Dear colleagues.
I would like to begin by congratulating the organising committee and, in particular, Martina,  with whom we have had a lot of contact in the preparation of this conference. It is your eighth conference due to Covid 19 now digital. I am glad Covid  did not stop you from organizing this conference. Congratulations again.
I remember the first tentative meeting led by Peter Rodney. Now the eighth conference with 58 participants and with interesting presentations.
Your professional interest group is an example for other professions in Europe. You know that Icevi-Europe is a strong supporter of professional interest groups. It is very important to know your colleagues in Europe and to share knowledge and experiences.
The titles of the  presentations at this conference also show that.
CVI, disability acceptance, impact of impairment on life domains, the needs of parents, early intervention, possibilities of treatment, Rehabilitation and so on.
This brings me to the ICF. the international Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, known more commonly as ICF. The ICF provides a standard language and framework for the description of health and health related states. ICF is named as it is because of its stress on health and functioning, rather than on disability. ICF is a tool for measuring functioning in the society, for inclusion no matter what the reason is for one’s impairment.
I mention the ICF because I think it is so incredibly important for our support of people with visual disabilities, to know the interaction between health condition, body functions and structure, participation and contextual factors
It is a tool to arrive at a good support plan for individuals with disabilities , for scientific research but it is also a planning and policy tool for decision makers.
I am thinking about the ICF for a moment because I believe that your professional interest group plays an important role in the use of this tool, so that we have a common way of thinking, a common language between all disciplines when it comes to Functioning, Disability and Health.
I wish you an inspiring conference and good contact with your colleagues. Unfortunately, a visit to Prague is not possible now.
Good luck supporting Real Life Independence.
I hope that we will meet at the 10th European Conference next year, which is expected to take place in Romania.
Thank you

Hans Welling

July 2021