SCOVI Annual Conference 2011

Dundee, 21st June 2011

The conference began with a welcome and address by the President, Graham Findlay [PowerPoint, 130kb]. He summarised the history of SCOVI’s predecessor, the Scottish National Federation for the Welfare of the Blind, and outlined the timetable for the day.

There then followed two workshops. Lee Stanway from Guide Dogs gave a presentation on guide dogs for people with additional disabilities [PowerPoint, 17.95Mb]; and Mhairi Thurston, from the University of Abertay, a presentation on the need for emotional support for people with sight loss [PowerPoint, 428kb].

After a break for coffee, Liz Scott Gibson, Deaf Action, presented her thoughts on the provision of joint sensory services [PowerPoint, 6.9Mb].

There followed an excellent lunch in the restaurant and time for networking, with the opportunity to try out a guide dog under blindfold, which several delegates undertook.

Robert Brown cuts the cakeAfter lunch Robert Brown, Convener of the Cross Party Group on Visual Impairment at the Scottish Parliament from 2007-11, presided over the official launch of the Scottish Council on Visual Impairment when he cut a special cake and everyone enjoyed a glass of cava to toast the new organisation.

The two afternoon workshops followed this, with Bridget Stevens from ADA Scotland giving a description of how live audio described commentaries were given in theatres across Scotland and how her organisation was striving to introduce professional standards. This was accompanied by video clips from “The Full Monty” both with and without audio description. At the same time Andrew Kaye from RNIB gave a presentation on the changes to disability and work related benefits the coalition government intended to introduce [PowerPoint, 444kb].

Puppy Scovi in a basketThe final keynote speech was given by Richard Leaman, Chief Executive of Guide Dogs. He stressed that Guide Dogs felt that it was essential that they collaborate with other organisations in the sector to ensure that the best service was given to blind and partially sighted people. To this end the new Sighted Guide programme had solicited enquiries from over 70 local societies. The initial investment from Guide Dogs was £500,000 and six pilot schemes were currently running, with one in Scotland at the Forth Valley Sensory Centre.  He looked forward to working with SCOVI in the future and announced that a new guide dog puppy would be named “Scovi”. A review of the Guide Dogs operating structure was currently underway and 20 Mobility Action Centres would be set up from the 28 establishments now operating.

The conference was closed by the President and a card given to Bryn Merchant from RNIB Scotland who would retire the following week.

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