Braille League and Belgian Red Cross-Flanders launch First Aid training for blind and visually impaired individuals

Belgian Red Cross-Flanders, which offers free First Aid courses to some 50,000 people every year, is launching an adapted training course for blind and visually impaired people in collaboration with the Braille League. The need for this training proved great: until now, the classic First Aid course was not fully accessible to this target group.

Customized First Aid Training
Blind and visually impaired persons face specific challenges in providing first aid. Traditional training is based on four steps: safety, assessing the victim's condition, notifying specialized help, and providing further first aid. For blind and visually impaired persons, three of these four steps are often more difficult. Ensuring a safe situation and recognizing symptoms, for example, are more challenging. Applying a bandage by touch is also not evident.

The modified First Aid course not only addresses these challenges but also provides a full-fledged class that teaches first aid skills. There is less photo and video material used but more listening stories. Classes are taught in smaller groups with additional instructors so there is more room for 1-on-1 practice. Ample materials are also provided so that each participant can feel and try everything for themselves.

In addition, some objectives have been adjusted. Whereas we expect sighted persons to be able to recognize and care for a wound themselves, in the case of blind and visually impaired persons we focus on questioning victims and/or witnesses, and providing instructions on treatment.

Strong focus on auditory communication
The lessons remain classroom-based, maintaining a focus on conveying information, demonstrating skills and having participants practice them. In addition, an audio file was created of the content, allowing participants to re-listen to the content at their own pace after class. There is a strong focus on auditory communication: all instructions were carefully revised to be easily understood and clear. Teachers were also given additional information on how best to communicate with blind and visually impaired individuals.

Liesl Keymolen of Belgian Red Cross-Flanders says: "For Belgian Red Cross-Flanders it is the first time we developed a themed first aid lesson for this target group. The idea came about after a concrete request from the Braille League to Belgian Red Cross-Flanders. We in turn - in close cooperation with the Brailleliga - set to work developing the training. After a few successful test sessions, the training is now being rolled out across Flanders. We are extremely pleased with the cooperation with the Braille League and are thrilled that we can now teach life-saving techniques to blind and visually impaired people."

Marie-Jeanne Nachtergaele, Head of Service Guidance & Assistance in Daily Life, of the Braille League adds, "The idea of doing something with first aid for visually impaired and blind people had been around for some time. Through contacts with Belgian Red Cross-Flanders , we were able to shape the approach. The first reactions after the test session were positive. According to the participants, it was a pleasant and instructive session that can definitely increase the independence of blind and visually impaired people. The launch of First Aid training for blind and visually impaired persons is an important step for inclusion. Everyone, regardless of their disability, should have the opportunity to learn first aid skills and save lives."

After successful test trainings, the customized First Aid training by Braille League is now being further rolled out. In the next step, Belgian Red Cross-Flanders will ensure that the First Aid app will also be fully accessible to blind and visually impaired people.