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Working on Issues Around the Globe: The World Blind Union

At the international level, the World Blind Union (WBU) is recognized voice of persons who are blind and partially sighted, and as of December 2011 it has been in existence for 27 years.

After a process that took about five years, the WBU was formed through the union of the International Federation of the Blind (IFB) and the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind (WCWB). However, the WBU represents over a century of global cooperation on blindness issues dating back to the first international conference in 1873 in Vienna, Austria.

Through the leadership of the WBU and the development of its constitution, one of the group’s achievements has been to provide a forum where people who are blind or experience low vision have established the right to speak for themselves. While the prominence of organizations “of” the blind is clearly embedded in its structures, the WBU has also been able to embrace the partnership of both service and consumer groups. While in 1984, about 60 countries were members of the WBU, today it has a representation of national member organizations in more than 170 countries.

Since it was founded in 1984, the WBU has made significant progress towards its objectives of representation, capacity building and resource sharing. Some of the highlights include: leadership and organizational development training, particularly for organizations of the blind in developing countries, in all areas of its work. The following are some of the most outstanding achievements: organization of world forums on such topics as rehabilitation, braille literacy, human rights, blind women and blind children; advocacy in such areas as free postal service for materials for blind persons, the abolition of blinding laser weapons, and the development and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

These achievements have laid the foundation for the continuation of work in three strategic priority areas of: representation, capacity building and resource sharing. Some of the specific objectives envisioned in the fulfilment of these priorities include: improving accessibility in the areas of reading materials, access to technology and safe and independent travel; representation of the needs of blind and partially sighted persons at the United Nations and its agencies; monitoring the implementation of the UN CRPD; building the capacity of organizations of the blind, particularly in developing countries; addressing the unemployment situation of blind persons around the world; addressing the particular needs of blind women, children, youth and elderly persons, as well as those with low vision; and establishing a resource bank on vision loss.

In undertaking its initiatives and fulfilling the objectives, the WBU remains committed to optimizing opportunities for cooperation and collaboration with UN Departments and Agencies with which it is involved, and other international partners. Officials at the World Blind Union believe that its partnerships and opportunities for collaboration have been key to its success and that they will be equally important for the future as they continue their work on changing what it means to be blind.

Adapted from a press release on the WBU’s website: www.worldblindunion.org

Comments

I have done masters in special education and i want to work with wbu, how can i be helpful in some way. I want to help solve the problems related to children with visual impairment . i am from pakistan.