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  • Rabu, 14 November 2012

    WBU E-BULLETIN. VOLUME 6, ISSUE 4, October 2012

    TABLE OF CONTENTS CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE E-BULLETIN 3 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE 3 SOCIAL MEDIA UPDATE 5 WBU 2012 GENERAL ASSEMBLY UPDATES 5 FEATURE STORY 6 GENEVIEVE CAULFIELD – DRAWN TO THE EAST 6 WBU CONCLUDES LONG CAMPAIGN TO MODERNISE UN RULES ON FREE INTERNATIONAL POST FOR BLING PEOPLE 13 FOLLOW UP FROM THE JULY E-BULLETIN 15 UPDATES FROM WORKING GROUPS 16 RESOURCE GENERATION WORKING GROUP 16 JOINT WORLD BLIND UNION AND THE AMD ALLIANCE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN BRIEF 16 THE WBU ELDERLY NETWORK: REPORT BY ALAN SUTIE ON THE UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR EUROPE 2012 MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE IN AGEING ‘ ENSURING A SOCIETY FOR ALL AGES’ 16 WIPO NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE FROM EUROPE 18 TECHNOLOGY WORKING GROUP 19 WBU EMPLOYMENT RESOURCE BANK PROJECT UPDATE 19 EMPLOYMENT WORKING GROUP 20 WBU WORD BRAILLE COUNCIL: WORLD BRAILLE USAGE ENTERS A NEW ERA/PERKINS INTERNATIONAL NEWS FROM ELLEN HALL OF PERKINS 20 DISABILITY UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD 22 WE ARE LOOKING FOR OUR ALUMNI AND THEIR SUCCESS STORIES 22 IAPB’S GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2012 DECLARATION 22 DR. ELLY MATCHA’S ADDRESS TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DURING THE 21ST SESSION IN SEPTEMBER 2012 23 ANNOUNCEMENTS 25 ACUMEN FUND FELLOW PROGRAM – DEADLINE LOOMS 25 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IS DEC. 3RD, 2012 26 RESOURCES 26 A WONDERFUL CHILDREN’S PROJECT IN SOUTH AFRICA HAS A GLOBAL REACH 26 ACCESS EXCHANGE INTERNATIONAL’S NEW GUIDE 27 COMMUNITY EYE HEALTH JOURNAL 28 2012 CONFERENCE NOTICES 28 2013 NOTICES 29 NEWS FROM THE REGIONS 30 AFRICA 30 ASIA 30 ASIA-PACIFIC 31 WBU-AP QUADRENNIAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY 31 10TH WBUAP ONKYO WORLD BRAILLE ESSAY CONTEST 2012 31 FACT FINDING MISSION TO MYANMAR 31 SENATOR MONTHIAN BUNTAN FROM THAILAND ELECTED TO THE COMMITTEE ON CRPD 31 EUROPE 32 EBU ATTENDS EU DIGITAL AGENDA ASSEMBLY 32 LATIN AMERICA 33 NORTH AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN 33 REMEMBERING CATHY MOORE 33 WBU OFFICERS 34 REGIONAL PRESIDENTS 35 WBU STAFF 35 CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE E-BULLETIN Contributions are welcome to the e-Bulletin. We thank those of you who have been providing us with stories and updates for the quarterly newsletters and encourage members to provide articles and updates. If we do not hear from you, we cannot report on your success. Our next deadline for content submission will be Friday December 31, 2012 for our next issue of the e-Bulletin. We accept submissions in English, French, and Spanish, preferably in electronic format. Please send submissions to Marianne at marianne.mcquillan@wbuoffice.org PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE It is a pleasure to welcome you to the October issue of the WBU E-Bulletin, the final one before we gather together in Bangkok for the 8th General Assembly. This will be my final message to you as President so I do want to take the opportunity to thank all who have taken the time to contribute to these bulletins and shared the information with friends and colleagues. I hope you have found this as useful as I have for keeping up to date with what is happening in the WBU and other organisations we work with. During September we were represented in New York at a number of events where we were able to ensure the interests of persons who are blind or have low vision were included. The International Disability Alliance governing body met with much discussion around the various UN initiatives planned for 2013 and onwards and how disability must be included in them. Two major events being planned are: (1) what will happen with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) leading up to and beyond 2015 which have not been achieved because disability was invisible in these, and (2) there is a high level meeting being planned for September 2013 on inclusive disability and development. IDA has been conducting a pilot project which consisted of three training programs on training persons with disabilities as trainers on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). These were held in South Asia, the Pacific and West Africa. They were successful and it was pleasing that in each session persons who are blind or have low vision took part. On the day preceding the Conference of States Parties on the CRPD, IDA held a civil society forum where organisations were invited to take part in. It was pleasing that Colin Low spoke about the education for all vision impairment in one session and I chaired the final session. A major function of the Conference of States Parties on the CRPD is electing half of the CRPD Monitoring Committee. Nine positions were up for election; 21 candidates nominated for these vacancies. I would like to congratulate those who put themselves forward, were elected and those whose terms came to an end. The following were elected: Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes (Chile), Ms. Ana Peláez Narváez (Spain), Ms. Diane Mulligan (United Kingdom), Ms. Safak Pavey (Turkey), Mr. Monthian Buntan (Thailand), Mr. László Gábor Lovászy (Hungary), Ms. Silvia Judith Quan Chang (Guatemala), Mr. Martin Mwesigwa Babu (Uganda) and Mr. Mohammed Al-Tarawneh (Jordan). Congratulations to those of our members who I know will ensure issues important to us, persons who are blind will be always taken into account. I would like to mention Yang Jia from China, someone well known to the WBU family, who did not seek re-election. As Deputy Chair of the committee over the last two years and one of its founding members, she will certainly be missed. I trust you will enjoy this full informative issue. Maryanne Diamond SOCIAL MEDIA UPDATE Using WBU’s Twitter account: https://twitter.com/BlindUnion we will “tweet” about the events taking place at the WBU/ICEVI GA. We’ve created the hashtag #WBUICEVI2012GA so that others can also add their tweets to the discussions taking place during our event. To follow us on Twitter our username (or handle) is @blindunion. A reminder that due to the way social media is conducted, WBU will not be able to provide translation services for posts on our social media accounts. WBU 2012 GENERAL ASSEMBLY UPDATES For those who wish to listen to the proceedings, the WBU General Assembly will be streamed live from Thailand courtesy of American Council of the Blind. The URL is http://acbradio.org/world. This broadcast will start by covering the Diversity Forum, running from Nov. 10 and 11th. This broadcast is running live ICT (Indo China time) which is GMT +7 hours. It is only a few short weeks before we all travel to Thailand to participate in the general assembly. While the WBU has made arrangements for medical insurance coverage for those delegates that it is sponsoring to attend, we highly recommend that all participants ensure that you have out of country medical insurance coverage. This will be the first year we work with ICEVI to host joint sessions. This was done to lessen the costs of travel for delegates who need to go to both assemblies, and also to create greater bonds between the two organizations that have similar goals. On our WBU website there is a section called the General Assembly. Under this are many web-pages full of the documents, resolutions and other information needed during the assembly for WBU meetings. These can be downloaded and saved or printed off to bring with you. Most of these documents are not on the event registration website, only on the main WBU website. See the website link below to access the documents needed by delegates for the general assembly. http://www.worldblindunion.org/English/general-assembly/Pages/Forms.aspx FEATURE STORY Genevieve Caulfield – Drawn to the East By Pedro Zurita, Former WBU Secretary General The assemblies of the WBU and ICEVI will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, in November 2012. This fact has stimulated me to write something about Genevieve Caulfield and her pioneering work in the field of education of blind children in Thailand. Ms. Caulfield was born in the USA in Suffolk, Virginia, in 1888 and she was blinded when she was only two months old. Even though at that time educational opportunities for blind women were very scarce everywhere, Genevieve was lucky that her mother was determined from the start to provide her with the same life opportunities as her brother Henry. She attended the Perkins School for the Blind, the Connecticut School for the Blind and the Overbrook School for the Blind. As Genevieve was a Catholic she was successfully enrolled as a student in the Catholic Trinity College for Girls in Washington DC and then in the Teacher Training program of Columbia University in New York. Genevieve was a very motivated student and so in order not to miss any chance to read accessible books she learned American and British Braille and even New York point. In New York Point there was a Latin textbook she had to use in her college studies. She becomes seriously interested in Japan Genevieve Caulfield was seriously committed from her youth to promoting equal opportunities for every human being, regardless of his/her gender, disability or nationality. When she was seventeen she learnt of the educational discrimination of Japanese children in California and that fact generated in her a special interest in Japan and the Japanese. She wanted to get familiar with the culture of that Far Eastern country. Genevieve began by reading anything she could find about Japan. In College she did not miss any chances to meet and befriend Japanese students and later she persuaded her mother to host in their home people from Japan who were in the USA for business or study purposes. It was logical that this interaction with the Japanese also led her to learn the Japanese language and to have a keen ambition to visit and live in that country. She thought that she could either teach English in Japan or work in the education of the blind. Trip to Japan and stay there The positive seeds of hope she planted among the Japanese community in New York yielded very promising attitudes towards her when in July 1923 she disembarked in Yokohama after a long voyage. There were people who provided her with lodgings in their own families and she was even able to teach English in a secondary school for sighted students as well as giving private lessons in many families. Soon after her arrival in Japan, parts of that country, including some quarters of Tokyo, were heavily hit by a rather strong earthquake. Genevieve’s idea to teach the blind was not translated into reality because her contact with a teacher of the blind she knew from the Perkins School, led to nothing. In 1932, after the violent clashes of the Japanese army in Manchuria, Ms. Caulfield was asked to teach Braille to young soldiers who had lost their sight in the fighting and who were in a military hospital headed by a general who was among her friends there. Indeed, she managed to bring hope to those young people and she opened for them new horizons with the learning of Braille. Genevieve also taught English to prisoners and to local policemen. In the early thirties she adopted a Japanese girl from a very large family, whose name was Haruko. In the middle of the thirties Genevieve grew very unhappy with the increasing power and social influence of a very ultra-nationalistic and militaristic party. That dissatisfaction reached such a climax that she had to seriously think of leaving the country. The blind in Siam (Thailand) Ms. Caulfield felt very much attracted to the East and she firmly wished to remain in that part of the world. Some contacts with people from the country which was then known as Siam impelled her to think of starting there from scratch with the education of the blind. The Kingdom of Siam began to be known as Thailand in 1939. “Thai” means free. Some of her Siamese (Thai) acquaintances, including the then Interior Minister, told her that there were no blind children in Thailand or that educating them was not a worthwhile project. However, a psychiatrist, Dr. Fonthong, the Director of the Bangkok Hospital of Mental Diseases who was in Japan for a professional study visit, encouraged Genevieve to put her ideas into practice and he even invited her to visit Bangkok and to stay in his house with his family which was situated close to his hospital so that she could have a real immersion in Siamese life. In 1936 Ms. Caulfield and Haruko travelled by ship to Thailand. That stay in Bangkok allowed her to meet again that same government minister, who was then the Finance Minister, and, through him, other people in positions of authority. The prevailing thought among them was that blind people could never be taught to do anything and that this venture would be a waste of precious resources. Ms. Caulfield had difficulty in persuading them that a school for the blind could be started in a very modest and inexpensive way and still accomplish its purpose. Despite these setbacks she was determined to work enthusiastically for the attainment of her goal. Back in the USA After having returned to Japan she planned to visit the USA together with her daughter Haruko. In fact, in the USA Ms. Caulfield gave many lectures in various places related to what she thought was the real Japan and she raised funds and interest for her project in Siam. She easily obtained from the Perkins School the donation of basic materials to start the project (braille paper, slates and styles, relief maps and other equipment). Through her public relations charm, Genevieve succeeded in obtaining its shipment free of charge to Bangkok. Haruko underwent training in education of the blind theory and compensatory techniques in the Overbrook school for the Blind and in the Lighthouse in New York. They travel to Siam (Thailand) In 1938 they made a rather complicated trip from New York to London, then to Paris; from there to Rome; from Naples, Italy, to Singapore, and finally by train to Bangkok. Dr. Fonthong, the psychiatrist, put at her disposal a house with a domestic helper and a housekeeper speaking Thai and English. Ms. Caulfield kept in her suitcase a real treasure: a Braille Thai alphabet she had worked out herself including a plate with the embossed ink print Thai letters prepared at Perkins for her. Difficult first steps Genevieve did not get completely discouraged by the fact that in her contacts with several government officials, she is told that to undertake public fundraising she has to build a foundation. Taking advantage of her outstanding ability to create positive partners, she persuades people holding important positions in the Thai political and business sphere to join the Board of that legally required body. The first pupil at the school was a lady from the royal family, Tang Ying Leck, who besides being blind also had a serious hearing loss. Soon children are attending the school. They took part in a public exhibition where they showed what blind children achieve through education. Tactual reading elicits unadulterated admiration and once again some people see that the raised dot reading method is a good way for acting as spies. This public demonstration helps in attracting people to join the foundation. In May 1939 the school has already a small number of pupils. Ms. Caulfield has the strategic plan to add a boarding house to the school in order to attend to children from all over the country. A German ophthalmologist, Dr. Gustavson, a refugee from Nazi Germany, volunteers to do eye examinations and general eye care for the children. Ms. Caulfield attracts volunteer and paid staff for the school and several transcribers are trained in braille to produce books for the children. Nobu, a Japanese young man who later will become Ms. Caulfield's son-in-law, comes to the school and introduces a gentleman, Mr. Gashima, who wishes to donate one hundred baht per month to the school. She tells him that she would like to be able to afford the purchase of a boarding house in order to turn the school into a truly national endeavor and a few months later, they let Genevieve know that they have obtained donations from Japanese companies to fulfill her wish. They told her that the Japanese companies insisted on being anonymous donors. She succeeds in holding a meeting with the Queen Mother and then she gains the unstinting support of the then Prime Minister. Sometime after that encounter, the Ministry of Health allots a subsidy to the school. The Second World War The political situation in the world is very tense and in December 1941 Ms. Caulfield learns the distressing news that Japan has attacked the USA in Pearl Harbor. The war in the Pacific then broke out. In Thailand they were comparatively lucky because, even though they were linked to Japan, Siam had never been a colonized territory by the great powers in Europe. Anyhow, the country could not be entirely devoid of suffering. The USA became an adversary and almost all Americans were evacuated or interned. Genevieve Caulfield did not want to abandon her blind children and the school project. Her internment was not at all harsh. Her charming personality is eloquently displayed by the behavior of the young man who was assigned to watch her. He took her to and from school every day and when the internment ended, he became a volunteer helper. When the bombardments became more intense and frequent the school had to be moved to two locations not far from Bangkok. Peace breaks out After the very sad nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Japanese emperor signed an unconditional surrender. The school came back to Bangkok. The sympathetic Prime Minister who significantly helped the school in the beginning was dismissed, but fortunately he returned to power again and Ms. Caulfield's project gained strength and progressed considerably, thanks in great part to government support. The Salesian order of Catholic nuns agreed to take charge of the school. Genevieve returned to Japan to organize the wedding of Nobu (now a widower) with a Catholic member of the Thai royal family who cooperated very willingly in the running of the school in the last years of the war. After that, Genevieve Caulfield returned to the USA and in 1952 she returned to Bangkok and was delighted to see that the school had grown and was housed in excellent facilities. I consider it appropriate to include here a quote taken from the autobiographical book Ms. Caulfield wrote entitled “The Kingdom Within": "I am satisfied that the blind of Thailand never again will be regarded as helpless incompetents but as people fully capable of standing on their own feet and making useful contributions to their homes and to society." In fact, thanks to the educational opportunities many blind people were really educated and attained even university education in Thailand and even in the USA.” In 1956 Ms. Caulfield is asked by the President of South Vietnam to build a school for the blind in Saigon (now Ho Chi Ming City). People who knew Ms. Caulfield personally In preparing this article I approached a few persons who had the privilege to know Genevieve Caulfield. First of all I requested Ms. Akiko Iwahashi, now a WBU Honorary Life Member, one of the wisest and nicest persons I ever met who was the Director of the Nippon Lighthouse for the Blind in Osaka, Japan and in October, 2011 she said: "I met her in the fifties, when she was already not very young. I was firstly very impressed, not to say surprised, by the fact that she spoke beautiful Japanese... She was taught how to behave like a lady in society... If she could have got a chance to teach at schools for the blind in Japan, it would have been very good, I believe. The Ministry of Education in Japan did not allow Genevieve to be a teacher at the schools for the blind, and the schools and teachers for the blind at that time did not want her to come into their fields of education, either. So narrow-minded!" Pecharat Techavachara is totally blind and he met Ms. Caulfield when he entered the school in 1950 at the age of ten. He completed secondary education in the Saint Gabriel School for the Sighted. Ms. Caulfield helped him to obtain a scholarship to study first in the Overbrook School for the Blind and then major in economics in the Philadelphia University. When he returned to Bangkok he joined his family business and then he founded and headed several companies. He is reputed to be a most successful businessman. In 1969 together with other blind people, he formed the Thai Association of the Blind and in 1993 he founded initially with his own resources the Foundation for the Employment Promotion of the Blind (FEPB), a most progressive and innovative vocational training center for the blind. Here is what he told me about the impact on him of Genevieve Caulfield: "Besides my family members and business colleagues, Miss Genevieve Caulfield played an important role in my way of thinking. She often taught us that we should never be afraid of failure. Success always follows failure. The most often spoken phrase by her was `You can do it`" Wiriya Namsiripongpan was lucky to meet Ms. Genevieve Caulfield in 1968 after having lost his sight in an accident in his late teens, and Sister Rose Moore, Irish Mother Superior of Bangkok School for the Blind. They permitted him, despite his age, to study at this school. Later he progressed to Saint Gabriel School to complete his secondary education. He then majored in Law in Thammasart University and he finally became a professor in the same higher education institution. He has founded the Universal Foundations for People with Disabilities. Conclusion Genevieve Caulfield remained always linked to Bangkok, and she passed away there in December 1972. She was never a leader of the organized blind but she had a clear idea that our ultimate aim should be to attain full social inclusion and the elimination of all kinds of discrimination. She ended her autobiographical book with the following statement: "That is what life is, the process of going on and on". The school she founded, the Bangkok School for the Blind still exists today within the current context of inclusive education in Thailand. Unfortunately, the Thai Foundation for the Blind she created to help fund this school has mainly sighted members on its Board and it has some difficulty in partnering with the increasing strength of the organized blind in Thailand. In 1987 at the beginning of my position as WBU Secretary General I visited Bangkok in October. I did spend a lot of time with the friends of the Thai Association of the Blind. Wimon took me to the School for the Blind and to other service institutions. I tried my utmost to meet the sighted lady who was then the Chairperson of the Thai Foundation for the Blind. My efforts only resulted in my receiving, the evening before I departed from Bangkok, a big and beautiful bunch of flowers; which I donated it to the lady who checked me out the next morning at the hotel front desk. In my successive trips to Thailand I was very pleased to observe the very significant steps forward of the organized movement of the blind. Blind people like Songchai and Monthian Buntan helped the Association enormously to progress. Monthian studied in the University in the USA and he came to Thailand positively influenced by the uncompromising progressiveness of the social independence philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. WBU CONCLUDES LONG CAMPAIGN TO MODERNISE UN RULES ON FREE INTERNATIONAL POST FOR BLING PEOPLE By Dan Pescod Back in 2008, the government of Luxembourg tabled a proposal at the Universal Postal Union’s four-yearly congress to modernise the rules on the exchange of international postal items for blind people. The UPU is the UN body which governs the international exchange of postal items. The free postal service for blind people helps make up for the difficulties in getting inaccessible books and in some cases other materials blind people need specifically because of their impairment. After all, a blind person cannot walk into their local library and take out the book of their choice at no cost. Instead, he or she will often receive an accessible book via the post from a distant library for the blind. (They’ll no doubt send it back the same way.) To charge for that postal service would be tantamount to charging for a person’s blindness. The UPU rules on how this free service operates internationally were written in the 1950s and had not been updated since. They allowed postal operators to send postal items across national borders; free of postal charges, but only if those items were “Braille literature” or “sound recordings for the blind”. It will not have escaped thoughtful readers that the world has moved on since the 1950s. These days, blind people have new ways of sending and receiving information and items they need to play a full part in society. This means on the one hand that often, instead of a bulky Braille book, a blind person will want to send or receive a lightweight Daisy CD. Such items would weigh far less and be less voluminous, and therefore their carriage would represent a cost reduction to postal operators, as well as a benefit to blind people. We wanted to ensure the UN rules on this service were modernised to reflect these changes. Returning to the 2008 Congress, some of the assembled postal operators and governments were wary of Luxembourg’s well-intentioned proposal, and referred it for “further studies”. The proposal has since 2008 journeyed through a plethora of UPU Committees, hotly pursued by the World Blind Union. WBU worked within these UPU Committees over that period to refine the proposed revision to the rules on free post or “literature for the blind”, in UPU terminology. We found constructive support from such countries as Italy, Germany, Japan, the UK and the USA, who all helped to ensure that the revised rules would both meet the needs of blind people and be acceptable to the world’s postal operators. This effort generated a new proposal, presented to the UPU Congress in Doha by Italy on behalf of the UPU. Despite the long standing drafting and negotiation to refine the proposal, a process open to all postal operators and governments, the formerly silent French delegation opposed it when it was considered in Committee 4 at the Doha Congress. This encouraged some other posts such as Poland and Norway to follow suit and ask that instead of a vote, the matter be referred for “further study” after the Congress. On the second day of Committee 4’s deliberations on the matter, Barbados, Japan, New Zealand and Nigeria and the UK, among others, intervened in support of the proposal to modernise the rules. The proposal was therefore put to a vote, which went overwhelmingly in our favour – 91 for, 13 against and 21 abstentions. The UPU rules on what will now be termed “items for the blind” will now appear in their modernised form in the revised version of the Convention. What does this mean in practice? International postal items for the blind, exempt from postal charges, can now be sent between any combination of organisations of blind people, specialist organisations serving blind people (such as libraries for the blind) and blind or partially sighted individuals. International items for the blind now include “correspondence, literature in whatever format including sound recordings, and equipment or materials of any kind made or adapted to assist blind persons in overcoming the problems of blindness”. What this change does not mean This change does not require countries to change their internal / national free post for blind people system. So if a country only currently allows Braille to be sent domestically under its free postal system, it will not be required to broaden its national scheme as a result of this UPU decision. The UPU only governs international postal exchange. What it does mean, though, is that countries receiving an item containing one of the new, wider range of items under this scheme from a sender in another country, would be expected to accept these as “items for the blind” and deliver them to the addressee (blind person or organisation). The UPU rules require them to do this irrespective of the range of items the receiving country allows in its national “items for the blind” scheme. An example for sending materials from one country to another For example, country “A” only allows Braille in its national free post system for blind people. Country “B” allows Daisy CDs to be sent in its “items for the blind scheme”. A blind person in country “B” posts a Daisy CD to a blind person in country “A” under its more generous “items for the blind” scheme. Country “A” must still deliver that Daisy CD, even though it would not allow the sending of such an item under its national “items for the blind” service. FOLLOW UP FROM THE JULY E-BULLETIN In our July edition we featured an interview with Christine Ha, who since the interview, came in 1st place in the Master Chef Reality TV competition (USA). We congratulate Christine on her win and achievements, and thank her for being such a positive example in society for what blind people can do. We hope this inspires others to go after their goals despite what others may think are limitations to success. We also like to congratulate the Paralympians who achieved so much and increased the profile of disabled people and their ability to compete on the world’s stage. UPDATES FROM WORKING GROUPS Resource Generation Working Group The RGWG will be holding a fund development seminar in February 2013 to provide ideas for member organizations looking for new ways of raising funds through direct marketing. This seminar is aimed at organizations with mature fund raising methodology already in place. It also requires those organizations that wish to send their fund development staff to pay their own way in regards to travel, meals and accommodation costs, as WBU does not have funds to sponsor anyone for this. This first RGWG seminar will help to shape future seminars that would be offered in other WBU regions. To find out more about this contact Marianne McQuillan in the WBU office at: Marianne.mcquillan@wbuoffice.org Joint World Blind Union and the AMD Alliance International Campaign Brief The campaign will be formally launched at the WBU General Assembly in Bangkok and will comprise a digital resource of information, good practice guidance and links to help in the planning of services. Resources will include: guidance on demographics, involving older blind people in service planning, working in partnership with other organizations, raising awareness of the consequences of age-related sight loss, how to address social isolation amongst older blind people and planning low cost low vision services. Following the launch in November 2012, materials will be available to download from the WBU web-site after that time. The WBU Elderly Network: Report by Alan Sutie on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe 2012 Ministerial Conference in Ageing ‘Ensuring a Society for all Ages’ Scope and Background I attended this meeting as an invited representative on behalf of European Blind Union (EBU) and with support from World Blind Union (WBU) who has United Nations (UN) consultative status. I was among a number of NGO’s (non-government organizations) attending a separate pre-session as well as the main ministerial session. The UNECE geographic area covers most of the northern hemisphere that is Europe and North America. The focus was on reviewing governmental responses to the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) and its Regional Implementation Strategy (RIS). The context of this plan is the fact that within UNECE countries, people over 65 years old will account for more than fifth of total population by 2030 while those of 80 years old and above will make up more than 5 per cent. This debate is crucial for the sight loss sector as age related sight loss is a significant issue in planning for an ageing population. It is essential that sight loss organisations in member countries fully understand what is happening in relation to planning and use every opportunity to provide input and to monitor activity. NGO Political Declaration After intense debate amongst the NGO representatives we agreed on a political declaration which is attached to this report. Whilst there was agreement that some progress had been made on the Madrid action plan there was still much for governments to do. Initially there was no reference to the importance of rehabilitation services, but with support from colleagues from the Republic of Ireland we have a phrase on the provision of free access to rehabilitation services included. Governments are also being asked to engage more regularly with NGO’s and are being pressed to convene planning meetings with them by March 2013. There is an opportunity for sight loss organisations to request participation at these meetings. Organisations in member countries are urged to use this declaration to challenge government activity or non-activity around planning for an ageing population. Ministerial Declaration In the initial open debate we had the opportunity to input to the declaration and I raised concern at two elements: a failure to refer to any age related conditions other than dementias, and references to a range of measures including early diagnosis, prevention and treatment but not to rehabilitation. Prior to the adoption I lobbied hard with ministerial representatives particularly from UK, Iceland and US, but regretfully the declaration was approved in its initial draft form without any discussion. So in the declaration we do not have the specific references to sight loss, however, it still represents governmental commitments that have to be reported on. There will be future opportunities for sight loss organisations to input to or challenge country reports on activity and achievement. WIPO Negotiations Update from Europe By Dan Pescod, Campaigns Manager, Europe, International and Accessibility, The Royal National Institute of Blind People Between the 17th and 25th of July, the twice-yearly WIPO Copyright negotiating committee met in Geneva. EBU participated, along with a team of colleagues from all four corners of the globe. The Bad News We had expected the WIPO member states to finalize a workable treaty text. Instead the text has many square brackets still (areas where agreement has not yet been reached) despite many late night sessions and much hard work from the majority of WIPO member states. And we had wanted the Committee to agree that there would be a diplomatic conference in 2013 to finish work on the treaty. In fact, it did not agree on the nature of the text, despite many delegations supporting a treaty, and they postponed a decision on whether to call a diplomatic conference until December 2012. The Good News For the first time, the Committee has set out a path towards the end of this long-running campaign. The Committee agreed that end date COULD be 2013 IF the WIPO Member States decide to call a diplomatic conference for 2013 when they meet in an "extraordinary general assembly" scheduled for December 2012. The EU Negotiators Much of the discussion took place behind closed doors rather than in plenary session. EBU, as a non-governmental organization, could not therefore see for ourselves the positions the EU took. However, we hear from other negotiators that the EU is still pushing more for wording in the text to reflect publisher concerns. We will keep working to try to ensure that the text reflects our concerns and is workable so that we will be able to use the resulting law to provide accessible books for blind people. EBU welcomes, in any case, the fact that the Commission publicly backed a treaty in its press release the day after the Committee finished work. See here: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/12/603&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en (External link) Next steps The Commission still has to obtain a formal mandate from the Council. It will ask for that mandate in September, and should receive it, if the EU Member States agree, in October 2012. The WBU through its representation by the EBU will continue to collectively urge all EU Member States to agree to provide such a mandate. We hear that many are now moving towards a more positive position and such momentum needs to continue. The next formal SCCR meeting will take place between 19th and 25th November 2012. Technology Working Group The Technology working group has launched a new toolkit for making television programming more accessible. The toolkit called “WBU User Requirements for Television Receiving Equipment” is available on the WBU website under our Resources section – Toolkits page, but it has not yet been translated into French or Spanish. Here is a link to the page: http://www.worldblindunion.org/English/resources/Pages/Toolkits.aspx WBU Employment Resource Bank Project Update By Ari Opps Programming of the website has been completed and we are now in the evaluation stage. A survey has gone out to people with vision loss who are employed or in the pre-employment stage for their feedback on the website. A similar survey is being sent to Service Providers. In addition, we will be conducting a virtual focus group (conducted via telephone) to dig a bit deeper. The website will officially launch on November 15 at the WBU GA in Thailand, and a launch event hosted by the WBU and CNIB will be held on November 30 in Canada. Employment Working Group By Grace Chan, Chairperson of the WBUAP CEEE The 2nd WBU-AP Employment Symposium, organized by the WBU-AP Committee on Employment and Economic Empowerment (CEEE), was successfully held in Beijing, China, during the 8th Information Accessibility Forum recently. There were about 200 people with and without visual impairments who attended the forum. We had friends from the United States, England, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China including senior government officials and ministers of related ministries attended the forum and presented papers. On behalf of Maryanne Diamond, President of WBU, I had presented the Keynote Address on "Bridge Knowledge Gap; Remove the Barriers of Access to Information" and Dato’ Kula presented the paper on "How the Visually Impaired Can Improve Employment Opportunities Through New Technology and New Skills - A Global Perspective." Papers were well-received by participants especially those from China who were very keen to learn the new technology and new skills to improve their employment opportunities. It is believed that the aim of the two papers prepared by Maryanne has been achieved. To read the proceedings of the symposium to go: www.wbuap.org WBU Word Braille Council: World Braille Usage Enters a New Era/Perkins International news from Ellen Hall of Perkins The work of the World Braille Council is to review braille usage periodically to ensure it is up-to-date and accessible to those who benefit most from using braille. In looking on the impact of more communication and language being conveyed through electronic means, the World Braille Council commissioned the following organizations to work on a new edition of braille usage. For the past ten months, the Perkins School for the Blind has collaborated with the International Council on English Braille (ICEB), the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress (NLS), to update World Braille Usage. As a result, a third edition of World Braille Usage will be published online by the close of 2012 and a print text will also be published in early 2013. This new online, accessible version of World Braille Usage will have the capacity to provide hard copy print, paper braille, and displays on electronic braille devices. It will also make it easier for countries to quickly and universally share revisions to their braille codes in years to come. As part of the project, representatives associated with the use of braille in 192 countries were asked complete a short questionnaire asking for information about braille codes used in their respective countries. In countries where no braille authority or designated organization to monitor national braille standards exists, the task of receiving responses to the questionnaire is more difficult. In these instances, completing the questionnaire has been accomplished through the efforts of groups of individuals associated with different organizations for the blind in one country working together, to ensure that information about their country’s braille code will appear in the next edition of World Braille Usage. The goal of the project is to have as many countries as possible and as many languages as possible represented in third edition of World Braille Usage. Representatives of blindness-related organizations interested in ensuring their country’s representation in World Braille Usage should send an email as soon as possible to worldbrailleusage3rd@perkins.org to request a copy of the questionnaire and information about the project. Every country that completes and returns the World Braille Usage questionnaire will receive a print copy of the third edition at no charge. Countries that appeared in the 1990 edition of World Braille Usage, and have yet to respond to the questionnaire, will appear with the same information as in 1990. Commenting on the project, Peter Osborne, President of the International Council on English Braille, Member World Braille Council, Chair United Kingdom Association of Accessible Formats, and Chief Braille Officer of RNIB UK said, “Not only will this [edition] capture the various languages and implementations of the fantastic system we know as braille, but it will enable anyone to easily discover whether a particular language has been tackled and how”. This project has been generously supported by the World Blind Union (WBU), the International Council of the Visually Impaired (ICEVI), the World Braille Council, and braille authorities throughout the world, as well as many other organizations and individuals working on behalf of people who are blind. The World Braille Usage 3rd Committee sincerely thanks those who have supported this project through your time, effort, interest and knowledge of braille. The early goals of unity and uniformity associated with World Braille Usage remain relevant today and underpin many of the global efforts to achieve literacy through braille. Technological advances promise much to level the playing field for people who are visually impaired, but without a foundation of literacy skills technology is of limited use to anyone, sighted or blind. The accessible online master copy will open the door to a new and dynamic web resource. Countries throughout the world are invited to participate in this global project by contacting Ellen Hall, Perkins Braille Literacy Manager at: ellen.hall@perkins.org DISABILITY UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD We Are Looking for Our Alumni and Their Success Stories As you know, WBU gives out scholarships each year so that visually impaired students can pursue further education. We have been doing this for several years and recently we met a lady from the Philippines who introduced herself to us and told us how much the scholarship meant and how it led to the career she now has. We would love to hear from others, who have benefitted from receiving a scholarship from WBU, and what work that has led to, or how it improved their lives. If you know of anyone who received a WBU scholarship, please pass along our request. Replies can be sent to Marianne at Marianne.mcquillan@wbuoffice.org IAPB’s General Assembly 2012 Declaration The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness held its 9th General Assembly in Hyderabad India this past September. There were over 1,500 delegates attending workshops and seminars to learn of the work taking place around the world to improve access to eyecare and become more effective in preventing blindness among vulnerable populations. As you may know, WBU is a part of the Vision Alliance along with the IAPB and the ICEVI (International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment). In order to increase awareness of the Vision Alliance, we had a display booth to provide information about the work and goals of the three organizations. Dr. Penny Hartin, and the WBU President, Maryanne Diamond helped host the Vision Alliance breakfast, attended the women’s networking session, and made a poster presentation on implementing the CRPD toolkit. We met many doctors and eyecare professionals who were keen to learn how to help those whose eyesight cannot be restored, but who could learn to function in society as blind or low vision people with access to rehabilitation and training. There was a declaration produced of the goals the IAPB wishes to achieve before the next GA in 2016. Below is the list of the seven key issues. The 9th General Assembly requests international organisations, regional entities, governments, civil society and the private sector to work together in addressing the following key issues:  Eye Health must be addressed as part of primary health care and health systems  An Inclusive International Development Framework is required to address blindness and visual impairment adequately.  Investments in Eye Health Structures, Human Resources and  Initiatives are imperative to achieve access to eye health for all  Investment in eye health and blindness prevention yields economic, health and social benefits  Research is essential to address emerging eye health priorities and for learning effective approaches  Building and broadening alliances for effective work on eye health, visual impairment and blindness  Support for WHO Global Action Plan 2014-2019 To read the full declaration, follow this link: http://9gahyderabaddeclaration.blogspot.com.au/ Dr. Elly Matcha’s Address to the Human Rights Council During the 21st Session in September 2012 Elly spoke on behalf of the IDA (International Disability Alliance), having been nominated by WBU, during the annual discussion on integration of a gender perspective, “Women’s economic, social and cultural rights”, below is her speech: Thank you, Madame President. I am speaking on behalf of the International Disability Alliance. We welcome the Council’s attention to women’s economic, social and cultural rights. It is especially good that the Council is looking at these rights in the context of the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The CRPD and the rights of women with disabilities need to be included in the post-MDG development framework that will follow. Today, there are about one billion persons with disabilities in the world, and about eighty per cent live in developing countries. Women with disabilities currently experience many violations of their economic, social and cultural rights. Many women with disabilities in these countries face huge cultural barriers due to which some may never leave their homes; never enjoy family or social life; are often deserted, institutionalized, neglected or allowed to die; enjoy no privacy; and face censure and restrictions due to religious barriers. Women and girls with disabilities are denied education, employment, adequate social protection, and coverage of the so-called “extra costs” of disabilities. Women and girls with disabilities are subject to violence and other atrocities, harassment, and other forms of discrimination, at home, in the workplace, and elsewhere in their lives. They are denied the rights to legal capacity and to vote. The rights of women with disabilities and the CRPD must be included in the post-MDG development framework. Persons with disabilities were completely left out of the Millennium Development Goals. There is a lack of data on how well the MDGs have been achieved for women with disabilities, despite the vast majority of women with disabilities living in poverty. We are at an important moment now, when the post-MDG framework is beginning to be elaborated. It is important to women with disabilities that the new framework takes into account the following: 1. The 2013 High Level Meeting on Disability and Development in New York should feed into the post-MDG process. 2. The rights of persons with disabilities need to be fully respected in the post-MDG framework. Persons with disabilities need to be taken into account in all sectors covered by the new framework. Targets and indicators, at global and national levels need to be disaggregated by disability, as well as by gender and age. 3. The different processes and partnerships that will be established for the implementation of the new framework, and the Sustainable Development Goals, need to include persons with disabilities as a priority group and their representative organizations as a key stakeholder, in order to ensure that persons with disabilities will benefit from these. In addition, protecting specific rights in the CRPD will help to achieve development and inclusion of women with disabilities. States should: 1. Eliminate discrimination in hiring practices in the public and private sectors 2. Ensure healthy and respectful workplaces for women with disabilities, with a zero tolerance policy for discrimination or harassment, and with good human resource policies. 3. Implement positive measures to include and increase employment of women with disabilities in the labor force. 4. Implement Article 19 as a fundamental human right, which gives overarching mandates to all sectors on inclusion within the development process. Finally, we call on all countries that have not yet ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to do so without delay. ANNOUNCEMENTS Acumen Fund Fellow Program – Deadline Looms The Global Fellows Program is a one-year fellowship program designed to train the next generation of social impact leaders. Fellows undergo two months of leadership training in New York and then spend nine months with one of Acumen Fund’s investee companies in India, Pakistan, East or West Africa providing on the ground management assistance and strategic support to help scale the business. Competitive applicants for the Global Fellows Program will meet the following criteria:  Strong business experience – such as finance, operations, or consulting  Demonstrated passion and commitment to creating positive social change  Proven track record of leadership and management responsibilities  Experience living and working in emerging markets  Unrelenting perseverance, moral fiber, and critical thinking skills  3-5 years of work experience Apply now or invite a friend to join the next class of Global Fellows, which closes November 16th, 2012. International Day of Persons with Disabilities is Dec. 3rd, 2012 The theme for this year is: "Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all". There are many ways people with disabilities are blocked from accessing all that society has to offer. Governments and communities need to realize that with a few legislative, structural and environmental changes many barriers can be removed and this makes life better for all, not just people perceived to have handicaps. For example, adding ramps to enter buildings not only makes it easier for those in wheelchairs, but also for those pushing baby strollers, the elderly who may find it a challenge to use stairs, and even the couriers and their pushcarts full of packages. Barriers to technology also need to be removed, and any laws that limit one’s rights to access society in the same way that others do, also need to be changed. Limiting access to society must be seen as a form of discrimination in order to bring about a positive transformation. These and many other examples can be discussed or promoted with activities in your local communities on December 3rd. RESOURCES A Wonderful Children’s Project in South Africa has a Global Reach A website offering free recordings of children's stories for blind children aged 4 to 10 years is available at: www.pay-it-forward-for-the-blind.wikispaces.com. This began as a project led by Charli Wiggill Deputy Principal: Eden College Durban, South Africa, and her students. This project has an interesting history, but has evolved to offer blind children an opportunity of listening to children’s stories anywhere, anytime, as the stories are saved in MP3 format and available on the internet. The project already has over 80 stories on the website in 7 languages, with over 50 stories in English. My motivation to start this was that my grade 8 English class at Eden College Durban seemed weaker at reading than I expected, and I needed an intervention. I offered them their own voice and a real world audience. Working collaboratively and using their mobile phones as recording devices, they were able to improve on their reading and writing skills and have fun whilst interacting with modern technology. The confidence and improvement in their reading ability jumped markedly over a two week period. Although the process started out as a ‘sighted children reading for blind children in English’ project, it has developed substantially since then with adults and celebs becoming progressively more involved. The pupils were challenged to Pay it Forward, and have done so with increased enthusiasm. They requested pages for various languages so they could challenge their friends around the world – not just in Anglophone countries. This project has been endorsed by the Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum as well as the Pay it Forward Foundation in the USA that operates in 75 countries. My pupils are beginning to realize the real-world implications of their work, now accepting that they can in fact make a difference in the lives of others. We welcome feedback and the students would love to hear from others around the world who have listened to some of the recorded stories. Please contact Ms. Charli Wiggill at: charliwiggill@gmail.com To access and listen to these recorded stories go to: http://pay-it-forward-for-the-blind.wikispaces.com/ Access Exchange International’s New Guide AEI’s new guide is, "Para-transit for mobility-impaired persons in developing regions: Starting up and scaling up." AEI hopes this guide will assist practitioners in any country, but especially in less-wealthy countries, who wish to initiate or expand para-transit services that include persons with disabilities and seniors. Case studies of para-transit services in New Delhi, Cape Town, Istanbul, Moscow, São Paulo, Kuala Lumpur and rural France supplement topics ranging from service models and eligibility screening to funding sources, planning, equipment, staffing, training, promotion, and budgeting. Special sections on NGOs and rural para-transit round out the publication. Fresh material is also under development for posting on our website for those who wish to go deeper into the topics introduced by the guide. This publication can be downloaded from the Access Exchange International website. The guide may be freely reproduced or translated for non-commercial purposes, provided that Access Exchange International is acknowledged as the source. AEI hopes the guide will reach municipal agencies as well as entrepreneurs and NGOs who are considering ways to promote and expand para-transit services for persons with disabilities. Comments on this publication are welcome and AEI would love to hear from you if you feel this guide fills a need, if you plan to pass it on to others (including contacts you may have in less-wealthy countries), or if you have suggestions to improve the guide in any future editions. This would also be an opportunity for you to send news and photos of accessible transport in your region for the AEI upcoming end-of-year newsletter, "Accessible Transportation Around the World." To download the guide, follow this link: http://www.globalride-sf.org/ Community Eye Health Journal While at the IAPB general assembly in Hyderabad, India in September, we came across a resource that may be of interest to WBU members; it is the Community Eye Health Journal. Here is a link to the publication, where you can read an article on low vision: http://www.cehjournal.org/ 2012 CONFERENCE NOTICES November 2012 – WBU, ICEVI & AFUB GA’s Bangkok, Thailand  November 8 & 9: AFUB 7th General Assembly, to be held just before the WBU/ICEVI meetings  November 10 & 11: WBU Diversity Forum  November 12 to 16: WBU General Assembly  November 15 to 18: International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) General Assembly. The WBU/ICEVI GA website is: www.wbu-icevi2012.org. ESCAP – Moving forward the disability agenda in Asia and the Pacific Building a more disability-inclusive society is a challenge that countries in the Asia-Pacific region will address at the forthcoming High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Final Review of the Implementation of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012. The meeting will be convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Incheon, Republic of Korea, from 29 October to 2 November 2012. An estimated 15% of the population, or 650 million persons with disabilities, live in the Asian and Pacific region. The majority of these persons live in poverty and suffer discrimination, exclusion, inequality and prejudice. The Meeting will be attended by Ministers and senior officials of Governments, as well as civil society leaders from across Asia and the Pacific. The Meeting will consider measures to empower persons with disabilities and promote greater equality, particularly through the implementation of the CRPD. More information at: http://www.unescap.org/sdd/. November 26 to 28: Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) 1st World Congress, to be held in Agra, India. To learn more link here: http://www.cbrglobal.org/ 2013 NOTICES SPEVI Biennial Conference is from January 13 to 18, in Auckland, New Zealand. (SPEVI= South Pacific Educators in Visual Impairment) to learn more and register: http://spevi.net/spevi/spevi-conference-2013.php The Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress will take place January 17 to 20, in Hyderabad, India. For details link to: www.apaoindia2013.org American Foundation for the Blind’s 2013 Leadership Conference takes place April 18 to 20th in Chicago, Illinois, USA www.afb.org/AFBLC Pacific Rim Int’l Conference on Disability & Diversity tales place April 29 & 30th in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA with the theme: Being in Community. To learn more: http://www.pacrim.hawaii.edu/ NNDR Symposia will take place May 30-31 in Turku, Finland. Nordic Network on Disability Research (NNDR) and Finnish Association of Disability Research wish to announce that the submission of abstracts and proposals for symposia for NNDR 2013 conference has been opened. Deadline for submission is December 3rd, 2012. To submit your abstract, please go to http://nndr2013.fi/abstract-submission For more information on the conference visit http://nndr2013.fi/ The European Union Supported Employment Conference will take place June 11 to 13th in Dublin, Ireland. Theme: “Building an Inclusive Europe through Supported Employment” A call for papers and details to follow: http://www.eusedublin2013.com/ NEWS FROM THE REGIONS AFRICA The Liberian House of Senate has passed a bill seeking to establish a policy on the use of the white cane by blind and visually impaired citizens and to safeguard the rights of the disabled to public facilities in Liberia. The Bill, titled: “AN ACT TO ESTABLISH POLICY ON THE USE OF THE WHITE CANE TO SAFEGUARD THE RIGHTS OF THE BLIND TO PUBLIC FACILITIES IN LIBERIA” has now been forwarded to the House of Representative of the Republic of Liberia for concordance after which same shall be sent to the President of Liberia to be signed into law. Upon full passage of the bill into law the Government of Liberia shall ensure among other things that the blind and visually impaired are afforded equal opportunity to participate fully in the social and economic life of the state, engage in remunerative employment and as pedestrians using white canes, guide dogs or human guides when crossing a street, shall be accorded the right of way by all drivers and operators of all motor vehicles, motorbikes or bicycles using the roads. Thanks to Senator Clarice A. Jah, Senior Senator, Margibi County and Chairperson of the Senate Statutory committee on Executive, for sponsoring and introducing the bill to the 53rd National Legislature of Liberia. From the SANCB – the last issue of INFAMA to be edited by Dr. William Rowland is available to read at this link: http://sancb.org.za.www94.jnb2.host-h.net/article/imfama-2012 ASIA From Dr. Muthusamy Malaravan in Sri Lanka – We are glad to inform to you that a Braille unit has been opened in the Public library, in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka. This will enable blind people to use the library, and have more access to books, periodicals and cultural information. It's a great milestone event in our country. The new Braille unit is part of our visual rehabilitation programme in the Northern Province. ASIA-PACIFIC WBU-AP Quadrennial General Assembly The Assembly has been scheduled for 13 November 2012 starting at 4:30PM local time pm at the Imperial Queens Park Hotel Bangkok, Thailand. The room and other details for Asia Pacific representatives will be announced closer to the event. 10th WBUAP Onkyo World Braille Essay Contest 2012 Judges from Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand met in Kuala Lumpur on 28 and 29 July to select the winners for the 10th WBUAP Onkyo World Braille Contest 2012, a project sponsored by the Onkyo Corporation Limited and the Braille Mainichi of Japan, 24 entries from 6 countries were received. The results will be announced in November. Fact Finding Mission to Myanmar WBUAP, represented by its President, Dato’ S. Kulasegaran’ joined the Vision Alliance and a few donor agencies on a fact finding mission to Myanmar from 24 – 28 September, 2012 where they met with the stakeholders providing services for the blind including Government representatives and leaders of organisations of the blind. The purpose of this mission is to identify areas of cooperation in uplifting the quality of lives of the blind and partially sighted in Myanmar. Senator Monthian Buntan from Thailand elected to the Committee on CRPD At the 5th Conference of State Parties on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities held in New York on 13 August, 2012, Senator Monthian Buntan from Thailand was elected with the highest votes to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for the term 2013-2016. We, on behalf of WBUAP, would like to express our heartiest congratulations to Senator Monthian Buntan. May his appointment help bring a brighter future not only for blind and partially sighted people, but all persons with disabilities. EUROPE EBU Attends EU Digital Agenda Assembly B Carine Marzin, EU Policy and Campaigns Officer, Royal National Institute of Blind People In June the EBU took part in the EU Digital Agenda Assembly, an event where future policy was discussed in areas such as e-commerce, e-payments, social media, converged media platforms, etc. In the run-up to the event, the Commission encouraged stakeholders to take part in an online debate on their website. Regrettably though, this 'online engagement platform' was not fully accessible to blind and partially sighted people - something EBU asked the European Commission to address in order to comply with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. At the event EBU took part in a workshop on e-commerce which was an opportunity to raise accessibility issues in relation to online shopping websites and e-payment processes directly with representatives of the e-commerce and e-payment industries. Before the event we also contacted high profile speakers to ensure they were fully briefed on the barriers that blind and partially sighted people come across in relation to e- and web-accessibility. We are delighted that Anna Maria Darmanin, Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) decided to use her speech in the Digital Agenda plenary session to highlight our concerns and to call on the Commission to act to ensure the accessibility of public websites. At the time of writing (August 2012) the Commission has yet to publish proposals in this area. "See you!" is the motto of this year's Week of Sight in Germany. Seven partner organizations, among them the German Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted (DBSV), are mobilizing their networks and the general public to organize events between October 8th to 15th to raise awareness of the importance of good vision and the causes of blindness. As in the past, this year‘s topic "See you!" will have three different priority themes according to the perspective used by the partners to approach the theme. Detailed information is available on http://www.woche-des-sehens.de/ (External link). LATIN AMERICA ULAC Board meeting will take place in Sao Paulo (Brazil), October 3 -6, 2012. They will work on the Strategic Plan, to designate the Monitoring and Evaluation Commission and the approval of the Working Plan. They will also meet with the local organizations that belong to the National Organization of the Blind in Brazil (ONCB), to exchange concerns, challenges and communication mechanisms in Portuguese. ULAC has Twitter and Facebook accounts in Spanish and Portuguese. Twitter handle is: @ULACdigital The Facebook link is: www.facebook.com/ulacdigital Meeting of psychologists on the work with visually impaired students will take place from 5 to 9 November 2012 in Panama. It is organized with the support of FOAL, ONCE and the Mexican organization “Seeing with you”, and also of a specialized organization in Panama. A meeting of the Braille Mexican libraries was held from September 27 to 28 2012. They discussed the use of information technologies in libraries for blind and low vision persons, the use of electronic devises for the blind and their influence in social inclusion and copyright and the access to information of blind and low vision persons. NORTH AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN The WBU North American/Caribbean election for new officers was held September 21 in Washington. The names of the representatives are listed below. Congratulations to the new team. President: Charles Mossop (CNIB - Canada) Vice-President: Mitch Pomerantz American Council of the Blind (ACB) -USA Executive Members at Large:  Dr. Marc Maurer, National Federation of the Blind (NFB) -USA  Jim Tokos, Canadian Council for the Blind (CCB) - Canada  Nominee for Table Officer at General Assembly: Fred Schroeder National Federation of the Blind (NFB) -USA Remembering Cathy Moore Miss Cathy Moore, Vice President of the WBU North America-Caribbean Region and member of the WBU Executive, passed away on September 13, 2012 at the age of 57, after a long battle with cancer. Cathy served as a delegate from Canada, representing the CNIB. Her career with CNIB spanned 22 years, during which her tireless efforts served to support and empower people who are blind or partially sighted across Canada. Cathy held a variety of roles with CNIB during her career, including employment and career counselling, CNIB district office management and served since 2002 as CNIB’s National Director of Government Relations and Advocacy. In this role, she collaborated with Canadians who are blind or partially sighted to advance the cause of equal rights, and applied her wealth of knowledge and insight to the task to persuading governments to better respond to the needs of people with vision loss. Cathy’s passion and tenacity won her the respect and admiration of many people, from politicians and policy-makers to the vast array of individuals and groups who share the common goal of equal rights for people with vision loss. Her vibrant personality and sense of humour won her friends wherever she went. During this past quadrennium, Cathy served as Vice President of the North America/Caribbean Region and as such was very involved within the regional work and represented the region on the WBU Executive Committee as well as other committees. She demonstrated a keen interested in the work of her colleagues internationally and made many friends around the world. Cathy had hoped to offer her name as a candidate for a Table Officer position at the WBU in this General Assembly, but alas that was not to be. A life cut short far too soon. WBU OFFICERS Ms. Maryanne Diamond, President maryanne.diamond@visionaustralia.org Mr. Arnt Holte, 1st Vice President arnt.holte@blindeforbundet.no Ms. Frances Candiru, 2nd Vice President fcandiru@gmail.com Mr. Enrique Pérez, Secretary General umc@once.es Mr. A. K. Mittal, Treasurer akmittal@rediffmail.com Dr. William Rowland, Immediate Past President rowland@sancb.org.za REGIONAL PRESIDENTS AFRICA (AFUB) Mr. Mohammed Ez-zaoui med.ezzaoui@gmail.com ASIA (ABU) Mr. Santosh Kumar Rungta santoshkumar.rungta@gmail.com ASIA PACIFIC (WBU-AP) Mr. Dato` Kulasegaran ranthoku@streamyx.com EUROPE (EBU) Mr. Wolfgang Angerman w.angermann@taubblindenwerk.de LATIN AMERICA (ULAC) Mr. Volmir Raimondi presidencia@ulacdigital.org NORTH AMERICA/CARIBBEAN (WBU-NA/C) Mr. Carl Agusto -until WBU GA, Mr. Charles Mossop cmossop@telus.net WBU STAFF Dr. Penny Hartin, Chief Executive Officer penny.hartin@wbuoffice.org Ms. Marianne McQuillan, Manager, Fund Development & Communications Marianne.mcquillan@wbuoffice.org Ms. Ianina Rodriguez, Administrative Assistant Ianina.rodriguez@wbuoffice.org Ms. Sandra Vernon, Administrative Assistant sandra.vernon@wbuoffice.org Dr. Victor Cordeiro, Advocacy Coordinator adco.wbu@gmail.com

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