COVER PAGE CURRENT EVENTS Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) 7th-8th October 2005 A permanent office for the WBU The opening of a permanent or central World Blind Union office, to be named "The Office of the WBU", was the main issue on the AGENDA at the meeting of the WBU Officers Board held in Kuala Lumpur. The Working Group chaired by Enrique Pérez in charge of setting up a permanent WBU Office has established the crit- eria the new headquarters must meet. In the words of the Secretary General, these include “Accessibility to the world, in that it must be well located, the banking practises in place, political sta- bility, the local tax regime, salaries and, above all, the government of the country in question must have a proven track record of non-discrimination for reasons of disability and gender.” INTERVIEW Serafin Lizoain, blind and multi-talented Sport is a marvellous tool for integration and overcoming disability”. REPORT Gloria Rodríguez Figueroa. Fashion fot the blind. T he pasarela Gaudí Fashion week, held annually in Barcelona (Spain), had a surprise in store at its 2005 Edition: a show titled ”Unseeing eyes”. REPORT European Union co-operation policy Recent and future enlargement, bringing new Member States into the picture, will have a direct impact on this area of external activities. PAGES 2 EDITORIAL A great step forward Setting up the World Blind Union’s permanent office, due to begin operations at the beginning of 2007, was the major item on the agenda at the last meeting of the WBU Officers Board, held on this occasion in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) on the 7th and 8th of October. The Working Group in charge of the office met in London (United Kingdom) on the 16th of November to decide exactly what will be needed at the future office. The WBU has been looking forward to having just such an office; it will bring more stability to the organisation and lighten the administrative and bureaucratic burden currently placed on the offices of the Treasurer and Secretary General. The office should also be a reference point for WBU communications and representation. For all of these reasons the future permanent headquarters will play a key role in the Union’s future development and consolidation. Making the permanent office a reality is just one of the aims that the new Officers Board has set itself, based on the discussions at the last WBU General Assembly in Cape Town (South Africa) last year. We can be happy that little by little the goals laid down are being fulfilled. With three years to look forward to, the WBU has a number of key tasks to perform, and while 2008 seems such a long way away time is always of the essence; the good news about the opening of the Permanent Office is but one part of the tireless work being done by the youthful new Officers Board, a Board that will have to continue working hard to complete its programme of activities. PAGES 3 - 5 - CURRENT EVENTS WBU Officers Board meeting, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), 7th-8th October 2005 A permanent office for the WBU The opening of a permanent or central World Blind Union office, to be named "The Office of the WBU", was the main issue on the table at the meeting of the WBU Officers Board held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the 7th and 8th of October. Also on the agenda were reports from the President, William Rowland, from other officeholders and from the Union’s committees and working groups. Secretary General Enrique Pérez updated the board on the issue of the Strategic Communications Plan that is currently being prepared in co-operation with the ONCE Communication Department and that will be submitted to the next meeting of the Officers in six months’ time. The Working Group chaired by Enrique Pérez in charge of setting up a permanent WBU Office met in London (United Kingdom) on the 16th of November to analyse the roll-out of the office, due to be up and running by 2007, and establish the criteria the new headquarters must meet, which, in the words of the Secretary General, include "Accessibility to the world, in that it must be well located, the banking practises in place, political stability, the local tax regime, salaries and, above all, the government of the country in question must have a proven track record of non-discrimination for reasons of disability and gender." The Officers Board, at its next meeting in Baltimore (USA) in March 2006, will be informed of the results of the London gathering. The Board considered the two bids received to date to host the next WBU General Assembly in 2008. Pattaya (Thailand) and Geneva (Switzerland) are the two cities that, for the moment, are in the running to organise the assembly. The Officers Board gave initial approval to both bids as they met all the conditions laid down. Agreements The Officers Board reached the following agreements during its working sessions in Malaysia: 1 "Vision Australia" has donated 45 000 Australian dollars to the WBU in order to set up a Central Office. The monies shall be deposited in an Australian bank account under the control of the 1st Vice-President until the project is concluded, upon which they will be transferred to the WBU accounts. 2 Maryanne Diamond, the WBU Office project co-ordinator, contacted the Executive Committee to ask members to forward ideas and suggestions by the 1st of November to move this project forward. On the 16th of November the Chair of the Permanent Office Working Group, Enrique Pérez, will meet Maryanne Diamond, Susan Spungin and Colin Low in London to discuss which administrative tasks currently carried out by the Secretary General and the Treasurer are to be transferred to the WBU Office. A final proposal shall be submitted to the Executive Committee in March. 3 The official name of the WBU central headquarters shall be "The Office of the WBU. 4 The Secretary General shall contact national delegates requesting that they name one representative from their national delegation to be the contact person in charge of updating the delegation list for the country in question and forwarding it to the Secretary General in a timely manner. Regional Presidents shall be sent a copy of this communication. The master list shall be updated every six months. 5 The Finance and Nominations Committees do not need to make use of the 5 000 US dollars earmarked for each in the annual budget. It was agreed the surplus 10 000 dollars shall be used to fund the work of other committees and the UN Working Group. 6 Work on the WBU leaflet is ongoing. Once finalised, it shall be posted on the Union’s web site and a link to it shall be placed on the home page. 7 A Working Group composed of William Rowland, Maryanne Diamond and Penny Hartin shall contact the countries that have bid to host the 7th WBU General Assembly with a view to finalising procedures. A final recommendation shall be submitted to the Executive Committee at its meeting next March. 8 The Governance and Democracy Working Group shall draw up a "WBU Procedures Handbook" for the Executive Committee meeting in March. 9A group composed of William Rowland, Penny Hartin, Aubrey Webson and Arnt Holte shall draft "WBU Guidelines on Development" by the 31st of December 2005. 10 New members on Committees and Working Groups: Chuji Sashida shall replace Graeme Innes as Chair of the Working Group on Legislation; Birgitta Blokland shall replace Maryanne Diamond on the Editorial Working Group; the ABU representative on the Committee on Children shall be Dr. Anil Aneja; Kicki Nordström shall be Link Person for the indigenous affairs network. The Secretary General shall contact those concerned to inform them officially. 11 On behalf of the WBU, the Secretary General shall respond to the Nordic Co- operation Committee as regards the issue concerning IBSA they have raised. 12 The Treasurer shall make the changes necessary to the Union’s budgets to take into account the possibility of covering the cost of guides accompanying members from developing countries travelling to meetings of the Officers Board and the Executive Committee. 13 William Rowland, Maryanne Diamond and Colin Low shall form a group to draft WBU guidelines on the granting of medals and other honorary awards. 14 Future meetings: the dates for future meetings were agreed as follows: Executive Committee: Baltimore (USA), 24th-25th March 2005. Officers Board: Caracas (Venezuela), 6th-7th October 2006. Who’s who in the new world blind union executive committee (cont.) EAST ASIA PACIFIC Chuji Sashida Secretary-General of the International Committee of Japan Federation of the Blind Contact details c/o NCWBJ Office 9-23, Takadanobaba 1- chome, Shinjyuku-ku Tokyo 169-0075 JAPAN Tel. 81 3 5291 7885 Fax. 81 3 5291 7886 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Or: email@example.com Paula Daye Chief Executive Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind Contact details Private Bag 99941 Newmarket Auckland or 4, Mansell Road Parnell Auckland NEW ZEALAND Tel.: 64 9 355 68 73 Fax.:64 9 366 00 99 Mobile: 64 275 317 092 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org EUROPE Alexandre Neumyvakin President of All Russia Association of the Blind (VOS) Contact details 14, Novaya Plochad 109012 Moscow RUSSIA Tel: (7095) 923 61 60 Fax: (7095) 923 91 49 E-mail: email@example.com NORTH AMERICA/CARIBBEAN Marc MAURER WBU Regional Vice-President President, National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Contact details 1800 Johnson Street Baltimore, Maryland 21230 U.S.A. Tel: (1-410) 659 9314 Fax: (1-410) 685-5653 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org James SANDERS President and C.E.O. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind Contact details 1929 Bayview Avenue Toronto Ontario M4G 3E8 CANADA Tel: (1-416) 486-2500 Fax: (1-416) 480-7000 E-mail: email@example.com REPRESENTATIVE OF THE INTERNATIONAL MEMBERS Christopher Friend Sight Savers International Contact details Grosvenor Hall, Bolnore Road Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 4BX UNITED KINGDOM Tel: (44-1444) 446 600 - 446 663 (direct) Fax: (44-1444) 446 677 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Larry Campbell ICEVI President Contact details c/o Overbrook International Program (Overbrook School for the Blind) 6333 Malvern Avenue Philadelphia PA 19151-2597. USA Tel: 215-877-7713 Fax: 215-878-8886 E-mail: Larry@obs.org ICEVI - 12th World Conference The dates for your diaries are the 16th to the 21st of July 2006 in Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian Association for the Blind will host the 12th ICEVI (International Council for the Education of People with Visual Impairment) World Conference, focusing on the theme "Achieving Equality in Education: New Challenges and Strategies for Change". The Conference will be held in the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), Kuala Lumpur’s principal conference centre, and will include four plenary sessions in which experts from NGOs, governments and other organisations will take part. The programme also includes six parallel sessions involving educators from different parts of the world, and one session in which 15 different themes will be discussed in 15 workshops. The official language of the 12th ICEVI World Conference is English. However, all plenary sessions and selected parallel sessions will have simultan-eous translation in Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and English. Baltimore, March 2006 Key Executive Committee gathering The next meeting of the WBU Executive Committee, scheduled to be held in Baltimore (USA) on the 24th and 25th of March 2006, will be a key meeting for the future of the WBU’s permanent headquarters, to be known as "The Office of the WBU". Meetings of many of the Union’s committees (Children’s Committee, Employment Committee, etc.) and Working Groups (WBU Braille Council, etc.) will also be taking place in Baltimore around these dates. FOAL Social Network now a reality Foal, the ONCE Foundation for Latin America, Internet portal Universia and the Santander Group made the Red Social (Social Network) Project a reality on the 13th of October. The aims of the project are to facilitate access to information and Internet content for blind and partially sighted people in Latin America and promote their integration in the labour market through on-line training and vocational training courses both of a general nature - such as Teamwork and Management Skills - and in specialist subjects in computing such as Advanced Internet. Co-financed by the European Union’s @LIS programme (Alliance for the Information Society), Red Social will ensure the supply of screen readers and magnifiers to every person with a visual impairment who can prove they are visually impaired and who registers as a user on the project’s virtual platform. For more information: www.foal.once.org PAGES 6 – OPINION 6th Ad Hoc Committee meeting Ongoing discussions making progress The purpose of the meeting was to finalize the second reading of the second part of the Convention text drawn up by the ad hoc committee. the main aim of the meeting was to decide upon key points in the convention without going into detailed discussions on the wording, as this will be dealt with at upcoming meetings when the actual drafting process will take place. Some articles were uncontroversial and did not cause too much discussion or disagreement but some others were indeed. Many delegations agreed on the need to specifically mention Women and Children, but there were different views on how this should be done. Articles such as education, health, rehabilitation and living independently and being included in the community were discussed at length and were highly controversial. To our disappointment, the EU and some other western states, took the stand against a separate article on women, children, indigenous persons with disabilities and disagreed on having a specific article on international development cooperation. Although it was mainly a discussion if this should be mentioned in the preamble or in articles of their own. The Preamble is not a legally binding part of the convention. All along the AHC process there have been divergent ideas on Education. There have been hot discussions about this matter in the IDC. Organizations such as WBU, WFD (World Federation of the Deaf) and WFDB (World Federation of the deafblind), have been strongly opposing the concept of Inclusive Education as it is today interpreted. WBU, WFD and WFDB strongly argue that there are special communication skills and needs, which must be taught in classes and settings of our own, in order to gain communication and literacy skills. Braille and sign language, as direct communicational skills, and mobility, ADL and other compensatory skills are not part of unordinary school curriculum, but must be compulsory in education of persons with sensory disabilities. WBU together with WFD and WFDB have been very specific on this and many times we have met hard opposition from other DPO’s (Disabled Persons Organizations) and of course by national delegations. The EU delegation also opposed the mentioning of Braille in the convention and some national delegations thought that Braille was a language or something which is not needed in 50 years from now since new technology would replace the need for Braille! It took us several interventions to explain that Braille is a script like any other scripts in existence and only the future can tell if the interventions have been understood. On the article on accessibility the WBU advocated strongly for Universal design, cooperation regarding development of standards and guidelines. There is still however no consensus on the critical issue of copyright. A more generous legislation on copyright would make the conversion of documents into accessible formats beneficial for all blind and partially sighted persons, but it is a difficult matter to solve as authors fear that this would open up for limitless pirate copying of their products. Health and rehabilitation met resistance to some of its writings in particular from the Holy See, many Middle East and Latin American Countries, who objected to the proposed text regarding the right to sexual and reproductive health services and there were objections whether to support a separation of rehabilitation from health. There was expressed from many delegates, the need of an effective monitoring of the convention. Unless there are methods for sanction to States who decline to protect its citizens with disabilities the whole process will be very counter-productive. The next AHC meeting will take place in January 2006 and hopefully by then more definite texts of the first 15 articles will be agreed upon. By: Kicki Nordström, Immediate Past President WBU PAGES 7 - 8 REPORT European Union Co-operation policy Co-operation is a key element in the European Union’s external relations. Recent and future enlargement, bringing new Member States into the picture, will have a direct impact on this area of external activities. The process of drawing up the EU’s co-operation policy will be affected both by the economic contribution provided by new Member Status and their participation in the decision-making process and programme implementation phase. The European Union prepared a document to review the approach taken at national level by candidate countries with regards to development and co-operation, and to analyse how new Member States can take part in all aspects of co-operation in development having joined the Union, with the aim of ensuring co-ordination between the European Union and the policies undertaken by new Member States. Background Disabled people make up approximately 10 per cent of any population (WHO) and 20 per cent of the world’s poorest (World Bank). Disability is both a cause and effect of poverty, and 82 per cent of disabled people live below the poverty line in developing countries (UN). These figures can be higher in countries devastated by civil war or natural disaster. Disabled people, in all parts of the world, experience discrimination and are widely excluded from the social, economic and political life of the community. This exclusion is the basic cause of high rates of poverty among disabled people in the poorest countries. Being amongst the most excluded has severe life or death implications for disabled people in developing countries. Basic guidelines for co-operation The main aim of the Union’s co-operation policy is to reduce poverty with a view to eventually eradicating it. The Community will concentrate on six areas which have been identified on the basis of the added value of EU action and of their contribution to poverty reduction: The link between trade and development. Regional integration and co-operation. Support for macro-economic policies and the promotion of equitable access to social services. Transport. Food security and sustainable rural development. Institutional capacity building. Attention will consistently be given to human rights, to the environmental dimension, to equality between men and women and to good governance. The Union's development policy concerns all developing countries. As regards the allocation of resources, the least developed countries and low-income countries will be given priority, in an approach which will take account of their efforts to reduce poverty, their needs, their performance and their capacity to absorb aid. The European Union is committed to poverty reduction as expressed in the Millennium Development Goals. This goal cannot be met without considering the needs of disabled people; yet disabled people are still not sufficiently included in international development work funded by the EU. If the interests of disabled people are not recognised then the key goal of poverty reduction in developing countries will not be achieved. European Union Programmes and Projects The Commission formally set up the EuropeAid Co-operation Office on 1st January 2001 as part of its efforts to reform the management of external aid. EuropeAid ensures that Community aid is implemented effectively and handles the devolution to Commission Delegations of all operations which can be better man-aged locally, and the decentralisation to bene- ficiary countries. In addition, EuropeAid fosters a culture based on individual and collective responsibility. EU external aid is given by means of either contracts to provide services, supplies or works to beneficiary countries or grants (generally for projects proposed by non-profit making organisations). This aid is usually provided under one of the EC external aid programmes and in- struments (Phare, Ispa and Sapard for candidate countries, Tacis for the New Independent States and Mongolia, Cards for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the FYROM, ALA for Asian and Latin American countries, MEDA for the Mediterranean partners and the EDF for the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries) or under specific budget headings, such as for South Africa. Two budget lines The "NGO Co-financing" unit - EUROPEAID / F2 - is in charge of management of two budget lines: One of these budget lines covers two types of financing: aDevelopment Actions favouring developing countries. This funding is accessible only to NGOs from EU countries. bActions to raise European public awareness of development issues. The other budget line covers decentralised co-operation, with actions aimed at strengthening civil society in the South. Funding is accessible to "Non State Actors (NSA)" from the South, as well as NSA from the North. CURRENT LIST The grants currently managed by the EuropeAid Co-operation Office are the following: @LIS - Alliance for the Information Society - http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco19_en.htm Action against Antipersonnel Landmines http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco15_en.htm Aid for population policies and programmes in the developing countries - http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco14_en.htm Aid to uprooted people in Asian and Latin American developing countries http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco12_en.htm Al-Invest http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco05_en.htm Alure http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco06_en.htm Asia information & communication technology (Asia-IT&C) http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco01_en.htm ASIA-Invest http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco07_en.htm Asia-Link http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco04_en.htm Asia-Urbs http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco09_en.htm ATLAS http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco28_en.htm CARDS - Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco24_en.htm Co-financing with NGOs http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco21_en.htm Decentralised Cooperation http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco27_en.htm EU-Asia Pro Eco http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco22_en.htm European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco26_en.htm Fight against illnesses due to poverty (HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis) in developing countries http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco16_en.htm Food aid and food security http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco08_en.htm Integration of gender issues in development co-operation http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco25_en.htm MEDA http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco10_en.htm Programme of high-level study awards - Latin America http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco23_en.htm Promotion of the conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests and other forests in developing countries http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco17_en.htm Promotion of the full integration of the environmental dimension in the development process of developing countries http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco18_en.htm Rehabilitation and reconstruction operations in developing countries http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco20_en.htm SURE with Russia and the Ukraine http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco03_en.htm TACIS http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco13_en.htm The EU Partnership for Peace Programme http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco11_en.htm The European Development Fund http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/aides/forms/aidco02_en.htm PAGE 9 – SPORT IBSA: New Executive Committee A total of forty-nine member countries attended the 7th International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) General Assembly held in Beijing, the capital city of the Republic of China and host of the 29th Summer Olympic Games and 13th Summer Paralympic Games in 2008. To strengthen relations with China and become acquainted with the host city, the Chinese Paralympic Committee was given the task of organising the General Assembly, the 1st IBSA World Blind Sports Conference and meetings of the outgoing and incoming Executive Committees. The opening and closing ceremonies of the proceedings, the largest ever IBSA assembly, were attended by representatives from the Chinese Department of State for Disability, the Chinese Paralympic Committee, the China Association of the Blind, a WBU member, under the auspices of the umbrella organisation in the disability sector, the China Disabled Persons' Federation. More than 100 delegates took part in plenary sessions and working sessions, discussing issues such as IBSA’s role within the new International Paralympic Committee structure, strengthening and developing IBSA as an International Federation and the hosting and organisation of IBSA’s World Championships. The Assembly also approved numerous amendments to its constitution and by-laws, including the following: The Medical Director shall be a full member of IBSA’s Management Committee. A package of amendments designed to bring the documents into line with current sports legislation in Spain, where IBSA is registered as a non-profit-making public interest organisation. In addition, Blind Archery was accepted as an official sport, joining the list of fourteen sports this International Federation recognises and bringing the number of sports for the visually impaired IBSA delivers to blind and partially sighted people worldwide to fifteen. The new IBSA Executive Committee for the period 2005-2009, elected in Beijing, is as follows: President: Michael Barredo (Philippines). Vice-President: Serafin Lizoain (Spain). Secretary General: Michel Berthézène (France). Treasurer: Silvia Aldini (Italy). Technical Director: Antonio Menescal (Brazil). Medical Director: Georges Challe (France). Continental Delegate Africa: Reynolds Permal (Mauritius). Continental Delegate America: David Farias (Brazil). Continental Delegate Asia: Radha Krishnan (Malaysia). Continental Delegate Europe: Antonio Neves (Portugal). Continental Delegate Oceanía: Ray McLeod (New Zealand). Member-at-Large: Weimin Teng (China). Member-at-Large: Oral Miller (United States). Member-at-Large: Frances Candiru (Uganda). Member-at-Large: Neil O’Donovan (Ireland). In a moving ceremony during the closing of the assembly, IBSA’s new President Michael Barredo (Philippines) presented the Victor Ludorum award ("Winner of the Games") to the outgoing President Enrique Pérez. The Victor Ludorum is IBSA’s highest honour and is presented to outstanding recipients who have contributed notably to the promotion of blind sports worldwide. The award is a sculpture designed by Spaniard Javier Mariscal, who was also responsible for, among other works, Cobi, the world famous mascot of the Barcelona Paralympic Games 1992. The first Victor Ludorum was presented to the then IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch.Both the General Assembly and the Blind Sports Conference were successful events, judging from feedback received from those attending. The organisation was excellent, providing an ideal setting for constructive participation and debate and allowing delegates to work in optimum conditions to reach consensus on the important issues on the agenda. Blind Archery joins IBSA and IPC Blind archers will now be able to compete at both IBSA-sanctioned events and IPC world and regional championships. Blind Archery was approved as an official IBSA sport at the federation’s General Assembly, held in Beijing, China, in June of this year. After this decision, the next step was to seek the approval of the International Paralympic Committee Archery committee at its Sports Assembly in Massa Cararra, Italy, in October. A motion to accept the sport as a new discipline in its competition calendar was adopted in Italy. IPC Archery was waiting until blind archery had IBSA status before they would consider its inclusion at IPC events. It is accepted that to begin with, there will be two categories for the blind and partially sighted, both male and female, wearing blackouts/shades. (There are eight categories within IBSA archery accommodating the differing levels of vision.) PAGES 10 – 11 INTERVIEW SERAFiN LIZOAiN: ““Sport is a marvellous tool for integration and overcoming disability” Serafin Lizoain is looking forward to the new career challenge he now faces. His life has been full of passionate moments ranging from music and sport, his fondest memories, to stints as an actor or television presenter. And now, in IBSA (International Blind Sports Federation), his dreams turn to what he can achieve for other blind sportsmen and sportswomen. Developing countries and the importance of integration are his key objectives. Why did you decide to stand for a leadership position in blind sports? The Spanish Blind Sports Federation put the idea to me. There were going to be changes in IBSA. The general assembly was coming up and Spain had decided not to run for the position of President but to go for the Vice-President’s post. I assume they thought I was the ideal person to fill the position because of my involvement in sport. I believe I fit well in the IBSA structure because of my profile and long-standing participation in blind sports. When I found out about it I thought it was a great idea. It fits in perfectly with my way of life. You have done a lot of different sports. How do you feel now as a leader in the sports movement? I like the Vice-President position because of the responsibilities involved, and it is also flexible enough to allow me to continue my career in music, carry on doing sports and go on studying psychology at UNED (the Spanish Distance Learning University). In many ways it’s a perfect fit. If the aim had been the Presidency, I wouldn’t have been in a position to take it on since it requires a lot more time and I would have had to give up something else. This role enables me to go on living my life and, at the same time, assume the responsibility of being IBSA Vice-President, with everything that means, and I think I’m getting on well with it. What does sport mean to a blind person? I’ve been doing various sports for some years now, and I’m convinced sport is a marvellous tool for the integration of people with disabilities and blind people in particular. I really do believe this and I know IBSA plays a very important role within the blind sports movement; as an International Federation, it establishes and oversees rules and regulations for blind sports worldwide, apart from organising many international champion- ships, obviously. What was the first challenge you faced in your new position? My main aim is to try to spread the word and promote sport among people with disabilities, and particularly among the visually impaired, as much as I can. However, I will also try to get our message out to society to raise awareness about the benefits of sport as a wonderful tool for mainstreaming and overcoming disabilities. Basically, we are focusing on support programmes for developing countries. We want to help those countries that need our support. To give you some examples, we have assisted Vietnam to enable them to organise blind futsal championships, we provided support to some countries to compete in the IBSA Panamerican Championships held in September in Brazil, and in December this year we held the IBSA Futsal European Championships, where we took over the hosting of the event. Apart from these actions, we organise seminars in different sports with a view to promoting blind sports in those countries where they are not currently played, and in order to win over new converts, people who gain awareness of the fact that doing sport is truly important for blind people as a means of integrating. In short, we develop support programmes for developing countries to allow them to get closer to sport and organise clinics to make our sports more widely-known and explain the advantages of sports activities. My responsibility is to oversee and monitor all these activities and, in some ways, to make sure the limited funds we have are used as fairly and equitably as possible. What are the basic support mechanisms a blind person needs to do sport? Obviously guides are needed in many sports – we can’t run on our own. This is the most basic support and it costs money. I am fortunate in that I’ve got some friends that run and I run with them, but many blind people aren’t as lucky and they need a guide runner. Athletes need help also to travel to championships because many countries can’t afford to pay the travel costs associated with international competition. We try to help them out in this aspect. Marathons, mountaineering, cycling…what other sports have you done? I’ve done a bit of everything but my real passion is running. I’ve tried diving and rowing out of curiosity, but basically my sport is athletics, long-distance running right now. I recently completed a very tough race up the Angliru in Asturias, in the North- West of Spain. It’s so tough because of the slopes. It’s thirteen kilometres of uphill running, with inclines of 21% and 23%. It’s incredible – very tough but a beautiful race and I would like to do it again. How does a blind person feel when he’s doing a sport like mountaineering? The feeling you get is that you are constantly overcoming barriers, because on the mountains you don’t know what your limit is: you don’t know if you’re going to be able to take another step because you can’t recover the strength you use up day after day. You feel weaker and weaker. Without a doubt the most interesting part of mountaineering is this struggle to better yourself and not go beyond your limit, because the lessons you learn help you later with everyday problems that crop up. You become stronger inside and can deal with any obstacle life throws at you. I’ve truly experienced this, and it makes you much stronger. People are really mistaken – they ask how a blind person can enjoy it if they can’t see. High up in the mountains there’s nothing to see, only the sky, snow and mountain peaks. What is worth seeing is interior, it’s inside you. That’s what this feeling of struggling gives you: it’s a way to get to know yourself better. That’s what’s really there to see on the mountains. Or at least that’s what I saw. You’re a singer, an actor, a TV presenter, an athlete…is there anything you consider absolutely indispensable in your life that’s left for you to do? Go on living and fighting to lead a decent life. Get the most out of life. I’m studying psychology right now: it’s a challenge I’ve set myself. I’m in no rush and I don’t know if I’ll work in this field at any point, but I enjoy it a lot. I’m doing it basically for myself, to learn about social psychology, individual psychology and, of course, personal psychology. Of everything you’ve done, what’s the real passion in your life? Music, without a doubt. I was born for music, and what I really like, what I like most, although it’s not the only thing, is music. In life, though, you have to spread your wings and do different things because you risk concentrating on just one and if things don’t go well you get frustrated. Luckily, I have a lot of interests and although the music industry has been going through a bad patch for a few years, I’ve got other things to make up for that. Music and sport: do you think there’s a special relationship? Yes. I think there’s a clear link between music and sport. In my case at least, sport helps me get rid of all the mental and physical toxins life hits you with, and deal more positively with difficulties. Music - like life, like sport - is a long-distance event, so the more you train the fitter you are for the race and the more strength you have to continue the struggle. I can’t imagine my life without music or sport. Blanca Abella PAGE 12 SPORTS Aster, star of the Winter Paralympic Games The Italian city of Turin is gearing up to host the 9th Winter Paralympic Games from the 10th to the 19th of March 2006. Almost 600 athletes with a disability from 45 countries will compete for medals in four sports: alpine skiing, nordic skiing, ice hockey and a Scottish sport based on precision on ice, wheelchair curling, that will make its Paralympic debut. The 9th Paralympic Winter Games Turin 2006 will be held under the watchful eye of the games mascot, Aster, a smiling, shining star full of enthusiasm who was born to spread Paralympic values: determination, passion and courage to inspire and excite the world. The Paralympic Games are held within the framework of the Olympic Games, sharing their spirit, overarching philosophy, organisation and infrastructure. Competition will take place in several sites in the Piemonte region, including Pragelato, Sestriere, Borgata, Pinerolo and, of course, Turin. Local authorities have developed a co-ordinated plan to ensure that all local sites of public interest in the region and sports facilities hosting events are accessible to people with a disability. The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960 and since then the summer games have been held eleven times and the winter games eight times. The last two winter games were held in Nagano (Japan) in 1998 and Salt Lake City (USA) in 2002. India: Eyeway Project A runner with a cause The legendary athlete Emil Zatopek, the Czech Locomotive, once said, "If you want to win something, run the 100 metres. If you want an experience, run a marathon." And this is precisely what George Abraham, Director of the Score Foundation Eyeway Project from New Delhi, has done. George ran the Delhi Half Marathon, held on the 16th of October, to raise funds to finance a radio programme named Eyeway: Yeh Hai Roshni Ka Caravan. Broadcast weekly on the All India radio station since 2004, Eyeway: Yeh Hai Roshni Ka Caravan is a logical extension of the philosophy behind the Eyeway Project; informing, inspiring and including blind and partially sighted people. For more information, and to make a donation to keep George Abraham’s project running, contact: Project Eyeway Score Foundation (www.eyeway.org), 125-B, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi, 110 049, India. E-mail: email@example.com. PAGES 13 – 14 AWARD Angeline Chand, recipient of the Takeo Iwahashi Award Award Selection Committee recognises tenacious struggle Angeline Chand, Secretary General of the United Blind Persons of Fiji and President of the Fiji Disabled People’s Association, the blind and disabled persons organisations respectively in the Pacific archipelago, has been granted the 27th Takeo Iwahashi Award. Takeo Iwahashi was a blind man who waged a fierce battle to defend the rights of people with disabilities from Japan to Korea and Manchuria. His advocacy led to the enactment of the Law for Disabled Persons and the Compulsory Education System of Blind Children. He was the first President of the Japan League of Societies for the Blind and the National Council of Social Welfare Institutions for the Blind. When Mr Iwahashi died in 1954 his successors established the Takeo Iwahashi Award in his honour with funds from the Nippon Lighthouse, a Braille printing house he had founded in 1935 and which he turned into a service delivery institution for the blind, first as a library and later as an information and culture resource centre and medical and rehabilitation centre. The Takeo Iwahashi Award recognises outstanding people who dedicate their lives to the cause of blind people and people with other disabilities. The list of recipients is a veritable who’s who of humanity: Bill Brohier, David Blyth,… and Angeline Chand receiving the distinction has the added merit of gender, as the Selection Committee noted in announcing the award: "The status of blind women is still unfavourable in many countries and your leadership and positive participation are ardently expected by many sisters". A tireless advocate, Angeline Chand has campaigned on numerous fronts ranging from books and information in Braille format and accessibility of the built environment to employment and gender equality, with disabled women suffering double discrimination. Blind children are only entitled to primary education. Adults have the right to work but even public buildings are inaccessible. "People with disabilities", says Mrs Chand, "do not complain about human rights violations because there is a lack of awareness". Deep in the heart of the South Pacific, in a part of the world that we often call paradise, the Fiji Islands is 92nd in the 2005 United Nations Human Development Index (from a total of 177 countries), whereas three years ago it was 81st. Resources are lacking to extend special education programmes and, she has been told, even to adapt buildings to meet minimum accessibility criteria. But Angeline’s long struggle goes on and progress is being made: the Labour Relations law recently passed obliges companies with more than 50 employees to set aside at least 2 per cent of jobs for people with disabilities. Good news it seems, but the reality is somewhat different. "There is already legislation stating that the government must take into account employment for people with disabilities, but it only exists on paper", Mrs Chand complains. She is hopeful that the new act will "bring about a change in attitude in secondary and further education institutions", aware as she is that education is the best insurance policy for employment and independence. "We may be blind", she says in her speeches, "but we can carry out tasks that sighted people do. We possess special skills that allow us to work well." This, however, is a moment to celebrate. Celebration in the words of the Takeo Iwahashi Award Selection Committee, which expressed its "gratitude and admiration" in an emotional message telling her she had been granted the award; "…you are the leader of visually impaired persons not only in Fiji but in the whole pacific countries and areas." And in the words of Angeline Chand, in thanking the committee and accepting the award; "As a recipient of this award, I feel very proud…. I dedicate this award to the blind and low vision people of Fiji and the Pacific”. I. F. BEIJING, November 2005 International Paralympic Committee elects new Governing Board and presents Paralympic Orders and Awards The 2005 IPC General Assembly, held in November in Beijing, was the largest to date and was the stage for the presentation of Paralympic Orders. Enrique Pérez Bazán, Secretary General of the World Blind Union, was awarded the Paralympic Order at the event. The public recognition afforded by the award of the Paralympic Order to Enrique Pérez Bazán is just part of the work he carries out within ONCE. According to the WBU Secretary General, "this is acknowledgement for the work I did as IBSA President, representing the policy ONCE has set out in the field of sport – it is in fact a direct recognition for ONCE". For him, success is based on one fundamental idea: "During my time as IBSA President and as a member of IPC, I focussed on bringing us together, with the aim of ensuring IPC fulfilled a number of criteria when organising homogeneous Paralympic Games that are counterparts to the Olympic Games." In his opinion this award is also an acknowledgement of the ever-growing role IBSA has continued to play through the years in close co-operation and liaison with the interests of the wider dis- ability movement. A fond farewell The IPC General Assembly and the presentation of the Paralympic Order were the ideal moments to bid Enrique Pérez Bazán a fond farewell. "This public recognition was a moving event and has allowed me, in a worldwide gathering such as the International Paralympic Committee’s General Assembly, to say goodbye and farewell to the Paralympic family. Now that my political efforts internationally are focussed on the WBU, after four years leading IBSA as President and as a member of the IPC Executive Committee this was the climax and I am deeply satisfied", says the WBU Secretary General. And, as a further sign of support for his leadership and another emotional opportunity to wish farewell to what he calls "the Paralympic family", in the same week the Spanish Paralympic Committee (SPC) named Enrique Pérez Bazan Lifelong Member of the SPC. Paralympic Orders and 1st Paralympic Awards The presentation ceremony of the Paralympic Orders, the highest recognition presented by IPC to people or organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to the Paralympic Movement, took place during the second day of the 2005 IPC General Assembly. Six of the recipients were present in Beijing to receive the Paralympic Order: Enrique Pérez Bazán, Chris Cohen, Leen Coudenys, Ian Harrison, Deng Pufang (son of Deng Xiaoping, former Chinese President) and Youn Dai Whang. At the Closing Dinner the 2005 Paralympic Awards Ceremony was held. In the sports categories, the winners were Brazilian swimmer Clodoaldo Silva (Best Male Athlete), Japanese swimmer Mayumi Narita (Best Female Athlete), the Canadian Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team (Best Team Performance), fencer Chui Yee Yu from Hong Kong (Best Games Debut) and equestrianism judge Jonquil Solt from Great Britain in the "Best Official" category. In the media section of the awards, the BBC picked up the award in the "Broadcast" section, the Daily Telegraph took the Written (Print) award, Yahoo! Japan won the Written (Online) category and Belgian Lieven Coudenys took the award in the Photo category. Finally, Dr. Colin Higgs from Canada was the recipient of the 2005 Paralympic Scientific Award. The newly-elected Governing Board Elections to the Governing Board were held as part of the 2005 IPC General Assembly. This year’s assembly in Beijing was the largest to date, with more than 300 participants from 90 National Paralympic Committees, five Regions, four IOSDs (International Organizations of Sports for the Disabled) and 24 Sports. Philip Craven was re-elected President with 103 votes out of 123 possible for a four year term. Mr Craven, from Great Britain, was the only nominee for the position. For the post of Vice-President there were initially five candidates and, after the withdrawal of two nominees, Miguel Sagarra was elected to the position with 70 votes. The IPC structure has undergone considerable modification during these elections: the old Executive Committee, the governing body in IPC up to now, has disappeared and in its place IPC now has a Governing Board in which the President, one Vice-President and 12 Members at Large represent the overall interest of IPC. The new Governing Board is the result of five years’ work to adjust to new circumstances. IPC has undergone a significant standardisation process and is achieving ever-stronger, ever-larger and ever-more important Paralympic Games. PAGES 15 – 17 REPORT GLORIA RODRIGUEZ FIGUEROA, innovative and socially aware designer. Fashion for the blind. The Pasarela Gaudí Fashion Week, held annually in Barcelona (Spain), had a surprise in store at its 2005 edition: a show titled "Unseeing Eyes" that received critical press acclaim as "ground-breaking".: While this term often lacks substance and is generally overused, in this case the adjective fits the bill since the show was truly ground- breaking in at least three aspects. First of all, because of the beautiful modern designs presented by Gloria Rodríguez Figueroa, a young Galician fashion designer now living in Barcelona. Secondly, because each item of clothing used in the show bore a Braille label and material produced to describe each garment included the text in Braille and an embossed picture of the item on acetate rayon. All designed, needless to say, to reach out to blind people and enable them to select their clothes independently. And thirdly, the show was ground-breaking in that it is a prime example of the ever-growing trend towards Braille labelling, the subject now of European Union guidelines, and what is more in the world of haute couture, often dismissed as elitist and preoccupied merely with aesthetics and generally considered to be oblivious to the everyday problems of normal people in society. This is precisely the third ground-breaking aspect of the work of Gloria Rodríguez Figueroa. To describe her as a "fashion designer" doesn’t do her justice: her work is akin to that of an artist, going beyond the normal boundaries of design to explore new avenues in research, creation and, indeed, art. And for many people, the best kind of art: art that overlaps with society and provides answers to its desires and needs. One of Gloria’s first collections was inspired by the homeless. At the 2003 Pasarela Gaudí Fashion Week her models wore masks and black armbands in "mourning" for the sinking of the Prestige, the oil tanker responsible for an oil spill in Galicia that turned local beaches black, and in protest against the war in Iraq. Black was very much to the fore again in her 2005 collection as she attempted to get her message across to society: a range of black, greys and colours inspired by smoke and fog…a lack of colour that ranges from white, representing sight, to black, symbol-ising blindness. Garments made of wool, cotton and jute…material that is lightly starched to give it more volume and make it nicer to the touch; combined with tulle and silk the items retain their softness, fullness and warmth. These are the features of Gloria Rodriguez’s designs. To under- line the point, her models took to the stage with their eyes covered by long fringes and old clothes were strewn over the catwalk to represent the ob-stacles that visually impaired people have to deal with on a daily basis. The fact that the blind need to depend on others to select their clothes served as an inspiration to the Spanish designer, who gives classes in creativity and technical design in Barcelona. The collection is the result of her wish to contribute to the independence of the blind. The label she designed for the collection is exhaustive, including information on the brand, the type of item, the colour of the material, how it should be washed, the size and the price. INTERVIEW GLORIA RODRIGUEZ FIGUEROA I’m trying to do something for others. “My collections are based on extremely creative projects and studies I do beforehand", explains Gloria Rodríguez Figueroa. "I don’t think my job consists in creating fashion every six months; it’s about working on a concept and bringing it to life through an object called a garment". Unseeing Eyes is, in this sense, not just a collection of garments: it is a project. At the 2003 Gaudí Fashion Week, your models wore white masks and black armbands as a sign of mourning for the Prestige catastrophe and in protest against the war in Iraq. Your 2005 Gaudí collection has been covered widely in the press because it was related to the blind. So there is a strong political and social aspect to your work. Why this involvement and how do you put together your work? I’m interested in life and the evolution of life. I try to find answers to these questions. What I observe and the con- clusions I reach become part of the research project that I then present to the public by means of something called garments. It’s as simple as that. I feel close to many different sectors of society and I feel I have a responsibility to avoid getting caught up in the futile and aesthetic world we call fashion. I use that platform and my involvement in it to stake claims, or simply to make people reconsider and get involved in things that are important and, for many, everyday issues. In this case we are dealing with blindness. Fashion nowadays, and aesthetics in general, plays a major role in our lives; people are controlled by things such as an item of clothing. So why not use this intelligently, turn things around and benefit some sectors of society to make their daily lives easier? “My work method is to observe, analyse, investigate, create and carry out the right testing to present a project. I observe the world around me and try to learn from it. I listen and speak about what’s going on around me and then do something useful for others. I try to look beyond the structure of a particular moment and express that through design. Observations of life, concepts, behaviour and aptitudes… I try to relate what has happened in the past and to do this I base my work on the evolution of garments that represent the past in order to convert them to a present time that looks to the future.”. How did you reach this concept for blind people? My interest in this comes from contacts I have with people with different disabilities - physical, mental and sensorial - and I always sum up this experience in the same way: I have been very lucky to get the chance to learn from them. Their ability to adapt is, for me, one of the most incredible things in terms of how individuals evolve. They represent clear examples of life and how to overcome all kinds of barriers in all settings. I think this is an example that we can all learn from of how human beings evolve and overcome limitations. So I don’t think what I do is particularly praiseworthy: what they achieve is. Are you especially interested in the blind? I’m especially interested in life, in evolution and everything that goes with it. This means that, like all globalisation, you need to take absolutely every aspect of life into consideration. You’ve taken out three patents to protect your work. Do you plan to sell your items to the public and continue your work in this direction? I’m interested in selling my garments to the public because they’re useful and also because I face the problem of not being able to go on funding my research. However, I don’t want to give up this experimental field I have managed to open up, and selling my clothes would help me to pay for further progress in my research. It would be interesting if readers who are specialists in the subject and their organisations showed an interest in bringing the product to the market since I think I am more a researcher than an entrepreneur. The world of colour has a special meaning for blind people. How do you approach this in your creative process? To be precise I contacted Constansz, an artist who has produced a project called Sistema Constansz that works with colours using relief to create a colour language. I think the best thing is for each person to investigate and do research on what is closest to them, then pull together the strands and research to come up with something wider, deeper and more accurate. Ignacio Fontes PAGES 18 – 19 REPORT DOUBLE TSUNAMI for blind victims The tragedy occurred on the 26th of December 2004. When it was all over, the devastation became clear: more than 300 000 people had lost their lives, entire islands and beaches had been wiped off the map and destroyed villages were buried under the mud, animal carcasses and debris produced by the crushing force of the natural elements. On Boxing Day 2004, an earthquake registering 9.0 on the Richter Scale occurred at a depth of four thousand metres in the Indian Ocean. The result was a series of tsunamis, giant waves that destroy everything in their path, moving at more than 700 kilometres per hour. The tsunamis soon reached the west coast of Aceh province in Indonesia, just 250 kilometres from the epicentre. After hitting Indonesia, they went on to strike Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Maldives, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and the Seychelles. In some coastal villages in Sumatra more than 70 % of the inhabitants lost their lives in the tragedy. The death toll in Aceh, according to figures released in March, amounted to 230 000 people and, due to heavy rain, the figure continued to rise as a result of outbreaks of cholera and other illnesses. 600 000 people were being housed in temporary accommodation in refugee camps in the area at the time, with local infrastructures completely destroyed, limited access to food and water and, to make matters worse, violent clashes between the Indonesian army and local separatist movements. In fact, NGOs had been unable to access the area until the tsunami struck as a result of these disturbances. As is usually the case with tragedies of this nature, the tsunami was doubly cruel to blind people in the region and to people with other disabilities. During the first fortnight of March a team from Pertuni, the Indonesian Blind Union, carried out a reconnaissance visit to assess the situation in ten of the most affected areas and in local refugee camps. Due to local conditions making it impossible to travel by land, the team could not gain access to the five worst areas. Relief Plans and follow-up Pertuni’s National Executive Committee issued a report and established plans for relief and to monitor the situation. The gruesome details of the calamities suffered by populations that are particularly vulnerable to disasters become almost a snapshot of general misfortune. The Pertuni team surveyed 287 blind disaster victims in the ten areas mentioned and, apart from the injured, 15 of these had died or disappeared and 133 were included in the "severely affected" category since they had lost relatives, their home and their jobs. One hundred and thirty-nine were categorised as being in the "difficult" group, being victims of the aftermath of the catastrophe, living in a chaotic environment unfit for human beings, having experienced a drastic loss of income, suffering from ill health and being forced to share accommodation and food with relatives and friends. Also among the victims were 37 sighted persons: 7 widows and 30 orphans whose blind spouses or parents were killed in the tragedy. Of the survivors, 76 were living in refugee camps, 100 were sharing rooms for the blind and 76 were housed with relatives or friends. All of them were living in dreadful conditions with numerous shortages - ranging from clothing to white canes - with only their basic food requirements met and little or no drinking water. In addition, they were in need of psychological assistance. The Immediate Relief Plan provided food and clothing, basic household utensils, white canes and other support material to all victims. The study, naturally, also surveyed the loss of housing among the blind population and damage to buildings housing special schools. In the former case, the residence was also the blind person’s workplace on many occasions, especially among masseurs and those employed in handicrafts. As a result, the Relief Follow-up Plan, to be completed by December 2005, established as a priority the rebuilding or repair of homes and workplaces and Pertuni’s regional office and five local offices in the region, in addition to providing capital funding to enable 15 widows to set up family bus- inesses that will support their families and allow 12 orphaned children to attend school. The Plan also includes training in the use of new assistive devices for victims with residual sight and the provision of equipment to special schools and rehabilitation centres for the blind. Sri Lanka The Cruel Hand of Fate As fishermen prepared to take to the sea and people began to enjoy a day on the beach, the tranquil morning of Sunday the 26th became a fateful one when the coast of Sri Lanka was struck by mighty waves of up to 30 metres that tore their way through to inland roads, destroying everything in their path. 32 000 lives were lost in those first moments, hundreds of fishing boats were destroyed, 100 000 jobs were lost instantly, above all in the fishing industry, 75 000 homes were torn apart and schools, public buildings and infrastructures were devastated. Even the sand dunes were transformed, changing forever the geography of the coastal region. Local organisations in Sri Lanka advised that people with visual impairment were the worst affected by the tragedy, although exact figures for the number of victims and the losses suffered are not available. Some cases were particularly heartbreaking, such as the students from the School for the Blind and Deaf in Tangalle, who were tra-velling by bus to a Christmas party: only six survived when their bus was washed away by the sheer force of the floods. Despite the world’s rapid response and offers to help victims - around 5 000 foreign NGOs operated in Sri Lanka – homes and financial assistance have not been provided as required, including in the northern and eastern provinces, under the control of the Tamil Tigers, where the blind and people with other disabilities suffer most from political violence. PAGES 20 – 22 IN BRIEF Blind son inspires father to create new accessible book format Sharing a dream in print and Braille In life, a father and his small son can share so many things. However, reading a story book together before going to sleep is an especially moving and intimate moment. Eric Ligon, graphic designer and professor at the University of North Texas, has used his experience to solve the heartbreaking problem he faced of not being able to experience this pleasure with his eight-year-old son Ethan, who is blind from birth. Thanks to Eric’s skills and, perhaps above all, his tenacity, he has used his frustration to help him come up with an invention that enables sighted people and the blind to use the same book and, as a result, lets them read and share it and enjoy this moment of the day together. “It’s a simple solution”, says Ligon. “We reproduce the original print and illustrations in the top portion of our page and add the braille in the bottom portion. And, we place the corresponding print characters on the page again, directly above each braille cell. So, braille readers’ hands don’t block what sighted people are trying to see, and it’s easy for sighted folks to tell what the braille says.” Eric Ligon and Bruce Curtis (Executive Director) have set up BrailleInk, a new nonprofit organization that publishes existing popular children’s books in a new format that is easier for braille and print readers to share. BrailleInk’s editions are produced as large-size board books so that the braille embossing is more secure and the construction is sturdier. The back of each book features a brief braille glossary that provides the alphabet, numbers, punctuation, and basic rules for braille usage in that book. BrailleInk recently announced its first two titles, “Guess How Much I Love You”, by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram, and “The Dot”, by Peter Reynolds. Both books are for children aged between 18 months and 8 years old, have been published previously in print and are winners of multiple awards. “These books”, adds Ligon, “are for adult braille readers to share with sighted kids and vice versa. What is more, since the print and braille are clearly correlated and the original print and illustration are preserved, BrailleInk’s books also serve as an effective introduction to braille for sighted folks interested in learning about disabilities.” Each book costs 19.95 USD, plus postage and packaging, and the man responsible for this miracle concludes, “It’s a real joy to see an idea come to fruition – especially one that can help so many people.” For more information or to place an advance order, contact Bruce Curtis at 2401 E. McKinney Street, Suite 1526, Denton, TX, 76209 (USA), (Telephone: (940) 483-9343 or (800) 324-2919. Fax: (940) 243-8771), firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.brailleink.org. Marga Schulze Award For blind women in Africa and Asia In Kuala Lumpur from the 16th to the 21st of July 2006, at the upcoming ICEVI World Conference, the Marga Schulze Foundation for the Promotion of Blind Girls and Women in Africa and Asia will present the first Marga Schulze Award, including the sum of 5 000 euro, to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of girls and/or women in certain countries or even on a continental level. The Christoffel Blindenmission and its founders, Doctor Hans-Eugen Schulze, a retired blind judge who sat on the German Federal Appeal Court, and his wife Marga, will receive nominations for the award until the 28th of February 2006. a step towards independence First Handheld Reading Machine for the Blind The National Federation of the Blind (United States) is working with Raymond Kurzweil to develop the first handheld reading machine for the blind. Prototypes of the device are being tested in the United States, and a beta version of the product will undergo extensive review and testing in the field during the spring. The product is a computer program that can be loaded into a PDA with an attached camera. It should be available for distribution to members of the public in July 2006 at an estimated retail cost which will permit the user to purchase the software, a PDA, a reading stand, a digital camera, and a case to hold the components for under 3 000 USD. The prototype units measure five inches by three and a half inches by an inch and a half and weigh less than a pound. Requirements for the system are a powerful PDA and a high-resolution digital camera. The device can read printed text in most fonts and in most lighting conditions. Future development is planned to ensure that the Kurzweil National Federation of the Blind Reader can recognize print on curved surfaces, print on liquid crystal displays (LCDs), print on computer screens, handwriting and other visual images. The device in its test configuration incorporates a speaker to "read" recognized text and an earphone for private listening. It can easily be carried to meetings, classes, conferences, or other gatherings where print is distributed. The handheld reader can recognize print at almost any angle and regardless of the degree of rotation. The exciting part is that it fits into a hand and can easily be carried in a coat pocket. For further information contact: Marc Maurer, President, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 21230 USA. UNITED STATES University degree in Braille translation American Telco Verizon Communications has renewed its partnership agreement with the American Foundation for the Blind to promote the new career of Textbook Braille Transcriber. The project will be finalised in 2006 at the University of Texas. Verizon will provide 200 000 USD to support the professorship and to complete design of the online community college level courses and virtual campus aimed at training future experts in this field. The Texas Education Agency and 35 of the leading American organisations and associations in the field of education and service provision to the visually impaired have partnered with the Foundation to work on this project. This co-operation has helped to bring the issue of the lack of textbooks for visually impaired pupils, and the delays these pupils suffer before receiving this material as a result, to the forefront of the education agenda. France Virtual library in Paris The Pierre et Marie Curie University in Paris, in partnership with the BrailleNet network and Eurobraille, has completed research on setting up a virtual library for people with visual impairment. The project received financial backing from the European Union and the French Ministry for Culture and Communication and will enable blind readers to read e-books on Braille devices and manage a "virtual library". A computerised password system will be used to identify Braille devices used for this purpose and to avoid illegal copying. Researchers are also working on using speech synthesis to create talking versions of the books contained in the library. Colombia INCISoft, cutting-edge technology for the visually impaired The Colombian National Institute for the Blind (INCI) has developed a software programme for the blind and partially sighted. The initiative is designed to achieve the Institute’s goal of making state-of-the-art technology available to visually impaired people, thus facilitating access to information for them to be able to carry out everyday tasks related to work or study independently and autonomously. INCISoft is a hi-tech tool that will make it easier for the visually impaired to access information displayed on a computer using a voice synthesiser, a screen magnifier (for the partially sighted) and Braille transcription of texts in digital format. Included in the INCISoft package are products such as Syntext, a text processor that works with text and voice synthesis simultan- eously, Syncalc, a spreadsheet programme incorporating voice synthesis, Dicson, a dictionary that gives a spoken definition in Spanish of words written in English, INCIreader, a digital talking book reader, DCP, a piece of multimedia software to teach Braille and abacus and EVA, a multimedia tool aimed at assessing the functional residual sight of children aged between three and eight years old. Spain Digital notebooks for blind pupils The ONCE (Spanish National Organisation of the Blind) and Hewlett-Packard (HP) have announced the results of a pilot project in education with blind and partially sighted children involving the use of Tablet PCs. Nineteen children of different ages and with different degrees of visual impairment took part in the project. The Tablet PCs used in the tests included a range of tools to enable the blind children to operate them, including the ZoomText screen magnifier, Jaws, a screen reader, and a fibre-optic pen allowing the children to work with embossed material and practise writing. The Tablet PC display can also be placed horizontally or vertically, and this versatility has been found to encourage children to learn. According to the Assistant General Director of Social Services at the ONCE, Mr Vicente Ruiz, "In ONCE we are keen to ensure that all computer platforms are accessible. The problem can be resolved and it is precisely now, when we are at the stage of creating the teaching tools, that we can do so more economically and more quickly." Helena Herrero, General Director of Personal Systems at HP, explained that "taking part in this project gives us the chance to find out at first hand the needs of disabled people, and this will help us to improve our future designs to make them more user-friendly for all types of user." PAGE 23 NOTICE BOARD Key international events November 2005 6th-8th: 2nd World Lottery Forum 2005, Cancun (Mexico). Organised by the Mexican National Lottery and the National Lottery for Public Assistance, this forum aims to gain insight into the current status regarding lotteries worldwide. 12th-14th: International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Executive Committee meeting, Beijing (China). 16th: meeting in London (UK) of the Chairman of the WBU Permanent Office Working Group, Enrique Pérez, with Maryanne Diamond, Susan Spungin and Colin Low, to determine which administrative tasks currently carried out by the Secretary General and the Treasurer are to be transferred to the future "Office of the WBU". 18th-19th: International Paralympic Committee General Assembly, Beijing (China). The new IPC Governing Board will be elected during the assembly. 25th-27th: meeting of the European Blind Union Commission for Liaising with the European Union, Bilund (Denmark). December 2005 3rd: International Disability Day, proclaimed by the United Nations in Resolution 47/3, dated the 14th of October 1992, and European Disability Day, as promoted by the European Union and the European Disability Forum (EDF). March 2006 10th-19th: Winter Paralympic Games, Turin (Italy). 24th-25th: WBU Executive Committee meeting, Baltimore (USA). July 2006 16th-21st: ICEVI World Conference, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) October 2006 6th-7th: WBU Officers Board meeting, Caracas (Venezuela). www.worldblindunion.org The World Blind Union web site (http://www.worldblindunion.org/) continues to receive a steady flow of hits. This rude virtual health is shown by the gradual increase in the number of surfers visiting the site, even from countries that have more limited access to Internet. In general terms, the figures have held up well over the last few months: more than 80 000 people visited the WBU web site between April and September. Over 40 000 hits were registered in the third quarter of the year, of which roughly half were from the United States, with the Netherlands and Spain taking turns in second place in the table and the United Kingdom, China, South Africa, Canada and France close behind. The most visited sections of the site, as usual, were the "Publications and Calendars" and "Archive" sections, although logically the pages on the work being done by the new leadership attracted more attention during the last few months. New technologies for vision ONCE - 4th R+D AWARD The Spanish National Organisation of the Blind (ONCE) has announced the fourth edition of its R+D Award in New Technologies. This biennial award is aimed at promoting technological developments in the fields of engineering, artificial intelligence, computer science, telecommunications, microtechnology and nanoelectronics that contribute to the social integration and normalization of the blind and visually impaired. This year’s edition offers a single award of 240 000 euro to the winner. The previous award attracted 84 projects from 15 countries in Europe, Asia and America. The Committee of Experts that will make the award is chaired by Professor César Nombela Cano from the Complutense University in Madrid, and is composed of Rafael de Lorenzo García, ONCE Secretary General, Carlos Rubén Fernández Gutiérrez, 3rd Vice-President of the ONCE, Mike Duxbury from Vodafone Limited, Gregorio Fernández Fernández, a Professor at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, José Luis Fernández Coya, CIDAT Director, Hiroshi Kawamura from the International Department of the Japanese Company for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled in Tokyo, Daniel Martín Mayorga from the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, Juan Pérez Mercader, Director of the Astrobiology Centre from the Scientific Research Board (CSIC-INTA), associated to NASA, Francisco Serra Mestres, Professor at the Autónoma University of Barcelona and Robert Sinclair from Microsoft Corporation. Work should be submitted (in Spanish or English) to the following address by the 30th of June 2006: Secretariat of the 4th ONCE International R&D Award in New Technologies for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Calle José Ortega y Gasset 18, 28006 Madrid, Spain For more information, visit: http://www.once.es/otros/premios/imasd. or contact: Burson-Marsteller Almudena Grande: email@example.com Alba Rodríguez: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +34 91 384 67 00 To participate in this publication: Anyone who wishes to contribute content to this publication may do so by sending an e- mail to email@example.com or a letter to the following address: World Blind Union – Secretariat. C/ Almansa 66, 28039 Madrid (Spain) All information related to blind people and their environment have a place on these pages: scientific breakthroughs, typhlotechnology, people remarkable for their vital struggle, for the integration of blind people, for their artistic abilities, etc. We also welcome all graphic material, images and photographs related to blindness.
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