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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.”

Serafin Lizoain, blind and multi-talented
Sport is a marvellous tool for integration and overcoming disability”.

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”.

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.

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.


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.

The Officers Board reached the following agreements during its working sessions in
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

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.)

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
Tel. 81 3 5291 7885
Fax. 81 3 5291 7886
E-mail: csashida@jeed.org.jp
Or: sashida@jfb.jp

Paula Daye
Chief Executive
Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind

Contact details
Private Bag 99941
Auckland or
4, Mansell Road
Tel.: 64 9 355 68 73
Fax.:64 9 366 00 99
Mobile: 64 275 317 092
E-mail: pdaye@rnzfb.org.nz

Alexandre Neumyvakin
President of All Russia Association of the Blind (VOS)

Contact details
14, Novaya Plochad
109012 Moscow
Tel: (7095) 923 61 60
Fax: (7095) 923 91 49
E-mail: oms@vos.org.ru

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: officeofthepresident@nfb.org

President and C.E.O.
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind

Contact details
1929 Bayview Avenue
Ontario M4G 3E8
Tel: (1-416) 486-2500
Fax: (1-416) 480-7000
E-mail: jim.sanders@cnib.ca

Christopher Friend
Sight Savers International

Contact details
Grosvenor Hall, Bolnore Road
Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 4BX
Tel: (44-1444) 446 600 - 446 663 (direct)
Fax: (44-1444) 446 677
E-mail: cfriend@sightsavers.org

Larry Campbell
ICEVI President

Contact details
c/o Overbrook International Program (Overbrook School for the Blind)
6333 Malvern Avenue
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
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.

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

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

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.

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


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

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.

The grants currently managed by the EuropeAid Co-operation Office are the following:
@LIS - Alliance for the Information Society -

 Action against Antipersonnel Landmines

 Aid for population policies and programmes in the developing countries -

 Aid to uprooted people in Asian and Latin American developing countries



 Asia information & communication technology (Asia-IT&C)





CARDS - Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation

Co-financing with NGOs

Decentralised Cooperation

EU-Asia Pro Eco

 European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights

 Fight against illnesses due to poverty (HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis) in
developing countries

 Food aid and food security

 Integration of gender issues in development co-operation


 Programme of high-level study awards - Latin America
 Promotion of the conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests and
other forests in developing countries

 Promotion of the full integration of the environmental dimension in the development
process of developing countries

 Rehabilitation and reconstruction operations in developing countries

SURE with Russia and the Ukraine


 The EU Partnership for Peace Programme

 The European Development Fund


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

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
The new IBSA Executive Committee for the period 2005-2009, elected in Beijing, is as

President: Michael Barredo (Philippines).
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).
Weimin Teng (China).
Oral Miller (United States).
Frances Candiru (Uganda).
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.)

SERAFiN LIZOAiN: ““Sport is a marvellous tool for integration and overcoming
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
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

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

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

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

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: george@eyeway.org.

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
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
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

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
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.


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.

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

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

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
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.

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
“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),
bcurtis@brailleink.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,
National Federation of the Blind,
1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore,
21230 USA.

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.

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.

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.

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
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."


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).

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

New technologies for vision
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
The previous award attracted 84 projects from 15 countries in Europe, Asia and
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:
or contact:
Almudena Grande: almudena_grande@es.bm.com
Alba Rodríguez: alba_rodriguez@es.bm.com
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 umc@once.es 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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