Corto in Liège, Belgium

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As future CICCE, Centre for Cultural and Civic European initiatives, Samba Résille wants to expand its mobility tools set. Alongside the projects developed under the Erasmus+ programme, the association has invested in the SVE field (European Voluntary Service). As part of this programme, which was replaced in 2019 by the ESC (European Solidarity Corps), the association took part in the mobility of a young man from Toulouse, Corto BUSCAGLIA.

Corto, affected by a visual impairment, wanted to undertake an internship in Belgium at IRHOV (Institut Royal des Handicapés de la Vue et de l’Ouïe) allowing him to develop skills in specialized animation and adapted computing. IRHOV being the host structure, Samba Résille played the role of the sending structure, while Views International coordinated the mobility.

We therefore went to Liège to make an observation visit with Corto in order to ensure that the reception conditions were suitable for him and to finalize the administrative procedures. Corto completed an eight-month internship in Belgium, which he found extremely rewarding. He found there the opportunity to continue training to become a specialized teacher and plans to settle there for a long time.

The benefits are therefore important for Corto, confirming the testimonies that long-term mobilities (Erasmus+, SVE) often have a major impact on people’s life plan. The benefits are important for Samba Résille as well, which has a trusted partnership with Views International and IRHOV. A new mobility project is being developed, this time with the IJA (Institut des Jeunes Aveugles) in Toulouse. It will allow a team of educators and young people to complete a week-long observation internship at the IRHOV, a prelude to potential longer interships.

Testimony

Hello everyone !

I am Corto BUSCAGLIA, a 29-year-old visually impaired Frenchman.
I have suffered from the condition Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic disease that causes a progressive loss of Vision, since the age of six. To date, although significant progress has been made in the field, no treatment is possible to cure the disease.

However, I attended a rehabilitation course for people with low vision in a specialized centre which allowed me to master the techniques of using the white cane, Braille, and adapted technology. It is thanks to learning these skills that I am able to live independently, that I have obtained a joint degree in history and geography and that I was able to complete a civic service in a small association working for the visually impaired.

It was my civic service experience which inspired me to apply to the European Voluntary Service programme in Belgium, and that is how I came to be working for the Royal Institute for the Hearing and Vision Impaired, a partner of VIEWS International, based in Liege.

My role in the school is to teach visually impaired or blind students Skills to overcome their visual impairment and help them become independent. I work with elementary students (aged 6 to 10) and students from secondary school (aged 14 to 21).

In general, I work one-to-one with students but sometimes I also work with groups, for example in my Monday morning Braille class I have five students. In this class students use the Perkins, a Braille typewriter, to learn and memorise Braille characters, and the more advanced students read Braille books to improve their accuracy and speed.

In individual sessions, we learn to correctly use the white cane, both indoors and outside, and sometimes under blindfold. They learn to safely climb and descend the stairs, how to follow a tactile path, how to sweep the cane correctly so as to protect themselves and how to imagine the space around them.

They also use adapted technology by memorizing the positions of the keys on a computer keyboard and using keyboard shortcuts to interact with web pages or different software.

All these skills require long, meticulous learning, but they are necessary for their social integration and their professional futures.

I also organize small cultural workshops that can include preparing together a regional dish from my native Toulouse or presenting to them a tactile map of France. This is possible thanks to my colleagues who bring me valuable help and advice.

I hope that these activities are enriching for them and their futures. As for me, I bring them my life experience and my experience of living with a visual impairment.

The students are truly fantastic; they are great listeners and work hard to overcome their difficulties. All they need is the means to succeed and the chance to achieve their dreams.