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  • Selasa, 13 Oktober 2009


    The ability to travel safely and independently is a critical issue to everyone in our society. We all want to get to our destinations in the safest and quickest way possible. This is no different for persons who are blind or partially sighted. While new technologies are emerging that harness global positioning systems linked to speech enabled mobile phones to enable navigation of foreign cities, such technology is not universally suitable, available, or affordable, and for most blind and partially sighted people the white cane remains the essential mobility aid.

    The white cane is also acknowledged as a symbol representing blindness and mobility and is used by blind and partially sighted people across the world. Guide dogs are also used in some countries.

    As we celebrate White Cane Day on October 15th, the World Bind Union, representing some 160 Million blind and partially sighted people worldwide, is concerned that some present day innovations are threatening the safe and independent travel of blind and partially sighted people.

    Acoustic information is a primary tool for orientation by blind and partially sighted people, for example, to determine when traffic has actually stopped – rather than when it has been signalled to stop. And when crossing at an intersection that has no traffic lights, they listen for oncoming traffic to determine when to cross.

    All that relies on being able to hear the vehicles but in recent years “hybrid/quiet vehicles” have become more commonplace. By the time a blind person (or anyone) has heard the quieter engines of these vehicles, there is simply not sufficient time to safely cross the street.

    We recognize the need to develop more environmentally friendly vehicles and we would not wish to stifle such innovation. However, it is essential that vehicle manufacturers design some kind of sound into these vehicles to ensure the safe and independent travel of blind persons. The technology exists to make sounds that adjust to ambient noise level unnecessary noise pollution can be avoided.

    Another challenge relates to a new urban design concept that is being applied in many countries, namely “shared space”. The aim is to create more pedestrian friendly, civilized streets with less traffic and lower speeds. However, the concept is most commonly delivered by means of a “shared surface” where kerbs are absent and pedestrian and trafficked areas are at the same level. Priority in crossing the space is negotiated by making “eye contact”.

    This undermines the mobility of blind and partially sighted people in two ways: first, blind and partially sighted people rely on the kerb as an essential clue for navigation and orientation; and second, “eye contact” is quite clearly impossible for someone with sight loss.

    In the 21st century we should be creating town and streetscapes that can be used by everyone in our society and which reflect the principles of inclusive which are called for in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

    The World Blind Union calls upon governments, regulators, designers and manufacturers to establish and implement standards that will ensure universal access for all persons with disabilities. We further call upon designers and manufacturers to consult with the World Blind Union, our members and partners in order to discuss possible implications of proposed design change so that issues which may be identified can be dealt with in the early stages. In this way, our environment can enable safe an independent travel for everyone including those who are blind or partially sighted.

    For further information contact:
    World Blind Union
    Penny Hartin, Chief Executive Officer
    E-mail: Penny.hartin@wbuoffice.org
    Web: www.worldblindunion.org

    Kamis, 08 Oktober 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
    Human Rights and Other Issues 8
    New UN Special Rapporteur Appointed 10
    Congratulations to Lex Grandia on receiving Lifelong
    Achievement Award 10
    Congratulations to Ms. Neera Adhikari on Appointment 10
    UN Report on Disability and the Millennium Development Goals 10
    Australian Report on Persons with Disabilities 10
    Materials for Children on the Convention 11
    Relaunching of IDA Website 11
    Education for All Global Monitoring Report now Available in
    Several Languages 11
    AFRICA 12
    Jace Nair Appointed New SANCB National Executive Director 12
    "The War in Liberia Knew Nobody:" A Visually Impaired
    Woman's Account of Liberia's Ghastly War 13
    How UNAB’s Income Generation Program has Changed the
    Lives of Blind Women in Uganda 15
    ASIA 16
    Disability is not Inability: Aminul Finds His Destiny 16
    Pacific Disability Forum Conference April 2009 Vanuatu 17
    Establishment of Papua New Guinea Blind Union (PNG-BU)
    as full member of WBU 18
    The Opening Ceremony of a Training Course on Audio
    Information Skills for the Blind in Beijing, China 19
    Celebrating Braille and Commemorating Braille in New Zealand 19
    EUROPE 21
    WBU STAFF 24

    eContributions 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 Monday, November 2nd for our November 2009 issue of the E-bulletin. We will accept submissions in English, French and Spanish, preferably in electronic format.

    By Maryanne Diamond

    Thanks to many, there has been much happening since the last issue of the E-bulletin.

    I am very excited to see that two working groups are preparing to meet for the first time to develop their plan or work for the term. This is following some preliminary work to ensure full advantage of their limited time together. These are the World Braille Council and the Diversity Working Group. The World Braille Council brings together expertise from the different language groups, Braille authorities, international councils and developers of codes. The Diversity group brings together leaders in the work of: youth, women, older persons, children/parents, and low vision, all having their own extensive networks. I would like to thank all who have agreed to work on these two most important groups and know that your contributions and expertise will be of benefit to millions of people who are blind or have low vision around the world.

    Our Right to Read campaign continues and is gaining momentum thanks to the drive and energy of Chris Friend and Dan Pescod. We need your help over the coming months. More can be found on the work of this group later in this issue.

    The UN 2nd meeting of states parties for the CRPD met in New York during September. It was a very positive meeting with a number of side events organised which provided those of us who were in attendance the opportunity to participate in discussions which will assist all of us to promote and support the CRPD. The next meeting of the CRPD monitoring committee will be held in Geneva during October and we hope to have a report from that meeting in our next issue.

    A small group drawn from the WBU Employment Summit participants will meet in Boston at the end of November to progress this initiative. There is work underway prior to that meeting to ensure we are able to determine a way forward which is realistic, achievable and which will make a difference to the appalling situation of employment for people who are blind or have low vision worldwide.

    We are sill interested to hear from and to share events which are taking place to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Louis Braille. The year is quickly drawing to a close and I am aware that celebrations continue. Let’s share them with others!

    I trust you will enjoy the mix of interesting and informative material contained in this issue.

    Priority Area # 1 (Representation) — Status Report
    Right to Read Campaign
    Question and Response between Maryanne Diamond and Francis Gurrie, Director of WIPO concerning Copying Right Issues

    This interchange took place between Maryanne Diamond and Frances Gurrie, Director of WIPO during a conference that Maryanne attended in Australia, at which Mr. Gurrie was a speaker:

    My name is Maryanne Diamond and I'm president of the World Blind Union, the international organisation representing the estimated 161 million people who are blind. In addition to that, there are many millions of people who have a print disability through a physical disability, learning disorder or whatever.

    I know you're very aware of the access to information that we address at our international level, with only five per cent of printed material accessible to us. The technologies, of course, are moving fast as you identify, and there is technology for quick, speedy, not costly ways of transferring information into an accessible format. We also have the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which more than 140 countries have signed, including Australia. I'm interested to know what you think may be the impact of this convention on what we call the famine to us as blind people of printed material, because under the convention, there is the right for people with disabilities to have equal access to information. And I'm interested to know, you know, wearing your UN hat, what you think might be the impact, at the international and at the state level, of such a treaty in regard to copyright and access to information.

    Thank you very much indeed, and thank you very much for raising that issue. I think the impact is going to be enormous. We've already felt it. It's on our agenda. And it's something that I'm personally very much committed to seeing gets a constructed and useful solution. And, incidentally, the United States of America also signed the convention. And I think that is going to be very influential in our area, in the copyright area, the fact that they signed the convention on disability. So, what's happening with us, two things. One, at the behest of - originally, as you know, the World Blind Union proposed a draft treaty to create an international environment for exception and licensing schemes for access to published works on the part of the visually impaired and the print impaired. And that draft treaty has now been tabled by Brazil, Paraguay and Ecuador, in our standing committee on copyright, and will be considered at the next meeting of the standing committee. And I think it's a very, very important issue which will be taken up now and considered in detail. And there is another thing that's happening, and that is that we are facilitating - WIPO is facilitating, what we call a stakeholder's platform to look at ways of practically improving access to published works on the part of the visually impaired.

    The stakeholder's platform is composed of, on the one hand, the publishers, the International Publishers Association; and, on the other hand, the World Blind Union and the DAISY Consortium, which works with new technologies of access. And they have a technology subgroup, and they have a trusted intermediary subgroup. Because the thing is this: that if you want to transfer, let's say a digital master file from London to Nairobi in order to create an accessible format, the digital master file is the same for the accessible format as it is for the ordinary format, so publishers want a trusted intermediary to guarantee that this is not going to be used for a parallel market. And we're coming to those solutions. And I think it will - I hope it will, have an impact on improving access.

    Presentation by Director Kenya Library Service at IFLA Conference, August 2009
    Editor’s Note: the following is a summary of a presentation made by the Director of the Kenya National Library Service at the IFLA conference and demonstrates a best practice model in making library services available to blind and low vision persons.

    In Kenya, it is estimated that about 370,000 people (both children and adults) suffer from various eye impairments according to 2006 World Health Organization (WHO) estimates in collaboration with Africa Union for the Blind (AFUB). Low vision people form the bigger majority and the number is on the increase due to the aging population, diseases and accidents.

    Kenya National Library Service
    Kenya National Library Service (KNLS) is a statutory body of the Government and it is the largest public library in Kenya. The Board is mandated to: Promote, establish, equip, manage, maintain and develop libraries in Kenya. To date, a total of 54 branch libraries have been established in various parts of the country.

    Services to the Visually Impaired Persons (VIPs) by KNLS as an equal library service provider, KNLS services are open to all persons regardless of their race, creed, gender, and physical ability, social status economic and political status which is also in line with IFLA public library manifesto (1984). KNLS Board established the first VIP unit in Nairobi 1996. This was as a result of the KNLS Board's acknowledgment that the visually impaired persons, like other people, should be facilitated and given equal opportunities to actively participate in national development. However, in the same year one of KNLS newly employed graduate, Mr. Athman Chitti lost his eyesight due to illness and he was sponsored for various rehabilitation programmes. He is now in the final year of his Masters degree in Information Science at Kenyatta University, Nairobi. Mr. Chitti has been quite instrumental in the growth of the KNLS VIP units.
    Prior to the introduction of VIPs at KNLS, the visually impaired people in Kenya had not been catered for especially in terms of library and information services. The visually impaired students were served by special institutions like Kenya Institute for the Blind (KIB) under the sponsorship of the Salvation Army. This service was inadequate and could only be accessible to only a few people.

    Initially, the KNLS VIP units were stocked with Braille books donated by The Royal National Institute of the Blind, but the collection has grown with time, through partnership with other donors. The stock has also been diversified to include large print, books on eye care and audio books. Through collaboration with Lions Club International, KNLS has initiated a talking book project.

    Resources in branch VIP units include Braille and large print books. The Nairobi branch has modern equipments and a diversified collection. These include talking computers loaded with JAWS software, audio books, script magnifiers, audio book players. The unit is managed by three staff members, two of whom are visually impaired. Branch VIP units differ in size, resource content, and patronage.

    Aims and objectives of the KNLS VIP Units:
     To empower Visually Impaired Persons through the provision of library and information services;
     To encourage a reading culture among Visually Impaired Persons;
     To support government's effort towards achievement of total inclusiveness, e.g. Education for All (EFA) as provided in the Persons with Disabilities Act 2003;
     To collect, acquire, process, store and disseminate library and information materials on topical issues and other relevant information to the VIPs;
     To network with other organizations dealing with VIPs;
     To support and develop libraries and information services for VIPs in Kenya;
     To facilitate and encourage conferences, seminars and workshops dealing with the information needs of the VIPs and their role in national development.

    Also, bulk book lending to institutions such as schools and colleges: talking books in English, French, Spanish & German; organizing for transcribing of information materials into Braille with the relevant institutions e.g. information on topical issues such as HIV/ AIDS, drug abuse; service delivery to home bound VIPs e.g. the elderly; provision of Perkins Braille machines to VIPs for library use; newspaper reading to the VIPs.

    In order to facilitate information access in various formats, the Ministry of Education has launched e-content for 11 subjects which will be available throughout the country mainly on curriculum materials. In recognition to the government's effort towards the welfare of the disabled people, Kenya was awarded an Ambassadorial Status by the Secretariat of African Decade of Persons of Disabilities, thus making it a model for other countries in Africa.

    Benefits of the Service:
    Through provision of library and information services to the VIPs, the following benefits are being realized:
     Inculcating of a reading culture among the VIPs;
     Enhancing education achievement among the visually impaired persons, e.g. several visually impaired students in our universities have a long association with the Units right from their high school days;
     Reduction of poverty and ignorance through provision of entrepreneurial information in Braille;
     Sustaining Braille literacy and supporting continuing education among the VIPs;
     Combating HIV & AIDS through transcription of related information materials from print to Braille in collaboration with relevant institutions.

    (i) Inadequate equipment such as Perkins Braille Machines, CCTV and computers;
    (ii) Inadequate trained manpower to handle visually impaired persons;
    (iii) High cost of converting information from print to Braille and alternative formats;
    (iv) Cultural barriers that discriminate against the VIPs;
    (v) Inadequate information materials in Braille;
    (vi) Limited mobility of the VIPs;
    (vii) Economic hardship - most the VIPs lack economic empowerment and as such they spend most of their time looking for alms instead of seeking for knowledge and information.
    Human Rights and Other Issues
    The WBU Advocacy and Human Rights Committee, co-chaired by William Rowland and Colin Low met in London on August 6 – 7th. At that meeting, the committee reviewed progress in the Representation Priority area and developed plans to further the WBU’s representation and advocacy work.

    A highlight of the meeting was a teleconference link with Ron McCallum a member of the CRPD Monitoring Committee from Australia and a member of the WBU Human Rights & Advocacy Committee Reference Group. Ron highlighted the role of the CRPD monitoring committee, the process for monitoring the CRPD implementation and the important role that national organizations of and for the blind play in helping to monitor the progress of the implementation through the development of Shadow reports.

    The committee also spent a good deal of time discussing WBU’s advocacy role, when and how the WBU should take strong positions on matters of advocacy. Immediately following the meeting, committee members drafted two important advocacy interventions for the signature of WBU President, Maryanne Diamond. The first was a letter to the President of Pakistan, the High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Program, raising the issue of the plight of displaced blind persons in northern Pakistan. The second intervention was sent to the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva expressing WBU’s serious concern about the continued killings of persons with Albinism in Tanzania. Copies of these letters are available from the WBU Office.

    The Scholarship Review Subcommittee, Chaired by 1st Vice President Arnt Holte, met in early August to award scholarships from the Hermoine Grant Calhoun Fund, the Pedro Zurita Youth Fund and the Arne Husveg Development Fund. All available funds have now been allocated for 2009.

    The Committee also agreed to modify the application deadline in recognition of the fact that school years vary throughout the year. We will now accept scholarship applications at any time and starting in 2010, will review the applications on a quarterly basis.

    We are also pleased to inform you of the establishment of the Barbara Marjeram Braille Literacy Scholarship Fund for young blind women in developing countries. This scholarship fund was established by the World Braille Foundation. Guidelines for the Barbara Marjeram Scholarship fund can also be found on the WBU website under the Scholarships and Awards section.

    New UN Special Rapporteur Appointed
    Mr. Shuaib Chalklen from South Africa was recently appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Disability to the Commission for Social Development for the period of 2009 – 2011. His role is to monitor the implementation of the UN Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993.
    Congratulations to Lex Grandia on receiving Lifelong Achievement Award
    Mr. Lex Grandia, President of the International Federation of the Deafblind will receive the lifelong achievement award from SENSE at the beginning of October. SENSE is the biggest provider of services to Deafblind children, adults and their families in the world, and has projects in Africa, Asia and Eastern and Central Europe. Lex will be only the third recipient of this prestigious award. The WBU offers its sincere congratulations.
    Congratulations to Ms. Neera Adhikari on Appointment
    Ms. Neera Adhikari has succeeded in becoming a section officer in the civil service of Nepal following her successful completion of public service competitions. This is an historic achievement for blind persons in Nepal. Ms. Neera Adhikari is an active member of the Nepal Association of the Blind. She is an office bearer, Branch Chairperson, Chairperson of the Women's Committee, Executive Member of National Federation of Disabled Nepal (NFDN); internationally, she is a delegate for WBU and ABU from NAB, and Executive Member of Asian Blind Union (ABU).

    UN Report on Disability and the Millennium Development Goals
    The recently released UN Report on Disability and the Millennium Development goals can be found at: http://www.icdr.utoronto.ca/Files/PDF/c266086b6b2586c.doc
    Australian Report on Persons with Disabilities
    (Excerpted from DPI Update Sept 11/09)
    A new (August 2009) Australia Government National Disability Strategy Report examines the lives of people with disabilities and their families in Australia. Unfortunately outcomes reveal that persons with disabilities continue to have problems with inclusion, access, and equal participation. To read report, please go to: http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/disability/pubs/policy/community_consult/Documents/NDS_report.pdf
    Materials for Children on the Convention
    (Excerpted from DPI Update Sept 11/09)
    The 2009 “It’s about Ability: Learning Guide on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” is now available. This is a companion resource to “It’s About Ability: An Explanation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, developed by UNICEF and the Victor Pineda Foundation. Designed to empower children and young people aged 12–18 to speak out on the Convention and become advocates for inclusion in their communities, the learning guide offers lesson plans and suggested activities to be used by young leaders, peer educators, teachers and other educators at the community level. It can be downloaded as a PDF for free in English, French and Spanish at http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_50687.html
    Relaunching of IDA Website
    The International Disability Alliance, (IDA) of which WBU is a founding member, has launched its new website: www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org
    Education for All Global Monitoring Report now Available in Several Languages
    The Education for All Global Monitoring Report, released earlier this year, is now available in several languages.
     Summary reports available: Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Russian, Spanish, Telugu
     Full reports available: Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Russian, Spanish http://www.unesco.org/en/efareport/reports/2009-governance/

    Jace Nair Appointed New SANCB National Executive Director
    (Excerpted from SANCB Newsletter, August 2009)
    From humble beginnings as a Switchboard operator 30 years ago, this inspirational man has made his way up the corporate ladder through hard work and perseverance in order to bring about positive change within the visually impaired and deaf communities... at last he's sitting at the helm of one of the largest NGO's in South Africa. Meet Jace Nair – newly appointed National Executive Director of the South African National Council for the Blind.

    Lying in a hospital bed at the age of 14, Jace had convinced himself that his life was meaningless after he lost his sight overnight while being treated for measles. However, two patients he would meet at the King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban would change his perception of blindness. A blind boy, no more than 8 years of age, took it upon himself to help the nurses by bringing Jace his medication and water. Another young patient was a scholar at the Arthur Blaxall School for the Blind. These two boys brought Jace to the realisation that blind people were not only still capable of carrying out daily tasks, but that blind people could also still receive an education - something that Jace wanted dearly.

    An employee at the then Natal Indian Blind and Deaf Society was visiting the hospital where Jace was an outpatient, to do some mobility training. The man spoke to Jace's father and eventually, after 26 long months, convinced him to school Jace at Arthur Blaxall. Equipped with a new perception of what it meant to be living with blindness, and with the opportunity to make the most of himself by attending a school for the blind, things were looking hopeful for the young boy.

    Mr. Kamlapersad Ramsarup Sitaram, the Director of the Aryan Benevolent Home (ABH) - a NGO in Chatsworth, saw potential in Jace and, in 1982, told him of an opening at his organisation for a switchboard operator. The position wasn't on offer to visually impaired applicants however, but Mr. Sitaram welcomed Jace as a volunteer on the board nonetheless. Jace proved himself to be a highly competent operator, and barely one month later, the originally sceptical ABH committee board hired Jace.

    Seizing an opportunity to help the organisation, Jace decided to sell fundraising tickets for the organisation over the phone - his own initiative. The success of this initiative led to Jace's promotion to the position of National Public Fundraising Manager. When he left the organisation in 2000, his original fundraising project was bringing in almost R700 000 in cash donations on its own.

    After joining one of SANCB’s member organisations, the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Blind and Deaf Society in 2000 as the organisation's Chief Executive Officer, Jace supervised the setting up of the KZN Optima College in 2004, helped set up the KZN Community Based initiative in 2005, and implemented the opening of the Victor Daitz Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) Centre in 2007.

    After almost 9 productive years as their CEO, Jace has taken the next step in his journey, and will occupy his new post as Council's National Executive Director from September 1, 2009.
    "The War in Liberia Knew Nobody:" A Visually Impaired Woman's Account of Liberia's Ghastly War
    (Excerpted from Women’s Voices, Sumer 2009)
    A happy middle-aged woman - such is the impression Sony Jones would leave on you, introducing herself –a broad, youthful smile on the face - as a social worker at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, an active member of the Liberia National Association of the Blind, and a mother of four kids. You would see her beaming with laughter while busy chatting with some other women and it would never cross your mind that the youthful-looking Sony has buried a litany of nightmarish war stories -stories of death, bereavement, hunger, disease, displacement, fear, and horror.

    "The war in Liberia knew nobody; it had pity for no one," said Sony, as she graciously accepted to share with us what might have been an agonizing exercise of recollection, a pricking of bitter memories.

    Sony Jones, a visually impaired woman (partially sighted), married to a totally blind man, has the qualifying profile of what the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) would label as the most vulnerable segment of the population.

    As Sony began to relate her story, the youthful look gave way to the otherwise hidden scars of a pernicious war. At the outbreak of the war, Sony lost a four-year old child due to malnutrition. Her then nine-year old daughter fled, food-hunting, and was found six months later in an orphanage. The youngest was in no better shape, suffering from severe malnutrition.

    Hunger was as monstrous as were the rebels and the government militias. With small mouths to feed and no helping hand, the visually impaired couple had to chop down palm trees for lack of food. "It took us two to three days sometimes to chop down a palm tree, and we couldn’t know in which direction the tree would be falling," recalls Sony.

    The war 'had pity for no one' -not least for the visually impaired Sony, who had not eaten for days, her frail kids, the younger on her back and the older holding on to her supporting motherly hand. Sony was then trying to cross the bridge to join her husband, who had gone to check on his sick sister and fallen prey to cholera. But former Field Marshal Prince Y. Johnson's soldiers wouldn't let anyone walk across the bridge before Prince Johnson passed. And there was Sony, kicked brutally from the back by a thoughtless soldier. Sony had then to retrace her steps back to her house and wait resignedly for her husband. Cholera-stricken, the husband felt compelled to leave the sister's house on a wheelbarrow, and the couple met halfway.

    "The government soldiers were more ruthless, and the camps were far-off," she said explaining why they had not sought refuge in a UNHCR-run camp. All warring factions were awfully capable of killing, and it mattered little if the person being slain or shot was blind. Sony knows this for a fact: They slit open the throat of a young blind woman, who was pregnant. On a raid on the bushes, where helpless civilians would hide, the rebels shot dead yet another blind woman after her family had fled with her baby.

    And so the couple sought refuge in the School for the Blind, which had been deserted except for the watchman and his family. Sony recalls how the couple asked the watchman for a head of palm tree cabbage, which they were willing to exchange for money, but which the watchman felt reluctant to part with. Instead, he lent them an axe to chop a palm tree down themselves, saying, "I understand, but I too have my obligations; I have a pregnant wife and a mother to look after."

    Refugee life, Sony experienced it first hand. In 2000, Sony, along with the two younger children, went to the Ivory Coast with a friend of hers, leaving behind her husband and the two older children. Sony had to earn her own living while in the Ivory Coast since she did not live in a refugee camp.

    Then again, the spectre of war loomed large, and in 2002 a civil war erupted in the Ivory Coast. With Liberia still ablaze, Sony and her kids and friend were resettled by the UNHCR in Guinea. In a UNHCR refugee camp, Sony learnt soap making and launched a small handmade soap making business, which floundered for lack of funds.

    The thought of enduring such an ordeal scares us stiff: scenes of the insurmountable and the backbreaking. But, like untold numbers of visually impaired women in war-affected zones, Sony is determined to bury the past, bring up her young children, look after her bed-ridden husband, and snatch happiness out of the tantalizing Jaws of Life.
    How UNAB’s Income Generation Program has Changed the Lives of Blind Women in Uganda
    Francis Candiru –Uganda National Association of the Blind, (Excerpted from Women’s Voices Summer 2009)
    Agriculture is the backbone of life in Uganda. UNAB with support from NABP (2008/2009 budget) started a simple income generating project for the blind women by donating female goats to female members of the district association living in the grass roots. The project was directly implemented by UNAB’s women committee.

    32 blind women have so far received goats from UNAB under this project. The main target groups are single blind mothers, out of school girls and those who lost sight at adulthood.

    NABP provided funds to UNAB to the tune of 8000 USD for implementation. Members of women committee in 2008 purchased and donated goats to 32 blind women and in 2009, the women committee also purchased more goats and donated to at least 15 blind women.

    To give flavour to the project, 5 branch chairpersons of UNAB branches who are male were also given the opportunity to implement the project for another 15 blind women. This was to address the issue of gender relations among the blind; therefore increasing the number to 62 blind women.

    Further, the committee also supported a construction project for one blind woman from Luweero district meant for a retail shop, poultry and district association of the blind committee meeting venue.

    Despite the challenge to monitor the 60 women, costly as it is, despite goat diseases that might lead to the death of some goats, the project holds great potential. In its budding stage, the project has made blind women to earn respect in community and 2 blind girls who were out of school managed to return and continue with learning because they were able to pay school fees to sit for their final exams.
    Disability is not Inability: Aminul Finds His Destiny
    By Ishaque Mia, Coordinator, DPO
    Mr. Aminul Islam (36) has a very impressive voice. But his parents failed to identify this potential until a long time after his birth on 16 September, 1972. His father and mother are proud parents of 9 children. Aminul is the third oldest. The family lives in the village of Mahamudpur of Satkhira Sadar Sub-District and Satkhira District, a disaster prone area of Bangladesh.

    Basically, Aminul’s family is traditionally a poor family. Supporting nine children increases their financial burden. As Aminul is a visually impaired person, his father realized that the family needed more money to spend on Aminul’s education. At the age of 6 years old, Aminul was admitted to the Bankal Integrated Blind Education Programme in Satkhira and continued up to class five. The enemy limiting his education was poverty. At the age of 22, he started the most fundamental job in Satkhira, carrying smuggled sugar from the India border to Satkhira market. But, he did not continue this job for long. After this, he started to sell peanuts on the street corner. His business soon evolved from selling peanuts to puffed rice, chocolate, newspapers, etc. But poverty still remains his enemy. He tried hard to reach his goal of solvency.

    At the beginning of 2000, his organization ‘Protibandhi Punourbashon Kallyan Somity (PPKS)’ started its activities in Satkhira, and Aminul was requested to announce the programmes of PPKS. Several times Aminul announced the programme as PPKS requested him. Aminul discovered that he was very comfortable with this type of job. His sweet and attractive voice impressed the business owners. Gradually, Aminul was invited by different business owners to announce their products and services. He especially loves the cinema announcements. Aminul realized that he finally found his destiny. Still today, he announces the programmes of different business and government organizations. He also has announcement experiences of the rice collection initiatives of the food department of the government. He feels proud that he could be a part of the government initiatives.

    In May 2009, Aminul was declared the ‘best announcer’ of Satkhira District at Satkhira District Congregation of persons with disabilities. From then, he is receiving more offers for announcement from the business owners. It was known from the Freedom Fighters Council that, their announcement is only done by Aminul Islam. The council thinks that, Aminul Islam is very fit for this job and offered Aminul a permanent position. But he refused the offer. He prefers to serve the greater people in his community. To do this, he received a loan of taka 18,000 from his organization, PPKS and purchased two sound systems. One he uses for his announcements and the other he rents out to other people. Now he earns sufficient amount of money to support his family and he is saving to cover his future plans.

    Personally, he is the father of two children and both of them are studying in class five. He wants to ensure higher education of his children. Professionally, Aminul wants to set up a sound system and announcement shop in Divisional City Khulna.
    Pacific Disability Forum Conference April 2009 Vanuatu
    By Dr. Kevin Murfitt
    The Pacific Disability Forum (PDF), which is the peak body representing organisations of persons with disabilities in the Pacific region was established in 2004, and its current membership consists of approximately 34 member organisations.

    The 2009 conference was attended by approximately 70 delegates and was preceded by a women’s forum, and followed by a general meeting of the PDF Council. On which I represent WBU-AP Pacific-Oceania.
    The women’s forum included the launch of a United Nations Development Program Pacific Centre 2009 report, entitled “Pacific sisters with disabilities: At the intersection of discrimination”. Other reports and discussion focused on the CRPD and the need for gender equity issues to be addressed.

    The two-day main conference was officially opened by His Excellency, Kalkot Mataskelekele, and President of the Republic of Vanuatu. The opening ceremony included a keynote address by Ms Maryanne Diamond, President of the World Blind Union. Maryanne focused on the lack of rights and disadvantages faced by women with disability, especially in developing countries, and Maryanne’s message to all was to ‘Go for it’ and work together to get our voices heard to attain those basic human rights now endorsed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with disability (CRPD) and other UN instruments.

    The theme of the PDF conference was “Advancing disability concerns in the Pacific Region”, and included presentations by national disabled persons organisations (DPOs), the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS), AusAID and NZAID, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Pacific Centre, WBU-AP Pacific-Oceania, ICEVI Pacific, and the Australian Human Rights Commission. Presentation topics included case studies on development in the Pacific, the implementation of the CRPD, the situation of women and girls in the Pacific, inclusive education, the rights-based approach to disability development and current regional development assistance for disability-related programs.

    The Pacific Regional Conference on Disability concluded with the production of a report containing 12 recommendations that were unanimously endorsed by PDF and the conference delegates. These recommendations are available at www.pacificdisability.org
    Establishment of Papua New Guinea Blind Union (PNG-BU) as full member of WBU
    By Dr. Kevin Murfitt
    In my last update, I reported that with the assistance of the Danish Association of the Blind and Vision Australia, PNG-BU held its first national general assembly and elected its first Board. Since that meeting, PNG-BU has held a Board meeting where they developed a strategic plan and identified member recruitment processes and proposed constitutional changes to be put to their next general meeting to improve the governance of PNG-BU. As Chair of WBU-AP Pacific-Oceania, I am visiting PNG in early October to assist the Board prepare for the next general meeting and to develop an application to WBU for PNG-BU to convert from Special Member status to Full Member status. We will first seek the endorsement of the President of WBU-AP, Mr Chuji Sashida, who will present the application to the WBU Officers and then the Executive Committee at its meeting in Australia in November 2010.
    The Opening Ceremony of a Training Course on Audio Information Skills for the Blind in Beijing, China
    The opening ceremony of a training course on audio information skills for the blind was held at Hongdandan Education and Culture Exchange Center (HECEC) in Beijing, China on August the 3rd, 2009. The project which brought significant technical renovation to HECEC was planned by Japan Braille Library in Tokyo (JBL) under the sponsorship of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The training contents are production of audio description for movies, production of talking magazine edited by Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) and training of reading volunteers.

    The ceremony began at 4 pm and about 50 participants attended including the officials of Beijing Government, reporters of TV and radio stations, blind persons and volunteers.

    As the director of HECEC, Mr. Zheng Xiaojie stressed that blind persons in China will be able to enrich their lives by enjoying movies and reading books in the near future. He also expressed his special gratitude to JICA, JBL, embassy of Japan in China, Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission and Beijing Disabled Persons' Federation for their great support.
    Celebrating Braille and Commemorating Braille in New Zealand
    Louis in Libraries
    Various public libraries all over New Zealand hosted Braille book and equipment displays, facilitated guest speaking opportunities where Braille readers interacted with the public.

    Capital City Botanic Gardens Sensation Walk Braille Trail
    Our Wellington Botanic Gardens are now featuring a permanent walk honouring Louis Braille and his code. This was launched on 26 May. The walk features plants interesting to senses other than vision, print and Braille signs containing numbers and plant names, and a brochure featuring those same numbers with more information about the plants. The brochure also contains Louis Braille facts themed (where possible) to the plants they accompany. Brochures are available in Braille as well as print.

    Parliamentary Event
    A “Braille is Knowledge” parliamentary event took place on 28 April, hosted by our Minister for Education. This event featured speakers who shared briefly how important Braille is in their lives. This was used as an opportunity to build networks around future lobbying for greater access to government and other public information.

    Local Celebratory Events
    In towns and cities all over New Zealand blind people organised an array of local community events in honour of Louis Braille and to promote the use of Braille to others in the blindness community who haven’t considered learning Braille as yet. One such event took place on 4 January, Braille’s actual birth date and this occasion consisted of a group of blind people getting together to enjoy French cuisine and piano entertainment by blind musicians.

    Another local event was arranged where international examples of best practice were show-cased to blind people as well as to commercial entities and agencies, working in areas such as Human Rights advocacy and disability equipment resourcing. Items viewed on display included Braille labelled wine from Australia and art examples from within New Zealand of Braille on sculptures and Braille biscuits (where chocolate buttons are placed onto biscuits in actual Braille cell formation). The latest refreshable Braille displays were available for a hands-on experience and it was great to have on display the EuroBraille, which was available for demonstration purposes for the first time in New Zealand. The Round Table on Information Access for Persons with Print Disabilities awarded to Ms Mary Schnackenberg a Lifetime Achievement Award and even this had Braille on! Clothing and jewellery with Braille on were show-cased to prove that Braille can be present on the "finer things of life" as well!

    At this occasion blind people shared their own Braille improvised tools and such an example was: a blind woman, working in the field of divination, bringing her Braille labelled Tarot and Angel cards along.

    Naming a Street
    A street or rather, lane, has been named after Louis Braille and is thus called, Louis Braille Lane. This lane is in an area of new development and will be close to a school (still to be built), so, the educational symbolism of this would also be appreciated. The street name is in print as well as in simulated Braille for the public to view an example of what Braille looks like.

    Radio Programme on Braille Music:
    A radio programme is planned for October on the value of Braille for blind musicians and information will be provided on where Braille music can be taught, availability of music printing resources, differences between Braille and print music, etc. Music by blind musicians will be featured.

    Braille in Taxis:
    Braille signage is now mandatory in New Zealand, so, on the inside of the front passenger door one can now find in Braille: the name of the taxi company, the particular taxi’s individual number and a contact phone number for follow-up purposes.

    By Colin Low, EBU President
    EBU is putting together a database which will show how the various articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are being implemented throughout Europe http://www.euroblind.org/convention/index.htm. This is the next phase of the work which came to fruition at EBU's 8th General Assembly in Antalya, Turkey, in October 2007 and will be of great utility in monitoring and lobbying for the rights of blind and partially sighted people. It is hoped that it can also serve as a model for the work of WBU's Human Rights and Advocacy Committee. So far information has been collected on employment and transport and the focus is now on education and copyright.

    In addition, EBU is undertaking a number of projects with funding from the European Commission:

     Case studies of the employment of visually impaired people in Italy, the Netherlands and Romania are being carried out to extend the work begun last year by Fred Reid and Philippa Simkiss under the title "The Hidden Majority" http://www.euroblind.org/fichiersGB/nl68.htm#T9

     Access to new technology and its impact on blind and partially sighted young people. Obstacles and recommendations for employment are being researched and the results fed into a capacity building seminar in Bratislava, Slovakia in November.

     A video is being produced to communicate the work of EBU.

     Intergen is a project which, again building on work begun at the 8th General Assembly, consists of a series of "intergenerational workshops" involving six partner organisations in France, Germany, Italy and Turkey, where visually impaired people of different generations come together with the assistance of professional trainers to share knowledge and skills. Young people teach their elders about ICT, while older people teach young people daily living skills such as cooking. The aim is to promote ideas of diversity, inclusion, empowerment and sustainable community life through a model of intergenerational solidarity and active ageing. The workshops have generated much enthusiasm as can be seen from the testimonials of participants posted on the project website www.intergenerations.eu. They have also helped to raise the profile of EBU and that of partner organisations amongst our grass-roots. The project ultimately aims to develop innovative guidelines which will also be made available on the website.

     “Languages” is another EU-FUNDED project involving partners from France, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Slovakia which is looking into how languages can be taught most effectively to visually impaired adults. The project will focus on learners in both mainstream and specialised settings and guidelines and recommendations for effective educational practice will be published.

    EBU has also submitted two substantial responses to European Commission consultations about ICT in which we have stressed the importance of accessibility and the need for legislation to guarantee this.

    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
    Dr. 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