P4 Skilled and socially inclusive region
4.1. More people benefiting from stronger Central Baltic communities
Southern Finland - Estonia
01.09.2020 - 31.08.2022
Visually impaired young people are invisible to society and live a secluded life. Their education level is lower and unemployment rates higher. They live with their parents even at the adult age of 18-25 years and older. They are clearly isolated from the rest of society and their peers, yet their needs and requests for services are unknown both in Estonia and Finland. The aim of this project is to find new ways for working with young people with visual impairment to improve their feeling of coping and life management. Through these changes we hope to promote independent living, studying, working and overall inclusion. To develop efficient ways of reaching these goals, we need to compare the situation in both countries and to find models for reaching visually impaired young people.
Both in Estonia and in Finland, the situation of the visually impaired young people is highly polarized: while the majority of the young people with visual impairment are struggling there is a minority that is doing exceptionally well. With the help of this minority, we aim to find out what obstacles visually impaired young people are facing that complicate studying and working and to look into the factors that make moving out and independent living challenging. We will then look for ways to overcoming these obstacles. One known factor are parents that can be overprotective.
To reach the actual goal of this project, we will organize workshops for the target group and their parents. These workshops will consist of peer support groups and guidance by professionals and mentors, aiming to offer concrete help and solutions to the problems that cause isolation. The experience and ideas we gain from these workshops will further help us to offer better services for the visually impaired youth in both countries.
Firstly, we hope to provide concrete information and assistance to the young people who participate to our workshops and foster their feeling of life-management. We will measure their progress by setting individual goals in the beginning of the workshops and revising them after the workshops. For this process, we will use the GAS (Goal Attainments Scaling) -method and the IVI-28 (the Impact of Visual Impairment Questionnaire). After the workshops, with the help of our mentors and target group, we will draw together a guide for visually impaired young people who are in the risk of social exclusion. This guide will be made available for all.
Towards the end of the project, we also aim to reach out to professionals who are working outside our organizations and are involved in the life of visually impaired young people, such as teachers and student counselors. Towards the end of the project there will be publications on this subject in professional magazines in both countries.
The project also aims to find new ideas for services and rehabilitation that can be used all over Finland and Estonia to promote the inclusion of visually impaired youth in the long-term. Currently, there is a clear need in both countries to create new services for young people with visual impairment. We will utilize the experiences and ideas gained from this project when we develop new services for them.