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  • Jumat, 18 Desember 2009

    The World Blind Union Marks Twenty-Five Year Anniversary

    December 20, 2009 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the World Blind Union (WBU) – the internationally recognized voice of blind and partially sighted persons at the global level.

    The WBU was formed in 1984 through the union of the International Federation of the Blind (IFB) and the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind (WCWB). However, the WBU represents over a century of global co-operation on blindness issues - dating back to the first international conference on the subject in 1873 in Vienna.

    Through the leadership of the WBU and the development of its constitution, one of its achievements to date has been to provide a forum where blind and low vision people established the right to speak for themselves. While the prominence of organizations of the blind is clearly embedded in the WBU structures, the World Blind Union has also been able to embrace the partnership of both service and consumer organizations. While in 1984, about 60 countries were members of the WBU, today we have a representation of national member organizations in more than 170 countries.

    Since it was founded in 1984, the WBU has made significant progress towards its objectives of representation, capacity building and resource sharing. Some of the highlights include: leadership and organizational development training, particularly for organizations of the blind in developing countries; in all areas of its work. The following are some of the most outstanding achievements: organization of world forums on such topics as rehabilitation, braille literacy, human rights, blind women and blind children; advocacy in such areas as free postal service for materials for blind persons, the abolition of blinding laser weapons, the development and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities.

    These achievements over the past 25 years have laid the foundation for the continuation of our work in our three strategic priority areas of: representation, capacity building and resource sharing. Some of the specific objectives envisioned in the fulfilment of these priorities include: improving accessibility in the areas of reading materials, access to technology and safe and independent travel; representation of the needs of blind and partially sighted persons at the United Nations and its agencies; monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; building the capacity of organizations of the blind, particularly in developing countries; addressing the unemployment situation of blind persons around the world; addressing the particular needs of blind women, children, youth and elderly persons as well as those with low vision; establishing a resource bank on vision loss.

    In undertaking our initiatives and fulfilling the objectives, the World Blind Union remains committed to optimizing opportunities for cooperation and collaboration with UN Departments and Agencies with which we are involved and other international partners. We believe that our partnerships and opportunities for collaboration have been key to our success during the first 25 years of our organization and that they will be equally important as we move forward in changing what it means to be blind.

    For further information, contact:

    Dr. Penny Hartin
    Chief Executive Officer
    World Blind Union
    1929 Bayview Avenue
    Toronto Ontario Canada M4G 3E8
    Tel: 1 416 486 9698
    Fax: 1 416 486 8107
    Email: penny.hartin@wbuoffice.org
    Website: www.worldblindunion.org

    Jumat, 11 Desember 2009



    WIPO Treaty for the Blind and Other Print Disabled Persons 8
    Accessible Transport 8
    Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities 9
    Modernization of Postal Regime for ‘Literature For The Blind” 9
    Advocacy and Human Rights 9
    ON BBC RADIO 4 10
    Techshare India 2010 – Bridging the Barriers 12
    DAISY2009: Presentations of the International Technical Conference are Available On-line 13
    NOKIA Braille Reader Helps Blind Users Read Text Messages 13
    A French Edition of the Handbook of Civil Society is Now
    Available On-line 13
    Handicap International Publishes Handbook on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 14
    ILO Releases a Video on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities
    in the Workplace 14
    CEPR Publishes New Research to Substantiate Link between Disability and Poverty 14
    Commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 15
    Video on Changing Perceptions about Persons with Disabilities Published on the Web 16
    AFRICA 16
    Code on People with Disabilities Regulation Addresses
    Disabled People and their Rights 16
    AMIS is Available in Afrikaans Now 16
    World Sight/White Cane Day Advocacy Tool for UNAB 17
    ASIA 18
    Visually Impaired Women of Syria Speak Out 18
    Louis Braille Bicentenary in Central Asian Countries 19
    Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Conference
    2009 – We Can Change Attitudes Now 20
    Braille on Manly Beach in Australia 21
    The Implementation of the Education For All Initiative throughout the Pacific 22
    Intermediate ICT Training Courses were Established
    in Malaysia 22
    Japanese Braille Authorities Celebrated the Bicentennial
    of Louis Braille 23
    The First Barrier-Free Website of Blind Massage Industry 23
    EUROPE 23
    Debate in United Kingdom’s House of Lords Gives
    Prominence to Vision 2020 and World Sight Day 25
    Aircraft Accessibility: Two New Implementation Guides were Released for People with Disabilities 25
    ULAC 25
    Congratulations to Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes 25
    ULAC Launches ULAC DIGITAL 26
    Brazil Holds Seminar to Commemorate Birth of Louis Braille 26
    WBU STAFF 27

    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 Monday, January 4th 2010 for our January 2010 issue of the E-bulletin. We will accept submissions in English, French and Spanish, preferably in electronic format.

    As we reflect back over 2009, there is much to remember and be proud of. There is also a great deal of work being undertaken or to be undertaken before we close off the year.

    The celebration of Braille has been a very special focus of the year. Events to celebrate Louis Braille continue. With the re establishment of the World Braille Council, we have determined that the importance of Braille will continue into the years to follow.

    2009 also represents 25 years since the WBU was established, an opportunity to look back over our successes and how the world has changed over this period.

    Before the year ends there is still a great deal of work being undertaken within the WBU. The Officers will meet in Louisville Kentucky hosted by the American Printing House (APH), ICEVI executive will meet at CBM headquarters in Germany and we will be well represented in Geneva at the next WIPO meeting in support of our treaty under consideration. A number of our working groups will also meet during this time: the diversity committee, development committee, membership fee committee and the employment working group.

    The next issue will contain a grit deal of the outcomes of these meetings putting us in an excellent position to launch our 2010 program of work.

    As this will be the final issue for the year, I would like to thank those who make regular and interesting contributions to this publication.

    Best Wishes
    Maryanne Diamond

    Our members will remember that for several months in 2008 we had with us Uwe Hahnewald, a young volunteer from Germany who volunteered with us in the WBU office. After returning home to Germany for several months, Uwe has come back to Canada and is once again volunteering his services to us in the WBU office. Uwe is helping to edit the WBU E-bulletin and is assisting us with the new website design. Uwe can be reached at: uwe.hahnewald@wbuoffice.org.

    The World Blind Union (WBU) is pleased to announce and invite enrolment into a new Leadership curriculum through The Hadley School for the Blind.

    This master’s degree level curriculum is designed to inspire individuals who are blind to assume leadership positions in organizations, agencies and in corporate settings. It has resulted from the collective input of established leaders who are blind worldwide, support from the WBU and Hadley curriculum development and distance learning expertise.

    The Leadership I and II Curriculum will be available in January 2010 to eligible students who are blind or visually impaired and capable of studying in English at the master’s degree level. Proven ability to study at a graduate level is required to participate. In addition, as part of the program, students will be required to identify a mentor.

    The two courses will consist of 20 lessons. It is estimated that it will take a diligent student one year to complete the courses offered entirely online through distance education.

    This new Hadley curriculum is based upon the textbook, Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience, by Hughes, Ginnett and Curphy. A leadership advisory group is helping to enhance this learning experience for emerging leaders. It is made up of WBU leaders Maryanne Diamond and Dr. Penny Hartin; CEO’s Jim Fruchterman of The Benetech Initiative and Jim Kutsch of Seeing Eye, Inc.; and includes the disability policy expertise of Dr. James Nyman, Mr. Avraham Rabby, Urban Miyares of the Disabled Businesspersons Association and other established leaders. The program is also supported by a grant from the American Express Foundation.

    The WBU and Hadley invite you to consider this incredible opportunity to study management and leadership with a focus on how visual impairment and blindness may impact the ability to succeed. You are encouraged to enrol now for this free curriculum as class size will be limited.

    For more information, including eligibility, please contact Hadley’s Student Services Department at student_services@hadley.edu.

    At its meeting of members held in Turin, Italy in October, WBU President Maryanne Diamond was elected to the Board of Directors of the World Bank Global Program on Disability and Development (GPDD).

    The following excerpt from the GPDD introductory document describes the role and purpose of the GPDD:

    “Combating poverty and advancing the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals requires that people with disabilities be explicitly taken into account in national and international development efforts. The GPDD is a dynamic initiative to accelerate inclusion of people with disabilities and their families into development policies and practices in low-income countries. Built on the collaboration of diverse stakeholders, including low, middle, and high income countries, bilateral and multilateral donors, UN agencies, national and international NGOs, foundations, private sector firms, and other stakeholders, the basic idea behind the GPDD is to strengthen the relationships among these stakeholders to accelerate the integration of disability concerns into mainstream economic development efforts, improve the quality of economic policy-making in low-income countries with the inclusion of disability, increase the value of resources devoted to disability and development, and improve the efficiency with which resources are used, underpinned by rights based approaches to development.”

    The first meeting of the re-constituted World Braille Council (WBC) of the World Blind Union was held on November 5-6, 2009 at the ONCE School for the Blind, Madrid.

    The meeting was chaired by the leader of WBC, Mr. J.L. Kaul from India. The re-constituted Council has a truly international character. Thus, present at the first meeting were nominees of five of the six WBU Regional Unions, representatives from various leading international organizations—ICEVI, ICEB, RNIB, IFLA (LPD Section), Duxbury Systems, Braille Jymico (Canada) and ONCE, as also individuals from Norway and India with wide experience in the field.

    The President of the World Blind Union, Mrs. Maryanne Diamond; First Vice-President, WBU, Mr. Arnt Holte; and Secretary General, WBU, Mr. Enrique Perez representing ONCE, the Host organization, also participated in the meeting, bearing testimony to the crucial significance attached to it.

    In her opening remarks, the WBU President, while extending a warm welcome to all participants, stressed the fact that the meeting provided a special opportunity for sharing of ideas, experiences and knowledge and working together for achieving short-term and long-term goals relating to promotion and development of Braille across the world. She hoped that the Council would lay the ground work for need-based and practical advances in the field to reach an increasing number of users throughout the world.

    Introducing the agenda, the Chair of the meeting, Mr. Kaul, pointed to the fact that the meeting had a long and exhaustive list of business and he hoped that the collective wisdom of the participants would contribute significantly towards enabling the Council to become an effective and premier world body in respect of the usage production and teaching of Braille.

    For two days, the participants remained busy discussing in depth various items of the agenda. It was decided that the Council must have a realistic and coordinated approach and should seek to work in consonance with other players in the field and not in isolation. As a consequence, it was unanimously agreed that working groups/committees/individuals may be identified to carry forward the consensus emerging on different issues relating to the Council’s agenda. It was also agreed that there was an urgent need to strive in all sincerity to achieve maximum possible unification/uniformity in different Braille usages and symbols concerning numerals, computer Braille, punctuation marks and phonetic alphabets. There was also need to work out specifications relating to dot-configurations based on practical research with the help of user-responses. Work was also identified for exploring the present status regarding various Braille symbols used in divergent Mathematics and Science Braille codes and then to see if some common ground could emerge.

    The need for producing books in Braille at greatly accelerated speed was repeatedly emphasized, with particular reference to the situation of developing countries. For this purpose, it was agreed that a mechanism may be set in motion to create a data base of existing international Braille libraries and to pursue with increased vigor the WBU Copyright Treaty under consideration at WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR).

    Another important outcome of the Council’s deliberations was the formation of small groups to undertake collection and compilation of information on existing Braille Authorities across the world which would ultimately lead to the preparation of a suitable model to be commended to countries which do not, hitherto have such authorities. Similarly, a couple of members were assigned the responsibility of working out practical procedures for recommending guidelines to facilitate tactile representation of pictures and drawings. Another group was entrusted the task of preparing a bibliography of material currently available in various languages on such areas as Braille production, teaching of Braille including curriculum material and related research activities.

    Two other ground breaking decisions taken at the meeting were that the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) and the National Library Service (NLS) in US would work together for bringing out the 3rd edition of the World Braille Usage and that an International Conference on Braille would be convened in Germany in 2011 or early 2012.

    By A.K. Mittal
    WIPO Treaty for the Blind and Other Print Disabled Persons
    All roads seem to lead to Geneva, as it were, as far as the WBU Copyright Treaty for Blind and Print Disabled Persons is concerned. The Treaty is on the agenda of the 19th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Other Rights (SCCR) scheduled to take place in Geneva from 14th to 18th December, 2009. Our Strategic Objective Leader, Chris Friend, has been intensively engaged in promoting the Treaty with WIPO and world-wide.

    As reported in the previous issue of this Bulletin, our President, Maryanne Diamond, had a brief interaction with the WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry, in September at which she highlighted the special significance and relevance of the Treaty. Mr. Gurry was in New Delhi on a short visit this month and several blindness organizations of India took the opportunity of holding a meeting with him on November 11. The meeting was also attended by representatives of a number of leading publishing houses and the officials from the concerned Ministries in the Government of India. The main thrust of the event was to bring to WIPO's notice the needs of visually impaired persons in developing countries and to put forward support for the proposed Treaty. On this occasion a Note was handed over to the Director General highlighting the support of the visually impaired from India for the Treaty and possible areas of closer interaction with WIPO.

    Accessible Transport
    In consultation with WBU Toronto Office, Sue Sharp, Leader of our Transportation Initiative, has been invited to act as for role of volunteer expert to new WG of ISO TC173.—a good progress point for the Mobility and Transport Working Group. Sue is working to strengthen our working relationship with the International Guide Dog Federation. The first meeting has already been held and they are due to meet again shortly to progress that activity.

    Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD) of the World Bank and the International Transport Forum are convening a workshop at the World Bank Headquarters, Washington on January 14, 2010. The workshop will focus on the role of innovation in promoting effective solutions to meeting the mobility and transport needs of disabled and older people in both developed and less developed economies.

    Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities
    The second session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was held in Geneva on 19th -23rd October. At this second session, after deadlock over the appointment of a Chair, Prof. Ron McCallum emerged as a consensus candidate. He will take over as Chair in February 2010 for one year. An open session lasting a day and devoted to Art 12 on Legal Capacity was an important part of the deliberations.

    Some important figures about UNCRPD: Signed--143; Optional Protocol--87; Ratified--72; Optional Protocol--45.

    Modernization of Postal Regime for ‘Literature For The Blind”
    Lord Colin Low has attended meetings of the UPU Consultative Committee in Berne and is actively following up the matter.
    Advocacy and Human Rights
    As was indicated in the last issue, the WBU Advocacy and Human Rights Committee held a meeting in London in August this year.

    The WBU Office has since received a communication from Larry Campbell, President, ICEVI, indicating that UNESCO is believed to be convening a High-Level meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in February 2010 to consider various aspects of the Global Education For All in pursuance of the corresponding Millennium Development Goal of providing full access to primary education by 2015. However, neither the EFA objective nor any of the MDG’s addressed persons with disabilities.

    Therefore, WBU Toronto Office addressed communications to all members urging them to write to UNESCO as well as their regional or national UNESCO representatives, to request that children with disabilities be invariably added to the agenda of this High Level meeting.

    One of the important decisions taken by the World Braille Council (WBC) of the World Blind Union at its first meeting held in Madrid on November 5-6, 2009, was that WBC will undertake to put together a current bibliography of available materials pertaining to the following areas:
    1. Braille Production
    2. Teaching of Braille:
    a. Philosophy and methodology
    b. Curriculum materials
    3. Specific research activities completed in the above areas

    With regard to teaching of Braille, we are looking for materials primarily concerning the following groups:
    1. Young blind children
    2. Lately blinded adults
    3. Multi-disabled blind children

    If you are aware of any institutions/organizations/universities that might produce or collect such materials, please forward any contact information by e-mail to Peter Brass at pbrass@t-online.de

    A short documentary was broadcasted by BBC radio 4 on Maestro Rodrigo, a Spanish blind composer. The World Blind Union appreciates this resource as another valuable contribution to the celebration of the Louis Braille's Bicentenary year. Our Secretary General, Enrique Pérez contributed to this interview and opened the door for future WBU collaboration with the BBC.

    To listen to the documentary please click on the following link:

    By Larry Campbell, President ICEVI

    I am happy to have this opportunity to bring all WBU affiliates up-to-date on the “Global Campaign on Education for All Children with Visual Impairment” which ICEVI launched in 2006 in partnership with WBU.

    At present National Task Forces have been formed and campaign activity is being implemented the following 12 focus countries in five of ICEVI’s seven regions:

     Africa: Ethiopia and Mozambique
     East Asia: Vietnam and China
     Latin America: Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic
     Pacific: Fiji
     West Asia: Nepal and Pakistan

    In recent months ICEVI and WBU have been working together the global level to advocate on behalf of children with visual impairment at UNESCO and at the World Bank. UNESCO's Flagship Secretariat on Inclusion invited ICEVI and WBU to make a presentation on the campaign at its meeting held in Paris in September where Penny Hartin, M.N.G. Mani (Secretary General, ICEVI) and I made a joint presentation on how the campaign is being implemented. Both ICEVI and WBU are concerned that education for children with disabilities is not getting the attention it needs and deserves within national programs of EFA. To that end we are urging our members to advocate with their own governments to see that the needs of children with disabilities are included in their national EFA plans and to request that the needs of children with disabilities be given special attention at the upcoming UNESCO High Level Meeting on Education for All to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in February, 2010.

    While in Paris, we also met with the French member organizations of the Francophone Blind Union (UFA) to share information and look for opportunities for collaboration. We were most encouraged by our discussions with UFA and feel that future collaboration between the Global Campaign and UFA holds great promise for the development of the EFA-VI program in Francophone Africa. Francoise Madray-Lesigne, President of UFA, will attend the EFA-VI Global Task Force meeting in Bensheim, Germany in early December.

    In early October, Penny Hartin and I went to Washington, DC to meet with Bob Prouty, Acting Director of the EFA Fast Track Initiative at the World Bank. We discussed the issue of accessible textbooks, getting governments to ask for support to include children with disabilities into their general Education For All program, and the mechanism to collaborate with the World Bank for expanding the EFA-VI Global Campaign. We were encouraged by the reception we received and we are now in the process of following-up on these matters and will keep you posted on progress that is being made in these areas.

    We hope that many WBU members, particularly those involved in the area of education, will join us for the 13th World Conference and General Assembly of ICEVI to be held in Jomtien, Thailand, August 9-13, 2010. For more information visit the ICEVI website at www.icevi.org.

    Techshare India 2010 – Bridging the Barriers
    Barrierbreak Technologies is organizing an exhibition called Techshare India. The event will take place at the India Habitat Center, New Delhi, 15-16 February 2010.

    Techshare is a series of international events which highlight the importance of digital technology in the lives of people with disabilities. Technology professionals will meet to share experiences, products and research in the field of digital assistive technology.

    The main issues are:
     Strategies for inclusive growth
     Empowerment for all
     Unlocking the potential of technology

    For further information on the exhibition please email:

    DAISY2009: Presentations of the International Technical Conference are Available On-line
    The International Technical Conference took place on September 24 and 25 during the DAISY2009 meeting in Leipzig. About 160 experts from all over the world participated in this event. Topics of the two conference days were the technical backgrounds for further development and future possibilities of DAISY technologies and standards which where analyzed in workshops, presentations and discussions.

    The abstracts of the DAISY International Technical Conference as well as its programmes and presentations are available online at: www.daisy2009.de/en/programme/international-technical-conference.html

    NOKIA Braille Reader Helps Blind Users Read Text Messages
    A recent post on unwiredview.com announced Nokia’s release of a new beta application which will allow blind users to read SMS on selected Nokia touch-screen cellular phones. Called Nokia Braille Reader, the application, which uses the Braille alphabet and leverages tactile feedback, is only compatible with certain Nokia models. The Nokia Braille Reader is available as a free download from Nokia Beta Labs via the Nokia Beta Labs Blog.
    More information can be viewed at:

    A French Edition of the Handbook of Civil Society is Now Available On-line
    The Civil Society Unit drafted the fourth language edition, in French, of the complete guide called “Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme / A Handbook for Civil Society”. The home page of the OHCHR website dealing with the Handbook is:

    It is also available in other languages in PDF format at the following websites:

    Arabic: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/ngohandbook_ar.pdf

    English: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/CivilSociety/Documents/Handbook_en.pdf

    French: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/AboutUs/CivilSociety/OHCHR_Handbook_Fr.pdf

    Russian: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/ngohandbook_ru.pdf

    Spanish and Chinese versions of the Handbook will be available in the coming months. Print copies of the reports may be obtained from publications@ohchr.org.

    Handicap International Publishes Handbook on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
    A Manual entitled "Understanding the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities" was published by Handicap International (HI). You can find the handbook in PDF and Word formats at: www.makingitwork-crpd.org/resource-library/crpd/

    ILO Releases a Video on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the Workplace
    The United Nations’ International Labour Organization has released a video titled “Count us in” which portrays the reality of discrimination and poverty in the lives of people with disabilities without access to education and employment.

    To view in English only, go to: http://www.ilo.int/public/english/disability/countusin/film.html

    CEPR Publishes New Research to Substantiate Link between Disability and Poverty
    A Report titled “Half in Ten” substantiating the link between disability and poverty was published in September 2009. It employs newer, sophisticated data sources and defines disability in a way more consistent with the modern consensus.

    The Research indicates the following main points:
    Almost half of working-age adults who experience income poverty for at least a 12-month period have one or more disabilities.

    Nearly two-thirds of working-age adults who experience consistent income poverty for more than 36 months of income poverty during a 48-month period have one or more disabilities.

    Male household heads reaching their mid-50s have a 53 percent chance of having been disabled at least once and a 19 percent chance of having begun a chronic and severe disability.

    People with disabilities are much more likely to experience various forms of material hardship - including food insecurity, not getting needed medical or dental care, and not being able to pay rent, mortgage, and utility bills-than people without disabilities.

    Measures of income poverty that fail to take disability into account likely underestimate the income people with disabilities need to meet basic needs.

    These new findings suggest that any serious attempt at an agenda to reduce income poverty must take disability into account as both a cause and consequence of poverty.

    The entire Report can be read at: http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/poverty-disability-2009-09.pdf

    Commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities
    The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) will be commemorated on 3 December. The theme for this year promotes the empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities through the MDG’s (Millennium Development Goals). The Day provides an opportunity to mobilize action to achieve the primary goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities. Include! Organize! Celebrate! Take Action! If you are commemorating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in your community and would like to share an innovative idea that includes other stakeholders, such as your Government, a UN agency, an NGO/DPO or a community, please let us know about it. We will showcase the idea on our website to inform and inspire others. Find out more at:

    Video on Changing Perceptions about Persons with Disabilities Published on the Web
    The UN Department of Public information (UNDPI) in collaboration with DESA (Department Economic and Social Affairs) has produced a brief video as a part of its 21st Century Programme that will be distributed to broadcasters such as CNN World Report. The focus of the video is to help address stigma and discrimination of persons with disabilities. It presents highlights of the lives of two persons with disabilities in Hong Kong and shows that, when given equal access to education, employment, transportation and proper healthcare, persons with disabilities can live their lives fully just like everyone else: studying, working, travelling, having relationships, starting families of their own and enjoying family life.

    Watch the video at:
    (Programme #34)

    Code on People with Disabilities Regulation Addresses Disabled People and their Rights
    The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has implemented legislation, which is referred to as the Code on People with Disabilities Regulation, which addresses disabled consumers and their rights as they relate to communications. As noted by ICASA, these regulations prescribe a Code on People with Disabilities with regard to the provision of services and products by all licensees who are licensed in terms of the Electronic Communications Act, 2005. The Code addresses items such as accessibility of services to disabled people and avoidance of stereotyped images of disabled people within broadcasting content.

    AMIS is Available in Afrikaans Now
    The Adaptive Multimedia Information System, referred to as ‘AMIS’, is a free, open-source software application which is used to read DAISY books. AMIS which is self-voicing does not require any specialised screen-reading software. The DAISY Consortium has recently announced that AMIS is now also available in Afrikaans.

    You can download it on the AMIS project page at:

    World Sight/White Cane Day Advocacy Tool for UNAB
    By Candiru Frances, Chairperson UNAB/Second Vice-President WBU

    The International World Sight and White cane day was jointly organized by Uganda National Association of the Blind (UNAB) and Ministry of Health this year. The activities of the two events started by provision of eye services, from 5th through 15th October, 2009. The World Sight day was celebrated in Kampala at Sheraton Gardens. It was launched by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Uganda. Other activities of the day included: eye check up, provision of eye glasses, exhibition of different items like eye glasses, magnifying glasses, Braille Materials, Braille note takers, adaptable technology and others. This was accompanied by Music interlude from Children with Visual Impairment of Salaama School for the Blind. All these activities were crowned when I handed over a Meritorious Award, a T-shirt and a cap to His Excellency the President on behalf of UNAB. The Celebrations of 15th October was then moved to Fort Portal, Kabarole District, in Western Uganda. The aim was to create awareness about the importance of the White cane among the Community in that region. The day attracted 155 Blind and Partially Sighted people, 65 persons with other Disabilities and about 900 able-bodied people. The day was animated by marching through the town by the Visually Impaired people, invited guests, well wisher and the chief walker of the day, the District L.C 5 Chairman. The marching was later followed by a number of speeches from many Dignitaries who joined the Celebrations. The Boma ground was full and the air was filled with entertainments like Music, Dance and drama from different groups of people. Finally Goal Ball was played by blind people from Arua and Kabarole Districts respectively, where Arua emerged the winner of the day and went away with the Trophy for the third time in three years. For the first time the biggest success of the white cane day is that the meritorious award is hanged in the guest house of the President for everybody to see. This will go a long way to sell Uganda National Association of the Blind (UNAB) in many countries since this guest house is accessed by people from different countries.

    All in all, the goal of the day was achieved because the mobilization of the community was as expected, the number of visually impaired that turned up was great, the poems recited, songs sang by children from Sir Canon Apollo School for the Blind was very inspiring to everyone. Above all, Goal Ball which was a new game in this community sent a very encouraging message to the people, about sporting with visual impairment. Hence, the awareness Campaign was successfully done.

    Appreciation goes to Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted, Standard Chartered Bank, Sight Savers International, Lion’s Aid Norway, and the Government of the Republic of Uganda through Ministry of Health for their support towards the success of the two events. Bravo to Uganda National Association of the Blind for taking the lead in the organization of the day!

    Visually Impaired Women of Syria Speak Out
    The Women’s Committee of Asian Blind Union conducted a two day legal literacy seminar for visually impaired women of Syria. Nearly forty blind and partially sighted women from various parts of the country took part in it. Legal matters pertaining to marriage, property, divorce, adoption, the Syrian law relating to persons with special needs and other relevant issues were comprehensively discussed.

    A number of recommendations were emerged which the participants wanted to be implemented at various levels:
     Sensitizing the visually impaired women regarding their rights and responsibilities in family, society and at workplace with a view to ensure equal opportunities for them
     Using media to raise awareness regarding the capabilities of visually impaired women
     Preparing a national plan with the purpose of ensuring non-discrimination in favour of visually impaired women in all the laws and other legal provisions of the country
     Establishing a common platform to voice the concerns of blind and partially sighted women
     Ensuring adequate representation of blind women in organizations of the blind as well as in mainstream women’s movement
     To include visually impaired women in mainstream employment sector and provide incentives to those employers who encourage the employment of such women.

    Louis Braille Bicentenary in Central Asian Countries
    A number of ABU member countries in the Central Asian sub-region are faced with multiple issues relating to availability of Braille materials, specially books and equipments and the lack of up gradation of Braille printing technology. Some countries also have the problem of non-standardization of Braille codes.

    In view of these, 2009 became a year of dual significance for these countries. On the one hand, it was the time to celebrate the life and achievements of Louis Braille and pay befitting tributes to him. At the same time it provided them with an opportunity for the organizations of the blind in these countries to forcefully put forward their concerns relating to Braille before the designated authorities in the country.

    News of Louis Braille functions has come from Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. In Turkmenistan, the Turkmen Society of Deaf and Blind held Braille awareness seminars throughout the country covering 300 visually impaired persons. Participants were informed about the life and achievements of Louis Braille as well as about the significance of Braille in the lives of the blind. Issues relating to promotion of Braille literacy were also discussed and information was given about various global events planned or held to commemorate the Louis Braille bi-centenary.

    Twenty nine visually impaired persons across the country completed elementary rehabilitation, including reading and writing of Braille. These rehabilitation courses were run by the visually impaired trainers who had previously completed the training of trainers to further conduct similar trainings in their respective areas. Also, the central office of the Turkmen Deaf and Blind Society plans to conduct the Braille essay competition in national language among the Braille users on the occasion of the International Day of Disabled Persons.

    In Tajikistan, the Tajik Association of the blind undertook a number of initiatives to mark Louis Braille bi-centenary. A three member committee, with participation of persons from different walks of life was constituted. Through the radio and television, people at large were made aware of the life of Louis Braille and how his invention had opened for the blind doors of knowledge and empowerment. The Association also held a conference at its boarding school for visually impaired persons in Ghissar area. It also upgraded its Braille printing unit and has started printing books for school children. With assistance from the Embassy of Japan, Tajik Association of the Blind has already completed the Braille transcription of text books up to class 7 in the humanities stream.

    It had also requested the Ministry of Education of Tajikistan to commemorate the Louis Braille bi-centenary in a befitting manner by releasing a coin and a stamp. The Ministry was also requested to promote the use of Braille and production of Braille materials in Tajikistan. But so far the response from the Ministry has not been encouraging.

    Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Conference 2009 – We Can Change Attitudes Now
    By Martine Able, Chair WBU-AP Women’s Committee

    Over the weekend of 9-11 October, in Auckland, this conference focussed on how we as blind and vision impaired persons can change the attitudes of others in the commercial sector, local and central government and the general public with regards to the abilities of people with disabilities. Changing one’s own attitudes around blindness, service provision, possibilities with regards to advocacy efforts, employment, etc., was also touched upon.

    Keynote and guest speakers addressing conference included Rosslyn Noonan -NZ’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Maryanne Diamond –President of the WBU, our Associate Minister for Disability, the opposition party’s spokesperson on Disability, and the Mayor of Manukau City, the region we met in.

    A panel discussion was facilitated around attitudes and the UNCRPD (United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) in NZ and specifics were raised around the fact that websites in the public domain are still not accessible and whether legislation re this should be advocated for, as is the case with regards to public buildings.

    Aspects such as reasonable accommodation and undue hardship were discussed in the light of the new NZ’s legislation, allowing small and medium sized businesses to fire a person following 90 days of employment without providing a reason; many disabled people feel quite threatened by this latest employment law item.

    Our 10th year of hosting leadership seminars directly prior to Conference was celebrated and this was also the third year that we facilitated an advocacy workshop directly following the Conference, so our suite of capacity building opportunities is expanding into more than one area.

    Various remits and resolutions were also dealt with in our business section of the conference in areas including:
     Whether clients should pay for library services provided by the RNZFB (Royal NZ Foundation of the Blind), NZ’s only blindness service provider,
     The Association creating a Hall of Honour to recognise past contributions by blind and sighted persons in a blindness related field,
     Increasing accessible banking services,
     Progressing audio described television in a timely fashion,
     Enhancing accessible voting at local and central government level, as blind persons are still not able to vote in a private, confidential and independent manner.

    Awards were presented to branches and individuals with regards to leadership development, membership growth and one such an award, The Extra Touch Award, was presented to The Aotearoa People’s Network (a government funded agency that works in the area of enhancing internet access to public library computer terminals), for they installed NVDA (Non-visual Data Access) software country-wide so that blind and vision impaired persons can access the internet from within public local libraries, thus have screen reader and magnification access.
    Braille on Manly Beach in Australia
    Braille on Manly Beach was a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille with a truly Australian flavour. We want to spread the word that Braille rocks!

    After 18 months of planning, Braille on Manly Beach became a happening thing on Sunday September 20 as part of the Manly Arts Festival. Teams of volunteers coordinated by artist Anne Walton and under the expert guidance of sand sculptor Dennis Massoud worked enthusiastically to make a giant Braille message in the sand of Manly's West Esplanade harbour-side beach. The teams that had been recruited prior to the event were joined by dozens of beach-going locals and tourists of all ages who pitched in to shovel sand and carry buckets of water. The shovelling and water-carrying process took about 6 hours to complete the entire message which consisted of 23 dots... Each dot was 1 metre in diameter and 0.5 metres high. The message said: “Braille rocks”

    The Implementation of the Education For All Initiative throughout the Pacific
    By Kevin Murfitt, Chair WBU-AP Pacific-Oceania

    A very successful forum was recently held in Fiji for parents of children who are blind or have low vision. This forum brought many parents from remote areas of Fiji together for the first time where they exchanged stories and ideas about getting their children access to education. In particular, parents were connected with community rehabilitation workers that were responsible for their regions and gained key contacts and confidence to assist their children. A national parent body was established which is a direct outcome of the efforts and commitment from Fiji and people like Paul Manning from NZ and Frances Gentle, Chair ICEVI Pacific, in implementing the EFA campaign.

    Intermediate ICT Training Courses were Established in Malaysia
    Two new Intermediate ICT training courses were conducted at Saint Nicholas's Home in Penang, Malaysia in August. Nine participants enrolled in the first course. The second class contained eight participants. Many of them were former recipients of the JBL ICT scholarship, which covered more basic skills in ICT. The intermediate courses dealt with subjects like OCR, open source accessible software on the Internet, Ubuntu Linux or programming with C, and even Apple Macintosh. The participants were asked their active participation in presenting their work situations, suggestions for designing some of the syllabus, etc. All students gave a positive feedback, which indicates that the training program was a success.

    Japanese Braille Authorities Celebrated the Bicentennial of Louis Braille
    Braille authorities in Japan organized the Braille Big Event on October 31 and November 1, in commemoration of Louis Braille bicentennial and the 150th birthday of Kuraji Ishikawa, the founder of Braille in Japan. The Event contained a Braille Essay Contest among primary school students and sighted primary school students. In addition, a Braille reading and writing competition was part of the celebration programme. Two lectures were presented by a Braille authority and another prominent novelist. Many donations like Braille paper, styluses and slates, English picture books with Braille and tactile pictures were made to developing countries in Asia and Africa.

    The First Barrier-Free Website of Blind Massage Industry
    The Blind Massage International Website was launched on Oct 15th, 2009, jointly by the Beijing Massage Administration Center and the Hunan Yeahcome Health Care Co. Ltd., under the proposal of the WBUAP Regional Massage Commission. The Website has English and Mandarin-Chinese versions, and 3 formats for accessibility, for common use, for the use by the blind, and for low vision viewers. The website presents rich contents including papers from international conferences such as WBU-AP massage seminar, as well as articles from professional publications all over the world. Visit the website rich in information at: www.blindmassageintl.com

    By Colin Low

    EBU has received a "Golden Stars" Award from the European Union for its "Citizens' Europe for All, Disabled People on the Move" initiative. The initiative took the form of a conference held in Dublin, Ireland, in May which culminated in the Dublin Declaration "A Europe for All Blind and Partially Sighted Citizens" which proclaims the main elements of EBU policy.

    At its last meeting in Leipzig, Germany, the Board held a joint meeting with the DAISY Board which also issued a joint declaration endorsing a range of measures designed to make information more available to blind and partially sighted people.

    The conference organised by the French Federation of the Blind to mark the bicentenary of Louis Braille's birth held at Coupvray, Braille's birthplace near Paris last June also resulted in a Charter to promote the availability of Braille, education, employment, access to technical aids and culture, etc. At the banquet to mark the end of the conference, the Arne Husveg Award for outstanding service to the EBU was presented to Poul Luneborg of Denmark, former President of the Danish Association of the Blind and now one of the representatives of the Danish government on the important Economic and Social Committee of the European Union.

    EBU has now run the European strand of the Onkyo Braille Essay Contest, sponsored by the Onkyo and Mainichi newspaper corporations of Japan, for a third year. 59 essays on the theme "Braille literacy changes my way of life" from contestants ranging in age from 8 to 72 in 17 countries went forward to the judges and the high standard of previous years was well maintained. One "Excellent Works" and two "Fine Works" prizes were awarded in under and over 25 age categories, as well as a prize for the overall winner, Norberto Inácio de Sousa, aged 29, from Portugal. In view of the overall standard, 15 more essays were highly commended by the judges and their authors will receive a certificate and have their essays published on EBU's website along with those of the prize-winners.

    EBU has prepared a position paper on European Commission proposals for an Equal Treatment Directive to ban discrimination in areas other than employment, which is already covered. We have also prepared a strong critique of Swedish Presidency proposals for the final shape of the Directive.

    We issued a press release for White Cane Day on 15 October which drew attention to the dangers posed by shared space streets and silent cars, and the President also attended a reception to mark White Cane Day held for the Polish Association of the Blind in the Presidential Palace in Warsaw.

    Debate in United Kingdom’s House of Lords Gives Prominence to Vision 2020 and World Sight Day
    On November 4th, the House of Lords in the United Kingdom held an historic debate about the importance of Vision 2020 and the issues facing blind and partially sighted in the UK and the developing world. The debate was led by Lord Nigel Crisp, Chair of Sightsavers International who spoke about Vision 2020, the importance of bringing eye, education and training to the millions of blind persons in the developing world. In his intervention in the debate, Lord Colin Low supported the points raised by Lord Crisp and also emphasized the importance of the Education for All and Right to Read campaigns. For a complete transcript of the debate, please contact the WBU office and we will be pleased to send it to you.

    Aircraft Accessibility: Two New Implementation Guides were Released for People with Disabilities
    The Canadian Transportation Agency has produced two implementation guides to help air carriers meet the objectives of two provisions in the Code of Practice: Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities. In addition, the guides provide important information for passengers with disabilities, including those with visual, hearing or mobility impairments.

    The following two aspects of the guides are relevant for blind or visually impaired travelers:
    1. Carriers have to ensure that there is sufficient space aboard the aircrafts for service dogs
    2. The installation of tactile row markers inside the aircrafts are strongly recommended

    The guides were released on September 1, 2009, and are available on the website at http://www.cta-otc.gc.ca/doc.php?did=2248&lang=eng

    Congratulations to Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes
    On Monday September 7th, the Chilean Senate, through its Presidency delivered a distinction in which it stated: “We recognize the formidable professional contribution of Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, Lawyer, and Member of the Committee of Experts on the rights of persons with disabilities of the United Nations".

    Due to this award and distinction, the Senators announced their plan to create a Special Commission on Disability to be constituted after the presidential elections, with the objective of working on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

    ULAC has launched its new electronic newsletter, ULAC DIGITAL, which will be distributed every two months to members within the Latin America Region. The newsletter contains useful information about ULAC activities and events, information about programs offered by members as well as international news of interest. We congratulate ULAC on this excellent initiative.

    Brazil Holds Seminar to Commemorate Birth of Louis Braille
    On September 24 – 25th approximately 350 persons from all regions of Brazil, many organizations of and for the blind and other interested organizations attended a seminar organized by the newly constituted National Organization of the Blind of Brazil (ONCB). The seminar examined the history of Braille, the impact of technology, the importance of Braille education for literacy and looked to the future of Braille, as well as the future of the blind movement in the country.

    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

    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