Sig: what’s in a name?
Sig vzw is a Belgian non-profit-organisation founded in 1986. Sig stands for 'Sterk in grenzen verleggen', which means 'To expand your borders'. Our name embodies our mission: 'to improve the quality of life of people with a disability and their environment, by stimulating inclusion and integration in our society'.
- Quality of life stands for the feelings of satisfaction, contentment and wellbeing and the degree on which we can fulfil our ambition, goals and dreams. It certainly contains a lot more than (the standard narrowed viewed) wealth and employment and we need to look at both the quantitative and qualitative elements.
- The disability of the people may occur in the cognitive, sensory, motoric, emotional or psycho-social development and/or on a domain of communication, learning and health. Sig focusses on the abilities of the person, in despite of their disability.
- Inclusion and integration form two sides of the same medallion. Inclusion refers to the efforts the society is responsible for, for instance: the opportunity to get extra time for an exam when you have a learning problem. Integration refers to the efforts the person with a disability and it’s environment make. They both have the same goal: to let the person with a disability feel and be included in society.
A very nice vision, but one that is not easily practiced. Sig tries to guide the society in reaching this goal, through: awareness, the stimulation of the participation of persons with a disability, by creating a moment of meeting and by extending the knowledge and expertise of professionals (for example: regarding empowerment, the scope of the disability and the possible aids).
What do we do?
We apply different angles, for different groups, to implement our vision.
On the one hand we focus on a large public to stimulate a general awareness and a shift in attitude towards persons with a disability (where we focus on the strengths and aspirations of the person). To create a general awareness we provide informative training for a general audience in the form of evening lectures and in the form of moments of contact with persons who suffer from the same disability or who are in direct contact with a person with a disability. Every interested person can join, primarily the significant relatives/friends/involved persons.
On the other hand we want to reach professionals working with people with a disability to increase their expertise and competence. We provide educational training, groups where discussion and the exchange of information are possible, a large library with specialized books and articles (called 'docudienst') on divers professional subjects, we publish testing materials, books and a journal, Signaal, to illuminate new and relevant methods/topics/discussions and to stimulate a critical attitude/perspective.
A closer look: professional focus
Who are our participants?
Our participants are working in mental health and special education services (schools, remedial teachers), rehabilitation centres (therapists, psychologists, social workers, medical doctors, etc.), individual therapists (speech and language therapists, psychologists, etc.),… .
We organize around 150 seminars, all year round and focus on divers subjects. The speaker of this seminar is a person who has a lot of knowledge of the topic, experience in working with the patient and who wants to bring an evidence based practice. We critically select our topics, searching for evidence based methods. A seminar is intended to bring a benefit and growth for the participant. We search for a good combination of theory and practice.
Our main location is in Gijzegem, a village near Aalst. But our seminars can take place in a variance of locations, around Belgium.
In the past years we have organised several international workshops: for example: Prof. Peter Mundy (focus on joint attention in autism, MIND institute); Prof. Prigatano (acquired brain damage); Prof. Jastreboff (specializes in tinnitus); Prof. Barbara Wilson (acquired brain damage); Prof. Sally J. Rogers (ESDM for children with autism), etc.