing of people with visual impairments, definitely three aspects that significantly matter in human life.

Save the date and follow the news on the website.

We hope to see you all in the next ICEVI European Conference to meet and exchange expertise with colleagues from all over Europe.

On behalf of the Board of ICEVI-Europe
Nathalie Lewi-Dumont
Vice-President of ICEVI-Europe
On behalf of the Host Committee
Sarah Tobback
Alain Nauwelaerts
Jan de Smedt
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