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  • Rabu, 05 Agustus 2009


    JULY 2009

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


    Priority Area # 1 (Representation) — Status Report 4
    Right to Read Campaign 4
    Technology and Transportation 5
    Human Rights and Other Issues 5
    WBU Right to Read Campaign – An Important Step Forward 6
    Employment Summit – The Beginning 7
    World Blind Union Award, Louis Braille Medal 9
    Disability Rights Fund Releases Second 2009 Request for
    Proposals 15
    Theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 2009 15
    Reminders: World Sight Day and White Cane Safety Day 15
    Techshare 2009 - Making the Most of Technology 16
    13th ICEVI World Congress 16
    Francophone Union of the Blind 3rd General Assembly 16
    DAISY 2009 Conference 16
    Nominations open for ACCESS IT Awards 2009 17
    12th International Conference on Mobility and Transport 17
    Human Rights Training Tools Available 17
    Accessible Human Rights Materials 18
    EU4ALL Project 18
    AFRICA 18
    Education For All Visually Impaired People 18
    Rwanda Union of the Blind Launches Newsletter 19
    Who is RUB? 19
    ASIA 21
    Asian Blind Union launches new newsletter 21
    Making UNCRPD a Reality in the Asia Region 21
    Empowering Low Vision Professionals 22
    EUROPE 22
    EBU Publishes “Braille – The World at my Fingertips” 22
    Successful EBU Campaign to Reduce VAT on Audio books 23
    Silent Cars – A New Threat for Blind and Visually Impaired Pedestrians? 23
    First Meeting of Blind Indigenous Persons from Latin America 24
    Cost of Blindness Study Released 25
    WBU STAFF 26

    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 Friday September 4th for our September 2009 issue of the E-bulletin. We will accept submissions in English, French and Spanish, preferably in electronic format.

    By Maryanne Diamond

    For me, the highlight of our activities since the last issue of the E-Bulletin was the awarding of the World Blind Union Louis Braille Medal 2009. This was awarded to Dr Euclid Herie in recognition of the enormous contribution he has made to braille and the world as a leader over many years. Euclid’s establishment of the World Braille Foundation, in my view, will ensure braille is made available to millions of people who are blind in developing countries for many years to come. Congratulations Euclid!

    2009 continues to be full of celebration and recognition of Louis Braille and the future of braille. A second international conference was held in France during June in Coupvray very close to the birth place of Louis Braille. The conference included: insights into living as a person who is blind drawn from the 5 continents, access to employment and education information and culture. Many of us had the opportunity to visit the home where Louis was born and lived which was really a moving experience.

    There have been a number of publications, books written on stories of people and the impact on their lives of braille and more. It would be much appreciated if an electronic version of these could be made available to the WBU office.

    We held an employment summit during June which was a great success. A short report on that is found later in the publication.

    Many of our members have been working extremely hard to assist in obtaining support from their governments in support of our treaty for access to Copyrighted material. Thank you to those who have worked extremely hard under the leadership of Chris Friend. More details of this initiative are reported on later in an article submitted by A.K. Mittal. I would however, like to express my sincere appreciation to Chris Friend for his outstanding leadership and commitment to this campaign, and to Sightsavers International who is supporting Chris’s involvement with us. The progress we are making in the Right to Read campaign could not be possible without the strong cooperation and collaboration among the partners who make up the Right to Read team. I also say to them a big thank you for that commitment, on behalf of the millions of blind and partially sighted persons worldwide who will benefit from the results of this partnership.

    Enjoy this issue packed with interesting and thought provoking material.

    Priority Area # 1 (Representation) — Status Report
    By A. K. Mittal

    After William’s cogent and lively presentation last time, it is my turn, now, as the co-leader, to share with our readers, progress of work carried out on various issues covered under Priority Area # 1 of the WBU quadrennial Strategic Plan ( 2009-2012). Here, we go then!

    Just to recap: our Strategic Priority Area is titled “Promoting Full Participation and Equal Opportunities for Blind and Partially Sighted Persons in All Aspects of Social, Economic, Political and Cultural Life”.

    It encompasses such crucial action-points as Right to Read Campaign, technology-access, mobility and transportation, human rights and advocacy and representation on UN agencies. These are represented under three Strategic Objectives, each of which is looked after by a leader of wide experience and acclaim.
    Right to Read Campaign
    An International Copyrights Treaty ICT for the visually impaired and other print-disabled persons forms an important component of this Campaign, which is led by Chris Friend and his Team. Good news came through to us towards the end of May in this regard. The government delegations of Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay tabled the WBU Treaty at the 18th Session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR 18) held in Geneva on May 25 to 29. The SCCR agreed to consider the proposal at its next meeting to be held later this year. This is an important breakthrough for which Chris and his Team deserve our best felicitations. The Team has now embarked upon the massive task of leveraging with WBU Regional Presidents and national members to approach various governments for their support for the Treaty. Details appear elsewhere in the Bulletin.
    Technology and Transportation
    Providing access to appropriate technologies to the visually impaired, especially in developing countries, is a matter of high priority for WBU.

    Accordingly, Working Groups have been constituted— one each for Technology and Mobility & Transport. The former Group is chaired by Stephen King of RNIB. It has representatives from USA, Spain, India, Sweden and Japan. The Mobility & Transport Group is led by Sue Sharp of Guide Dogs, UK. These Groups are expected to become operational soon.
    Human Rights and Other Issues
    WBU had been in the forefront in the processes leading to the drafting of the UNCRPD. It now proposes to play an important role in the implementation of the Convention and ensuring protection of human rights for blind and partially sighted persons. For this purpose, WBU has constituted two important entities. It’s Reference Group on CRPD implementation consists of experts concerned with the initial drafting of the Convention and the present monitoring mechanism. Thus, the Group has representation from Sweden, Chile, Australia, New Zealand etc.

    Our Human Rights and Advocacy Committee is co-chaired by William Rowland and Colin Low. Its members come mostly from developing countries of Asia and Africa, which, obviously, have the largest population of blind and partially sighted persons with a corresponding greater need for human rights advocacy.

    This, then, is a brief of the work undertaken by us during the last couple of months or so on various facets relating to Priority Area # 1 of the WBU Plan. William will be with you for the next issue.
    WBU Right to Read Campaign – An Important Step Forward
    By A. K. Mittal

    Chris Friend and his Team spearheading this Campaign, had been busy over the last many months in working for a favourable Copyrights Treaty for the visually impaired and other print disabled readers under the aegis of WIPO. It is well-known that there are legal barriers, insofar as transfer of accessible reading material across borders is concerned for the visually impaired and that not many countries have national laws incorporating exceptions for the reading disabled persons. The efforts towards developing an internationally accepted instrument in this regard seek to remove these barriers.

    Friday, May 29, 2009 could prove to be a red letter day in our efforts to cross these hurdles. The results of persistent endeavours of our Team with support from other partners like Daisy, IFLA LLPD and ICEVI bore fruit. The 18th Session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR 18), at the conclusion of their 5-day meeting in Geneva, agreed to consider a proposal submitted by the governments of Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay about a Treaty for Reading Disabled Persons, at their next meeting (19th Session). It is for the first time that a proposal of this nature has ever been promoted by an INGO (WBU, in this case) and tabled by national government delegations. The proposal would facilitate securing Copyright Exceptions which would permit the cross-border exchange and sharing of current collections of hundreds of thousands of accessible books among same language groups of visually impaired readers around the world.

    The WBU Global R2R Campaign Team is now encouraging WBU National Member Organisations worldwide to engage their Governments in consultations on the Treaty, explaining to them its urgent need and seeking their support. Chris Friend and Daisy Consortium's Dipendra Manocha will take part in July in a WIPO Awareness Meeting in Geneva as part of our ongoing Campaign
    to highlight the importance of the Treaty. Brazil is convening a meeting of experts to go through the draft Treaty line by line in September in preparation for the fuller discussion in SCCR 19.

    Chris Friend now requests WBU Regional Presidents to designate a lead link R2R person to promote the Campaign throughout the world and explain the Treaty extensively to various governments. Names of such link persons may be forwarded to Chris friend directly at: cfwbu@sightsavers.org.

    Concurrently, WBU and other partners are also participating in the meetings of a Stakeholders’ Platform at WIPO, a proposal mooted by industrialised countries. The Platform provides the stakeholders—publishers, authors and the visual impairment sector – an opportunity to seek convergence at the operational level. The Team is currently represented on two important Working Groups of the Platform.
    Employment Summit – The Beginning
    By Maryanne Diamond

    More than 20 persons came together on 25 and 26 June 2009 in the United Kingdom to participate in The World Blind Union’s Employment Summit. This was the first step in our strategic objective - to improve the employment situation for blind and low vision persons around the world. Participants to the Summit were invited based on their experience in the area of employment for blind and low vision persons or their involvement in international or regional organizations that had an interest in the issue.

    The two-day summit was hosted by RNIB at their Judd Street office and with their generous support; Miles Hanson was engaged to facilitate the event.

    In opening the summit, I reiterated the points outlined in my letter of invitation to participants. In addition, I stated three specific objectives that I had as outcomes for the two day meeting:

    1. That we have a shared understanding of the need for an employment campaign or strategy
    2. That we have commitment from participants to be part of the campaign/strategy
    3. That we have defined and agreed the key principles to be reflected in the campaign

    A small planning group consisting of: Penny Hartin, Aubrey Webson, Philippa Simkiss and John Slade and I prepared materials for distribution to participants in advance. These included: a summary of recent research we were aware of on this topic and a list of six guiding questions for participants to consider prior to the summit which would guide the conversation over the two days.

    There were a number of issues discussed over the two days, which included:

     What did we mean by employment or economic participation
     The differences between the formal and informal economies
     Particular challenges faced by people living in developing countries
     Transition from education to work
     What global campaigns have worked and why
     The learning’s from the EFAVI and Vision2020 global campaigns
     Other international initiatives which should be taken into account when determining what is possible to do at the global level

    The participants identified a number of themes and issues which had arisen during the discussions and which were important to take into account in the development of our campaign/strategy. These were then grouped and prioritized into five primary thematic areas: Awareness; Collaboration; Clarity; Support; Data/ Evidence.

    A discussion was held on each of the five themes, identifying what needs to be considered within each one.

    Following the discussion, it was generally agreed that our campaign needs to have the objective of improving the employment situation for blind and low vision persons worldwide and as a key element to achieving that objective our goal should be to implement the Right to Employment as articulated in Article 27 of the CRPD.

    In summarizing the two days, I commented that it was clear we had reached some clarity and consensus about the need to develop something at the global level that will positively change the employment situation for blind and low vision persons. A small group has been formed to distil the information gathered during the summit and develop the way forward. Whether the result will be called a campaign, a strategy, an initiative of something else will be determined as we work through the process.

    The group worked extremely hard, Miles Hanson was an excellent facilitator who kept us focused and on track and it was a pleasure to be part of such a dynamic positive and forward thinking group of individuals. This is only the beginning to achieve our objective. We will keep members and interested persons informed as we develop our plans and there will be opportunities for members to be involved along the way.

    World Blind Union Award, Louis Braille Medal
    "In the Shadow of Coupvray and the footsteps of
    Louis Braille!"
    By Euclid Herie

    It was a warm sunny early morning in Toronto as Barbara Marjeram and I walked along Lake Ontario for a regular coffee when my mobile phone rang and the voice of Maryanne Diamond, WBU President, surprised me. The message was to inform me that I would be the recipient of the Louis Braille Medal and that the presentation would take place in France. I don’t remember much about the walk or conversation with Barbara after we concluded the call from Melbourne. Perhaps David, Pedro or Arne might understand the impact of such news. But let me share with you a short version of what this is really all about.

    In recognition that the World Blind Union would celebrate its 25 years of organizational history in 2009, the Officers took two major decisions.

    First, it was decided to publish a historical overview of the initial 25 years of the WBU since its founding in 1984. This book was completed and presented by the late Sir John Wall at the 7th General Assembly in Geneva in August 2008.

    Second, the Officers concluded that the WBU ought to develop a prestigious and unique Award to recognize leaders from among the WBU members and their contribution on a global basis. After considerable exploration and thought, the Officers accepted a generous offer from the European Blind Union (EBU) to adopt the Louis Braille gold medal then owned by the EBU for presentation on a European basis to recognize exceptional service from among EBU Members.

    Consequently, the Medal was given permanently to the WBU. It was decided that only one medal would be presented every four years at the General Assembly to an individual duly nominated and selected by a Committee from among the Officers and Members. In exceptional circumstances when two individuals are determined to merit the Award, two medals may be presented.

    In 2000 at the 5th General Assembly in Melbourne, Australia, the medal was first presented to David Blyth and Pedro Zurita. Arne Husveg of Norway received the third medal in hospital in Oslo shortly before his untimely death.

    The fourth medal was to be presented in Geneva at the 7th General Assembly; however, given that the 200 anniversary celebrations of the birth of Louis Braille would take place in 2009, it was agreed to postpone the presentation to an appropriate venue during the bicentennial. It was for that reason that on Friday, June 19, the presentation took place at a Euro Disney Hotel, 7 kilometres from Coupvray and the Louis Braille birthplace. This formed part of a global conference on disability rights, freedoms and education organized by the major organizations related to blindness and visual impairment from France.

    The French hosts generously agreed that the presentation be part of the closing gala dinner. Maryanne Diamond made the presentation that is best described as a powerful moment to stand before one’s peers from among the 140 countries that form the WBU membership base.

    Given that the WBU Officers were to meet in Paris, June 22-23, it was agreed to have a second presentation related strictly to the WBU leadership. So for me, it was double the emotional experience and for Maryanne, double duty!

    My acceptance remarks on each occasion were different to the extent that it is near impossible to really express the mixed emotions that flood through the mind during those few special moments. I certainly found the experience profoundly humbling with enduring gratitude to the WBU Officers who, on the recommendation of the Selection Committee, voted unanimously to select one recipient from among six nominees.

    What perhaps struck me most upon reflection over that weekend is that by the third century of the birth of Louis Braille only some 25 other women and men will ascend to this singular and high honour. Perhaps a few more if more than one medal is presented at one or several General Assemblies. As a counterpoint, only 25 women and men will be elected WBU President to succeed Maryanne Diamond in the same 100 years. Six of us precede her in that office.

    I thank Penny Hartin, WBU CEO, for her assistance on the arrangements and John Rafferty, President and CEO of CNIB, for the support while in France.

    My apology that this somewhat impersonal note is sent in an equally impersonal electronic medium to a whole number of wonderful colleagues, friends and family. Be assured that your messages and good wishes are truly special and all will be printed and retained. Perhaps, when next the Blind of the World gather in Assembly at a venue to be determined for the 8th General Assembly, I will have the good fortune and privilege to express my gratitude in person. Meanwhile, no opportunity to do so will be missed. Please know the thanks I offer are without boundaries or restriction. They are from the Heart!

    With Affection and Respect,

    Euclid Herie CM
    WBU Past President /Honorary Life Member

    The WBU officers held their first face to face meeting of 2009 in Paris from June 22 – 23rd, generously hosted by the French Federation of the Blind. Prior to the Officers meeting, some Officers had attended VI2009, the Coupvray Conference organized as part of the 2009 celebrations in France to celebrate the birth of Louis Braille.

    The Officers meeting was preceded by a meeting of the Membership Fees committee and the Development Committee. The Membership fees committee reviewed all applications received to date from members that were requesting either a reclassification of their membership category or a relief of membership fees. Some also requested a transition period to gradually move to the new fee levels over the next three years. Some of the applications were granted, others needed additional information, and some of the reclassification requests were denied, but with the suggestion that members could still apply for relief of fees even if their category was not changed. Applications continue to be received and the membership fees committee will meet via teleconference and through email on a regular basis in order to consider these requests.

    The Finance Committee had also met via teleconference prior to the Officers meeting to review the audited financial statements. These were unanimously approved by the Officers and have been distributed to the membership. They are also available on the WBU website.

    All Strategic Plan Priorities were reviewed by their priority leaders, who provided updates and discussion of areas for further development. This is a regular part of all Officers meetings and forms the basis of discussions and actions.

    In addition, some particular topics were given special attention. These included a discussion about the Louis Braille Birthplace in Coupvray and we particularly benefited from the historical expertise and knowledge of Dr. Euclid Herie who joined us for the first day of meetings and provided valuable insight regarding the history and our responsibilities relative to the Louis Braille birthplace museum. A further discussion provided feedback on the 7th General Assembly in order to enable us to capture the learnings from that event and reflect all important planning aspects into the bid documents for the 8th General Assembly. The bid documents for the 8th General Assembly will be forwarded to all members by the end of July and we welcome expressions of interest from those who are interested in hosting our GA in 2012.

    The next Officers meeting will be held on December 4 – 5th in Louisville Kentucky, hosted by the American Printing House for the Blind

    By Colin Low

    Dr Harold Snider,
    His many friends around the world were stunned and shocked to learn of the sudden death on 26 June of Harold Snider. He was only 61.

    Harold came from a prosperous professional family in Florida, where his parents had to go to law before he was allowed to complete his studies in the mainstream school system. After that he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service with distinction from Georgetown University, Washington DC, but was not allowed to take the Foreign Service examination. Following that he undertook graduate studies in history in the UK, which culminated in the award of a DPhil from Oxford.

    Harold devoted his life to championing the rights of blind people throughout the world. His first major job was with the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, where he was Coordinator of Programs for the Handicapped. Access in all its forms - to the environment, to the arts, to museums - was a particular speciality at this time. Later he was Deputy Executive Director at the National Council on Disability, where he was responsible for liaison with Congress and the White House as the Americans with Disabilities Act was beginning to be implemented.

    He was not permanently based in any organisation of the blind, though he was periodically associated with several, including the National Federation of the Blind of the USA, of which he was a strong supporter and for which he helped to develop the telephone Newsline service, and the International Braille Research Center. Instead he operated his own consultancy, from which he was able to pursue a wide range of issues. His dynamic personality, prodigious networking skills, sharp mind and wide-ranging expertise on disability policy, governmental, international and media relations, legislation, the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, braille and technology made him a highly effective lobbyist. He undertook a number of large scale projects in developing countries and represented the WBU at the World Bank.

    Harold was a great character. He was an avid collector, particularly of musical boxes, of which he made a CD "From Salons to Saloons", but also of gadgets of any kind. He had a seemingly inexhaustible fund of stories which he brought vividly to life, even if one sometimes suspected they were as tall as they were good. He was excellent company and a generous host. Our movement will be the poorer without him.

    At the VI2009 Conference in Coupvray - France, in June, Ana Peláez Narvaez, Executive Director of International Relations at ONCE introduced and launched the new publication “Listening to the Children – Testimonials form the World’s Blind and Partially Sighted Teenagers”. This book, available in print and accessible CD format in English and Spanish is a compilation of essays submitted by teens from around the world who applied to attend the Listening to the Children Conference held in Spain in June of 2008. This lovely and inspiring book is available on the WBU and ONCE websites.

    The World Health Assembly approved the Action Plan for the Prevention of Avoidable Blindness at its meeting on May 21st. This endorsement follows several years of advocacy by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) as a key element of the Vision 2020 strategy. The Action Plan calls for the development of national blindness prevention plans as well. We thank our members who advocated for the adoption of this Action Plan with their national delegations to the World Health Assembly. The final text of the Action plan is available on the Vision 2020 website at: www.v2020.org

    Disability Rights Fund Releases Second 2009 Request for Proposals
    The objective of the Disability Rights Fund, which was launched in March 2008, is to empower disabled persons’ organizations in developing countries and Easter Europe/former Soviet Union bloc, in the ratification, implementation and monitoring of the CRPD.

    The following countries are eligible to apply for grants: Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, Ghana, Namibia, Uganda, Bangladesh and 14 island countries in the Pacific: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

    Grants to single organizations can range from USD 5,000 to 30,000 and support efforts to build voice and visibility and to develop rights-based advocacy and monitoring on the CRPD. Grants to national DPO coalitions will range from USD 30,000 to 70,000 and will support advocacy toward ratification of the CRPD, passage of specific legislation to accord with the CRPD, or the production of shadow reports.

    Interested organizations are urged to review the full eligibility criteria and application details posted at the Fund’s website, http://www.disabilityrightsfund.org/grant.html. Any questions on the proposal process should be directed to info@disabilityrightsfund.org by August 15. The deadline for applications is September 15, 2009.
    Theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 2009
    It was recently announced that the theme for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities which will be celebrated on December 3rd is: “Realizing the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) for All: Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and Their Communities Around the World”. We will keep you informed as more information becomes available.
    Reminders: World Sight Day and White Cane Safety Day
     This is a reminder that World Sight Day will take place on Thursday October 8th. The theme for 2009 is gender issues.
     White Cane Safety Day will be held on Thursday October 15th.

    As always, we are very interested to know about events and activities that you have undertaken to celebrate these important days. We would like to put together a resource kit on White Cane Day activities and events for the use of our members. Please share with us your events and any resources that you have developed so that we might share these with your colleagues in other countries.
    Techshare 2009 - Making the Most of Technology
    RNIB, in partnership with other leading disability organisations, are hosting Techshare 2009 on 16 - 18 September 2009 at ExCeL London, in London's Royal Victoria Docks.

    Techshare events highlight the importance of digital technology in the lives of people with disabilities, bringing together leading organisations and technology companies to share their research, products and services with the international community.

    How to book
    Online booking is now open. More information about Techshare 2009 is on the conference website. Alternatively please contact the Techshare 2009 Team using the details below.
    Website: www.rnib.org.uk/techshare
    Email: techshare@rnib.org.uk
    13th ICEVI World Congress
    We are pleased to share the announcement that ICEVI will hold its 13th World Congress in Jomtien Thailand from August 9 – 13, 2010. Please visit http://www.icevi.org/13thWC/ for Call for Papers and Registration & Accommodation details.
    Francophone Union of the Blind 3rd General Assembly
    The 3rd General Assembly of the Francophone Union of the Blind will be held in Laval Quebec, Canada on May 28 – 29, 2010. Please watch the WBU E-bulletin for further news or visit their website at: http://unionfrancophonedesaveugles.org/
    DAISY 2009 Conference
    This is a reminder that the DAISY 2009 conference will take place in Leipzig Germany from 27 – 29 September 2009. Registration is open until August 31st at: www.daisy2009.de.
    Nominations open for ACCESS IT Awards 2009
    The ACCESS-IT Awards are encouraging nominations of activities that promote a better quality of life for people with disabilities and the elderly, through the use of Information Technology (IT).

    There are four special awards:
     The ACCESS-IT@Home: This award will recognize an ICT based project, product or service that advances independent living for people with disabilities or elderly;
     ACCESS-IT @Work: This award will recognise an ICT based project, product or service that facilitates people with a disability to work independently;
     ACCESS-IT@Learning: This award will recognise an ICT based project, product or service that facilitates people with a disability or the elderly to get educated in an affordable, accessible, usable and efficient manner;
     ACCESS-IT@Web2.0: This award will recognise a project, product or service that advances accessibility on web 2.0.

    The application deadline is August 25th. For further information please visit: www.access-it-events.org
    12th International Conference on Mobility and Transport
    The 12th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for elderly and disabled persons will be held in Hong Kong from June 2 – 4, 2010. The theme of the Conference is: “Sustainable Transport and Travel for All”. Deadline for submitting abstracts is August 31, 2009. For further information visit: http://www.transed2010.hk/

    Human Rights Training Tools Available
    Inspiring Practice: Resources, Tools and Activities for Human Rights Education is a tool kit designed to help people deliver workshops on human rights, including the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It can be accessed at: http://www.nihrc.org/dms/data/NIHRC/attachments/dd/files/11/InspiringPractice_FINAL_WEB.pdf

    Accessible Human Rights Materials
    Working with “Bookshare”, Human Rights Watch, has now made available over 82 of its Human Rights reports in a variety of formats, including Braille print-out and voice.

    To register on Bookshare, go to: http://www.bookshare.org/

    To access list of reports, go to: http://bookshare.org/search?keyword=Human+Rights+Watch
    EU4ALL Project
    The EU4ALL Project is looking at how to better support persons with disabilities and elderly persons in higher education, using virtual learning environments, and other information and communications technologies. For further information visit: http://www.eu4all-project.eu/index.php? … p;Itemid=1

    Education For All Visually Impaired People
    By Frances Candiru,
    WBU 2nd Vice-President, Chairperson Uganda National Association of the Blind

    Together with the celebrations of the Bi-centenary of Louis Braille, we need to join hands to promote Education For All Visually Impaired (EFAVI) campaign. In many African Countries, Education of the blind and partially sighted people has been mainly supported by Missionaries. As many of the education centres were taken over by African governments, there has been a-slow-but-sure drop-down of education standards for the visually impaired people in these centres. Mathematics and science subjects have been singled out as subjects which cannot be done by visually impaired People. The truth is that blind and partially sighted people can do all that others do, if they are given the appropriate skills. There are many of us working as Project Managers, Business Firm Managers, managing our own businesses, Teachers and Lecturers and in many other fields; without the knowledge in mathematics it would not be possible. Braille has been ignored and training of teachers for the blind and partially sighted children is not a priority to many governments. This could also be the same case in other developing world!

    As we think of the unification of Braille Signs, promotion of teaching mathematics and science subjects, computer training for the blind and partially sighted people in schools, and training of teachers for the visually impaired children should be one of our target priority in Plan. In the past, mathematics was taught and learned by use of Tailor frames and types. With time, Tailor frames and types disappeared in the learning system, due to health and environmental reasons. Perhaps we could also think of some other fibre which is friendly to both health and environment, to re-invent Tailor frames and types. Those were essential tools for learning mathematics and they effectively played important role in the education of the blind and partially sighted people.

    Everyone is entitled to quality education and so do the blind and partially sighted people. Without essential learning—teaching aid and trained teachers, the quality of education of the blind and partially sighted people will never improve. Therefore, it is our obligation, we, who have succeeded in one way or the other, to advocate and fight for the rights of our blind and partially sighted people throughout the world for quality education. “TOGETHER, WE SHALL MAKE IT.”
    Rwanda Union of the Blind Launches Newsletter
    The Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB) has recently launched a newsletter for its members. The following extract provides information about the programs and structure of RUB:
    Who is RUB?
    The Rwanda Union of the Blind is an organization made up of Blind people who get together to find a way of bringing out the problems they share in order to find solutions for them. RUB has 35 branches in 17 districts where Blind people meet in a local area. They form an association which is based on sector level. Such local associations constitute RUB branches. Blind people who are not in a local association are welcome to be RUB members as well but this presents the problem of keeping in touch with them since most of RUB activities take place in branches.

    At the national level, RUB has a national Board, a national Women’s Committee and a national Youth Committee. These two subcommittees, Youth and Women, are represented on national Boards. RUB networks with other disability organisations as well as with other partners such as VSO, HI, FENAPH and any other partners who would be willing to join hands with RUB.

    The organisation runs four major projects:
    1. Rehabilitation and Vocational training which takes place at the Masaka Resource Centre for the Blind (MRCB) at Masaka in Kicukiro district
    2. Outreach Project which helps to establish associations in local districts which form the RUB branches
    3. RUB Orphans’ Project which identifies orphaned blind children and make sure that they get to school
    4. PEPFAR/HI Project in which RUB is supported by the US White House through HI to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS among Blind people

    RUB in the Branches
    As mentioned earlier there are 35 RUB branches countrywide. Since the branches are formed by local associations which are in turn established by members locally, they can be different from each other depending on the kind of activity they engage in and how they do it. The one thing they have in common is making local contributions to support their own activities. For example there are five local branches in Bugasera district. Some of them prepare cassava stem cutting for planting which they sell to local people, others grow and sell cassava, while others grow ground nuts which they shell and sell in local markets. There are two groups in Gasabo district, one in Rusororo sector and the other one in Gisozi sector. The group in Rusororo sector have established themselves as tomato growers, they have also managed to learn how to make the local type of beehives and they plan to join the honey producing industry.

    In the western province, RUB activities among the branches, especially in Karongi district and Rusizi district, have brought out the fact that there is a lot of hereditary blindness in these two districts, perhaps researchers would like to find out why?

    These branches help members to come out of isolation and to learn from others and share experiences. Through them, RUB is able to identify young blind children who need to go to school as well as youth and adults who need to take part in rehabilitation and vocational training offered at MRCB. Family members of the blind people also benefit from RUB activities in the branches; they are encouraged to help their blind members to participate in daily family life including work. At least one sighted family member in each family is taught how to guide and how to use a mobility cane in case they need to help their blind family member in using this assistive device. These activities help local authorities to know the number of blind people they have in their sector and the problems that they face.

    Asian Blind Union Launches New Newsletter
    The Asian Blind Union recently launched its new quarterly newsletter entitled “Progress”. The newsletter, edited by Dr. Anil Aneja, provides excellent insights on the priorities and work done by the ABU. If you would like to receive a copy of their full newsletter, please contact either the WBU office or Mr. J. L. Kaul the Secretary General of the Asian Blind Union at: aicbdelhi@Yahoo.com
    Making UNCRPD a Reality in the Asia Region
    (Extracted from the “Progress” newsletter)

    In its meeting held on 12th October, 2008, the Committee on Advocacy and Human Rights of the Asian Blind Union, Chaired by Mr. S.K. Rungta, has accorded top priority to the ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the countries of the ABU region. To achieve this end, several concrete steps have been planned. For instance, it has been decided to prepare a questionnaire in order to ascertain the legislative and policy frame work in respective ABU member countries so that the Asian Blind Union can act as an effective resource to suggest strategies of implementing the UNCRPD in these countries. It has also been decided to endeavour to provide the text of the UNCRPD in Braille and that too, in the primary languages of the respective countries so that a large number of visually impaired persons can get acquainted with the provisions of the Convention.

    In October, 2008, a seminar on UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was held in Pakistan with the support of Asian Blind Union. As many as 34 papers in 11 business sessions were presented over a period of three days. The seminar was attended by a large number of visually impaired persons as well as by the officials of the Pakistan Government. The Advocacy Committee of the ABU plans to hold three sub-regional seminars on UNCRPD during its present term.
    Empowering Low Vision Professionals
    (Extracted from the “Progress” newsletter)

    One of ABU’s ongoing engagements has been to empower the teachers and professionals working with low vision persons. Significant work in South Asia has been done with the holding of two comprehensive training workshops for such professionals: in Nepal in 2002 and in New Delhi during 2006.

    This work was carried forward by the ABU in Central Asia and the Middle East during 2008. In addition to the low vision training workshop held in Bishkek from 1-3 November, 2008 (referred to earlier), a low vision training workshop for the Middle East countries was held in Oman on the same dates. This event was hosted by Al Noor Association of the Blind. As many as 24 teachers and professionals working with low vision persons in nine Middle East countries took part in this 3 day workshop.

    EBU Publishes “Braille – The World at my Fingertips”
    The EBU launched their new publication “Braille – the world at my fingertips” at the VI2009 Congress held in Coupvray France in June. The book is a compilation of the top 25 essays received in the Onkyo Braille essay contest. The book was produced on behalf of the EBU by RNIB. The book can be ordered from RNIB. For ordering details and pricing, please enquire at: exports@rnib.org.uk
    Successful EBU Campaign to Reduce VAT on Audio books
    An advocacy campaign led by RNIB and the European Federation of Publishers was successful in convincing Ministers of Finance of member states to include audio books in the list of items eligible for reduced Value Added Tax (VAT). This favourable decision will make audio books more affordable for blind persons and will hopefully encourage more production of audio books by publishers.
    Silent Cars – A New Threat for Blind and Visually Impaired Pedestrians?
    (Extracted from EBU Bulletin April –May 2009)

    Editor’s Note: the issue of silent cars was the subject of a resolution passed by the 7th General Assembly in Geneva and work on it is one of the initiatives to be undertaken by our WBU Mobility and Transportation Working Group

    Hybrid and electric cars and buses are increasingly popular as they appear as a positive answer to, rising concerns about harmful gas emissions, the need for brave new directions in a struggling car industry and unstable fuel prices. Blind and partially sighted people welcome this beneficial trend just as much as other European citizens do, as long as this technology also proves to be safe and inclusive of all pedestrians.

    Hybrid and electric vehicles operate on fuel-powered engine when driving fast and revert to a virtually silent electric motor when idling and travelling at slow speed. This poses a threat of injury or death to those who rely on their ears to assess whether it is safe to cross the street. Other pedestrians such as young children, seniors, runners, cyclists, or simply inattentive walkers are also at increased risk. In their current stage of development, therefore, hybrid and electric cars are not fully in line with Design for All principles.

    Like their sighted peers, blind and partially sighted people have a right to travel safely and independently to their workplaces, schools and other places in their communities. University of California research findings clearly show that this right is threatened as hybrid vehicles must be 40 percent closer to pedestrians than combustion-engine cars for their location to be accurately determined using audition. During the tests, the electric Toyota Prius was not heard until it was 1.30 meters from blindfolded volunteers.

    Preserving pedestrian rights can be balanced with a beneficial reduction of noise pollution: a sound that is reasonable but easy to detect would guaranty pedestrian safety. “We are not talking about major changes to the way automobiles are designed, but about slightly increasing their audibility when they are travelling slowly” said Lawrence Rosemblum, researcher and adviser to the Society of Automotive Engineers.

    While research is still under way, designers are suggesting that low tech and low cost external sound devices could be the answer. On-going European initiatives include the successful partnership between Guide Dogs UK and Lotus Engineering to develop an external sound technology for use on hybrid vehicles.

    Whilst EBU is supportive of green cars, we also believe that further research is needed to investigate the safety implications for pedestrians and to thoroughly explore adequate solutions. Today more than ever, it also remains vital to promote safe driving practices such as driving slowly and paying attention to pedestrian traffic. The challenge is now to ensure that smart cars benefit all by producing vehicles that are both environment-friendly and safe.

    First Meeting of Blind Indigenous Persons from Latin America
    The First meeting of visually impaired indigenous persons from Latin America took place May 18 – 22 in Panama City. The meeting was organized by ULAC, with the sponsorship of the Government of Panama through the National Secretariat for Disability (SENADIS), the Institute Special Education (IPHE) and the National Blind Sports Association of Panama.

    With the goal of analyzing the situation of blind indigenous persons of Latin America, the participants came from 17 countries within the region: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic and Uruguay.

    The participants engaged in one week of intense discussions on such topics as: the Millennium Development Goals; the Decade of Disabled Persons prepared by the Organization of American States; the Inter-American Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against persons with disabilities; the conclusions of the PENDIS study (study of prevalence of disability in Panama). During the meeting they formulated international cooperation projects, including a strategy to improve the situation of indigenous blind persons in the Region.

    Based on the Panamanian experience, which was the first country to study their disabled population including the ethnic variable, the participants considered the particular situation facing each country and developed a strategy for advancing this work.

    In order to continue the work that was done during the week long conference, and to implement the strategic directions, a follow-up committee with the mandate of Latin America was formed. It is intended that a second meeting will be held in Bolivia in 2011 in order to follow up on the strategy that was developed to improve the situation of indigenous blind persons in Latin America.

    Cost of Blindness Study Released
    The CNIB and Canadian Ophthalmological Society recently released the results of a study which estimates the cost of blindness in Canada at $15.6 billion annually. This includes $8.6 billion in direct health care costs which are higher than any other disease category in Canada including diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. The study also calculates the indirect costs of vision loss as well as the human toll of blindness. For further information, please visit: www.cnib.ca

    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 Rodriguez, Administrative Assistant