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New Friends, New Perspectives - SPEVI 2020 (By Heidi Zec and Dr Bronwen Scott)

Only 4 months ago, we (Heidi and Bronwen) launched our CVI Community Australia website and community, before welcoming Natalia Kelly more recently. We were hoping to find other families and professionals that we could connect with and learn from. Aptly named, the South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment (SPEVI) 2020 conference, “Creating A Clear Vision for the Future”, allowed us to introduce our new community to a diverse audience of parents and professionals from around Australia and the South Pacific. 

We were proud to share our story and Luka’s story at SPEVI, and to hear the experiences of others in relation to CVI and other vision impairments. It was an honour for our community to be mentioned by the keynote speaker on the final day as a great example of collaborative practice.

Dr Bronwen Scott and Heidi Zec at SPEVI 2020 Conference

CVI Community at work

It was wonderful to have a number of CVI advocates, some of whom are also members of our online Facebook community. Thanks to Christina Abbracciavento and Rachel Elliot for introducing the concepts of CVI, and to Laura Garcia and Kerri Weaver for sharing Eva’s story. 

Stories of success

We also heard from a panel of people with vision impairment. From a student studying a year abroad in France, to bee keeping and even event organising for a museum, it was inspirational to hear people with vision impairments having such rich experiences. 

In each story, there was a common thread of individual strength and persistence, as well as parents and teachers who allowed these individuals to take measured risks. They refused to accept limitations set by others and enabled their children to exceed expectations. 

They also discussed the importance of involving children in life skills as early as possible, whether folding washing, participating in grocery shopping, or even just being present and discussing tasks being done. 

Alongside parents and other role models, having a support group of others with shared experiences was discussed as being crucial, and something we hope to be able to foster through CVI Community Australia in the future. 

It is important for children to participate in life skills as early as possible.

New friendships and beginnings

For Heidi, one of the most valuable parts of attending the conference was meeting Laura and her daughter Eva along with the rest of her family. Instant connections were formed, and within minutes of meeting, our children with CVI and their siblings had become close friends. Eva is a bright, bubbly and intelligent girl, and learning more about her and her favourite toys was a true highlight. 

With that said, we look forward to welcoming Laura as another founding member and hope to hear from both her and Eva soon. 

It is with renewed excitement that we begin prioritising what’s next for CVI Community Australia. Please feel free to contact us any time if you have any questions or suggestions for our community or would like to contribute.

For individuals with CVI and their families, having a support group of others with shared experiences is crucial, and something we hope to be able to foster through CVI Community Australia in the future.

If you haven't already, please consider joining our closed Facebook group to support and share learnings with other parents and professionals, or sign up to receive blog updates direct to your email.

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