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  • Selasa, 24 Maret 2009

    International Congress Visually Impaired 2009

    In the framework of the celebrations planned in France in 2009 for the bicentenary of Louis Braille's birth, the CINAL and the French Federation of the Blind and Visually Impaired are jointly organising an international Congress on 18-19-20 June 2009, in Coupvray at Disneyland Paris Convention Centre - France. See more on the CINAL website at www.cinal-dv2009.com that is now available in three languages: french, english and spanish.

    You will find on the website all usefull informations. Regarding the registration forms, you will be able to download them directly from 2nd April 2009 with some reductions on the level of the registration fees until 27th April.

    Sabtu, 21 Maret 2009

    EAST WIND No. 7

    Official Newsletter of the World Blind Union-Asia Pacific

    Contents of this issue:

    The Look at Our New President of The World Blind Union
    The New Board and Policy Council Members of Our Region
    First Blind Sports Association in Hong Kong
    Visit to Mongolian Federation of the Blind
    Reflections on the Commemoration of Bicentenary of Louis Braille’s Birth
    Historical Workshop in Papua New Guinea
    3rd Asia Pacific Disability Forum: General Assembly and Conference
    Women in Action
    Sight World: Exhibition in Tokyo Exclusively for Blindness/WBUAP Fundraising Campaign for Cyclone-Hit Myanmar
    Coming Up
    From the Editor
    Contact Details

    Ms. Maryanne Diamond: the lady the local media in Australia named as “Sparkling Diamond”

    Maryanne is blind and has been all of her life. She has 4 children one who is vision impaired. She was employed in the information technology industry for many years before moving into the community sector. She spent four years as the Executive officer of Blind Citizens Australia, the recognized representative organization of people who are blind. three years as the inaugural CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organizations, The peak organization of state and national organizations of people with disability. In May 2007 commenced a role with Vision Australia and works as General Manager International Programs. Vision Australia is the largest organization in Australia providing services to people who are blind or have low vision. Maryanne has held a range of positions on: community, local, state, national and international boards and committees over many years. Currently she is: aboard member of ACOSS, the Australian Pacific Islands Disability Support and a core group member of the Australian Disability Development Consortium.



    Mr. Chuji Sashida

    I became vision-impaired when I was 15 years old. I entered school for the blind. Then I went on to a university and studied law. Currently I am making researches on employment systems for persons with disabilities at the institution set by the Japanese Government. In recent days, I am working on topics such as Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, prohibition of disabilities discrimination, employment of disabilities in each country, and measures for expansion of job opportunities for the visually impaired.
    Back in 1993, I participated in an international conference on computer technology in Malaysia. This provided me with an opportunity to know about the situation of people with vision impairment in Asian region. Since then, I have participated in several conferences related to WBU and WBUAP, such as Rehabilitation and Employment Board, and Massage Seminar. Between 1993 and 2002, I participated in Regional NGO Network Campaign Conferences held in Malaysia and Vietnam. I had great opportunities to get to know so many people.
    WBUAP covers broad area in the Northern and the Southern Hemisphere with different climate and environment. It also includes populous nations such as China and Indonesia. The economic situation in each country is diverse and of course, the issues carried by persons with vision impairment are wide-ranging.
    Our predecessors in the region have achieved a lot in education, welfare and employment of visually impaired. In order to consolidate those gains acquired by our seniors, I would like to promote activities which will pave the safer and securer way for vision impaired people. Following are outlines of my objectives.
    1. Building and strengthening the organizations of visually impaired people in each country.
    2. Enhancing activities and linkage of the three sub-regions of the WBUAP
    3. Creating an independent financial resource of the WBUAP
    4. Creating PR activities of the WBUAP (print, electronic media)
    5. Convening seminars on exchanging information in education, welfare and employment.
    6. Building capacity of women and youth, who are going to take the leading role in the next generation.
    7. Working together with organization of visually-impaired people in different countries in order to realize the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities.
    There may be many other issues we might encounter. To address these we will do our best. In the Policy Council meeting held in November in Tokyo, we agreed with the new framework of the executive board.
    For the next four years, I would like to take my utmost effort to protect the rights and benefits of visually impaired persons by cooperating with members of the board. Thank you very much!

    Dato' S. Kulasegaran

    Dato' S. Kulasegaran (fondly known as Dato' Kula) is the President of the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia (NCBM) which is the national co-ordinating body for the five major organisations serving the blind and vision-impaired people in Malaysia.
    Since his appointment as the Chairman of the WBUAP South-East Asia Regional Committee in 2005, Dato' Kula is keen to assist the weaker countries of SEARC, and in the past few months he, together with the Secretary General, has visited all the 10 countries of SEARC to exchange views on development and to touch base with the leaders in the movements of the blind. As a result of the visit, Dato' Kula drew up the Quadrennium Plan of Action (QPA) which has been accepted by the WBUAP Policy Council and it is being vigorously pursued. (A short article on the QPA can be found elsewhere in the East Wind).
    As a further commitment to the movement of the blind, Dato' Kula convinced the NCBM Management Board to support the running of the WBU Permanent Office in Toronto with a five-year pledge of US $2,500 per year. At the 2007 WBUAP Mid-Term Regional Assembly held in Shenzhen, China, Dato' Kula offered to house the WBUAP Secretariat in NCBM. This offer was made with the realisation that an organisation without an office and paid staff to implement its decisions and proposals, most of them would remain on paper.
    Elected the Vice-President of WBUAP on 19 August 2008, Dato' Kula has the three main objectives in mind:
    1. The strengthening of organisations in the WBUAP Region to better serve their blind members through the implementation of the QPA.
    2. To encourage the more developed organisations to assume heavier responsibilities in making WBUAP a stronger and resilient body that can speak and act on issues affecting blind people.
    3. All decisions agreed to, and commitments made during meetings, should be taken seriously so that WBUAP can be a respected and progressive movement.
    Dato' Kula is a Barrister-at-Law (Middle Temple, United Kingdom), an Advocate and Solicitor in Malaysia. He is in legal practice since 1965, and is a Founder Partner of the legal firm Ranjit, Thomas and Kula. Dato' Kula and his wife, Datin Gisela, are blessed with five grown-up children, four daughters and a son.

    Dr. Kevin Murfitt

    Dr Kevin Murfitt is a Lecturer at Deakin University in Melbourne Australia. His specific research interests revolve around diversity and employment. In addition to his World Blind Union-Asia Pacific roles, Kevin is currently Chair of Vision Australia, Australia’s largest blindness and low vision service provider, and a Director on the Disability Services Board of the Victorian State Government. Kevin lost his sight in his mid 20’s after a penetrating eye injury, so he has a personal and professional perspective on the impact of blindness, and the challenges and solutions to accommodating impairment and achieving success.
    One area of life where Kevin has had outstanding success is water-skiing. After winning his first World Championship Gold medal in France in 1993, Kevin has accumulated 10 World Championship titles and two world records in the blind skier category. He says his greatest achievement is breaking the world jump record in 2005 at the world championships in Belguim. He jumped 19 metres and added another 2 metres to the former record.

    Mr. Ivan Ho Tuck Choy

    Mr. Ivan Ho Tuck Choy is the Executive Director of the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia (NCBM) since 1996. He was one of the founders of the Society of the Blind in Malaysia back in 1964, and SBM is one of the five major organisations affiliated to NCBM. He was also one of the founders of NCBM back in 1984; became its Vice-President in 1986 and its President in 1990. He resigned from the presidency in 1995 to take up full-time employment in NCBM.
    Mr. Ivan Ho served as the Secretary General of the Asian Blind Union between 1996 - 2000 when Malaysia was part of that Region.
    After the restructure of the two regions in 2000, he was elected the first SG of WBUAP, re-elected in 2004 and again in 2008.
    As the SG of WBUAP, Mr. Ivan Ho wants to see WBUAP develop into a meaningful and progressive movement of the blind, able to act effectively as a regional body, to tackle the many issues confronting the blind. He realises the job of SG is tough and demanding, but he believes that by working together as a team, he can contribute something to the mission and vision of WBUAP.
    He hopes one day, perhaps within these four years, WBUAP can employ a full-time officer so that things can progress faster.
    Until then, he will try to carry out all the assignments to the best of his ability.
    Mr. Ivan Ho is married to Jill, and they have two grown-up children, a daughter and a son. They each have a two-year-old plus and a one-year plus daughter respectively.

    Mr. Kim Mok

    Mr. Kim Mok is now working for The Hong Kong Social Service Development Foundation as Director (Business Development and Corporate Communications).
    Kim is a new member from Hong Kong to WBU family. With nomination of David Blyth, Kim was elected as executive member of WBUAP Committee from August 2008 to 2012. Kim completed his social work profession with first class at Hong Kong Baptist University in 1998.
    Kim became totally blind at the age of 13. Kim has a special appetite for ICT applications in social service delivery. Kim has been very keen on advocating for equal rights of access to information for the blind in Hong Kong and tackling digital divide by way of preaching fro accessibility, usability and affordability. Kim received Ten Outstanding Young Persons and Ten Outstanding Young Digi-persons in 1999 as recognition of his contributions to tackling Y2K problems for welfare sector and his efforts to narrow digital divide for social minority groups. Kim is also a current member of Rehabilitation Advisory Committee for HKSAR Government. He joins hands with Mrs Grace Chan, ex-CEO of The Hong Kong Society for the Blind, to found the first Hong Kong Blind Sports Association in Hong Kong. Kim is now the captain of HK Elite Blind Golfers Club.

    Senator Monthian Buntan

    “Mr. Monthian Buntan: Servant of the Blind and the Poorest”
    Born in 1965 in a remote village of Phrae Province (500 km north of Bangkok) Thailand, Monthian has been blind since birth. He received his primary, secondary and first university education in Thailand before earning his second bachelors at St. Olaf College and a Masters at University of Minnesota, USA. His experience and education help shaped and strengthen his belief that there is nothing wrong with his blindness and that the society has made too big deal out of it.
    After serving as a university lecturer for eight years, Monthian left his stable teaching career behind and became a full time social activist in 2002. He has served in a number of positions within the organized blind movement in Thailand, currently in his second four-year term as president of Thailand Association of the Blind. His role in the World Blind Union began officially in 1996 as one of the blind youth committee members before elected to serve as WBU executive committee member in 2000.
    He is proud to be a part of two major contributions: the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) from which the first disability- inclusive policy documents in the mainstream society at the international level were created and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which is the first thematic international human rights law for PWDs and the first international human rights treaty of the twenty-first century. Monthian loves Braille, but also strive to make ICTs accessible to all including blind people. His career has become even more complicated and more challenging since he became a senator of Thailand in 2008.
    His most favorite slogan is "I've given up on giving up."

    Ms. Michiko Tabata

    I was born partially sighted in Tokyo and attended the local blind school from kindergarten to senior high school courses. I attended the then Texas School for the Blind at the age of 16 as an exchange student, and coming back to Tokyo, pursued university degree in English. I was employed at a local financial institution with language skills.
    I was not very active in the blindness field for some time, but during that time I was engaged in international NGOs involving in human rights, environment and poverty alleviation. The Blind Summit in 2002 brought me back to the blindness organization, and I have been involved in the WBU community since our mid-term assembly in 2003.
    I may not have long experiences in the blindness organization but I am always keen on moving forward and starting something new, and am trying to stay a person of action.
    I am looking forward to working with all the colleagues in this region for another 4 years and to exerting my energies for the advancement and greater opportunities for the blind and visually impaired in the world.

    Ms. Martine Abel

    I am Martine Abel, delegate from New Zealand and I work as Policy Advisor - Disability Issues for a local government agency in Auckland. I have been resident in New Zealand for the past 12 years now, following emigrating from South Africa. I have a keen interest in all matters pertaining to equity, not just equality and that is where women's issues fit in the larger scheme on the WBU agenda. I have tertiary qualifications in the fields of psychology, education, vision rehabilitation and social policy and I am looking forward to become proactively involved in regional and sub-regional projects and programmes.

    Mr. Zhu Gang

    Zhu Gang is a chief physician and massage therapist of traditional Chinese medicine. He has more than 30 years experience of performing professional massage and published more than 20 clinical papers about massage and health care at home and abroad. Zhu Gang's name now appears in the Chinese Disabled Celebrity Dictionary, the Chinese Famous Physicians Biography, the Chinese Experts Collection, the Dictionary of Chinese Outstanding Leaders in All Fields, and the Dictionary of Famous Physicians in Continent as well as many other publications.
    At present, he is the chairman of World Blind Union Asia Pacific Regional Massage Commission, vice-president of China Massage Association of Blind Practitioner, president of Association of the Blind in Hunan Province. And also, he is the board chairman of Hunan Yeahcome Health Care Co., Ltd., a group company with hundreds of blind and visually impaired masseurs as well as more than 3000 normal staffs, including about 50 business entities in China and foreign countries.
    For more information, please contact:penglei@yeahcome.com


    Mr. Ivan Ho Tuck Choy
    Secretary General, WBUAP

    As some of you may remember WBUAP officially came into existence in 2000, in Melbourne, when some countries grouped with the Asian Blind Union (ABU) were joined with the countries in the East Asia Pacific Region. Leaders have come and gone, and after every 4-year term we have to start everything from scratch. In simple words, there is no structure for continuity. Let’s not blame anybody (except ourselves) for not being proactive in strengthening an organisation which we claim to represent us. It was in this worrying situation that the Vice-President, Dato' Kulasegaran, presented the Quadrennium Plan of Action (QPA) at the Joint Board and Policy Council Meeting in November 2008. The QPA was accepted for implementation.
    The QPA basically aims to achieve three objectives:
    (a) The strengthening of the weaker organisations to better serve their blind members through the exchange of information and the giving of encouragement and support.
    (b) The setting up of National Task Forces in countries that have not already done so to lobby their governments to implement the WBU-ICEVI Initiative "Education For All Vision-Impaired Children" by 2015.
    (c) The strengthening of WBUAP itself by establishing more permanent structures and by encouraging the more developed organisations to assume more responsibilities in making this organisation a stronger and resilient regional body that can speak and act on issues affecting blind people; thus, contributing to building a strong and respectable World Blind Union (WBU).

    1. Appoint a Liaison Officer:
    In order to respond speedily to correspondences and to act on decisions made by WBUAP, every affiliate is urged to appoint a Liaison Officer (or Coordinator) to deal directly with the WBUAP Secretariat. In some countries the appointed Delegates to WBU are so busy that they have no time to communicate or take actions on the requests of WBUAP.

    2. Partnering with Another Organisation:
    The more developed organisations are encouraged to partner with one or two weaker ones to give them special attention by way of following their progress, sharing of ideas and expertise, and assisting them in all possible ways

    3. Strengthening the Fund-Raising Capacity of Organisations:
    As money is the lifeline of any organisation (and most organisations of the blind which the Vice-President visited last year, notably in the South-East Asia Sub-Region are poorly funded), WBUAP should give special attention to this aspect of work by conducting fund-raising workshops. These weak organisations should be given training in the writing of project papers and on the various methods of fund-raising, both on a small- and large-scale basis.
    4. Programme Exchange:
    WBUAP to encourage its more established affiliates to make available opportunities for blind people to attend courses run by recognised training centres in computer literacy, vocational rehabilitation, blindness-specific skills, etc. In order for the Exchange Programme to materialise, efforts should be made to secure scholarships for them and to cover travel expenses in appropriate cases.

    5. Education For All Vision-Impaired Children:
    To follow up with the work of National Task Forces where they exist, and to help those countries to form them where they do not exist; and to persuade the organisations of the blind to be partners in the WBU-ICEVI Initiative that all blind and vision-impaired children should have access to education by 2015.

    6. Assist Weaker Organisations with Basic Items:
    Every effort should be made by WBUAP to help blind children in the weaker organisations with basic items, such as Braille paper, writing slates, white canes and recreational game sets. This should be undertaken through consultation so that needed items are sent.

    7. Setting up Committees to Implement PRIORITIES of WBUAP:
    The Board has set up three committees:
    (a) The Resource Generation Committee, under the chairmanship of the Treasurer, to find ways of raising funds to strengthen the financial position of WBUAP in order to carry out its activities and programmes.
    (b) Committee on ICT and Assistive Technologies, under the Chairmanship of Sen. Monthian Buntan, to make ICT information available to the affiliates, and to plan training programmes for this Region.
    (c) The Employment and Economic Empowerment Committee (still in search of a Chairperson), to look into the employment issues facing blind people, and to encourage them to go into economic ventures, such as micro-credit schemes and entrepreneurship. This committee is also expected to look into the feasibility of organisations of the blind operating co-operatives and undertaking bulk purchase of Braille items to reduce costs.

    8. Strengthening the WBUAP Secretariat and Setting Up an Accessible Website:
    WBUAP to work towards having a Secretariat with paid staff so that it becomes the central coordinating base for WBUAP. And, in order for WBUAP to disseminate information efficiently and effectively, WBUAP to set up a website with links to national organisations. At present the WBUAP Secretariat is located in the premises of the National Council for the Blind in Malaysia.

    In order for us to ensure the success of the QPA, you are kindly requested to send in your ideas (or criticisms) and to co-operate with the Board in implementing all the points mentioned in the QPA. Keep communicating with your Board to follow the progress of the QPA.


    Mr. Kim Mok, Executive member

    There had never been a Sports Association specifically for the blind in Hong Kong before 2008. The situation was quite undesirable as young blind adults who were interested in sports would have no place to turn to for training.
    The above situation has then been changed upon the retirement of Mrs. Grace Chan from the Hong Kong Society for the Blind in January this year. A group of blind people approached Mrs. Chan urging her to set up a Blind Sports Association so that they could receive sports training and/or participate in sports activities organized by a sports association specifically caters for the needs of the blind.
    Seeing the needs of the blind, Mrs. Grace Chan agreed to lobby some community leaders for this purpose. It was pleased to see that after a few months hard work, the Hong Kong Blind Sports Association (HKBSA) was inaugurated on 29 May, 2008. Over 100 guests attended the Opening Ceremony with Mr. Paul Cheung, Assistant Director (Leisure Services) of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Mr. Raymond Tang, Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission and Mr. Stephen Sui, Commissioner for Rehabilitation as the officiating guests. It is worth to mention that the Board of Directors consists of professionals from different disciplines and most important of all, we have two blind members on the board to participate in the policy making and program planning. They are Kim Mok, the current WBUAP Executive Committee and Galant Ng, an outstanding blind golfer in HK.
    Although HKBSA has been established for only 8 months, we have so far recruited over 300 visually impaired members.
    From July to December 2008, 8 programs have been organized. They include Shenzhen Sai Lai Lake Horse Riding Fun Day, Gym Equipment Training, Mid-Autumn Festival Singing and Dancing Night, Sai Kung Water Sports Camp, Kingdom Swimathon for One World, Bowling Fun Day, Horse Riding in Tuen Mun and Party in the Dark which was co-organized with Crossroads International. Through the above activities, it is evident that our work for promoting equal participation and sports for all have been well progressing.
    There were altogether 63 members participated in the Horse Riding Fun Day, they were all deeply impressed by this event and enjoyed the feeling of riding horses. Our blind members all believed that they can now enjoy a wonderful life through participating in sports event.
    One of our highlighted events was “Kingdom Swimathon for One World 2008” which we hoped to arouse the public awareness on the sports needs and abilities of the blind. Over 1000 people from all walks of life participated in this meaningful event. Moreover, we broke the Guinness World Record of “Most swimmers to complete a lap within one hour” with an encouraging numbers of 254 swimmers against the old record of 204 by UK.
    We will organize variety of events for our blind members in order to promote equal participation and sports for all. It is planned to organize a Race car fun day in February 2009 in order to bring new experience and exposure for our blind members.
    At the same time, we have now organized a series of training courses for our blind members. We are attempting to participate in some International competitions. One of the key events is the most Visually Impaired to run for Standard Chartered Marathon on 8 February, 2009 by a single organization - HKBSA. There will be 12 blind runners participating in this training program. We have invited Mr. Lam Wai Keung, Lecturer of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) to train up our blind runners 3 months in advance of the captioned event. We have also recruited 12 sighted runners to pair up with our blind runners for the training. It is hoped that they can complete the 10K marathon run at the Standard Chartered Marathon and learn much from participating in International competitions.
    Bowling Classes have already been started respectively at 4 sessions a month for about 3 months. We are grateful to Ms. Che Kuk Hung, first Asian Games gold medalist, for assisting us in this program as the trainer. We also establish an elite blind golf team and join the International Blind Golf Association. We will actively promote blind golf in China to share among our blind friends about the joy of “can’t see, can Tee”.
    In view of the upcoming training classes, capable blind team leaders have been appointed to be the team leaders of training classes in Bowling, Swimming, Marathon and Golf. The main purpose is to let them have “we feeling” and to train them to be the potential leaders and drivers for future development of different sports activities.
    Last but not least, a fund-raising activity called “Walkathon for Brightness” will be organized for the establishment of a service centre so that our blind members will be able to drop in the Centre for our regular activities and training. By then, a social enterprise called Vision Social Enterprise will also be set up to provide members with employment opportunities.


    Mr. Yoshihiko Sasagawa
    Chairman, National Committee of Welfare for the Blind in Japan

    Mr. Bayasgalan Maidar, President of the Mongolian National Federation of the Blind, and his group visited us in Tokyo in October 2007. He kindly invited us from Japan to visit his country and his organization.
    I was always hoping to visit Mongolia following our friendship and exchange at international conferences and massage trainers’ training programs in Okinawa, and our organization planned a visit in the summer of 2008. We were about to abandon our plan after the huge earthquake hitting Sichuan, China in May last year, but went on with our initial plan.
    We spent 3 days in Mongolia, from July 9, visiting the federation of the blind, the local blind school, Braille library, vocational training center and massage training center. We also received briefings on the current situation of the blind and visually impaired in Mongolia and the problems facing them. Although facilities and infrastructure are far from being sufficient, their massage center has fairly good facilities and is run under proper management policy, and we find it as a promise for the bright future.
    Honestly speaking, I felt that the steps are too slow for a country which left its history of socialism with nearly 20 years of transitional period. President told me that the federation will soon cover the entire country and the nationwide activities will be possible. There will probably be lots of difficulties in a huge country where most of land is steppes.
    The blind in Mongolia in socialist days were engaged in the production of gels which are nomadic tents in designated factories, Nowadays, there I only one such factory where about 100 blind and visually impaired are working. Thrown out into the free market economy, persons with disabilities are always placed in disadvantaged positions, with enormous difficulties in opportunities for education or occupational independence. The federation is planning to promote massage for the blind following the experiences in Japan and their assistances. Here, AMIN will have the major role to play, which is the medical massage instructors network for the blind and visually impaired in the Asia Pacific region set up under the initiative of the Tsukuba University of Technology.
    You may think that Mongolia is a country of grassland, but the city of Ulan Bator is crowded with cars with occasional congestions. We met parents and children cleaning cars in parking lots to earn very small money. It seems that Mongolia is faced with the gap between the rich and the poor, just as many other countries around the world.
    Mr. Bayasgalan Maidar became president of the federation 3 years ago and is still in his thirties. He is leading the blindness movement in Mongolia with his passion, actively advocating with the government and taking various actions. I am sure he will lead the fellow blind and visually impaired people to a better life and wider opportunities.


    Ms. Olivia En, New Zealand

    For some it was another trip overseas paid for by their employer, for others, it was a pilgrimage of a lifetime, for me, it was a dream come true.
    When I first mentioned to my husband in 2007 how much I would love to attend the celebrations for the bicentenary of Louis Braille's birth in Paris in 2009, I knew it was improbable that we would be able to go. When, on the offchance, I asked a travel agent to investigate the cost of travelling to Paris for the celebrations, I knew it was financially impossible. Even after receiving the news that I had been awarded the Otsuki prize for the Onkyo Braille essay contest and won the opportunity to travel to Paris, I could not believe that it might truly happen. Yet, on the 5th of January 2009, there I was, having just flown half way around the world, sitting in the UNESCO headquarters along with over 400 other delegates as Monsieur Vincent Michel, Chair of CINAL, opened the celebrations.
    I must confess that the celebrations passed in something of a blur. Everything was so different and so exciting that it is extremely difficult to point to only a few moments as being outstanding.
    I remember, though, receiving my attendance pack as we all filed into the conference hall and delightedly discovering that everything in that pack, including maps, timetables and menus, were all in Braille. Perhaps it is a rather sad reflection of the experiences I have had with Braille in my own country but, believe it or not, I had expected that much of the conference material would only be provided in print, despite the fact that we were there to celebrate Braille the man and Braille the code. While blindness organisations in New Zealand have always claimed to actively support Braille, I had been to events before arranged by these blindness organisations where braille was not available. Thus, the first of many highlights for me was entering a world where braille was an automatic option, where I was able to receive, without fuss, everything in my medium of choice because expense was not the excuse for non-production of Braille materials.
    For me, the whole of the second day of the conference was one big highlight. The organisers had arranged for papers to be presented that discussed how Braille was used and produced in different languages. I was fascinated and amazed. As various presenters spoke about using and producing Braille in Russian, Arabic Japanese and more, it truly brought home to me the astounding versatility of Braille. This simple system of 6 dots has been used to reproduce written words for the blind in almost every language across the globe. No wonder over 400 people from 6 of the world's continents had gathered there in Paris to pay homage to the man who had discovered those 6 simple dots.
    One of the presenters on the second day, Mr. Lex Grandia from Denmark, spoke of how Braille has opened the world to those who are deafblind. I found this to be one of the most inspirational papers of the entire conference. Mr. Grania described in stark detail a world that was almost a prison, a world of isolation and loneliness, where communication was tremendously difficult and access to objective information near to impossible. Braille was the only key that could unlock the doors to this prison because even speech technology, which is, for some, the holy grail of the modern blind world, was useless to the deafblind. Connection, conversation and community had become so much easier with Braille, particularly nowadays as more and more deafblind are gaining access to refreshable braille displays.
    Memorably, Mr. Grania introduced the delegates to a system called finger Braille. This is a system whereby one person places the 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingers of each hand on the corresponding fingers of another person. By pressing on each other's fingers, these persons can then type braille messages to each other. This is an efficient method for people who know Braille to communicate with a deafblind person who also knows Braille. I actually believe that finger Braille could also have relevance to those tasked with the hugely important job of teaching young children Braille. Finger Braille would be a way of making Braille fun for young children, thereby providing much needed motivation for them to learn the code.
    From fancy Braille displays to finger Braille that only requires the hands of two people who wish to communicate, Mr. Grania's message was so full of hope and optimism that I must admit to a few tears as I joined the delegates in giving him a standing ovation for his presentation.
    If I were to pick out one outstanding moment that topped the myriad other outstanding moments, however, I would say that, for me, this moment occurred towards the end of the 3rd day. In opening the last session of the celebrations, Mr. Fred Reid of the United Kingdom pointed out that the greatest memorial to Louis Braille was not set in marble or paint but in living flesh. Mr. Reid said "when we see a pair of living hands gracefully traversing a Braille page, that is when we know that Louis Braille's memory lives on and is honoured". Upon hearing these words, it struck me afresh how crucial it is that we continue to work tirelessly together to ensure that more Braille is readily available so that more living hands can honour Louis Braille. We should be able to honour him not just in the workplace or the school, but in the shopping mall, the supermarket, the voting booth, the bank and every other public place.
    At this point, I feel that I must mention one matter that greatly disappointed me and other delegates. This is the fact that no official from the French government attended the celebrations. I think that it should have been a priority for the French government to send a representative to honour one of the greatest sons of France. The organisers were unequivocal in expressing their disappointment and I, along with all the delegates, wholeheartedly supported the resolution to officially declare that disappointment.
    Overall, however, the celebrations were a resounding success. Regardless of what our individual motivations were for attending the celebrations in the beginning, I know that by the time the celebrations concluded, all of the delegates felt that they had come for only one purpose. We had come to Paris to honour a man who had given us the light of literacy and, with it, the chance to contribute meaningfully to our communities, our countries, our world.


    Dr. Kevin Murfitt, Treasurer

    Late in2008, Papua New Guinea’s Blind Union (PNG-BU) Held their first national elections during a five day workshop in Garoka. The 30 participants, all of whom are blind or have low vision, elected a nationally representative Board comprising of 5 men and 4 women.
    During the five day interactive workshop, participants swapped stories about their struggles and achievements as people living with blindness in PNG, developed skills in leadership, advocacy, fund-raising, operating a committee, accountability, media presentations, ethics, and strategic planning.
    A highlight of the workshop was an evening concert presented by the students from Mt Sion School for children who are vision or hearing impaired. Salutations and thanks were given to the three international visitors who facilitated the workshop sessions: Daniel Stubbs from Fiji; Kevin Murfitt, Chair of World Blind Union’s Pacific-Oceania sub-region; and Robyn McKenzie, Executive Officer of Blind Citizens Australia (BCA).
    Thanks were also given to the many volunteers who provided assistance during the workshop, as well as Mt Sion School staff and staff from St John’s in Port Moresby. PNG-BU’s administration officer, Josephine, was the key person who pulled the whole workshop together, ably assisted by Ben.
    The workshop was sponsored by the Danish Association for the Blind (DAB) and Vision Australia. Other contributors were the PNG Department of Community Services, and local corporate sponsors.
    As PNG implements its inclusive education policy, a strong PNG-BU will be an important advocacy and reference point for the rights of people who are blind or have low vision. This historic election also now enables PNG-BU to apply for full membership of WBU. Blind Citizens Australia has kindly offered to pay their initial membership fee.


    Ms. Michiko Tabata, Executive member

    WBU-AP joined the Asia Pacific Disability Forum following the postal vote of 2007. The third APDF General Assembly and Conference on February 27 to 29 was the first APDF assembly for WBU-AP, and I was there in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh (from ABU region), together with more than a dozen members from Japan Disability Forum. There were more than 140 participants from more than 25 countries and territories, and in addition to persons from disability fields in the Asia Pacific Region, the conference welcomed members from the World Bank and some NGOs in Europe and America, and even members from the Palestine and Uganda. There were about 300 participants from Bangladesh alone, including more than 50 blind and vidually impaired participants.
    The government of Bangladesh, which ratified the CRPD in December 2007, was in full supprt of the event. There were many high rank officers including the prime minister, and the opening ceremony was broadcasted on the national TV channel. Upon our arrival, volunteers were allowed inside the immigration section. On the first day, our bus from the hotel to the Convention Center was escorted by police cars!!
    One of the major themes was, undoubtedly, the CRPD, and how to use the Convention and other UN documents for national legislations. We had people like Ms. Nagata from the UN encourging the full utilization of frameworks to advance our rights in each country and territory. Another big theme was ICT, and as you can imagine, India, an IT giant in the South Asia was very active in discussions and project proposals, although the blind people in Bangladesh are still facing the absence of screen readers in their native Bengali language. I earnestly hope screen readers will be available for native language of all countries and territories very soon.
    There were many workshops and I attended two of them. One was on women with disabilities, and we had reports on the survey of women with disabilities conducted by the Pacific Disability Forum, which our colleagues in Oceania may be familiar with. It demonstrated in figures that women with disabilities are more likely to suffer domestic violence than women without disabilities, and that women with disabilities have lower school enrollment rate than men with disabilities. The Pacific Disability Forum seems to have good networking efforts, and I am looking forward to working with you to form similar networks in Asia as well.
    Another workshop was on sports, culture, entertainment and universal tourism, although culture and entertainment were not discussed much. There wer blind cricket players making presentations, but there are still people, even PWDs themselves who consider sports as not necessary for PWDs who are “protected”. But I agree with the presenters who stressed the effectiveness of sports for mainstreaming and this is why I often emphasize sports.
    General Assembly was held for only a couple of hours, in which WBUAP and other new comers were declared as new members. APDF also joined IDA and GPDD as a network.
    ICEVI West Asia held as a side event its workshop on the Education for All Visually Imapired campaign, but due to my flight schedule, I just said hello to ICEVI people there and left for the airport.
    During the short visit, I had a chance to visit two local blindness-related organizations. One was “The Blind Education and Rehabilitation Development Organization (BERDO)” where they provide 6 months computer training in addition to library services, Braille training, CBR and other projects. One of my big aims was to talk to their sponsor which is an international bank to tell them that visually impaired can be contributing human resources in financial institutions. I was told that after the bank knew about me working in a bank, they hired a blind for telephonist for the first time, and I am very happy to hear that!!
    I also visited a girls hostel of the organization “Assistance for Blind Children” which is an associate member of WBU and the recipient of Takeo Iwahashi Award in early 1990s. The organization runs several student hostels, produce Braille and talking books, runs CBR projects and eye clinics, and a series of other activities. I met about a dozen blind girls living in the hostel attending local regular schools with Braille books provided by the organization. They wer eall thrilled to have a chance to study, and talked brilliantly about their dreams.
    Bangladesh is still a poor country but I was overwhelmed by the power and dedication of various NGOs.


    Ms. Martine Abel, Chairperson, Women’s Committe

    “A dream is a picture your heart makes when you’re fast asleep” – anonymous.
    The Women’s Committee of our WBUAP region is in the process of forming and this is indeed quite an exciting time, for I believe that so many blind and vision impaired women from all over our region will have a great deal to contribute. So, we’re talking here about reality and action, changing a dream into something concrete!
    The Terms of Reference has just been finalised and most of the committee’s initial work will focus on:
    - Getting to know each other so that an atmosphere of trust and familiarity can be fostered,
    - Information sharing, so that we can collate an issues register, for us to know exactly what we’d need to focus on in the next 4 years,
    - Promotion and publicising of funding streams and opportunities to assist in capacity building.

    This is indeed not the only areas of focus for our term, but one has to start somewhere and once we have an idea of problem areas, need for growth, etc, we can start various projects and of course focus on positive items such as leadership development and information sharing of “small wins” and not just trying to solve problems.
    At present, committee members are:
    Ms Martine Abel – New Zealand (Chair),
    Ms Michiko Tabata – Japan,
    Ms Robyn McKenzie – Australia,
    Ms Gerel Tontow – Mongolia,
    Ms Tina Medina – Philippines,
    Ms Rina Prasarani – Indonesia,
    Ms Tewai Skipwith Halatau –Pacific Disability Forum,
    If you have anything to share with the Women’s Committee, please either get in touch with your local Women’s Committee, your country delegate or feel free to email me on martine.abel@manukau.govt.nz;
    “Do not follow where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – anonymous.



    “Sight World” is the synthetically organized exhibition in Japan designed for the visually impaired persons. The exhibition was first held in November 2006, and the third exhibition was held between November 2 and 4, 2008. The 3rd Sight World welcomed 48 exhibition booths from in and out of Japan showing their products, services and activities and giving opportunities for 5000 or so visitors to actually experience them.
    In commemoration of Louis Braille bicentenary, a special exhibition was organized on the history and pre-history of Braille. This included study materials before the invention of Japanese Braille in 1890, and a wooden ballot board for election votes in Braille authorized in 1925 and put into practice in 1928 for National Diet members.
    There was also a room for symposiums and lecturers, and WBUAP organized an international symposium on November 3, which was attended by nearly 200 audiences. WBU President Ms. Maryanne Diamond talked about the missions, organizations and objectives of WBU, Senator Monthian Buntan, on the significance of CRPD and movements in Asia toward its ratification and implementation, and Mr. Ivan Ho Tuck Choy, on capacity building of blind individuals and organizations in developing countries.
    WBUAP conducted a fundraising campaign at the event to support the association of the blind in Myanmar which was severely hit by Cyclone Nargis in May 2008. The donation, combined with personal donations to the National Committee of Welfare for the Blind in Japan, was handed to the Myanmar National Association of the Blind in January 2009, in the sum of US$1,000.


    COMING UP…..


    The Onkyo Corporation Ltd., The Tenji Mainichi Newspaper "The Braille Mainichi" and WBUAP announced the start of the 7th WBUAP Onkyo Braille Essay Contest for blind and vision impaired people in the Asia Pacific Region. Cash prizes of US$1,000.00, US$500.00 and US$200.00 will be awarded respectively to the best seven entries from two age groups from all countries in the region.
    The closing day is May 10, 2008.
    For further details, please contact Ivan Ho Tuck Choy at the contact details at the end of this newsletter.



    This is the first issue of our East Wind for this quadrennium. As you all know, East Wind is intended as one of the key communication tools among our friends and colleagues in the Region in the blindness-related fields.
    As we have the new team of the Board and Policy Council, the first pages have been dedicated to the introduction of the members and their personalities, which you may not have the chance to explore in the tight schedule of our General Assemblies. These paragraphs show diversity and power of our team, which is a hope and promise for the future of our Region. Don’t you agree?
    I would like to thank Olivia of New Zealand, the Otsuki Prize winner of last year’s Braille Essay Contest, for letting us have the chance to read her brilliant account of the Louis Braille bicentenary celebration in Paris.
    We are mostly keen on hearing messages and feedbacks from you, Dear Readers. Please let us know whatever you felt about this issue.
    Michiko Tabata: Editor-in-Chief
    Editorial Committee: Ivan Ho Tuch Choy
    Kevin Murfitt
    Kim Mok

    We Are Waiting for Your Contributions!!
    Send in your writings…reports, essays, poems, commentary, just about anything, that you might want to share with your friends and colleagues in the Region.

    Your Donations Is Always Welcome!!
    Help us make a difference of what it means to be blind. Your donations will help our international blindness movement in particular from our friends in less economically privileged circumstances.
    Your generous contribution is very much appreciated. Please note that, following the election of our new Treasurer, we have our new USD account in Australia.
    Please direct your payment to:
    National Australia Bank
    Bank Address: 330 Collins Street , Melbourne, Australia
    BSB: 083-004
    Account Number: WBUAPUSD01
    Swift Code: NATAAU3303M
    Name: World Blind Union – Asia Pacific



    President, WBUAP
    Chuji Sashida
    E-mail: csashida@nifty.com
    National Committee of Welfare for the Blind in Japan
    E-mail: ncwbj@mbm.nifty.com
    1-9-23 Takatanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-0075 Japan

    Michiko Tabata
    E-mail: tabacchi@par.odn.ne.jp
    National Committee of Welfare for the Blind in Japan
    E-mail: ncwbj@mbm.nifty.com
    1-9-23 Takatanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-0075 Japan

    Secretary General:
    Ivan Ho Tuck Choy
    E-mail: ncftb@po.jaring.my
    National Council for the Blind
    94B Jalan Tun Sambanthan
    50470 Kuala Lumpur

    East Asia Sub-Region
    Michiko Tabata

    Pacific-Oceania Sub-Region
    Kevin Murfitt
    E-mail: Kevin.murfitt@visionaustralia.org
    1-368 Church Street
    Richmond, Victoria, 3121, Australia

    South East Asia Sub-Region
    Dato Kulasegaran
    E-mail: ncftb@po.jaring.my
    National Council for the Blind
    94B Jalan Tun Sambanthan
    50470 Kuala Lumpur

    WBU E-BULLETIN - VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 - January 2009

    World Blind Union
    1929 Bayview Avenue,
    Toronto Ontario Canada M4G 3E8
    Tel: 1-416-486-9698, Fax: 1-416-486-8107
    Email: info@wbuoffice.org
    Website: www.worldblindunion.org

    Table of Contents

    2009 – 2012 5
    Our Vision 5
    Our Personality 6
    Our Values 6
    Our Purpose 6
    Strategic Priorities 6
    Strategic Priority 1: Representation 6
    Strategic Priority 2: Capacity Building 7
    Strategic Priority 3: Information Sharing 7
    Enabling Priority: Effective Organization 7
    Bicentenary Conference in France 9
    EFA-VI NEWS 10
    Remembering Sir John Wall 13
    Remembering Åge Nigardsøy 14
    DAISY 2009 14
    Web 2.0 Accessibility Forum 15
    Papers requested from International Conference on Special Needs of Blind and Low Vision Seniors 15
    News from the American Foundation for the Blind 16
    Canada – CNIB Braille Conference 19
    AFUB General Assembly 20
    Concept for Mainstreaming Youth Activities in AFUB 20
    EUROPE 22
    Important Notice re Change in EBU Email Address 22
    ONKYO Braille contest 2008: EBU announces winners 22
    RNIB Introduces the New Braille King Pocket Frame 24
    Australia 24

    Contributions are welcome to the E-Bulletin. We thank those of you who have been providing us with content for the E-bulletins and encourage contributions from all regions. Our next deadline for content submission will be March 1st for our March 2009 issue of the E-bulletin. We will accept submissions in English, French and Spanish, preferably in electronic format.

    We begin 2009 extremely busy worldwide celebrating the life and work of Louis Braille. I was one of the privileged who were in Paris for the very special series of events held 4 – 8 January. These included:

    Sunday January 4
    There were three events held on this day:
     A Commemorative mass in the chapel of the National Institute for the Young Blind, followed by a reception
     The laying of a wreath on Louis Braille’s tomb in the Pantheon
     Recital on the organ of Notre-Dame-de-Paris Cathedral

    January 5 – 7
    An international conference was held at UNESCO: “Braille 1809 – 2009 - Writing with 6 dots and its future”

    Around 500 participants from 46 countries drawn from five continents participated in the conference. All plenary sessions were simultaneously translated in English, French and Spanish.

    Topics covered in the conference included:
     Who was Louis Braille, the history of the man and his work;
     The Braille systems and its applications (music, mathematics, Information technology);
     Workshops on, braille and games, tactile handing of lines, space and works of art and Cartography, relief drawings and children’s books;
     Braille in the world in various languages;
     Braille unification: success and obstacles;
     User’s perspectives over the world - braille in the developing countries;
     Future prospects for braille;
     Braille in our daily lives;
     Social integration and employment;
     Braille and children.

    The conference concluded with a dinner hosted by the Mayor of Paris at the city Hall.

    January 8
    On 8 January there were a number of visits to various exhibitions of the hosting organisations included a visit to the home of Louis Braille.

    There will be celebrations throughout 2009 and I hope all have the opportunity to be part of some of these in this very special year.

    There are a number of publications which are interesting and informative on the life and work of Louis Braille which you may wish to read and share as part of your celebrations. One such publication is “A Universal Voice” launched at the 7th General Assembly August 2008. Another excellent well researched publication is the “Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius” by Michael Mellor from the USA.

    2009 is a special year for the WBU, it is 25 years since we were formed and the book edited by the Late Sir John Wall is a wonderful recount of our work and leaders over this time. I urge you to take the time and read this book, a fitting final contribution to the WBU by one of our greatest contributors.

    I look forward to a busy and productive year as we put our strategic plan into action and continue to make a difference in the lives of people who are blind or have low vision.


    Louis Braille Medal
    This is a reminder that nominations for the Louis Braille Medal are due by March 31st 2009. Nomination forms are available on the WBU website or from the WBU office.

    Scholarship Funds
    New guidelines and application forms for the Hermoine Grant Calhoun Scholarships (for blind women), the Pedro Zurita Youth Fund and the Arne Husveg Development Fund are available on the WBU website or from the WBU Office.

    2009 – 2012
    At the first meeting of the newly elected Officers held in London from December 7 – 10th, the focus was on setting the course of action for the coming quadrennial term. Through the generous sponsorship of RNIB, the Officers had a day long planning session with Tony Elischer, an international fundraising expert in order to help us set the course for raising external resources to support our work.

    Then two days were spent developing our Strategic Plan for 2009 – 2012. Marilyn and Chris Doyle, the facilitators who so ably assisted us last term, offered their support on a voluntary basis to the WBU – we were extremely grateful for that generous contribution. The Strategic Plan is available on the WBU website, but following are some of the highlights from it:
    Our Vision
    Our long term, twenty year Vision is:

    A community where people who are blind or partially sighted are empowered to participate on an equal basis in any aspect of life they choose.

    Our short term, four year Vision has three ladders that together will move us towards the realization of our long term vision. These three Vision ladders are:

    1. That WBU is recognized as the authentic voice representing blind and partially sighted persons at the international level
    2. That our members at all levels have the capacity and capability to deliver their programs.
    3. That the WBU is recognized as an international source of information in matters related to vision impairment
    Our Personality
    We are a worldwide community of blind and partially sighted persons that is inclusive, assertive and resourceful.
    Our Values
    We value the abilities of people who are blind or partially sighted;

    We are an organisation which is: accountable, transparent, united, diverse, and professional and has integrity;

    We operate by being: respectful, honest, innovative, creative, trustworthy and responsive.
    Our Purpose
    To facilitate achievement of our short and long term visions by building on our progress in our three vision ladders of: representation, capacity building and information sharing.
    Strategic Priorities
    Strategic Priority 1: Representation

    Promoting full participation and equal opportunities for blind and partially sighted persons in all aspects of social, economic, political and cultural life

    Strategic Objectives:

    1. Working towards a world accessible to blind and partially sighted persons
    2. Representing Blind and Partially Sighted Persons at the United Nations and UN Agencies
    3. Advocating for human rights of blind and partially sighted persons

    Strategic Priority 2: Capacity Building

    Strengthening the capabilities and capacity of the WBU regional structures and member organisations

    Strategic Objectives:

    1. Improving employment opportunities for blind and partially sighted persons
    2. Developing the capacity of our members
    3. Supporting our target populations for full inclusion
    4. Strengthening of World Braille Council
    5. Supporting our members to ratify the CRPD at the National level.

    Strategic Priority 3: Information Sharing

    Serving as an international information and resource centre on matters in respect of blind and partially sighted persons

    Strategic Objectives:

    1. Developing a Resource Repository for members including website
    2. Developing international partnerships and collaboration
    3. Developing the capacity to include our various language communities within the work of the WBU.

    Enabling Priority: Effective Organization

    Ensuring the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the WBU

    Strategic Objectives:

    1. Working to expand the membership
    2. Maintaining the membership
    3. Coordinating the development of and reviewing WBU Policies and Position Papers
    4. Overseeing WBU financial resources
    5. Developing and implementing the Funding Strategy
    6. Monitoring the effectiveness of the WBU operations to support its work

    We are very pleased to let you know that, following an eighteen month process, the WBU has been granted status as a registered charity by the Canadian government. This means that we will be able to issue charitable tax receipts in Canada. While our donor outside of Canada will not find this to be a significant benefit to them, our status as a charity now enables us to approach organizations that require charitable status as a condition of their funding. Many international Foundations that provide funding to international organizations require that organizations who apply to them are registered charities – the country of registration is less important than the charitable status itself.

    This announcement was very timely for us, as we have now begun to work with Sarah Godwin a fundraising professional who has been engaged on a part time basis by RNIB to assist us with our fund development programs.

    By the time this issue of the WBU E-bulletin reaches our members, celebrations to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille will already have taken place in many parts of the world. From special conferences, to commemorative coins and stamps, to birthday cakes and media events, many activities have taken place. We will mention a few of these here, and encourage you, our members, to let us know about what is happening in your country to celebrate this most important date in the history of blind persons.

    Bicentenary Conference in France
    From 4th to 9th January, a major conference to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille was held in Paris, France. The following resolutions were developed and adopted at this conference:


    We, the participants from 46 countries and five continents in the conference “Braille 1809 - 2009: Writing with 6 dots and its future”, held in Paris from 5 to 7 January 2009 to commemorate the birth of Louis Braille 200 years ago, hereby resolve:

    1. To urge the World Blind Union (WBU) and the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) to promote the teaching of braille as early as possible to blind children as well as to adults according to personal need;

    2. To urge the WBU to re-establish the World Braille Council with a view to unifying all elements of braille and the various braille codes to the extend that may be practicable;

    3. To urge the WBU to commission a third edition of “World Braille Usage” from a source with the necessary expertise and means to achieve such a task;

    4. To urge UNESCO, in collaboration with the WBU, to convene an international conference to advance the unification of braille;

    5. To urge the WBU to promote the use of braille in public spaces and to mark consumer products;

    6. To commend the Association Valentin Haüy (AVH) and the Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles, acting in co-operation with the WBU and their partner organizations in France, for the organizing of a highly successful international conference and joyous celebrations to commemorate the birth 200 years ago of Louis Braille our greatest benefactor. We further thank UNESCO for its generous gesture in making available to us free of charge such excellent meeting facilities;

    7. To express our profound disappointment and dismay at the failure of the French Government to be represented in this conference honouring one of the greatest sons of France and express the hope that the French Government will be represented at the very highest level at the second celebratory conference to be convened at Coupvray in June 2009. This resolution is sponsored by the four WBU Presidents, past and present, attending this conference; and

    8. To include in the record of the conference proceedings the following salutation:

    Dear Louis,
    We, your blind brothers and sisters from around the world, gathered in Paris to commemorate your birth in Coupvray 200 years ago, speak to you across the centuries to pay homage to you for the enduring example of your life and work and humbly to thank you for the gift you have bequeathed to us in the 6-dot code that is today the universal key to our literacy and independence.

    At the beginning of the quadrennium 2006-2010, ICEVI proposed a target of 14 focus countries for the implementation of the campaign in the first phase. It was also suggested to include the focus countries in a phased manner during the quadrennium. ICEVI is happy to report that the following have already become focus countries.

    East Asia Region
    1. Vietnam (From 2007/2008 onwards)

    Latin America Region
    1. Paraguay (From 2008 onwards)
    2. Dominican Republic (From 2008 onwards)
    3. Ecuador (From 2009 onwards)
    4. Honduras (From 2009 onwards)
    5. Peru (From 2009 onwards)
    6. Nicaragua (From 2009 onwards)

    A meeting was organised at the initiative of ICEVI on October 23-24, 2008, in Madrid, Spain, to bring leading international organisations who are interested in the Latin America region to bring synergy to the Global Campaign. Representatives from ICEVI, CBM, ONCE/FOAL, ONCE, Perkins School for the Blind, and the Unión Latinoamericana de Ciegos (ULAC) attended the meeting and discussed at length the strategies to be adopted in the region to expand educational services for persons with visual impairment. In order to review the progress of the EFA-VI activities in the region, a working group was formed with the following tasks

     Improving communication and collaboration between organisations at the international, regional and local levels. This will be done through an annual meeting.
     Reviewing action plans of countries and suggesting modifications that may be required. This will be done through e-mail.
     Doing a forward planning of countries to be included in the EFA-VI campaign.
     Preparation of consolidated plans for the region on the basis of country plans.

    Pacific Region
    1. Fiji (From 2009 onwards)

    West Asia Region
    1. Nepal (From 2008 onwards)
    2. Pakistan (From 2009 onwards)

    Preparatory work for the implementation of the Campaign has begun in Cambodia, China, Bolivia, Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, and Sri Lanka.

    ICEVI Executive Committee which met in Bangkok in November 2008 resolved that for every focus country of EFA-VI, ICEVI will sign a Memorandum of Understanding either with the government or a lead NGO with a government Official from the Ministry of Education heading the National Task Force (NTF). It also suggested that strengthening sub-regional and national level committees is more practical than having a regional committee as EFA-VI at present is focused on country level activities.

    The Regional Committee of the Africa region has suggested that Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda be treated as focus countries for the implementation of the Campaign during phase I. ICEVI is happy that Mr. Bernard Mogesa has been appointed as the first Regional Coordinator for the promotion of the EFA-VI campaign in the Africa region, and he will conduct a situational analysis to implement the campaign activities in a phased manner.

    In summary, the EFA-VI Global Campaign is off to a good start and we are in the process of consolidating our initiative. We encourage WBU affiliates in countries where the campaign is already active to get involved, if you are not already. You may do that by contacting the ICEVI chairperson for your region whose contact information can be located on the ICEVI website www.icevi.org. You may also contact the ICEVI Secretary General, Dr. M.N.G. Mani sgicevi@vsnl.net.

    Thank you! Together we can make a difference.

    Remembering Sir John Wall
    (By Lord Colin Low)

    Sir John Wall died suddenly on 30 November 2008. He was 78.

    He was Secretary-General of the European Blind Union from 1994-96 and its President from 1996-2003. As a Regional President he was an Officer of the WBU to which he devoted much hard work and gave much wise advice. During his time as an Officer he was particularly associated with the major revision of the constitution which was concluded at the 6th General Assembly in Cape Town in 2004 and many will remember his patient chairing of those discussions which took more than two days. After he stepped down as an Officer he continued to represent the WBU effectively in discussions with the Universal Postal Union with the aim of modernising the international postal regime for blind and partially sighted people. His last service to the WBU was his editing of the history of WBU's first 25 years entitled "Changing What it Means to be Blind – Reflections on the first 25 Years of the World Blind Union", which was launched at the 7th General Assembly in Geneva last August and will serve as his memorial. He was Chairman of RNIB from 1990-2000.

    John Wall had a brilliant school career at Worcester College for the Blind where he excelled not just academically but also at chess, on one occasion beating the former World Champion Dr. Max Euwe in a simultaneous display in which everyone else lost.

    Professionally, he was a solicitor of distinction for forty years, first in the trade union movement and then as a partner in private practice. In 1990 he was appointed a Deputy Master in the High Court, the first blind person to be appointed to the English judiciary in modern times.

    He was a man of wide human sympathies. He never turned down a request for help from an individual or an organisation. As a result he served in many of them and wrote the constitutions of as many as eight. He had an infectious love of life which made him very good company. He will be greatly missed by his many friends around the world.

    Remembering Åge Nigardsøy

    We were very sorry to learn that the President of the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted (NABP), Mr. Åge Nigardsøy passed away the 20th of October 2008. Åge was the President of NABP from 2001, and he was re-elected for a new term in 2007. A few weeks after the General Assembly in 2007 it was found that he had cancer in his eye which could not be treated. Åge was 54 years old, and he was an active member of NABP for more than 30 years. He was honoured as a Life Member of NABP, and he also received the NABP Gold Medal for his work in the organisation. Åge also was involved in international work through his participation in EBU and WBU. Åge made a significant contribution both to NABP and to blind and partially sighted persons in Norway. His duties as NABP President were assumed earlier in 2009 by Vice President Mr. Atle Lunde.

    DAISY 2009
    The German Central Library for the Blind in Leipzig (DZB Leipzig) has announced that they will host DAISY2009 which will take place from 21st to 27th of September 2009. DAISY2009 is going to be the international meeting for users and developers of modern information technologies for print disabled people.

    During DAISY2009, there will be an international technical conference discussing new possibilities and the development of the DAISY technology, a supra-national symposium with the title “Barrier-free Preparation of Documents” and a public DAISY User Forum.

    For more detailed information about the programme, the venue and contact, please visit their website at: www.daisy2009.de.

    Web 2.0 Accessibility Forum
    A Web 2.0 Accessibility Forum has been set up by a Canadian, Jennison Asunsion, on the professional networking group, LinkedIn. The focus of the Forum is, as its name suggests, a group on all topics relevant to Web 2.0, next-generation web technology, and accessibility. Like it or hate it, Web 2.0 applications, such as Youtube and Facebook, along with next-generation web technologies are gaining momentum in their adoption and use in place of HTML alone to build rich internet experiences in areas such as education and the world of work. The objective of this online community therefore is to bring together: users with disabilities who have first-hand experience interacting with Web 2.0 and related applications; individuals working on and interested in accessibility efforts to make aspects of Web 2.0 and next-generation web technology accessible; and the broader community of Web 2.0 and next-generation technology developers and champions to learn about and collaborate on ways to make these applications as accessible as possible.

    The URL for the group's page is: http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/1605077
    Note that if you are not a LinkedIn member, you will have to register.

    Papers requested from International Conference on Special Needs of Blind and Low Vision Seniors
    In March 2000, in Heidelberg, Germany, an International Conference on Special Needs of Blind and Low Vision Seniors took place. The proceedings of it can be found at the following website: http://www.ma-ha-schulze.de/index.php?menuid=47
    Mr. Hans-Eugen Schulze would be very grateful, for additional papers and contributions to complete these proceedings.

    News from the American Foundation for the Blind
    FamilyConnect is an online, multimedia community created by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI). This site gives parents of visually impaired children a place to support each other, share stories and concerns, and link to local resources. The site also features a mom-authored blog, inspiring video testimonials from families, and articles authored by parents and experts in the field of blindness on multiple disabilities, technology, education, and more. From the personal to the professional, families will find all the resources they need to raise their children from birth to adulthood.

    Louis Braille Museum
    AFB celebrates the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille's birthday on January 4, 1809, this year. We also celebrate the braille code, named after its young inventor, and the expanded possibilities for literacy, independence, and self-expression Louis Braille opened up to blind people everywhere.

     The Louis Braille Museum - An all-new illustrated exhibit traces the history of Braille and the life of this remarkable inventor.

     The Reading Fingers - The full text of Jean Roblin's classic 1952 biography of Louis Braille.

     The War of the Dots - Chapter 1 of Robert Irwin's book, As I Saw It, recounting the struggle to develop a uniform system of braille in the United States.

     The Braille Bug®—AFB's award-winning web site that introduces children to the magic of braille. Check out the Braille Bug's celebration of Louis' birthday:

    o New Reading Club book selections featuring Louis Braille
    o New Louis Braille trivia games
    o Louis Braille Biography for Kids

    And don't forget kids can see their name in braille or send a secret message in braille to a friend!


    JVIB to celebrate Louis Braille in 2009
    The January 2009 issue of the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) will mark the beginning of the journal's year-long celebration of Louis Braille’s 200th birthday with an essay on braille by Susan Jay Spungin, retired Vice President for International Programs and Special Projects at AFB, and former Treasurer of the World Blind Union (WBU). Dr. Spungin, who will serve as the guest editor of the JVIB 2009 Louis Braille Anniversary Celebration, introduces the theme for the year and offers readers a glimpse into the articles and commentary the journal will feature throughout 2009. Topics of these essays, to be written by notable members of the field of visual impairment and blindness in the United States and abroad, will include teaching braille in public schools, braille competencies, braille translation technology and its impact on literacy, and the Unified English Braille Code, to mention a few.

    New Book on Assistive Technology from AFB Press

    Assistive Technology for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: A Guide to Assessment
    By Ike Presley and Francis Mary D’Andrea

    Assistive technology is essential in today's world to enable people who are blind or visually impaired to participate fully in school, work, and life. But how can you keep track of all the devices and software and each one's function? And what assistive technology tools are right for your students? If you’ve asked yourself these questions or others like them, this comprehensive handbook is the resource you need. You'll find a wealth of technical information translated into clear, user-friendly terms in Assistive Technology for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: A Guide to Assessment, including:

     An overview of the full range of assistive technology that students can use to manage information in print or electronic formats—whether they use vision, touch or hearing to access information
     How to select appropriate tools and strategies
     A structured process for conducting a technology assessment
     A detailed assessment form that can be used to determine students’ technology needs and solutions to address them
     Advice on writing up program recommendations based on assessment results

    You’ll also find:

     Tips and insights on working with technology effectively
     A summary of laws and regulations relating to assistive technology
     A resource section of assistive technology producers
     Readings about technology instruction
     Reproducible, blank assessment forms

    Essential for teachers of students with visual impairments, members of the IEP team, administrators, technology professionals, and anyone who needs to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology.

    Projected publication date: Winter 2009
    Order online at www.afb.org/store

    Purchasing AFB Press Books Just Got Easier!
    AFB Press has entered into an agreement with Lightning Source, Inc.—an international, print-on-demand provider—to make its books more readily available to retailers, distributors, and wholesalers abroad. Books will be printed at Lightning Source’s UK facility and can be shipped within the UK, Europe, Africa and Australasia. International customers can now enjoy faster delivery of books and cheaper shipping fees.

    Canada – CNIB Braille Conference
    A Braille Odyssey: 2009 and Beyond
    October 29 – 30, 2009, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Call for Workshops (including Roundtables) and Presentations
    CNIB would like to invite proposals for workshops, roundtables and presentations that celebrate the success and potential of braille – its past, present and future. The Braille Conference will offer its registrants a variety of workshops/roundtables and presentations that are interactive, practical, skill-based, research-based and/or theoretical. We encourage proposals and participation from a range of different perspectives.

    Workshop/Presentation Categories
    Your proposed session should fall under one of the following three broad categories: Braille Past, Braille Present and Braille Future. We are looking for informative workshops and presentations ideally facilitating discussion and providing reference materials such as prepared handouts. Workshops and roundtables will be 90 minutes in length and presentations will be 60 minutes.

    If you have any questions, please contact us at brailleconference@cnib.ca. Submission deadline is February 28, 2009. Selections will be made by March 31, 2009. Thank you!

    AFUB General Assembly
    The General Assembly of the African Union of the Blind took place in Casablanca, Morocco from November 26 – 28th, and was preceded by a two day Women’s Forum. Under the patronage of the Royal Family of Morocco, the General Assembly and Women’s Forum had excellent facilities to welcome delegates from fifty countries. The program was a reflection of the many successes enjoyed by AFUB over the past four years and also looked ahead to future opportunities.

    Our sincere congratulations to the new Leadership team at AFUB, to the newly elected President Mr. Mohammed Ez-zaoui from Morocco and the new Board of AFUB!

    Concept for Mainstreaming Youth Activities in AFUB
    (Excerpted from YOUTH BEAT, a magazine for young blind and partially sighted people across Africa, November 2008)

    Until 2004, Young People with visual impairment (YPWVI) had hardly been mobilized to adequately participate in the continental blindness movement agenda. After realizing that the leadership and development potential among YPWVI was very low, AFUB – in partnership with SRF/SHIA, started the Knowledge on Democracy and Development Project (KDDP), targeting blind and partially sighted youth in Southern and Eastern Africa. The project is premised on the following broad objectives:

    (a) Building the capacity of visually impaired youth to actively participate in the activities of their parent organizations, as well as in the wider society.
    (b) Empowering the Youth as individuals to advocate for their rights.

    In more specific terms, the project is training-based, focusing on ensuring that by the end, trainees should be able to:

     Influence public policies and practices governing the education, health, social security, rehabilitation, employment, sports and recreation to mainstream blind people;
     Advocate for increased access to information about basic human rights and social services by youth with visual impairment in order to reduce discrimination and stigmatization by their communities;
     Establish and/or strengthen Youth Committees/Wings within their parent organisations;
     Mobilize resources at local, national, and international levels to support human resource development and economic empowerment services for blind and partially sighted youth in their respective countries;
     Exchange information and share experiences among themselves for effective service delivery.

    To date, training has been conducted for selected youth from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern Africa; as well as Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda in eastern Africa, and Liberia in West Africa. In all these, gender equity is very key element in the selection criteria.

    AFUB’s appreciation of the youth-related challenges has also yielded another project –Africa Visually Impaired Youth Empowerment Project (AVIYEP), supported by Sight Savers International (SSI), Eastern Central and Southern Africa/ECSA, and West Africa Regional Office/WERO respectively. This project is being implemented in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia in Eastern/ Southern Africa, together with Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone in West Africa. Akin to the KDDP, the AVIYEP is aimed at:

    (a) Building the leadership and advocacy capacity of visually impaired youth in Africa as means of preparing them for full participation in the development processes of their organisations and the wider society;
    (b) Strengthening AFUB’s institutional capacity to mainstream youth issues throughout its programmatic interventions;
    (c) Enhancing information sharing and networking amongst visually impaired youth in Africa;
    (d) Raising public awareness among governments and other mainstream stakeholders about the need to include visually impaired persons in their policies, programmes and the general development process.

    Important Notice re Change in EBU Email Address
    Please note that, effective immediately the new email address for the European Blind Union office is: ebu@euroblind.org. The former email address has been disabled and no mail sent to the old email address for EBU will be delivered. Some of you may have received multiple copies of the last edition of the EBU newsletter before Christmas. This was because hackers got into their system and took over their email address, and it is for that reason that their email address has been changed so quickly. If you receive email from their old email address (ebuoffice@euroblind.org) this is not legitimate and will be spam. Again the new EBU email address is: ebu@euroblind.org

    ONKYO Braille contest 2008: EBU announces winners
    On 7 January 2009, the European Blind Union (EBU) announced the winners of the Onkyo 2008 Braille contest at the closing session of the World Conference on Braille held at the UNESCO in Paris to mark Louis Braille’s two hundred birthday.

    The contest is a worldwide initiative planned and sponsored by Onkyo and by Tenji Mainichi, two Japanese firms actively engaged in the promotion of Braille. EBU was responsible for running its European strand and for selecting the winners.
    54 competing essays, contributed by 16 European countries, were submitted to the selection panel. With the excellent quality of the essays the panel found it extremely difficult to make its final decision. The winners are:
     First Prize (Ootsuki): Mr. Antonio Martin Figueroa, age 56 (Spain).

     Excellent Work Prize, junior category: Miss Kristina Misiunaite van Schie, aged 13 (the Netherlands).

     Excellent Work Prize, senior category: Mrs. Joke Clazing, aged 55 (the Netherlands).

     Fine Works Prizes, junior category: Miss Mari-Liis Täht, 19 (Estonia), and Mr. Thomas Mondelli, 20 (France).

     Fine Works Prizes, senior category: Mrs. Edvige Maria Pagani, 66 (Italy), and Mrs. Amna Hrvat, 27 (Bosnia).

    All essays celebrated the continued relevance and significance of Braille in blind people’s lives. As EBU President Lord Low put it: “two hundred years after Louis Braille’s birth in 1809, Braille is still alive and will continue to enlighten generations of blind people to come. Braille is nothing less than the key to liberation for blind people”.

    Antonio Martin Figueroa, First Prize winner wrote: “Louis Braille has eased my breathing, taught me to walk, to detect and step over the stones, to apply technique so that the words chiselled in my mind become a work unique in form and structure”.

    RNIB Introduces the New Braille King Pocket Frame
    To help celebrate Louis Braille Bicentenary in 2009, RNIB's new pocket writing frame is a great new introduction to our range. Available through RNIB's online shop: http://onlineshop.rnib.org.uk for just £9.95 (ex VAT), it's aimed at both sighted and blind or partially sighted users. Friends and family can use it for writing messages in cards or labelling objects by simply copying the braille characters printed on the pocket-sized plastic pouch.

    Unlike traditional braille frames, the Braille King is an upward writing frame, which uses a unique hollow-ended stylus to produce the dots. Braille is written from left to right, so you don't have to worry about reversing characters as you write or having to turn the paper over to read what you have written!

    This new handy frame is great for short notes and reminders, recording phone numbers and shopping lists, making labels and marking up receipts, tickets and other documents for easy identification. It's supplied with a plastic style and spiral bound brailon notebook (product code BP63) in a handy pocket-sized white plastic pouch, which has the braille alphabet printed on it in blue.

    The frame is fixed inside the pouch with Velcro and can be removed if required. It works well with plasticised materials, such as brailon and plastic self-adhesive labelling material and also produces braille on 9mm and 12mm Dymo tape with guides to hold the tape in place.

    Amongst a number of activities planned in Australia to celebrate 2009 there are two which will run for the entire year:

    1. AN exhibition at the Powerhouse museum in Sydney, “Living in a sensory World”. This exhibition gives visitors an understanding of the world of the blindness and low vision community and celebrates their achievements. It features objects from Vision Australia’s heritage collection, compelling accounts and examples of new technologies that are increasing the independence of thousands of Australians.
    2. AUSTRALIA Post, in conjunction with Vision Australia has released a special prepaid envelope. The envelope features the phrase "200 Years: Louis Braille" in both print and braille. These will be sold through all Australia Post outlets throughout 2009.

    Ms. Maryanne Diamond, President
    Mr. Arnt Holte, 1st Vice President
    Ms. Frances Candiru, 2nd Vice President
    Mr. Enrique Pérez, Secretary General
    Mr. A. K. Mittal, Treasurer
    Mr. William Rowland, Immediate Past President


    Mr. Mohammed Ez-zaoui
    ASIA (ABU)
    Mr. Ahmad Mohammed Mousa Allouzi
    Mr. Chuji Sashida
    Lord Colin Low
    Dr. Guillermo Moreno
    Mr. Carl Augusto


    Dr. Penny Hartin, Chief Executive Officer
    Ms. Ianina Rodríguez, Administrative Assistant