World Blind Union-Asia Pacific (wbuap) Quadrennium Plan of Action (qpa) 2012-2016

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World Blind Union-Asia Pacific (WBUAP)

Quadrennium Plan of Action (QPA) 2012-2016

Report to the 2016 WBUAP Quadrennium Regional Assembly, Orlando.

Board and Policy Council Members

President: Ms Michiko Tabata

Vice-President: Mr Sungjun Ha

Secretary General: Mr Ivan Ho Tuck Choy

Treasurer: Dr Kevin Murfitt

Executive Members:

Ms Martine Abel-Williamson

Senator Monthian Buntan;

Mr Chong Chan Yau

Chair WBUAP Massage Commission: Mr Zhu Gang (assisted by Mr Peng Lei)

Chair Employment and Economic Empowerment Committee: Mr Andrew Daly

Chair Women’s Committee: Ms Martine Abel-Williamson

Chair ICT and Assistive Technologies Committee: Mr Neil Jarvis

Chair Resource Generation Committee: Dr. Kevin Murfitt

The three sub-regional chairs were:

Southeast Asia: Ms Jasmine Khoo

North East Asia: Ms Gerel Dondovdorj

Pacific-Oceania Dr Kevin Murfitt

This Quadrennium we enjoyed greater participation from member organizations than previously, although more participation is highly encouraged.

The Board, jointly with the chairs of the Committees, met 6 times as Board and Policy Council: Yangon (2013), Skype meeting (2013), Bangkok (2014), Hong Kong (2014), Ulan Baatar (2015) and Manila (2016).

This WBU-Asia Pacific Quadrennium Plan of Action Report is drafted under the five goals of the WBU developed April 2013.

  1. Human rights and representation

    1. Representation at UN agencies and other global (regional) bodies at international, regional and national level

      • UNESCAP and Asia Pacific Disability Forum (APDF)
        WBU-AP has been a member of APDF since 2007, principally represented by Michiko Tabata, which has given us some opportunities to liaise with other DPOs in the region and to strengthen our collaboration with UNESCAP. Immediately before the WBU General Assembly in Bangkok in 2012, the Incheon Strategy was agreed upon by member states of UNESCAP, as goals and indicators for the New Decade of Disabled Persons in Asia Pacific. Since then, WBU-AP participated in the General Assembly of APDF (Hanoi, 2014), as well as Working Committee meetings to monitor the implementation of the Incheon Strategy (2014 in Incheon, 2015 in New Delhi, 2016 in Bangkok), of which WBU-AP is among the 15 CSO members.

      • Disaster Risk Reduction
        Prior to the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015, UNESCAP hosted a conference on inclusive DRR in 2014, with participations from DPOs including WBU-AP, where recommendations were formulated to be submitted to higher structures, in preparation for the Sendai Framework that was adopted in 2015 as a new international framework for DRR.
        WBU and IDA representatives were among the participants of the Sendai Conference, and the framework that was adopted at the end of the conference name persons with disabilities as among the stakeholders when implementing inclusive DRR.

      • International Council for the Education of People with Vision Impairment (ICEVI) on Education For All children with vision impairment (EFA VI).

        Kevin Murfitt represented WBU AP as a member of the ICEVI Pacific committee (see ICEVI Pacific report included in WBU/ICEVI General Assembly papers). Kevin Murfitt and Martine Abel-Williamson will be voting delegates for ICEVI Pacific) at the WBU/ICEVI General Assembly in Orlando.

        Jasmine Ku represented WBU-AP on the ASEAN Disability Forum, and Kevin Murfitt on the Pacific Disability Forum.

    2. Advocating for human rights of blind and partially sighted persons

      • Marrakesh or Copyright Treaty

        Neil Jarvis was appointed by WBU as Asia Pacific Regional Champion for the implementation phase of the Marrakesh Treaty, with assistance from BPC member Chong Chan Yau.

        Five countries in the AP region were among the first 20 around the world to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty. These were Singapore, Mongolia, South Korea, Australia and North Korea. Several others are in the legislative process of ratification and are likely to ratify within the next year.
        At its Mid-term General Assembly in Hong Kong in November 2014, WBUAP issued a closing statement, part of which Called upon all governments throughout the Asia-Pacific region to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty at the earliest opportunity so that persons who are blind or partially sighted or who have other print disability, have full access to works of literature, culture and to educational materials.
        The Hong Kong statement also Welcomed the opportunity to co-operate with the United Nations (UN) Development Programme to build capacity across the region so that persons who are blind or who have print disability are able to advocate for greater access to information.

        The second point in that statement referred to a joint project between UNDP and WBUAP, which included a situational analysis and a mapping exercise which examined copyright laws in selected countries in the region. This study culminated in a report, authored by Jonathan Band and published in December 2015, which examined how those laws compared with the requirements of the Marrakesh Treaty and showed what changes were needed to meet those requirements. The report was officially launched by Neil Jarvis at a regional workshop hosted by UNESCAP and China Federation of Disabled Persons entitled “Accessible Knowledge, Information and Communication for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific”, which took place in Shanghai.

        The report, “Our Right to Knowledge” is an excellent tool which is enabling advocates to work with governments around the region in our campaign to get more ratifications of the Marrakesh Treaty.

  1. Capacity building

    1. Working with international development organizations

      WBU AP/Danish Association of the Blind (DAB)/Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) project and extension with Myanmar

      As was reported at the 2014 Mid-Term Regional Assembly in Hong Kong, the Danish Association of the Blind and WBUAP successfully made an application to the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) for a grant of US $3 million to continue implementing the Third Phase of the Capacity-Building of Organisations of the Blind and Partially-Sighted to run from October 2014 to September 2017. The First Phase began in 2006 with the Second Phase continuing in 2010.
      Strictly speaking, this Third Phase is to further develop and strengthen the Lao Association of the Blind (LAB) and the Mongolian National Federation of the Blind (MNFB), and to assist WBUAP in improving the communication mechanism for gathering and disseminating of information through the newsletter and for uploading onto the WBUAP website. A new component to this Third Phase is the inclusion of the Myanmar National Association of the Blind (MNAB) which, like LAB and MNFB, will be helped to expand their organisation and to develop more services for the members.
      It is very encouraging to learn that great progress is being made in these 3 countries as can be seen from the following glimpses into their achievements:

      LAB, which received their registration from the Lao Government in 2007 and was admitted into WBU that same year, ran its administration from a rented building in Vientiane. Today it has 4 branches and it operates around 4 massage training centres around the country, either on its own or jointly with successful members. Apart from conducting massage training sessions, LAB is involved in training blind people on blindness-specific skills, such as O. & M. and Daily Living Skills, and is raising public awareness on the acceptance of blind people as normal citizens.

      It is also engaged in advocacy work, lobbying for legislations that will enable blind people to access education, welfare benefits and be employed when trained.
      It is gratifying to know that there are a few blind Laotians who are now studying at the tertiary level with LAB providing some support services to them.

      MNFB is making tremendous strides in recent years and has spread its coverage into 19 of the 25 provinces. They operate FM stations, massage centres, info centres and a vocational training centre. Some of their branch offices double up as massage centres to generate income and as information units. At these info centres members can come to access some of the services, such as Braille and audio books, computers, exercise equipment and games. They also use these info centres for conducting training courses or for members to meet regularly.

      MNFB is very active in advocacy work and has championed legislations in favour of blind and disabled people. Two of such examples were their active efforts, jointly with other disabled groups, in lobbying their Government to ratify the UNCRPD and the Marrakesh Treaty. Yes, Mongolia is one of the 5 countries in this Region to have ratified the Treaty and, together with the rest of the 15 ratifications around the world on 30 June 2016, has set in motion the implementation process.

      MNAB, which together with other institutions of Myanmar, had lagged behind most organisations serving the blind due to the UN sanction imposed upon that country for many years and recently lifted, is making remarkable progress under the DANIDA Project.

      Although MNAB was founded around 1997, it operated at the pleasure of the Government without receiving formal recognition. They only obtained formal status in 2014 when they got their registration certificate. In June 2015 they had set up their new head office in a rented 3-story building in Yangon, and the Sec. Gen. had the great honour to be invited to witness the dedication ceremony. This was followed soon with the establishment of a new branch at Sagaing.
      Similar to other organisations serving the blind, MNAB is very active in promoting access to education, rehabilitation, vocational training, employment, etc. They are involved in Braille production, teaching of ICT skill, massage training and handicraft-making. MNAB obtained assistance from Microsoft and came up with a Myanmarese text-to-speech software. They run massage centres to create employment and also to generate income to run other services.
      MNAB is very involved in advocacy work as can be seen from some of their recent engagements: Advocating for Education for All BVI Children; lobbied for the signing of the UNCRPD; participated in the drafting of the National Disability Act which came into force in June 2015; successfully negotiated with the Government to devise a method to enable BVI voters to take part in the November 2015 national elections that installed a democratically-elected civilian Government; contributed ideas to the drawing up of the National Welfare Plan; etc.

      To help WBUAP to further strengthen its communication mechanism, particularly in respect of the WBUAP website and East Wind, the DANIDA Project has budgeted some funds for the recruitment of a part-time Editor. Mary Schnackenberg from New Zealand was recruited in October 2015 to take up the job. Her duty, amongst others, is to liaise with Member-Countries in gathering useful and timely information for the newsletter and the' WBUAP website. In order to get the maximum benefit from this move, the frequency of the newsletter will be increased, and Member-Countries are urged to appoint Country Information Liaison Officers (CILO's) to work with the Editor. We are happy to announce that New Zealand, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Mongolia, and Japan have responded to the call, and we sincerely hope more will follow suit.

      The Board and Policy Council wish to emphasise that CILO's are not meant to take away any of the duties or responsibilities of National Delegates; they are there to help gather and circulate information to and from WBUAP to make the sharing of information more efficient and meaningful. National Delegates are busy people and very often they do not have the time to make contributions to the regional communication process.
      In line with the call of the Sec. Gen. for Member-Countries to send in periodic reports on activities and developments taking place in their countries for the East Wind and the WBUAP website, and not to wait until assembly time to do so, BPC will strive to ensure that more information on the DANIDA Project, particularly on developments happening in the 3 participating countries, will be made available via the existing communication channels.

      The Board and Policy Council take this opportunity to thank DANIDA for their support to WBUAP and the 3 participating countries. They are also most thankful to the Danish Association of the Blind for assisting in the application of the DANIDA Project, and to Ask Abildgaard and Susanne Koch Andersen for co-ordinating the Project. Ask Abildgaard has in March 2016 resigned from the Project to take up his appointment as one of the 2 vice-Presidents of DAB, and we extend to him our heartiest congratulations and wish him well in his new position.

    2. The Onkyo World Braille Essay Contest

      WBUAP Gen. Sec. Ivan Ho Tuck Choy continues to lead this series of Braille essay contests which had been running in this Region since 2003. It is heartening to note that every year we have been receiving between 28 to 35 entries from 6 to 9 countries.

      In 2015 we received 30 essays from Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Myanmar, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines and Vietnam. The Otsuki Prize of US $1,000 of that year was awarded to David Kovacic of Australia who wrote on the topic "The positive experiences of living with blindness, opportunities that can come from being blind".

      In his racy style and with a touch of humour, David showed how, despite becoming blind and deaf in the late years, one could overcome the challenges to live a full and meaningful life by maintaining a positive outlook and turning problems into opportunities. He also showed that with the help of adaptive equipment and with the use of one's remaining senses of smell and touch, one could rise from a vegetable state to reclaim life and cover many more milestones worth of adventure and excitement. The Excellence prizes of $500 each for groups A and B went to Vanessa Vlajkovic of Australia and Lu Van Duong from Vietnam. The 4 Fine Works prizes all went to females - Wong Tsz Sin and Choi Lok Sze from Hong Kong, Lucita Recana Manarpaac from Philippines and Ramauli Angelica Butar-Butar from Indonesia. Again, our heartiest congratulations to the winners.

      For the 2016 Contest, 32 entries had been received from the same batch of countries which had participated in the previous year except that Malaysia had replaced New Zealand which did not send in entries. The WBUAP Onkyo Selection Committee - comprising Hiroaki Ishiwata and Rieko Suzuki from Japan, Jordina Howell from Australia, Kamonwan Inaram from Thailand, Godfrey Ooi and Ivan Ho as Chairman from Malaysia will meet at the end of July to choose the 7 winners.

      As is the condition of the sponsorship, the results will only be released in early November after the Sponsors have given the permission to do so.

      The Board and Policy Council of WBUAP would like to place on record their deep gratitude to the Onkyo Corporation and the Braille Mainichi of Japan for sponsoring this series of contests in promoting Braille literacy and fostering friendship in this and other regions of WBU, and they hope the generosity and enthusiasm of the Sponsors would continue for more years to come. The Board and Policy Council would also like to thank the Onkyo Selection Committee for doing an excellent job in encouraging participation and in meeting the expectations of the Sponsors.

    3. Employment

      The WBUAP Committee on Employment and Economic Empowerment (CEEE) was headed by Andrew Daly until his resignation in November 2015. Subsequently, the Australian Blindness Forum (ABF) nominated, and with the support of his employer, the Royal Society for the Blind of South Australia (RSB), Tony Starkey took over the Chairmanship in April 2016. He attended one BPC meeting in Manila in May 2016 and was able to give a report on the outcome of the Seeing is Believing Innovation Project which he co-ordinated from the outset.
      The following were some of the actions taken during the chairmanship of Andrew Daly:

      • Distribution of Fact sheets and employment information/documentation from the Royal Society for the Blind and the Blind Foundation of New Zealand.
        These documents provided job seekers, Service Providers and would-be employers with information on interview skills and the removing of barriers to employing BVI's. Member-Countries were urged to have these materials translated into their local languages and be distributed widely.

      • RSB, together with other partners in ABF, produced a NVDA Training Package which members of the CEEE were urged to have it distributed and promoted.

      • One of the most noteworthy achievements was the application in 2014 to the Seeing is Believing (SIB) Innovation Fund of Standard Chartered Bank for a grant of US $180,000 to run the Adaptive Equipment Loan Scheme (AELS) in 3 countries to enhance the employability of BVI job seekers. Due to implementation problems and other factors, only $60,000 was approved for a pilot scheme with the understanding that, if the project should prove successful, SIB could consider application for another $120,000 for the purpose.

        As was reported in the QPA presented at the MRGA in Hong Kong, the National Council for the Blind of Malaysia (NCBM), after a selection process, was chosen to trial the pilot project. However, finding itself lacking in experience and realising that it had to widen the scope after discovering other obstacles, NCBM conducted 3 workshops. The first one "Workshop on Job Readiness" was facilitated by Brian Dibbins, an Employment Consultant from RSB to which representatives from MNAB, PERTUNI and PBU were invited to join with the local participants.

        The second one "Workshop on Enhancing the Job Readiness of BVI University Students" brought together participants from 5 universities. The last one "Workshop on Working Together to Enhance the Job Opportunities for the BVI's" to which Government officials with connection to the recruitment of civil employees were invited to attend.

        With the final report presented by Tony Starkey at the BPC meeting in May (2016), it could be said that the pilot project did, to a certain extent, achieve its goals as shown by the following outcomes:

1. Who were the Beneficiaries? If we were to count the persons who benefited directly from the AELS, the number would appear negligible - 10. However, if we were to take into consideration the spilt-over effect on the lives of all who took part in the various activities organised, we can then appreciate the effect it had on all involved.

1.1. Fourteen persons, including 4 leaders from MNAB, PERTUNI and PBU who attended the Workshop on Job Readiness. It was hoped that, upon return to their respective countries, they would look at employment issues more seriously with the knowledge gained.
1.2. There were at least 20 Government officials who participated in two of the workshops. They came from the Public Services Commission (the department that recruits civil staff), Dept. of Human Resource, the Social Security Organisation and the National Council for PWD's.
1.3. There were 10 representatives from 5 universities across the country.
1.4. Over 20 under-graduates and post-graduates were invited to the workshops held during the course of the project. The experiences and information gained, and the opportunity created for networking with the officials from the Government departments and institutions of higher learning should, in some ways, be found useful to them when they were ready to enter the job market.
1.5. There were 10 persons who benefited directly from the AELS by receiving loan of adaptive equipment such as - OpenBook software, JAWS, scanners, Braille displays, Braille notetakers, magnifiers, etc.
2. Notable Achievements:
2.1. Upon learning there was such a scheme and impressed by their enhanced performance, the employers of Dr. Wong Huey Siew and Low Looi Seong employed at the Open University of Malaysia and Ready Advocates and Solicitors respectively, purchased the equipment outright for them.
2.2. Chia Shui Yee, the first BVI person in this country to have received a degree in Pharmacy, was able to be accepted at the Serdang Hospital as a Pharmaceutical Researcher after Dr. Goh Pik Pin, Head of the Clinical Research Department, was impressed with her capability and with the equipment that enhanced her performance.
2.3. Some of the materials used by Brian Dibbins at the Workshop on Job Readiness had been translated into the Malay language and used as training stuff for 34 higher secondary BVI students who attended the Career Motivation Camp conducted by NCBM. These camps are held annually by NCBM for students who are waiting for their examination results at the end of the year which will determine whether they proceed with their education or leave for vocational training and the job market.
The BPC take this opportunity to thank Andrew Daly for his contributions to the CEEE and to WBUAP during his chairmanship, and to Tony Starkey for co-ordinating the SIB project in Malaysia. We hope he will continue to serve in the next quadrennium and bring the SIB project to more countries in the WBUAP Region.

    1. The 13th WBUAP Massage Seminar

      Just before the close of the successful 12th Massage Seminar held in Bangkok in May 2014 that attracted over 300 participants, Teddy Kahil, President of the Philippines Blind Union (PBU) offered to host the next Seminar in Manila. His offer was gladly accepted. And almost immediately Zhu Gang, Chairman of the WBUAP Massage Commission, and his members started the preparatory work. This entailed determining the dates, costing, attracting participants and sponsorships, and identifying a suitable venue. The latter meant paying a visit to Manila to inspect the site and to hold discussions with the local Organising Committee.
      The local Organising Committee, chaired by Jose Ranola, and his team who included Teddy Kahil, Victor Rescober and Michael Barredo, did a splendid job. They got everything organised for the Opening Ceremony on 4 May, including a Welcome Cultural Presentation by the Philippine National School for the Blind.
      The Seminar ran from 4 - 6 May at the Century Park Hotel, Manila with the theme "Maximising Skills, Technologies and Opportunities for Economic Empowerment". The occasion was graced by Dr. Vincente Belizario, Jr., Undersecretary of Health, and it was attended by 250 participants - 150 overseas and 100 locals. The BPC were in full force to give moral support, with Zhu Gang, as Chairman of the WBUAP Massage Commission and Michiko Tabata, as the WBUAP President, delivering the congratulatory speeches. One of the presenters was a past President of WBUAP, Chuji Sashida, now the Executive Director of the National Committee of Welfare for the Blind of Japan. He spoke on the topic
      "Social Protection and Health Care of Massage Therapists in the Asia-Pacific Region".

      One of the highlights of the Seminar which was first introduced in Bangkok by Zhu Gang, was the competition to select the best model massage shop. Three entries were received - from China, Japan and Philippines - and all were excellent in their own ways. This posed a daunting challenge to the judges, to the extent that they decided to award Certificates of Excellence to the 3 contenders. To attract more entries for future competitions, the Commission would consider including the best-run massage training centres.

      At the end of the Seminar, the participants adopted The Consolidated WBUAP Regional Plan of Action for ASEAN and APEC. As these massage seminars are very technical in nature - dealing with health and therapeutic topics - it is hoped that the information shared, the techniques demonstrated and the recommendations adopted would be brought back by the participants to their respective countries to advance further the massage profession to yet greater heights.
      Towards the close of the Seminar the participants were taken aback when they learned that Zhu Gang was stepping down from the chairmanship after hemming it for 8 years and overseeing the organising of 4 biennial seminars. But they were cheered up when Wang Yong Cheng, Chairman of the Fujian Association of the Blind, was elected the new Chairman of the WBUAP Massage Commission. Wang further brightened up the spirit of the participants when he invited every one to Fujian, China in 2018 to take part in the next Massage Seminar.

      The BPC wish to express their deep gratitude to Zhu Gang for his 8 years of service to WBUAP, and in those years had raised the massage profession to a higher level. Apart from his expert advice and supervision of the 4 seminars stretching from Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Manila, he will be remembered for organising the 3-month Asia Massage Instructors' Course in Changsha for 15 massage instructors from this Region at an estimated cost of US $80,000. We wish him well and hope he will continue to champion the development of massage for the blind. We also take this opportunity to welcome Wang Yong Cheng onto the new Policy Council when it is constituted in Orlando in August.

    2. WBUAP also assists in the promotion of the Teruko Ikeda Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Training course for people who are blind or have low vision in the AP region each year. Approx. 12 applicants are selected to undertake 2 weeks of training on a range of accessible ICT which they take home to enhance their independence and skills for such things as employment. Wong and Christina Yoon Loong run this great capacity building program.

    3. Reaching out to diversity groups such as: youth, women/girls, and older persons

      • Women/Girls: Martine Abel-Williamson.

        Martine has a well established network of women communicating mainly via email across the region.

        One new resource and 2 training opportunities were passed on to women, namely, the new Health and Human Rights Resource Guide - Updated 5th Edition, the 17th Duskin Leadership Training Programme and Second Advocacy Gala Academy Training opportunity.

        A Women’s Forum was held at the WBUAP Mid-Term Regional General Assembly. The Hong Kong Blind Union in general, and Jess Shek, one of our network’s members, did a great deal of the co-hosting, organizing and sponsoring of participants from developing countries.

        The theme was: Walking with our feet on the ground, and our hands reaching high.
        The highlights were:
        1. Keynote speech by Dr. Karen Ngai, Executive Committee Member of Association of Women with Disabilities Hong Kong
        Topic: Movement of Women with Disabilities in Hong Kong
        2. Keynote Speech by Daniela Dimitrova, Director of Dark Operations, Dialogue Social Enterprise
        Topic: My way from passive receiver to active contributor
        Presentations by members of the WBUAP Women’s Committee:
        - Martine Abel-Williamson from New Zealand – Introduction of the WBUAP Women’s Committee
        - Helen Freris from Australia – Sharing on Women with Disability Australia (WWDA) & blind women’s issues
        - Lanieta Tuimabu from Fiji – Sharing on the projects/programmes of Fiji Disabled Peoples Federation, especially women’s engagement
        - Gerel Dondovdorj from Mongolia – sharing on activities on blind women in Mongolia, as well as UN procedures to enforce and enhance human rights of women with disabilities
        - Dinh Viet Anh from Vietnam – sharing on the situation of blind women in Vietnam, and the work which was done to improve the situation
        - Mary Ma from China – sharing on overcoming her struggles as a vision-impaired woman in China
        General discussion took place on:
        - How to motivate more women in the Region to take part in advocacy of the interests and rights of women?
        - What problems women with blindness encounter.
        At the end of the forum, the women’s suffrage song, “Bread and Roses” were practiced and sung by all the forum attendees.
        The women finally contributed towards relevant topics as part of the Hong Kong Statement.

        General women’s network work progress in 2015:

        An update was received re the Lirong/Mary ma project to do with blind children in China, administered by the china blind People Federation, and also from Helen Freris from Australia on the Blind citizens Australia (BCA) women’s branch activities.

        In her role as Chair of the Asia-Pacific Women’s Network, Martine had the great opportunity to, from 29 to 31 October 2015, attend and present at a forum, hosted by the Korean Blind Women’s Union (KBWU). KBWU was able to sponsor the attendance of blind women from around the Asia-Pacific region, so, others who were able to attend were representatives from Vietnam, Japan, The Philippines, China and Mongolia. KBWU sent out an invitation to all our current blind women’s contacts in our region, but I’m not sure why others were unable to attend.

        Martine was invited to deliver 2 presentations, namely, on how to work towards rights realisation for blind women in our region (in her role as WBUAP Regional CRPD Co-ordinator) and also on blind women’s issues and status in NZ. For the 2nd presentation she provided the audience with information on activities and programmes by NZ VIEW (Vision Impaired Empowering Women) and the Disabled Women’s Forum. The latter is a women’s group, established in Auckland and hosted by CCS Disability Action. Her employer, Auckland Council, has been supporting this group over the past 3 years in terms of capacity building and event sponsorship around activities on 8 March, international Women’s Day.
        Martine agreed to look into linking disabled women’s related websites and home pages, creating an email discussion group for blind women in our region, checking out an on-line chat room facility such as QQ or Talking Communities for blind women to stay in touch with one another.
        While in Seoul, Martine was invited to visit the offices of Women striving for a Brighter Tomorrow (WSBT), a newly established world-wide disabled women’s organisation. They’re in the process of seeking consultative status with the United Nations (UN). Their membership spans over 50 countries already. She committed to distribute their resources and on-line contact details to WBUAP contacts.

        After nearly 4 years, from a global perspective, we’ve been contacted to revive the international women’s network, usually facilitated at global WBU level. We’re preparing a submission to the UN on general comments for article 6 of the CRPD to do with women and girls, we’ll be looking for someone such as a student to help with mapping of resources and opportunities for women, we’ll refresh the WBU mentoring and leadership toolkit, developed 12 years ago and feedback on how goals and indicators in the Incheon Strategy can be picked up on by us at WBU level.

      • Youth

        The Organizing Committee of the WBUAP Mid-Term Regional General Assembly 2014 invited young people with visual impairment in the Asia Pacific region to attend and submit innovative proposals for presentation at the Youth Forum. Special guests included Ms Sabriye Tenberken, founder of a Training Centre for blind people in Tibet and Braille Without Borders to share with us her extraordinary personal experience. Moreover, there will be presentations of the outstanding projects proposed by visually impaired youngsters and roundtable discussion to brainstorm recommendations to WBUAP and governments in the region for promoting equal opportunity and building of an inclusive society.

        This was a great opportunity for youngsters with visual impairment in the region to exchange opinions and share their innovative ideas and dreams. It also served as a platform to link up the projects with the resources required as potential funders were invited to attend the event. Writers of 30 outstanding proposals were sponsored to participate in the General Assembly.

        The 1st Asia-Pacific BVI Youth Summit

        As a follow-up to the Youth Forum held during the MRGA in Hong Kong, the Society of the Blind in Malaysia (SBM) proposed the holding of the Youth Summit jointly with the National Council for the Blind of Malaysia (NCBM). They subsequently invited WBUAP and the Japan Braille Library to be co-organisers which were gladly accepted.
        The Summit was held in Penang, Malaysia from 7 - 9 August 2015 with the theme "Taking Control of Our Destiny". Some of the objectives for the Summit were: To establish networking among BVI youth; to provide the opportunity to gather information about issues concerning the BVI youth - success stories and challenges, and to develop a Plan of Action including instilling the spirit of leadership among the participants.
        Over 80 youth and officials from the 4 participating organisations were present, including Michiko Tabata, who delivered the Keynote Address. Dr. Monthian and Chong Chan-Yau were also present to present papers and take part in the discussions. The participants came from Brunei, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia. All the 18 trainees that were attending the Teruko Ikeda ICT Training Workshop were sponsored to the Summit, and they came from Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Tonga, Timor L’Este, and some countries from the Asian Blind Union Region. Apart from the registration fees, SBM and NCBM contributed $4,000 to meet the expenses, and WBUAP and the Hong Kong Blind Union each donated $1,000.
        At the conclusion of the Summit, the participants adopted a set of recommendations which was presented to the BPC Meeting in Manila for their consideration and support. Basically, these recommendations weaved around the objectives, and they called upon WBUAP and Member-Countries to include youth participation in decision-making. They also called upon WBUAP to set up a Youth Committee and to make it a practice to hold youth forums at future MRGA's. We will no doubt hear more about the Action Plan being finalised and implemented, and the actions taken by the different countries in the months ahead.

        The Board and Policy Council take this opportunity to thank everyone for contributing to the success of the Summit, in particular to SBM and Ahmad Shamsuri for chairing the Organising Committee, to Tetsuji Tanaka, Chairman of the Japan Braille Library and the Teruko Ikeda ICT Project for sponsoring all the trainees, and to Chan-Yau and HKBU for the cash donation and sending a team of youth to this memorable gathering.

      • Members understanding and use of UN instruments/treaties

        CRPD training and advocacy.
        Martine Abel-Williamson was appointed as WBUAP Regional CRPD Coordinator
        Martine has contacted member countries to gain their selections of person/s to be CRPD Champion/s in their country.
        Martine also attended training for Regional CRPD Coordinators in the U.S. in late 2013.
        The CRPD workshop, held in November 2014 at the WBUAP Mid-Term Regional General Assembly was productive and was well received.
        Dr. Victor Cordeiro, WBU Advocate presented on his work role and on the CRPD in general. Monthian Buntan from Thailand, and a member of the CRPD Monitoring committee addressed the latest CRPD related issues brought before the committee, and Martine presented on the work and roles of the WBUAP National Champions and programmes from across the region.


        More recently, The regional Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) co-ordination network has been changed into the WBU UN Advocacy Network to strengthen its reach and to empower organisations and countries to advocate for integrated and extensive human rights and UN instruments ratification and implementation, instead of simply focusing on the CRPD. Martine agreed to change her role from Regional CRPD Co-ordinator to Regional UN Advocacy Network Co-ordinator and have corresponded to our region’s countries, with those who’ve been appointing National CRPD Champions in the past, encouraging them to appoint National

        UN Advocacy Network Champions, and 10 countries have since responded.

    4. Technology

      WBUAP has established an ICT Committee under the Chairmanship of Neil Jarvis. Committee members come from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand

      Key objectives of the ICT Committee reflect the broader WBU technology committee objectives with some additions:
      The original priorities identified by the global WBU Technology Working Group are:

      Objective 1: Institute and consolidate access to television through audio description.

      Objective 2: Institute and consolidate access to mobile telecommunications through text-to-speech technology: (i.e., development and information about what is available and basic phones/devices.
      Objective 3: Investigate and influence the regulatory framework for access to financial services, and Influence the design of core technologies that affect such lifestyle activities as travel, shopping, managing money and reading.
      Objective 4: Develop an alternative format production toolkit for developing countries including Braille modified print and simple architecture for text-to-speech.
      Objective 5: Transform access to Braille through the development of low cost refreshable Braille displays.

      In addition to those five objectives, the committee added:

      Objective 6: promote and support the development of access to low-cost or no-cost technologies like NVDA and others, since it is clearly an important issue for people in this region.
      Objective 7: promote the adoption of internationally-recognised standards when it comes to accessibility of websites, products and technology-based services provided throughout our region.

      To date, the Committee has focused on Objective 6, but, through its members, is also working on Objectives 2 and 5 and members report on them to the committee. The Committee will give fuller attention to these once it has completed its major task under Objective 6, which is the production of a living document which will be a resource detailing available low-cost and free-to-the-end –user technologies.
      Neil has been active in the Transforming Braille Group initiative which was led by a consortium of blindness agencies from around the world. In 2016, the TBG achieved its objective of bringing to market a 20-cell electronic Braille device for around US$500 – a massive reduction on the cost of traditional electronic Braille devices. The Orbit Braille Reader will begin shipping in late 2016 and will be of particular benefit to people in developing countries as well as to blind people anywhere in the world who cannot easily access such equipment. The Orbit Braille Reader will meet the 3As test which the AP region Technology Committee has identified: that products need to be accessible, affordable and available to blind people regardless of where they live.

      • Environment - mobility and transportation

        In April 2016, facilitated by Martine Abel-Williamson, New Zealand hosted an Access to the Environment and Transport Forum with world-wide attendance.
        As a result recommendations were drafted and forwarded to the WBU office, covering the areas of universal design, shared spaces design, access to international travel and proposing future priority areas for the WBU to focus on in its next 4 years and those areas included:
        - Mobile app standards development linked with way-finding,
        - Self-driving vehicles design in terms of safety and access, etc.

  1. Information Sharing and Collaboration

    1. As one of WBUAP’s major roles is information provision we have a variety of methods for information gathering and dissemination including:

      • Our regional magazine: East Wind

      • WBUAP website ;

      • Updates and proceedings from BPC meetings

      • Gatherings such as mid-term assembly and national conferences/workshops

    2. Equipment Distribution

      A range of low and high tech Braille and low vision / magnification equipment has been donated by Pacific Vision in New Zealand for use in the Pacific-Oceania region. The equipment was passed on for distribution in Papua New Guinea Fiji, and Vanuatu.
      Blind citizens Australia (BCA) delivered a Braille embosser to Papua New guinea Association of disabled Persons for use by members who are blind or have low vision.

    3. Social Enterprise

      Social enterprise collaborations are being investigated, led by Chong Chan Yau assisted by Monthian Buntan in such areas as; Dialogue in the dark and Braille without Borders

  2. Enabling priority

    1. Membership support

      Over the quadrennium, WBU has provided fee relief and re-classification to assist developing countries in the AP region to maintain their WBU membership.
      WBU-AP was delighted to welcome new members during the quadrennium: Tonga as a full national member, Samoa, and Macao as a new organization within China. We are also delighted to see Brunei back as an active member. Dialogue is in place with Timor L'Este, although we seem to be in need of more time to settle their issue to bring them back to active participation. We have been having dialogue with the German NGO that supports blind people in North Korea, which resulted in the establishment of Blind Association of Korea (BAK), hoping that we will soon see them as our members in the movement.

    2. In addition, WBUAP through the host organization , Hong Kong Blind Union and Hong Kong Society for the Blind, provided Sponsorship to the mid-term assembly for selected eligible delegates from developing countries including Fiji, China, Indonesia, The Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Vietnam. Chong Chan Yau facilitated Macao’s attendance at the MRGA for the first time.

    3. Overseeing financial resources

      • Treasurer role.
        BPC member Dr Kevin Murfitt elected as Treasurer for 2012-2016 quadrennium
        Resource Generation strategic plan

        a. To provide member countries with resources and advice re fund-raising

        fund-raising tips and tricks on WBUAP website

        b. Reach out to potential donors for cash and ‘in-kind’ donations to further WBUAP’s work;

        WBU-AP account balance is Aus$7849.31 up from $6,192.87. at the start of Quadrennium.
        Over the quadrennium, Donations have been gratefully received from the Onkyo Braille Essay Competition committee, National Council for the Blind Malaysia (NCBM), Bank of Japan, Ken Adachi, Hong Kong Blind Union (HKBU), and NCWBJ (Japan) funded our APDF membership 2015/16. .
        Our ‘silent auction’ held at the mid-term assembly in Hong Kong (2014) where items of cultural significance donated by member countries were auctioned raising $2,123.00
        Finally, a draft brochure detailing the value donors generate and gain by donating to WBUAP’s work has been developed and a final draft will be passed on to the incoming BPC.

        c. Achieve a balance in excess of Aus$ 10,000 in the WBU-AP account

        balance is of: $7849.31

        Resource generation was a permanent business item at all BPC meetings.

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