This profile was prepared when Tereza Hradilkova was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Tereza Hradílková is revolutionizing the care and treatment of visually impaired children, many of whom also have other disabilities. She has dismissed the common beliefs of the Czech medical community that the best approach to care for such children is to institutionalize them and assign their care entirely to professionals.Instead, Tereza is demonstrating that parents and families can and should effectively raise their blind children themselves in their own homes. Moreover, she is proving that when parents and medical professionals work in close cooperation with each other, the children flourish. This synthesis of professional help and the individualized attention that the family can provide creates what Tereza calls "expert companionship." It offers the best of both professional care and family-based care. Tereza is also building a community among parents. With Tereza's help, they exchange their experience and help each other to find their own strength.