© Low Vision
Valentina Suruceanu is a Project Assistant and Communications Coordinator with the non-governmental organization LOW VISION. The organization aims to improve the living conditions of persons with visual impairment by identifying and addressing preventable blindness, by offering rehabilitation to adults and children with low vision, and by providing psychosocial support services to persons with visual impairments and their families / community.
Valentina’s role in the organization is focused on establishing and fostering local partnerships, raising public awareness on the topic, and managing communications via websites, social media, mass media, and promotional materials. She is also responsible for measuring the impact of rehabilitation programs offered by the organization, as well as user satisfaction.
Valentina attended a training delivered by Humanity & Inclusion (HI) on “Inclusive Project Cycle Management (IPCM) in humanitarian action”, in November 2023. The training was delivered under the SYNERGIES consortium project*, and targeted humanitarian actors including international NGOs, UN agencies, Red Cross and more importantly, representatives of local Civil Society Organizations (CSO) including Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPD). Inclusive Humanitarian Action (IHA) involves identifying and eliminating barriers that persons with disabilities encounter when accessing humanitarian services across different sectors. The emphasis is placed on their active participation throughout the process, as well as on better data collection enabling the analysis of risks and trends.
Valentina’s main reasons for attending the training were: 1) to gain a deeper understanding of Inclusive Project Cycle Management methodologies and best practices, 2) to understand strategies for promoting inclusivity in project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and 3) to learn how to cater to the unique requirements of various demographics, including vulnerable and marginalized groups, in humanitarian projects. After completing the training, she expressed a better understanding of standards and best practice, enabling her to contribute significantly to her organization's commitment to the rehabilitation and empowerment of persons with visual impairment. She emphasized the need to create inclusive projects that reflect “full comprehension of disability concepts, the implementation of accessibility guidelines, universal design, and reasonable accommodation within disability organizations”. She also stressed the promotion of the four IHA “Must Do Actions” to “enable inclusion of persons with disabilities, emphasize the elimination of barriers, promote diversity, and create a conducive environment throughout the project cycle”.
After attending the training, Valentina started to implement learnings in her organization, starting with the Twin Track approach to disability which stresses the necessity of both targeted and mainstream intervention to ensure inclusion. Under mainstream interventions, Valentina plans to integrate inclusive principles into training programs for staff, volunteers and service providers, to ensure that everyone involved in the centre’s activities understand and practice inclusion, thus creating a welcoming and supportive atmosphere. For targeted interventions, the organization’s goal is to provide tailored rehabilitation services and assistive technology training, specifically addressing the unique needs of persons with visual impairments, enhancing their independence and quality of life, developing personalized support plans for clients with visual impairments ensures that their specific needs and goals are identified and addressed, and establishing partnerships and collaborations with organizations that specialize in disability advocacy enabling the centre to tap into specialized knowledge and resources, ensuring a more targeted and effective approach.
Valentina also successfully executed the 4 Must Do Actions for LOW VISION, a key approach in inclusive programming in humanitarian action. To encourage meaningful participation, the centre plans to involve persons with visual impairments in decision-making processes within the LOW VISION centre, this includes enhancing services and ensuring that their perspectives and needs are considered and valued. To foster empowerment and capacity building, the centre plans to provide specific skills development programs, including training in assistive technology and independent living skills to empower persons with visual impairments and enhance their independence. Regarding barrier identification and removal, the centre aims to implement accessible communication practices, such as providing information in multiple formats, ensuring staff are trained in inclusive communication and removing barriers to information access. Finally, to uphold commitment to disability disaggregated data, the centre plans to implement data collection methods into the software that disaggregate disability data, this will allow LOW VISION Centre to understand the specific needs and characteristics of persons with visual impairment.
Valentina is certain that the knowledge acquired during the training will help her integrate inclusive measures throughout the project cycle, guaranteeing that the initiatives assigned to her not only align with global standards but also cater to the unique requirements of persons with visual impairments in emergency scenarios.
"[This] training could help LOW VISION Centre adapt its services to better meet the specific needs of persons with visual impairment, to develop rehabilitation programs and personalized support services. By understanding and addressing the challenges faced by persons with visual impairment in crisis situations, the centre can work more effectively with local communities, government agencies and other organizations to raise awareness and support for the needs of its beneficiaries. For persons with disabilities in Moldova, HI's training helps to improve rehabilitation programs, accessible facilities, and adapted support services, promote a more inclusive environment, raise awareness and policy changes. For refugees with disabilities in Ukraine, the impact of the training course is to better target assistance to refugees with visual or multiple disabilities," said Valentina Suruceanu.
* SYNERGIES consortium composed of Solidarités International (consortium lead), Humanity & Inclusion and Médecins du Monde. The SYNERGIES consortium is currently implementing the project entitled, “Strengthening social cohesion and resilience of Moldovan society to the challenges of hosting Ukrainian refugees” with the shorter project name, “Moldova Stability & Resilience Project (SRP).” The SRP Project is co-financed by the Agence Française de Développement and Fondation de France.
This document is supported by Agence Française de Développement. Nevertheless, the ideas and opinions presented do not necessarily represent those of AFD.
This project is co-financed by the Agence Française de Développement and Fondation de France.