As a supporter member of European Guide Dog Federation it was clear I have a possibility to participate on conferences. Still I was astonishingly surprised when I got the inviting e-mail.
No doubt I will attend, anywhere it is going to be held! So…where? Tallinn, Estonia? Amazing, I’ve never been there, so let’s fly!… accompanied by a five-tons suitcase, due to the Estonian spring differs a bit from the Hungarian. While the air is balmy, cherry flowers blooming, nun-birds chirping among the protecting arms of the Carpathians… no tweet at the Baltic Sea but the cry of seagulls and no flower dares to flourish in the chilly air. It became obvious soon we didn’t pack sufficient amount of warm clothes, fortunately we could drink some sweaters on ourselves, God bless the mead and berry schnaps!
But back to the main title, The Conference. My very first one appeared to be the best-organized and biggest one in the history of EGDF up to now, 60+ delegates participated from several countries, discussed about issues of disability itself, discrimination, standards, etc. for 3 days. Let’s see what kind of topics we gathered around.
On the first day a very pressing issue popped up: how may Brexit effect the future of a UK-located organization like EGDF? What about traveling with guide dogs from and to Great Britain and Northern Ireland from now on?
Another topic was the role of social media regarding discrimination issues, what advantages and damages it may cause.
On the second day we discussed about the standardization project of EGDF – what state it is in now, what topics should be still worked out. There are 6 technical bodies with 6 groups working on them: terminology, lifetime welfare, competencies of assistance dogs’ professionals, training and assessment, client services, accessibility. Following the standardization rules of ADI and IGDF a European standard for service dogs should be created.
On the third day we listened to presentations about the newest inventions that make the visually impaired’s life easier; the smartphone application of online help called Be My Eyes, the sonar-controlled wristband by Sunu, the bionic eye by Second Sight, and the intelligent elevators, escalators and automated doors operated by KONE. Also heard about the Estonian state of disabled people and a workshop had been held to find some solutions for better handling the rights, education, accessibility and employment of the Disabled across Europe.
Exhausting 3 days they were, still extremely effective. Can’t wait to work further with you, guys!