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  • Minggu, 29 Mei 2011


    Message from the President
    By Maryanne Diamond

    I am pleased to introduce the 2010 annual report of the World Blind Union (WBU). This is the second report of the current term, 2008 – 2012.
    Our work is based on the strategic plan developed in 2008 which was reviewed during 2010 by the officers and executive committee refining it where necessary. The plan remains to be based around three priority areas: representation, capacity building and information sharing.

    This report outlines our work against these areas. In addition, to enable us to undertake the work in each of these priority areas, the plan contains one Enabling Priority.

    In reading the report, it is clear that we have made good progress in some areas; some level of progress made in other areas although there remains much to do in order to achieve our plan as set down at the start of the term.

    One area of our work which continues to make good progress taking a great deal of time and effort is our work with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) on a treaty for the blind and print disability community. During 2010, through our hard work the issue of access to information has been discussed at the highest levels at the international level with a highlight being a speech made at the WIPO General Assembly by Stevie Wander in support of our treaty. 2011 is a critical year for the negotiations and we are hopeful that governments around the world will come together and solve this problem. The ability to share alternate format published works from country to country opens up opportunities in education, employment and access to the community for millions of people who are blind or have low vision and will be a demonstration of implementing many articles contained in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

    As a result of a great deal of hard work in 2010, it is pleasing that in 2011 we will commence two projects with funds obtained from foundations. One is a Human Rights project in Africa and the other in Partnership with CNIB is to establish an employment resource bank.

    Our partnerships with a range of organisations have been very successful during 2010. We had presentations from a number of these at the executive meeting held in Melbourne during November. WBU chaired the Vision Alliance during 2010 and together with IAPB and ICEVI we have identified areas of work to undertake jointly. Our agreement to hold our next general assembly with ICEVI November 2012 in Bangkok is a very exciting opportunity for us and one which provides a huge information exchange and collaboration for those in the field of education and those with the lived experience of blindness and provision of rehabilitation services.

    I would like to thank the six Regional Presidents and 6 Table Officers for their leadership and hard work over the year. Particular thanks must go to our small but hard working staff: Penny Hartin, Ianina Rodriguez and Sarah Smith without whom we could not have achieved what we have in 2010. Sarah Smith was with us during 2010 as our Manager of Communications and Fund Development. Her contribution in the redevelopment of our webpage, communications and introductions of potential funding bodies was a huge contribution. I would like to thank Sarah for her contribution and wish her every success in her next endeavours.

    Special thanks must go to our sponsors and supporters who make it possible for us to undertake our work. There are huge, in-kind contributions at all levels provided to us which must be recognised and celebrated. These are drawn primarily from amongst our membership. We have begun to capture these contributions and is evident the generosity of our members without who we could not achieve our work.

    I look forward to continuing to work with all of our members and partners in 2011.

    We should celebrate and be proud of the great deal we have achieved. Of course, much more needs to be done to make the kind of change we are all working towards, in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted.

    Our Work

    The work of the WBU during 2010 has continued to be guided by our Strategic Plan which was developed in December 2008 and sets out our priorities and workplan for the 2009 to 2012 timeframe. The following pages discuss our Vision, Values and Priorities for the period as well as the work that has been undertaken so far in the advancement of those priorities. This report focuses primarily on initiatives undertaken at the global level. Our six WBU Regions also undertake a great deal of work within their regions to further these priorities and objectives. The specific Regions should be consulted directly for information about their regional initiatives and activities.

    Our Vision

    We have adopted a pyramid Vision structure which reflects our Vision of what we would hope to achieve within a twenty year timeframe as well as our Vision for this strategic planning cycle which is four years.

    Our long term, twenty year Vision is:

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

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

    1. That WBU is recognized as the authentic voice representing blind and partially sighted persons at the international level
    2. That our members at all levels have the capacity and capability to deliver their programs
    3. That the WBU is recognized as an international source of information in matters related to vision impairment

    Strategic Priority 1: Representation

    Strategic Priority Leaders: Ajai Kumar Mittal, Treasurer and
    William Rowland, Past President
    Promoting full participation and equal opportunities for blind and partially sighted persons in all aspects of social, economic, political and cultural life

    Working towards a world accessible to blind and partially sighted persons

    Specific initiatives have been developed in the areas of access to information, mobility & transportation and access to technology. A good deal of progress has been made in each of these areas under the leadership of Christopher Friend.

     The Right to Read Campaign, whose objective is to dramatically improve access to printed material for persons with a print disability has demanded a great deal of effort and has made good progress towards the achievement of a WIPO Treaty for the Visually Impaired. The WBU treaty was the topic of discussion during two SCCR (Standing Committee on Copyright & Related Rights) Committee meetings of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) during 2010, at which WBU members and partners played a significant role. Some good progress has been made to get countries “on board” but still there is much work to be done by our members at the international and national level. There is resistance from the publishing industry in some countries and three counter proposals to the Treaty have been put forward, which we do not believe will adequately resolve the “book famine” for blind and partially sighted persons. 2011 will be a critical year in advocating for our position for the Treaty for the Visually Impaired. In addition, several countries have now introduced Right to Read campaigns and have forged alliances to advance these.
     Some of the issues being undertaken by the mobility & transportation group include: the issue of silent cars, shared spaces, access to airline services. With respect to silent vehicles, some good progress has been made in achieving recognition of the safety issue imposed by silent vehicles: Advocacy work has been undertaken in several countries with several car manufacturers now recognizing the need for adaptations; Legislation regarding hybrid cars has been passed in some countries, notably the United States in late 2010; WBU wrote a letter to the international regulatory body dealing with the issue, calling for mandatory and consistent standards. Work has also been done working with an ISO committee on the redevelopment of Tactile Walking Surface Indicators; a new standard was agreed by the working group in 2010 and is now with ISO country delegates for voting. WBU members are advocating with their national representatives on the adoption of this new standard. The WBU and International Guide Dog Federation are continuing to look at ways to work together to resolve some of the mobility and transport issues that continue to face blind and partially sighted persons. An area of key concern is the continued problem that many blind persons still face when travelling alone on airlines and this will be the subject of continued work.
     The Technology working group has made some important progress in a number of areas: A good deal of effort has gone into making television and film accessible to blind and partially sighted persons through interventions with TV manufacturers and research work undertaken by RNIB and other working group members. This also includes working on sharing of international standards for accessible TV and film, standardization of audio description process. Techshare has now been expanded to other countries with Techshare India held in 2010 and plans for Techshare Africa as part of the African Forum in 2011. This is bringing technology closer to blind and partially sighted persons in developing countries. A good deal of work has been done with mobile telephone companies so that many more models are now fully accessible to blind and partially sighted persons, including the new Apple iphone and it ouch and iPad products. Other smartphones are now also incorporating accessibility features for ease of use including the ability to play talking books, use of GPS wayfinding, etc. The WBU Technology working group has been working with the Accessible Design Foundation of Japan and the WBU has designated a representative to the ISO (International Standards Organization) working group dealing with the accessible design of products

    Representing blind and partially sighted persons at the United Nations and UN Agencies

    The WBU has consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council and as such has the opportunity to participate in many sessions at the UN and its agencies. Some highlights of our participation over the past year include the following:

     The WBU was represented at both meetings of the CRPD monitoring committee that were held in 2010 and at the Conference of States/Parties held in New York regarding the CRPD implementation. We also submitted briefs to the CRPD Monitoring Committee General Day of Discussion which in 2010 focused on Accessibility.
     We participated in meetings with the World Health Organization regarding the Vision 2020 program and the finalization of the World Disability Report and the CBR Guidelines.
     The EBU President represented WBU at the Universal Postal Union (UPU) meetings to advance discussions regarding the modernization of the “free post for the blind” provision, which will be considered further during 2011 and which requires advocacy intervention by WBU members.
     Our work with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) is ongoing as we work towards agreement of a Treaty to improve access to the printed word for blind, partially sighted and other print disabled persons.
     The Chair of our Children’s network continues to be an active participant on the UNICEF NGO committee on disability and has been engaged in the process to reorganize NGO input into UNICEF.
     The WBU President continues to represent the WBU at the World Bank GPDD (Global Program on Disability & Development) and as a member of the GPDD Board.
     Discussions have been held with representatives from ILO in order to become more active with them and the WBU President attended the ILO General Assembly in Geneva in June 2010.

    Advocating for human rights of blind and partially sighted persons

    A Human Rights and Advocacy working group has been established and they met to develop their course of action. In addition, the WBU took steps to advocate on behalf of blind persons who are displaced in Northern Pakistan as a result of the conflict there, as well as on behalf of persons with albinism who are being killed in Tanzania. Other letters were written by the WBU President in support of particular advocacy issues being undertaken by members, at their request. In general, we have been disappointed with the response of UN and other international bodies to our interventions.

    As a result of several natural disasters that took place in 2010, some requests were made to WBU members to provide assistance to members in countries that were particularly affected. These included interventions related to the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile and the floods in Pakistan. As a consequence of the impact of these disasters, the WBU is developing a position statement on our response to situations of emergency and disaster in member countries and will work with other Vision Alliance members to develop an advocacy strategy to ensure that mainstream aid organizations are better equipped to meet the needs of blind and partially sighted persons affected by these disasters.

    Supporting our members to implement the CRPD at the national level

     As of January 20th 2011, 147 countries have signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 90 countries have ratified the Convention, 97 countries have signed the “Optional Protocol” and 60 countries have ratified the “Optional Protocol”. Now that more than 80 Countries have ratified the Convention, another 6 members were elected to the Committee in September 2010.
     We are in the final stages of preparing a CRPD toolkit for our members to assist them with the implementation and monitoring of the CRPD. This toolkit will provide specific information about the implications of the CRPD for blind and partially sighted persons and will also bring together a variety of resources from a number of other sources. In addition, a funding proposal has been accepted to do research on the availability of mainstream CRPD training resources in Africa. This project will get underway in the first half of 2011.
     We have begun the process of establishing Regional CRPD networks with National CRPD champions to support the work of our national members.

    Strategic Priority 2: Capacity Building

    Strategic Priority Leaders: Arnt Holte, 1st Vice President and Frances Candiru, 2nd Vice President

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

    Improving employment opportunities for blind and partially sighted persons

    Following the Employment Summit, held in London in June 2009 a working group met face to face and via telephone in order to elaborate a strategy for advancing this initiative to improve the employment situation of blind and partially sighted persons around the world. The four key initiatives agreed to were: the collection of case studies, the development of an employment resource bank, documentation for peer support/mentoring programs, and initiatives related to micro-enterprise/income generating projects. In addition, a major project proposal was developed regarding the establishment of the employment resource bank. This proposal was recently accepted by the funder and so this work will commence in 2011. We have begun collecting case studies and guidelines have been developed for the collection of case studies and resource bank materials, and some opportunities related to micro-enterprise/income generating projects have also been identified

    Developing the capacity of our members

    The Development Committee has been re-established with the participation of members from key international organizations involved in development work. A proposal to engage a development coordinator has been developed and submitted to a number of potential sources for support. Although funding has not as yet been received, the proposal has generated some interest and work on that is being pursued by the WBU office. The Development committee held a Development summit in Madrid in June of 2010 in order to further identify and articulate its plans for capacity building among our members. Some specific activities that have already taken place include: the development of a strategy for the distribution of 10,000 braille slates donated by the Italian Union of the Blind to developing countries and the development of a partnership with the Hadley School for the Blind to promote its free educational programs to blind students worldwide and the promotion of its newly established Executive Leadership Program for blind leaders.

    The Development Committee also oversaw the evaluation and approval of WBU scholarships from the Pedro Zurita Youth Fund, the Hermoine Grant Calhoun Scholarship Fund for Blind Women and the Arne Husveg Development Fund. In total they approved 10 scholarships for a total value of $7,650.

    Supporting our target populations for full inclusion

    A Diversity Committee has been established, which is supported by Networks representing each of the target groups of; women, children, youth, elderly persons, and persons with low vision. These networks have regional representation and are looking at ways to engage their target populations. A survey to determine the present target group composition of WBU members was developed and distributed to the WBU membership. The survey had some responses but the results are inconclusive to date. The Committee has begun planning of a Diversity Forum to be held prior to WBU General Assembly. Some particular initiatives undertaken by the networks include: the Elderly Working group is identifying resources to be placed on the WBU website that will document some best practices in working with the Elderly Blind; the Women’s network has launched an on-line discussion group; the Children’s network has been very active with UNICEF and in addition, is conducting a survey of Parents’ organizations around the world in order to establish a network of Parents Associations. With respect to Low Vision, we are developing a joint strategy with other Vision Alliance members who also have their own low vision committee structures and where we think collaboration will be beneficial.

    Strengthening of WBU World Braille Council

    The WBU World Braille Council has been reconstituted with representation from the major language groups with the WBU, from our Regions and from key stakeholder sectors. The WBU World Braille Council has now had two face to face meetings, and is led by Mr. J.L. Kaul from India. Some of the initiatives underway include the following:

     A number of working groups have been established to look into issues of uniform mathematical symbols and notations; language issues; tactile materials for educational purposes; to promote the establishment and support of national and regional Braille authorities; the development of a bibliography of Braille resource materials
     Materials are being gathered regarding the use of Braille on consumer products, etc., and the WBU has been represented at ISO Working groups dealing with the issue. Once standards are agreed, they will be placed on the WBU website
     The Library of Congress in the USA is working with ICEB (International Council on English Braille) to begin work on the release of the 3rd edition of “World Braille Usage”
     A major Conference, Braille 21, is being planned for September 27 – 30, 2011, hosted by The German Central Library for the Blind. the conference will be forward-looking and will focus on innovations in Braille.

    Strategic Priority 3: Information Sharing

    Strategic Priority Leader: Enrique Pérez, Secretary General
    Serving as an international information and resource centre on matters in respect of blind and partially sighted persons

    Developing a Resource Repository for members including website

    A good deal of work has been done to update the website and ensure materials are available in our three working languages. A new website structure has been designed and was launched in early 2011. Because of its more user-friendly platform, it will be easier to maintain it up to date and to use some of the Web 2.0 capabilities. The addition of a part-time Communications resource in early 2010 has also enabled us to enhance our communications to members and the general public. A priority is developing our Resource bank and the recently approved proposal related to the development of a resource bank for employment will enable us to commence this work.

    Developing international partnerships and collaboration

    Much work has been done to strengthen our partnerships and collaboration with other organizations. The Vision Alliance, which was established between the WBU, IAPB and ICEVI, has been holding regular meetings and has developed some interesting strategies for mutual collaboration. Vision Alliance was chaired by the WBU during 2010. WBU continues to be an active member of the International Disability Alliance and has participated in all of its meetings during 2010. IDA has become a strong network, well recognized within the UN system. We continue to work very cooperatively with ICEVI on the EFAVI campaign which has included attendance at all ICEVI Global Taskforce and Executive meetings. The Executives of WBU and ICEVI recently passed a joint resolution to advance the Education for All Campaign and in particular access to resources through the World Bank. A joint taskforce has now been established to further this work. We have also updated and signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with IBSA (International Blind Sports Association) to develop areas of cooperation and collaboration between the two organizations. We are also in discussion with the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) to explore ways of working together to improve mobility and transportation access for blind and partially sighted persons. We have developed some excellent collaboration with the Hadley School for the Blind which has recently been accepted as an International member of the WBU and the WBU President has been invited to serve on the Board of the AMD Alliance International.

    Developing the capacity to include our various language communities within the work of the WBU

    The languages working group is continuing to develop strategies for improving our ability to serve our multiple language groups within the WBU. Materials developed by WBU and intended for the website, the general public or for the full membership are now available in English, French and Spanish and correspondence is answered in the working language of choice. A volunteer from Jordan has also translated many of our documents into Arabic and these will be linked from the WBU website. In addition, the translation software being used by the office, while not suitable for external translations, does facilitates the translation process for internal documents. In 2010, a survey was conducted among similar international organizations – the responses which revealed that WBU provides more translation/language support than most others, and at least equal to any surveyed. The working group also agreed on a strategy to encourage translation as “payment in kind” service for non-financial members.

    Enabling Priority: Effective Organization

    Enabling Priority Leader: Maryanne Diamond, President
    Ensuring the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the WBU

    Working to expand the membership

    Eleven new membership applications have been approved since the General Assembly - 2 National, 6 International and 3 Associate members. More applications are pending. In addition, non-paying Associate members who have not responded to communications have been removed from the membership list. A new membership application form and information about membership for prospective members have been developed for the new website.

    Maintaining the membership

    There is ongoing communication with WBU members on a number of topics and the Regional Unions are engaged to facilitate communication as appropriate. The frequent communication has resulted in improved fees payments and better quality contact information.

    Coordinating the development of and reviewing WBU Policies and Position Papers

    A policies working group has been established which has categorized the policies, determined those that need review and updating and have been assigned for revision. A protocol related to policy papers was developed and approved by the WBU Executive; a number of new policy papers and position statements are in the development process; several internal policies, procedures and guidelines have also been developed to facilitate the work of WBU. All new and revised policies and procedures are translated and posted on the website.

    Overseeing WBU financial resources

    The Finance Committee has met on a regular basis to review financial statements and our position compared to the budget. The year 2010 was completed within the approved budget. A detailed operating budget was developed and approved for both 2009 and 2010. The Finance committee also reviews policies and procedures to ensure compliance with proper financial practices.

    The membership fees committee continued to meet to manage the implementation of the new membership fee structure that had been approved by the General Assembly in August of 2008. The committee streamlined the process for accepting and reviewing applications for fees relief with the result of continued improved payment of fees by members. A two year review of the membership fees structure revealed that the number of members paying fees and the amount of fees collected have increased and that flexibility within the structure has been able to address concerns raised by members at the time of implementing the new membership fee structure. This report was shared with the WBU Executive when then met in Melbourne in November 2010 who expressed their appreciation for the results of the analysis and their support for the new membership fees structure. Notwithstanding the improved results, some members continue to be non-financial, even after fees relief was approved and so ongoing follow-up by the committee and by Regional Presidents is required.

    Developing and implementing the Funding Strategy

    Building on the work begun in 2009 supported by the RNIB to develop WBU’s external fundraising potential, we were able to advance our fund development work in some important ways. In April of 2010 we engaged a Manager of Fund Development and Communications in our WBU office, which was able to bring more time, energy and excellent experience to build our fund development program. Proposals were updated, new proposals developed and a number of potential prospective donors identified. We were invited to submit several full proposals based on interest shown in the preliminary concept papers developed to promote specific projects. The most significant success was a success full proposal to the Trillium Foundation based in Toronto Canada, a proposal that was submitted as a collaboration with the CNIB and which will enable us to build the employment resource bank on our website. Another smaller proposal has been granted support by the Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundation and several other proposals are under consideration.

    We have expanded our Resource Generation Working Group which brings together some of the leaders in fundraising from a number of our member organizations, and updated our Fundraising Policy to clarify how WBU will approach fundraising; this updated policy was approved by the WBU Executive in November 2010.

    There is still much work to be done to develop our external sources of funding. While we are very grateful for the supplementary support provided by a number of our members, we believe that we are still too reliant on our members for our sustainability and must continue to investigate other opportunities for generating income. We believe that the steps we have taken will help to position us for future growth.

    Monitoring the effectiveness of the WBU operations to support its work

    The President worked closely with the CEO and office staff to monitor the performance and functioning of the office operations. This included regular email and Skype calls as well as face to face meetings whenever made possible by travel schedules. The President also provided regular updates to the Officers, and held face to face meetings of both the Officers and the Executive in 2010.

    Preliminary work was begun to prepare for the next General Assembly. This included the preparation of a General Assembly manual to assist in Assembly planning as well as evaluation of bids received. This bid evaluation resulted in a recommendation that was accepted by the WBU Executive to hold the 8th General Assembly in Bangkok Thailand in November 2012. An element of that bid recommendation was a recommendation to explore the possibility of holding a collaborative event with ICEVI to encompass the General Assemblies of both organizations. This investigation was successful and both WBU and ICEVI have now agreed to hold both General Assemblies in Thailand in November of 2012 with two days of overlapping programs.

    Our Finances

    The following is a summary of our financial position. Please see our audited financial statements for detailed information.

    Sources of Revenue
    Membership fees 49.3%
    Member donations 41.3%
    Other revenue 9.4%

    Use of funds
    Capacity development 32.1%
    Mission representation 21.9%
    Information & education 20.1%
    Membership activities 12.3%
    Administration, fundraising & governance 13.6%

    Our Key Supporters

    Over 90% of our funding comes from members at this time. In addition to the membership fees paid by all WBU members, many of our members contribute to support our work in cash and in kind.

    The following lists voluntary monetary contributions from WBU members over and above their membership fees:

    Platinum Sponsors
    CNIB (The Canadian National Institute for the Blind)
    ONCE (Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles)
    RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind Persons)
    Sightsavers International
    Vision Australia

    Diamond Sponsors
    NABP (Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted)
    RZNFB (Royal New Zealand National Foundation of the Blind)
    SFB (Swiss Federation of the Blind and other partners)

    Gold Sponsors
    Unione Italiana Ciechi (Italian Union of the Blind)
    National Industries for the Blind
    Malaysian Union of the Blind

    In-Kind Support
    Many members also support our work through their support of staff or volunteers on WBU committees and working groups. While we are unable to quantify the exact monetary value of that support, we have begun to capture it through reporting of our Officers and Strategic Objective Leaders. While this does not capture the entire contribution, it is nonetheless very significant. The contribution of travel costs by our members is over $280,000 USD per year. And the amount of time spent on the work of the WBU that is contributed by key sponsoring organizations is the equivalent of 3.5 staff. Of these, there are five organizations that have contributed in excess of $50,000 in time and travel costs to support our work. These organizations are:

    NABP (Norwegian Association of the Blind & Partially Sighted)
    ONCE (Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles)
    RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind Persons)
    Sightsavers International
    Vision Australia

    Many other organizations also contributed significantly to our work through their in-kind contributions. These include: All India Confederation of the Blind (AICB), The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), American Foundation for the Blind, A.K. Mittal, and William Rowland. Clearly the WBU would not be able to achieve its objectives without the monetary and in-kind support of our members and we are most grateful for their assistance in making us a strong, collective voice of blind and partially sighted persons.


    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
    Ms. Sarah Smith,
    Manager Fund Development & Communications

    Committee & Working Group Chairs
    Right to Read
    Christopher Friend
    Mobility & Transport
    Sue Sharp
    Stephen King
    Human Rights & Advocacy
    William Rowland & Colin Low
    Maryanne Diamond
    Arnt Holte
    Frances Candiru
    Women’s Network
    Ileana Chacon
    Children’s Network
    Susan Laventure
    Youth Network
    Kerryanne Ifill
    Elderly Persons Network
    Alan Suttie
    World Braille Council
    J.L. Kaul
    Guillermo Moreno

    Policy Review
    Enrique Pérez
    Enrique Pérez
    A.K. Mittal
    Membership Fee
    A.K. Mittal
    Colin Low


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

    Jumat, 27 Mei 2011

    WBU E-BULLETIN VOLUME 5, ISSUE 2, April 2011

    April 2011


    JULY 30 TO AUGUST 7TH 13
    AFRICA 14
    ASIA 15
    EUROPE 17
    WBU STAFF 21

    Contributions are welcome to the e-Bulletin. We thank those of you who have been providing us with content for the e-Bulletins and encourage contributions from all regions. Our next deadline for content submission will be Friday, July 8, 2011 for our next issue of the e-Bulletin. We will accept submissions in English, French, and Spanish, preferably in electronic format. Please send your submissions to Penny Hartin at penny.hartin@wbuoffice.org.

    By Maryanne Diamond

    2011 has begun with horrific natural disasters around the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters caught up in these situations. We also recognise that many man made disasters continue to have devastating impacts on many countries and particularly on those who are blind or partially sighted. One of the priorities the Vision Alliance partnership has agreed to is to work to influence mainstream relief and reconstruction organisations to ensure the needs of people who are blind are included in their work.

    Congratulations to Ron McCallum who has been re-elected as chair of the CRPD monitoring committee for a two year period. The committee met in Geneva during April and has begun their work to review country reports. The International Disability Alliance (IDA) held a very informative meeting with many members of the CRPD committee during April. IDA is recognised by the committee as the main international body representing the interests of people with disability worldwide.

    It is now more than four years since we began the E-bulletin which has been very successful in sharing information and learning about the priorities of the regions and activities under our strategic plan. It takes a great deal of time to put the bulletin together and have it translated before sending out to members and other interested individuals and organisations by our very small staff team in Toronto.

    We have decided to do a trial of it being produced quarterly instead of by-monthly. At the same time, we will prepare an email message to members every two weeks. The purpose of the message is to provide information which is of urgent nature; upcoming events members may be interested in etc. This will only contain information which cannot wait until the next issue of the E-Bulletin and will be very short in length. We will make an assessment after one year as to how effective this new way of communicating with members is working.

    I trust you will find the material contained in this issue very interesting and a demonstration of the diversity and breadth of our movement.


    We are delighted to announce that Ms. Marianne McQuillan has joined our WBU team as Manager of Fund Development & Communications effective April 26th. Marianne comes to us with over ten years working for organizations involved in blindness prevention at the international level, notably Operation Eyesight Universal and Orbis International (Canada office). We welcome Marianne to the WBU team.

    The WBU Officers held their early 2011 meeting in Amman Jordan on April 4 – 6, hosted by the Friendship Association of the Blind of Jordan. Our local hosts did a wonderful job of making us feel welcome in Jordan and their arrangements facilitated very productive meetings. We were honoured that HRH Prince Ra’ad bin Zeid attended the Official Opening of the meetings and later joined us for dinner the same day. The Officers meeting was preceded by meetings of the Development Committee, the Constitution Committee, the Policy Review Working Group, the Membership Fees Committee and the Finance Committee. Some highlights from the meetings included the following:

     Agreement of a policy paper on WBU’s role in situations of emergency or disaster. This will be forwarded to the Executive for their final approval and then sent to the membership. We will work with our Vision Alliance members to consider the formation of a joint working group to develop an advocacy strategy to ensure that first response providers of emergency aid take into account the special needs of blind and partially sighted persons.
     Progress on the strategic plan was reviewed and it was concluded that in general we are making good progress towards achieving the objectives set out in the plan. In those areas where we have not made as much progress as expected, the strategic priority and objective leaders will review and revise the action plan to reflect what can realistically be achieved by the end of 2012.
     The preliminary year-end financial statements were reviewed. These showed a positive result for the year 2010 with income exceeding expenses by a modest amount, even after putting some funds aside to support delegates to attend the General Assembly next year. The audited statements are being finalized currently and once finalized, approved and translated, will be forwarded to the membership prior to the end of June. The budget for 2011 was also reviewed by the Finance Committee and approved by the Officers.
     There was also discussion about plans for the 2012 General Assembly, the Employment initiative, our work with WIPO and other matters. These will be discussed in other sections of the e-bulletin.
     In order to help some of our lower income countries that are having difficulties paying their WBU fees, we will be testing a process to allow countries to offer translation support into and from French and Spanish as an in-kind contribution towards payment of their fees. Further information about how to apply to participate in this process will be sent out shortly.
     It was also agreed that only those countries that are fully financial by December 31, 2011 will be eligible to be considered for financial support to attend the 8th General Assembly in Bangkok in 2012.

    We are pleased to confirm that the 8th General Assembly of the WBU will be held in cooperation with ICEVI in Bangkok, Thailand in November of 2012. While both organizations will hold their own General Assemblies, the programs will be organized in such a way as to allow two days of overlapping sessions that would be of interest to both WBU and ICEVI members and which will enable networking and sharing of information and expertise between the two organizations. We will have a joint organizing committee and joint program committee as well as a common registration process. Please watch the e-bulletin for updates as the planning progresses.

    By Maryanne Diamond

    I'd like to update you on recent developments with WBU's engagement with the stakeholder platform.

    On Monday April 11th, Maryanne Diamond, WBU President, and Dan Pescod, Vice-chair of the WBU Right to Read Campaign, met Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General, his colleague Trevor Clarke, and IPA Chairman YS Chi who was accompanied by IPA's chief lobbyist Jens Bammel. WIPO called this meeting to see how WBU could be brought back into the stakeholder platform. We listened to issues and concerns from IPA representing the rightsholders and agreed to reflect on our position at the request of Francis Gurry. However, following reflection, WBU will continue to suspend its engagement in the stakeholder platform whilst we focus on delivering the treaty.

    We are working very hard to campaign for the treaty and are confident that good progress will be made on this by the end of June. Likewise, whilst WBU and EBU have suspended their involvement in these platforms, we know that some organisations continue to work on key projects that will be needed to implement any treaty and move towards a more accessible model of publishing.

    We also welcome the publication of the Accessible Publishing Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers which can be found at http://www.editeur.org/files/Collaborations/Accessibility/Accessible%20Publishing-Best%20Practice%20Guidelines%20for%20Publishers.pdf.

    WBU fully recognises the value of working with the industry on access to books, and we did not take our decision to suspend our involvement on the stakeholder platforms lightly. We will review our participation in the WIPO Stakeholder Platform and EU Stakeholder Dialogue after the June meeting.

    As a result of a major donation from the Trillium Foundation which is based in Ontario, Canada, we will shortly be able to commence the development of our Employment Resource Bank on our website. This was one of the key activities that we had planned to undertake as part of our WBU Employment Initiative. The project is a collaborative project with the CNIB who will be assisting us with the development of tools and resources. We wish to express our sincere appreciation to the CNIB for their willingness to collaborate with us in applying to a Foundation that is clearly a local Foundation for the CNIB, and for their support in working with us on the implementation of the project.

    The Employment Resource Bank will collect a variety of tools and resources that will assist blind and partially sighted persons to improve their opportunities to secure employment in both the formal and informal economies. It will also provide resources to inform educators, rehabilitation workers and potential employers about the abilities of blind and partially sighted persons, the kinds of jobs blind persons are engaged in and job accommodation strategies. You will continue to hear more about the project as it evolves and we will also be asking you for information and resources to include in the resource bank.

    As you know, the new WBU website was launched in mid February. The site was organized in a different way that we hope you find easy to use, and we included updated information. As we are now able to update information ourselves, we are able to update the site more quickly than in the past. We have attempted to have the majority of information in English, French and Spanish, and there are also accessibility features built into the site. It is our intention to continue to develop its capacity and to make it more attractive with photos and so forth. We encourage you to visit the site often for updated information and to find information regarding our members, guidelines, policy papers, other resources and documents. We are also very interested in hearing your feedback and suggestions about the site to make it as useful as possible to you.

    At the WBU Executive meeting held in Melbourne Australia in November 2010, the WBU formally signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with IBSA (International Blind Sports Federation). The updated MOU was jointly signed by WBU President, Maryanne Diamond and IBSA President Michael Barredo.

    Aims of the Memorandum of Understanding:
    A. To promote closer co-operation between IBSA and WBU in view of the fact that both organisations share the common objective of achieving the full integration and maximum wellbeing of blind and partially sighted persons, and taking advantage of the common structure which exists in many IBSA and WBU member countries, in which the IBSA member organisation is also the WBU member organisation.

    B. To seek to fulfil the objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in particular Article 30 Section 5 concerning Recreation and Sport, where “persons with disabilities” shall in this case be taken to refer to blind and partially sighted persons.

    C. To strengthen the position of existing organisations specifically of blind and partially sighted persons, whether they be sports organisations or not, both in IBSA and WBU member countries and internationally.

    D. To encourage the establishment of organisations of blind and partially sighted persons, including sports organisations, in those countries where such organisations do not currently exist.

    A full text of the MOU can be requested from the WBU office at info@wbuoffice.org.

    By Wendy Greif, Literacy News March 13th, 2011

    It doesn't matter if readers use sight or Braille; the portion of the brain responsible for visual reading reacts exactly alike. According to new research from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and France, brain imaging studies of blind people show activity in precisely the same part of the brain that lights up when people use vision to read.

    Presented in the journal ‘Current Biology’, the study revealed that regardless of sensory input, the brain doesn't distinguish blind people reading Braille from sighted readers. Dr. Amir Amedi's team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) to measure the neural activity in people who had been blind since birth while they read Braille. Researchers were interested in studying a very specific part of the brain, known as the Visual Word Form Area, or VWFA, which shows peaks of activity when studying sighted readers. The results were surprising.

    Brain activity in blind and sighted readers showed identical patterns in the VWFA-in fact they were indistinguishable. The main functional properties of the VWFA were identical in both types of readers, requiring no visual experience at all. "To the best of our judgment, this provides the strongest support so far for the metamodal theory of brain function," said Dr. Amir Amedi of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who spearheaded the research team.

    This suggests that brain regions are task-oriented and defined by the computations they perform. These findings challenge the textbook notion that the brain processes information in divided regions that are specialized for different senses, including touch and sight. As it turns out, that's not the case. "The brain is not a sensory machine, although it often looks like one; it is a task machine," said Amedi.

    Most tasks the brain performs have been innately ingrained, unlike reading, which is a relatively new invention by comparison --- only about 5,400 years old. An even newer task, Braille has been around for 200 years. "That's not enough time for evolution to have shaped a brain-module dedicated to reading," Amedi explained. VWFA is a multisensory integration area that binds simple features into more elaborate shape descriptions making it ideal for the relatively new task of reading.

    Researchers say that its specific anatomical location and strong connectivity to language areas enable it to bridge a high-level perceptual word representation and language-related components of reading. Consequently, it's the most suitable region to be taken over during reading acquisition-even when reading by touch without prior visual experience.

    Up next for Amedi and his research associates is an examination of brain activity as people learn to read Braille for the first time. How rapidly does this takeover happen? How does the brain change to process information in words? Is it instantaneous? This study should answer these questions and shed even more light on how the human brain tackles a challenging task.

    Braille21 Registrations
    Registration is now open for Braille21, the international Braille conference, focused on innovations in Braille that is being organized by the WBU World Braille Council and the German Central Library for the Blind. The conference will take place in Leipzig Germany from September 27 – 30th. For more information please visit www.braille21.net

    Braille21 Award
    A special award to recognize innovations in Braille will be presented at the Braille21 Conference. Information about the award is included in the nomination form which can be found on the WBU website at: http://www.worldblindunion.org/en/news-events/upcoming-events/Pages/default.aspx
    Nominations close on July 31, 2011.

    Consultation on WBU Draft Standards for User Requirements for Television Receiving Equipment
    The WBU is seeking input on the Users Requirement Document for Television Receiving Equipment that has been developed by the WBU Technology Working Group, chaired by Stephen King at RNIB. The consultations close on April 29, 2011.
    For further information, please visit the WBU website at the following link: http://www.worldblindunion.org/en/our-work/campaigns/Pages/AccessToTechnology.aspx

    WBU Institutional Development Program (IDP) 5th Africa Forum Registration
    The deadline for registrations for the IDP 5th Africa Forum is rapidly approaching. This 5th Africa Forum will be held from July 3 to 8 in Accra, Ghana. It brings together representatives of organizations of and for the blind, educators, researchers and government and civil society leaders from across Africa. For further information, please visit the IDP website at: www.wbu-idp.org

    Parents Association Surveys
    A few months ago, we sent out surveys to our membership to gather information about Parents Associations that may exist in different countries. We have had an excellent response, but would be pleased to continue to accept surveys if you know of an Association of Parents of Blind and Partially Sighted Children. If you need another copy of the survey please contact the WBU office at: info@wbuoffice.org.

    Case Studies for Employment Initiative
    As noted in the earlier article about the Employment Resource Bank, we are collecting case studies of individual blind and partially sighted persons in different employment situations as well as examples of models of employment programs. We sent out guidelines for these earlier this year and continue to welcome your input. You may find the guidelines on the WBU website at: http://www.worldblindunion.org/en/our-work/campaigns/Pages/default.aspx

    WIPO Briefing Document
    Over the past few months we have sent you documents related to our work with the World Intellectual Property Association in our efforts to obtain a treaty for the visually impaired. Your advocacy efforts are very important towards your national representatives who will be attending the June meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR). A Briefing document has been sent to you regarding this important work and how you can assist. That briefing document can be found on our WBU website at: http://www.worldblindunion.org/en/our-work/campaigns/Pages/default.aspx
    For additional advice, please contact Christopher Friend, who is leading the Strategic Objective on the Right to Read campaign on behalf of the WBU. Chris’s email address is: cfwbu@sightsavers.org

    WBU Scholarship Applications
    This is a reminder that we are accepting applications for our scholarship funds for 2011. The three funds are: the Hermoine Grant Calhoun Scholarship fund for blind and partially sighted women and girls; the Pedro Zurita Youth Fund; and the Arne Husveg Development Fund. We expect that the Scholarships Committee will meet at the beginning of July, and while applications will be accepted later in the year, it is best to get the applications in earlier if possible as limited funds are available. You can find the guidelines and application forms for the three funds on the WBU website at the following link: http://www.worldblindunion.org/en/resources/scholarships/Pages/default.aspx.

    Applications open for 2012 course at International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs
    Braille Without Borders is once again offering its 11 month couse at the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurship (IISE) in Kerala South India. The course will begin in January 2012.

    “The IISE welcomes participants, all over 22 years of age, who have overcome significant life challenges ranging from vision impairment, disability, poverty, war, discrimination and exploitation. Most of them have personally experienced adversity or witnessed a particular situation that they wish to change so others do not suffer. They have a passion to make the world a better place and the strength to be forces of good rather than victims of circumstance. The IISE does not select its participants according to pre-education/degrees. What we are looking for are motivated and dedicated individuals who have the potential to start and run a social project.” For further information about the program and application process, please visit their website at: www.bwb-iise.org

    Esperanto Summer Language Course – July 30 to August 7th
    ILEI, the international association of Esperanto teachers, is organising an international Esperanto study week in Slovakia, Nitra, 90 km from the capital Bratislava. The distance from Vienna, Austria, to Bratislava is 45 km.

    For the second time visually impaired, youth and adults are invited to attend this event. This is an excellent opportunity to learn Esperanto in the morning, enjoy various leisure activities, excursions, social evenings and to get acquainted with the Slovakian culture and that of other participating countries.

    Further details about the course as well as online registration are available at

    Request from World Bank (WB)
    To respond more effectively to the emerging, fast-changing and challenging global demands expected in the next decade, the World Bank is preparing a new Social Protection and Labour Strategy. WB is consulting with a broad range of governments, development partners, civil society organizations, private sector, academics and other stakeholders to discuss how the World Bank can use social protection to help reduce poverty and inequality, and build human potential. To read more and contribute your opinion, go to http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTSOCIALPROTECTION/0,,contentMDK:22804819~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:282637,00.html

    Human Rights Fact Sheets on CRPD – Resource for Educators
    The resource includes both theoretical information and practical tools. Nine activity sheets focus on a particular article of the Convention and are designed to get students to think about the rights that must be guaranteed in a democratic society.
    The fact sheets can be found at the following link: http://book.coe.int/EN/ficheouvrage.php?PAGEID=36&lang=EN&produit_aliasid=2578

    “SOUNDAROUND” International Audio Magazine Available
    “Soundaround” is a monthly 100 minute cassette or CD magazine available free to blind and partially sighted persons around the world. The programme contains the following features: News and current affairs; Cookery and gardening; Competitions and quizzes; Talent spot entertainment section; Listeners postbag; Contact and friendship feature. The listeners’ postbag and contact feature is an ideal way for people to forge international friendships.
    To subscribe, please send an e-mail to lorainew@blind-society.org.uk giving your postal address.

    Magnetic Letter Toy
    The Hasbro Company has developed a set of magnetic letters with braille embossed on each letter. The Product # 4559401000


    Rwanda Union of the Blind White Cane Day Celebrations
    The International White cane day celebration (October 15, 2010) was held in Nyamagabe district in close collaboration between RUB and Nyamagabe District Office. The celebration was preceded by a workshop on human rights of blind people and use of a white cane as a mobility tool. At the white cane celebration it was revealed that white canes are now going to be included in the national health insurance coverage.

    Japan Federation of the Blind Supporting Blind and Partially Sighted Persons following the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan
    Following the devastating earthquake and Tsunami that caused so much loss of life and damage in Japan since early March, the Japan Federation of the Blind has been working diligently to support its members. This work has included their efforts to locate and support blind and partially sighted persons living in the affected areas and to advocate with that government and first response programs to ensure that information and services are accessible to blind and partially sighted persons.

    Towards Increased Participation of Women and Youth: A Baseline Study on Involvement of Women and Youth in Organizations Working With the Blind in Abu Region
    (Excerpt from ABU Newsletter – October to December 2010)
    In keeping with its commitment to ensure equal participation of all segments of the visually impaired in decision making processes at all levels, the Asian Blind Union conducted a study to find out whether the visually impaired women and youth are finding adequate space in organizations of/for the blind. The study once again re-enforces the fact that much still needs to be done to ensure the equal participation of women and youth in organizational processes. The following is a summary of some of the highlights from the study.

    For the purposes of this study, youth were defined as those less than 35 years of age. The objectives were three-fold: firstly, to assess their present level of participation; secondly, to identify the reason behind lack of participation (where applicable) and thirdly, to generate recommendations for increasing their involvement within these organizations. 121 male and female members, including heads of 17 organizations across 12 countries participated in the study... Regarding the first objective, the present level of participation of visually impaired women and youth was assessed in three ways. Firstly, through statistical analysis of membership data on their representation in various organizational levels viz. General Assembly, Executive and Board; secondly, through analysis of their own perception of the involvement of their group within their respective organizations; and thirdly, through the assessment of organizational heads. Along with this information, qualitative data regarding the perception of women and youth as well as the heads of various organizations about the causes for lack of participation and recommendations for improving participation of these groups was obtained.

    Statistical analysis of the representation and membership of women across various participating organizations revealed that the proportion of women members was quite low in Pakistan, India (NAB), Tajikistan and Nepal (NAWB) and was highest in Lebanon. Also, it was observed that the proportion of women members significantly reduced as the level of hierarchy increased—General Assembly to board—within the organizations. The main reasons identified for the lack of participation of women across the various countries in ABU region were: lack of confidence, lack of interest and lack of competent women/ women not considered competent.

    The recommendations of the women members and heads of various organizations for increasing participation were very diverse. Some of the major recommendations included organizing of various workshops/ trainings and courses, improving the level of education and providing encouragement and motivation to the women. Other major recommendations included taking steps to develop confidence of women, raising of awareness through campaigns, reservation of seats, promoting economic empowerment, and organizing various activities.

    Similarly, data regarding participation of visually impaired youth was obtained and analyzed. Across the countries, statistical analysis of representation and membership of youth across various participating organizations revealed that the proportion of the youth was quite low in many countries while they had a high representation in some countries. Also, it was observed that the proportion of youth members significantly reduced as the level of hierarchy increased within the organization. Within the category of youth, young men had a significantly higher participation than young women in many organizations.

    The main reasons that could be identified for the lack of participation of youth across the various countries in ABU region were: lack of confidence, lack of interest and lack of competent youth/ youth not considered competent. Other causes included no second line of command of youth being prepared and lack of awareness. For several countries, the main recommendation was to increase the qualifications and interest of the youth through organizing of various workshops, seminars, trainings and courses and improving the level of education. Other major recommendations included providing opportunities to the youth, raising of awareness through campaigns, and providing encouragement and motivation to the youth.

    Since this was an exploratory study combining both quantitative and qualitative data, the findings of the study will be useful for the development of effective country-specific as well as general strategies to improve the participation of visually impaired women and youth in organizations of and for the blind. Also, the findings of this baseline study would be useful to examine the extent of effectiveness and success of intervention strategies that have been implemented in the past. The findings would be immensely useful in planning any future strategies as well

    Learning to Capture Moments
    (From ABU Newsletter October – December 2010)
    “A blind photographer”! Most blind and sighted persons would dismiss it as an impossibility. However, a recent online initiative has brought photography well within the reach of the blind. Mr. Partho Bhowmick of India has set up an online photography school for the blind which can be reached on the website: www.blindwithcameraschool.org. The website aims to teach visually impaired persons step-by-step photography. It also provides guidance to those sighted photographers who wish to conduct face-to-face photography workshops for blind people. Blind with Camera has conducted several such workshops face-to-face which have met with tremendous success. The website has opened up possibilities of a new hobby for many visually impaired persons as also of a new professional interest.

    Promoting collaboration between young and old, the conclusion of the INTERGEN project
    Designed and conducted by EBU and funded by the Education and Culture DG of the European Commission, the INTERGEN project involved five partners from the EBU network: the German Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted (DBSV), the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted (UIC), the Italian Institute for Research, Training and Rehabilitation (IRIFOR), the Turkish Federation of the Blind, and the Turkish Six Dots Foundation.

    The aims of the project were to develop methods and techniques which would facilitate the exchange of experience and knowledge between different generations of visually impaired people. Throughout the project a series of workshops were held by the different partners, and the evaluation and successive improvement of these permitted the creation of a workshop facilitation manual.

    These results, and the positive response to the project both from the organisers and the participants in the different workshops, allow us to hope that INTERGEN will continue to have an impact beyond the end of 2010 when it officially ended, and will become a valuable resource for future use. The individual skill forms, designed to enable young and elderly visually impaired people to improve their daily living skills and their capacity to exploit new technology, and translated into five different languages, are great examples of practical, easy-to-use resources resulting from the project.

    All the documents mentioned above are available on the internet site resource centre, in English, French, German, Italian and Turkish. Link to it from the EBU website at: www.euroblind.org.
    The site also includes photos, videos and testimonials relating to the project. We invite you to visit the site and to make use of and disseminate the information. Please mention the INTERGEN name and the European Blind Union when using the documents.

    EBU and its partners are very pleased with the outcome of this project, which demonstrates, on an international level, that cooperation between generations is a universal topic and offers advantages to young and old, men and women and to society as a whole.

    Astronomy for the blind
    To celebrate 2009, the Year of Astronomy, the Pontina Astronomy Association set up a special astronomy course for visually impaired persons, also offered in English and French. Special instruments were designed and built specifically for the purpose of this course, and the local branch of the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted gave its contribution with the feedback of users that attended the course. The Pontina Astronomy Association is willing to disseminate information on this course with the double aim of offering it to anybody interested (upon advance reservation only) and of sharing knowledge and ideas on astronomy education for the blind.

    The course, which may last from 1 day to 3 or 4 days, is held in Latina, a city 70 km south of Rome. More information in English on the Pontina Astronomy Association and the course for the blind is available at the following links:
    For further information please write to Andrea Miccoli, Vice-President of the Pontina Astronomy Association, at andmicco@libero.it

    Congratulations to Moises Bauer
    Our sincere congratulations are extended to Moises Bauer from Brazil who was recently elected as President of CONADE –National Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of Brazil for the next 2 year period. Moises is a lawyer who is well known for his work in the area of Human Rights in Brazil. He is Vice President of the National Organization of the Blind of Brazil (ONCB) and has been active over the past year representing ONCB and the Government of Brazil at WIPO meetings related to the Treaty for the Visually Impaired in Geneva.

    Youth Programs
    A seminar entitled "Youth participation in social organizations: empowerment of young people with visual impairment in the XXI century", was held from 11 to 15 April. The seminar was organized by the Latin American Union of the Blind, ONCE Foundation for Solidarity with the blind in Latin America and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.

    Over 30 young people from 19 countries in the region attended the week-long training which addressed topics such as social empowerment and the development of management tools, among others. This event concluded with a commitment to continue strengthening their work with youth by having similar events in each country and to participate more actively in the various entities that bring together people with vision impairments.

    Women’s Programs
    Registration is now open to participate in the seminar: "Impact of visually impaired women in public policies in Latin America", to be held in the Training Center of AECI in Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) from 18 to 22 of July, 2011. This activity aims to provide tools for advocacy and leadership for this group so that they can participate more actively in decision making at government level when it comes to defending the rights of this population. More information can be found in the announcements section of the ULAC website at: www.ulacdigital.org.

    Right to Read Campaign in Latin America
    In line with the global Right to Read Campaign, the Latin American Union of the Blind is preparing to conduct three regional activities where they will bring together representatives of organizations of the blind, the authorities of intellectual property offices and rightholders. It aims to strengthen support from Latin American governments to the treaty proposal by Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay and Mexico with WIPO, and at the same time raise awareness among rightsholders about the relevance of having this instrument to access books by people with visual and other reading disabilities. The meetings will be held in Guatemala, Montevideo and Quito. Each of these cities has the support of the respective Intellectual Property offices and national organizations of the blind to ensure the success of the initiative.

    Blind Man Drives Car Independently
    (Excerpted from National Federation of the Blind Press Release, January 29, 2011)
    Daytona Beach, Florida (January 29, 2011): The National
    Federation of the Blind (NFB), the oldest and largest organization of blind people in the United States, announced today that for the first time a blind individual has driven a street vehicle in public without the assistance of a sighted person. Mark Anthony Riccobono, a blind executive who directs technology, research, and education programs for the organization, was behind the wheel of a Ford Escape hybrid equipped with non-visual technology and successfully navigated 1.5 miles of the road course section of the famed track at the Daytona International Speedway.

    The historic demonstration was part of pre-race activities leading up to the Rolex 24 at Daytona this morning. Mr. Riccobono not only successfully navigated the several turns of the road course but also avoided obstacles, some of which were stationary and some of which were thrown into his path at random from a van driving in front of him. Later he successfully passed the van without collision. The Ford Escape was equipped with laser range-finding censors that conveyed information to a computer inside the vehicle, allowing it to create and constantly update a three-dimensional map of the road environment. The computer sent directions to vibrating gloves on the driver’s hands, indicating which way to steer, and to a vibrating strip on which he was seated, indicating when to speed up, slow down, or stop.
    For more information, visit the NFB website at: www.nfb.org

    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 ianina.rodriguez@wbuoffice.org
    Ms. Marianne McQuillan, Manager of Fund Development & Communications