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Editorial: Promoting Equal Participation Throughout The World

Persons who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted have much in common with one another, regardless of where they live. We are all fighting for greater acceptance and recognition, for improved living conditions, and for better opportunities to participate in all aspects of regular community life, both in Canada and around the world.

This international issue of the Canadian Blind Monitor presents a range of snapshots that describe the condition of persons who are blind around the world, as well as some of their activities. It is not intended to be exhaustive, but simply to give readers a better idea of what it is like to live as blind persons in various countries and cultures.

The proposed United Nations (UN) Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities is progressing faster than most previous conventions, and non-governmental organizations (NGO's) are participating far more than ever before. Their continued involvement is crucial, as this Convention must be both forward-looking in its philosophical outlook and effective and tangible in improving the life experiences of all persons with disabilities around the world.

As expected, Canada has played a prominent role in deliberations and its delegation has consulted regularly with Canada's disability community. Although the toughest part is still ahead--the negotiations on final wording, ratification by state parties of the UN, and implementation by each signatory--Canadians who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted expect to see the adoption of a strong Convention, with clearly defined enforcement and monitoring mechanisms. This is the only way this Convention will help the millions of disabled persons around the world to achieve our rightful place in the social and economic fabric of each country.

And it is time that Canada itself, at all levels, "walked the talk" and showed the same level of commitment in helping to improve our living conditions here at home. Only then can Canadians with disabilities truly achieve the goals we are helping others to attain around the world.

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