Travel, get to know a new culture, meet people with the same problems and interests from all over Europe, learn about things that make life a lot easier, practice English and have a lot of fun. Doesn’t this sound promising for every young person? And what about the blind and partially sighted, who are in the most important period of their lives, where they have to decide about their future?
Indeed, such an opportunity exists; it is called ICC – International Camp on Communication and Computers, organized by one European country each year and that may be attended by blind and partially sighted people between 16 and 21. years of age. I took part in the ICC for the first time in 2017, and even though it was a coincidence then, I hesitated to subscribe for a long time and was very worried before leaving, I think it was probably the best decision I could ever make. I participated in the event in the years to come, so besides Belgium, where my first ICC took place, I traveled to Croatia last year and to the UK this year.
What is ICC?
But we still haven’t got to the main point. What is so unique about the ICC and why would I recommend it to everyone? The whole event actually consists of workshops on various topics related to the life with visual impairment. Be it assistive technology, computers, presentation and social skills, or education, music, travelling or guide dogs. The composition of the workshops is very varied and different every year, so everyone chooses according to their interests and needs. Outside the workshops, leisure activities take place in the evenings. During these, one can try various sports, play musical instruments, relax or participate in some social activity.
But I still haven’t gotten to the most important thing for me, namely the constant contact with peers across Europe and even Japan, who are in the same situation as you. Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to meet countless wonderful people that I keep in touch with, some of whom have become my best friends.
What did the ICC give me?
If I leave out the friends I have already mentioned, I would definitely put self-confidence in the first place. For someone like me who barely knew two other blinds before, who was afraid to go out on the street with a white cane, who almost never traveled without parents and who had no idea what she wanted to do in her life, it was really very big change. Suddenly I found myself among people who are in exactly the same situation and, moreover, people who are self-confident, independent, traveling alone, having a job that they enjoy or have clear goals ahead of them and who have come to share their experience. In addition, I found out what amazing technical achievements, I have never heard of in the Czech Republic, are already available in other countries and what useful information I took from workshops. Learning about living in other countries was also rewarding and I had the opportunity to practice foreign languages which was definitely a great advantage and experience.
I owe the participation and creation of such projects mainly to our national coordinators (Czech Republic – Teiresias centre) and organizations such as Světluška or Leontinka, who financially support the events. ICC is a topic that I would like to address here in some more articles. What I wrote here could be taken as a mere introduction. There will certainly be something else about specific years or experiences. Would you like to see another article on this?