Official Newsletter of the World Blind Union-Asia Pacific

No. 8



Contents of this issue:


From the Editor

New Member of the WBUAP Policy Council: Mrs. Grace Chan, Chairing The Employment & Economic Empowerment Committee (We Call 3e Committee)

The First Barrier-Free Website of Blind Massage Industry Is Launching to The World

Equal Participation and Sport for All

Braille Big Event: Celebrating The Bicentennial of Louis Braille And 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Kuraji Ishikawa

Braille Rock on Manly Beach, Australia

Blind Citizens Australia National Convention

We Can Change Attitudes Now: Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Conference 2009

Parents Forum in Fiji

Pacific Disability Forum Conference: Vanuatu

Visit to Myanmar

Danida Capacity Building Project Update

WBU-AP Low-Tech Equipment Recycling Website

Winners of the WBUAP Onkyo Braille Essay Contest 2009


Coming Up

Contact Details






This issue should have been already 4 months old by now, but here it is at last.

You can tell from this issue the diversity and the width of our Region, literally, from Fiji to Mongolia, from China to New Zealand.

2009 saw a few very significant events related to the DANIDA Capacity Building Project which has been going on in practice since 2006, namely, Vision Conference, Evaluation Workshop and Logical Framework Workshop. We are featuring these events as well as some of the highlights of the project outcomes. In addition to reporting on what have been happening in the two target countries, our experiences also provide us with some of the hints for the strengthening of our own organizations and building of our own capacity. We will try to keep you informed of the project updates in our future issues as well.

As we enter the second year of the current quadrennium, there are a number of events that you might want to mark on your calendar for. In particular, we are in the middle of preparatory works for the Mid-Term Assembly in Japan including Youth and Women’s Forums. We hope to see as many of you as possible, in our discussions, sharing, and above all, in our circle of friendship and comradeship.

We are mostly keen on hearing messages and feedbacks from you, Dear Readers. Please let us know whatever you felt about this issue.

Michiko Tabata: Editor-in-Chief

Editorial Committee: Ivan Ho Tuch Choy

Kevin Murfitt

Kim Mok









Mrs. Grace Chan, chairing the Employment & Economic Empowerment Committee (we call 3E Committee)


Grace Chan joined the Hong Kong Society for the blind (HKSB) on 14 August, 1973 and had worked in executive positions for 27 years with 20 years as the Chief Executive of HKSB. She retired in January, 2008.

Mrs. Chan also has worked as and still is the CEO of the Asian Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness (AFPB) since 1988 on a honorary basis. She has launched a lot of projects for the blind in the Asian Region and, in particular, in China. The most significant projects in China include:

1)      Mobile Eye Treatment Centres (METC). 22 METCs will be operating in China restoring the eye sight of poor cataract blindness living in remote areas of provinces in China.

2)      Education Resource Centres (ERCs): 6ERCs are operating in 6 provinces to provide inclusive education to blind students living in villages.

3)      National Orientation and Mobility Teachers Training in China: 6 O & M National Training Courses had been conducted for teachers in blind schools and rehabilitation personnel from China Disabled Persons Federation. Have successfully convinced the Ministry of Education to include O & M into the curriculum of blind schools in early 2000 so that blind students can be taught formally in O & M.

4)      Pioneer in China and in the Asian Pacific Region since 1991 to promote massage as a profession for the blind through organization of Regional Massage Seminars (every two years) with the first one held in Xian, China in 1991 and so far 9 Regional Massage Seminars have been held in the region.


The positions held in international organizations:

·         1996-2000: Regional President of World Blind Union (WBU) East Asia Pacific Region.

·         1997-2002: Regional Chair of International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI).

·         2000-2008: Founding Chairman and Regional Chairman of WBU Asia Pacific Regional Massage Commission.

·         2002-2007: Treasurer of ICEVI

·         2004-2008: Trustee of International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)

·         2004- Now: Council Member of IAPB

·         Since 2009: Member of WBUAP Board and Policy Council of WBUAP


In April, 2008, Mrs. Chan, together with a number of enthusiastic community leaders and blind members formed the Hong Kong Blind Sports Association and have been working as the CEO on a honorary basis since then to promote blind sports as we believe that through sports rehabilitation, blind people will be able to regain their self-confidence and re-integrate into society.






Blind Massage International Website, the world’s first barrier-free website of blind massage industry, was launched on Oct. 15th, 2009.

The World Health Organization announced in October 2003 that the global number of the blind is 45 million, and visually impaired population reached 135 million. This number increases in the region of 1 to 2 million every year.

People with visual impairment are more difficult in finding jobs than the able-bodied. Therefore, how to solve the employment problem of the large number of blind people has become a major issue confronting the world. Massage, which has the significant effects with its characteristics of easy manipulation, no damage, and no side effects, is welcomed by people in many countries. According to statistics from the occupational information resources networking systems of the United States Department of Labor, from 2004 to 2014, the massage industry's growth rate will exceed the industry of all types’ average growth level of 21% to 35%. As the physiological characteristics of the blind are suitable for working in the massage profession, massage will provide the blind with lots of employment opportunities.

Recently, blind massage industry is constantly growing and expanding, leading to a huge demand of fast and convenient platform of information sharing and study for blind masseurs. Ongoing development and widespread of internet has widened people’s vision, and is leading them to a more capacious world. In order to provide every blind massage participator and enthusiast an exchanging platform and strengthen information sharing, Beijing Massage Administration Center together with the Hunan Yeahcome Health Care Co., Ltd. has jointly established the portal site of blind massage industry, Blind Massage International website, under the proposal of World Blind Union Asia-Pacific Regional Massage Commission, with the goal of promoting development of blind massage and employment of the visually impaired, publicizing and advancing healthy and fast development of handicapped industry.

This is the first website belonging to blind masseurs, and will be a soul house of the blind massage participators and enthusiasts throughout the world!

Firstly, the website has an international edition and a domestic edition, respectively supporting English language and Chinese language. Each of them has another 3 sub-editions, Web Accessible Common, Web Accessible Blind and Web Accessible low vision. The Web Accessible Common is accessible for everyone while the Web Accessible Blind provides blind person with more convenient and fast navigation, and the Web Accessible low vision gives several choices on font-size and color schemes to the low vision.

Secondly, the designed web page follows the habits of blind and is accessible for keyboard users. Each picture has an introduction so you can hear pictures. Additionally, the website is linked with Google blind search engine.

Thirdly, the website has authentic and rich information. There are papers from international conferences such as WBUAP massage seminars and good articles from professional publications all over the world. The website has Massage section divided into History & Culture, Massage Therapies, Spa & Bodywork, Massagists' Words and Massage Tidbit. Besides, there are Visually Impaired section divided into Eye Info, Braille Knowledge, Life Tips, Computer & Software, Activities Exchange.

Visit the Blind Massage International website at:






Hong Kong Blind Sports Association (HKBSA) was established and officially opened on 29 May, 2008. Its main objective is to provide equal participation and sports for all. Up till now, we have nearly 500 registered blind members. In the past 20 months, over 30 sports activities were organized in addition to regular training for over 80 blind members in marathon, golf, bowling and blind football. Dragon Boat Rowling Training Class will commence after the Chinese New Year. By then, we will have 100 blind members participating in regular sports training.

We would like to share with friends in the Region three major activities that HKBSA undertook recently, and how we promote equal participation and sports for all in Hong Kong, China and Malaysia:


1) 1st Hong Kong-Malaysia-Australia Blind Golf and Blind Bowling Exhibition Match – 15 and 16 October, 2009
To promote the spirit of “Equal Participation and Sports for All” and to celebrate the International White Cane Day, HKBSA, in collaboration with the National Council for the Blind in Malaysia (NCBM), held the 1st Hong Kong-Malaysia-Australia Blind Golf and Blind Bowling Exhibition Match on 15 and 16 October, 2009 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Thanks to the kind support of Dato Kulasegaran, President of NCBM, Mr. Ivan Ho, Executive Director, Mr. Moses Choo, Deputy Director of NCBM, Mr. Radha Krishnan, Chairman of the Asian Committee of International Blind Sports Federation and Mr. T.W. Yam, a Civil Engineer before he became blind and an experienced golfer, the above event was successfully held.
visually impaired golfers from Hong Kong and a total of 32 competitors including sighted participants joined the blind golf competition on 15 October.
Earlier in the morning, Hong Kong Golf Coach, Mr. H.L. Chan, conducted a workshop to the blind participants and sighted guides on the basic golf skills. Mr. Chan together with the Australian golfers demonstrated on the green the proper skills on playing golf. Blind golfers were then given the chance to gauge their skills in driving and putting. For the putting contest, each participant was given 3 chances to make their shots count.
In the afternoon, all blind and sighted participants featured in 8 flights at the Inaugural Exhibition Match. For each flight, the organizers teamed up 2 visually impaired golfers with 2 sighted golfers as they went on the greens for a round of 9 holes. As a result, Mr. Ron Anderson of Australia won the Championship of B3 category and Mr. Galant Ng from Hong Kong won Championship of B2 category.
During the welcoming lunch, 2 blind golfers, Mr. Kim Mok from Hong Kong and Mr. Ron Anderson from Australia enlightened the guests with their thrilling encounters on the golf course and were well-received by those present.
Dato Kulasegaran, NCBM President, Ms. Lai Poh Guat, National Social Welfare Department Deputy Director, Mr. Peter Sun, Chairman of HKBSA, Mrs. Grace Chan, HKBSA and Mr. Radha Krishnan, Chairman of the Asian Committee of IBSA were among the guests at the welcoming lunch.
On 16 October, blind bowlers from Australia, Hong Kong and Malaysia competed in the Bowling Tournament. As our main aim was to have sports exchange, we formed mixed teams in that each team consisted of blind bowlers from Australia, Hong Kong and Malaysia. We were so pleased to see that each team cooperated so well and eventually athletes from each country/city won different awards.
On evaluation of the event, we all feel that our objective to promote equal participation and sports for all has been achieved. We have been told that as a result of this event, many blind friends in Malaysia would like to develop blind golf training in Malaysia. Blind bowlers from Malaysia felt exhilarated to have played with so many social celebrities and for the first time with blind bowlers from other countries.


2) Sun Rise Watching Camp - 19 and 20 December, 2009
To promote the core values of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and to encourage people with and without disabilities to participate in meaningful activities so as to build a barrier free sports environment and inclusive society, HKBSA organized the 1st Sun Rise Watching Camp on 19 and 20 December, 2009 which is sponsored by Quiksilver Glorious Sun JV Ltd. Participants included local elite athletes, visually impaired friends, international and secondary school students and parents, and friends from corporations such as Quiksilver Glorious Sun JV Ltd., Duty Free Shoppers, Hang Seng Bank, Hong Kong Science Technology University, singers, sports angels, etc.
On 19 December, 27 blind participants and over 70 people from all walks of life run up from the Choi Hung Bus Terminus to the Fei Ngo Shan Boy Scout Camp site at the temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. Mr. Chang Hing Wah, Deputy Director of Social Welfare of the Hong Kong SAR Government, officiated at the kick-off ceremony at the Camp site. Mr. Chang acknowledged that Sun Rise Watching Camp is the first of its kind and a meaningful activity. Through description by sighted friends and by sense of feeling and hearing, our visually impaired members can share the joy of the beauty of sun rise.
On this occasion, Quiksilver gave each participant a knitted cap to keep their heads warm and students of Vocational Training Council baked cookies for our participants at the tea reception. In the evening, our blind friends grilled the food at the barbecue stoves for our sighted participants after which our marathon coach, Mr. Lam Wai Keung, taught participants to dance cha cha cha, rock and roll, etc. around the camp fire. Until the late evening, participants were divided into groups to stay in different camps. As participants were so excited, they preferred to chat and share their life experience with one another rather than go to sleep. The Head of the Duty Free Shoppers cooked congee for the participants to keep their body warm as it was minus zero degree after midnight on the hill.
The most exciting moment came when participants were asked to gather at 4:30 a.m. to jointly walk up to the top of the hill. As it was so dark (no light at all), participants had to walk hand in hand (two people in one group) and close to each other (as they felt freezing cold). Under the guidance of the experienced boy scouts and volunteers, they eventually managed to reach the top of the hill. On that early morning, it was quite foggy and cloudy. Everybody waited there for a long while. As time passed, they began to feel disappointed that they might not see the sunrise with such foggy weather. Just at that very moment, morning sun suddenly appeared in front of them! Every participant jumped to their feet, cried and hugged each other and took photos in order not to miss any moment of the sun rise! Our blind friends were told that when the sun rose, it had 4 colours and the colours kept on changing until it became more and more shiny.
On our way back, our blind friends kept on talking that this was an unforgettable experience for them. It was their first time to see the sunrise and to have opportunities to meet people from different sectors. They were very grateful to the volunteers who looked after them so well on the way to the top of the hill. As for the volunteers, they also treasured this experience as they learned from our blind friends how to understand and appreciate every matter and every item by sense of touch, smell, hearing and language. Through this event, it also shows that if we could make up our mind and not so easily give up, everyone can realize their dream, live in faith and love, and lead a bright future!


3) 1st Hong Kong – Guangzhou Marathon Exhibition Match cum Tandem Cycling Activity to welcome Asian Games and Asian Games for the Disabled – 22 and 23 January, 2010
It is our firm belief that sports rehabilitation is the most effective way to help blind people regain their self-confidence and integrate into society. As such, HKBSA would like to promote marathon training in China. To start with, we contacted the China Association of the Blind (CAB), Guangzhou Disabled Persons Federation (GDPF), Guangzhou Association of the Blind (GAB) and the Pan Yu Disabled Persons Federation (PYDPF) to jointly organize the 1st Hong Kong-Guangzhou Marathon Exhibition Match cum Tandem Cycling Activity in Pan Yu Ta Fu Shan Park on 22 and 23 January, 2010. Altogether there were 75 blind members and 200 volunteers participate in this event.
In the afternoon of 22 January, a marathon workshop was conducted during which our marathon coach, Mr. Shum, our experienced sighted guide runner, Ms. Kitty Chan, our Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Kim Mok, and our Director, Mr. Galant Ng who happens to be a blind person and is also the full marathon runner, shared with the participants from Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Pan Yu their experience in marathon training and the exercise that they must do to keep their energy and strength. Participants were also asked to practice the exercise on the spot with the coach, which brought to the highlight of the workshop. All participants enjoyed the workshop very much.
In the morning of the 23rd, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Pan Yu Teams all lined up at the entrance of the Pan Yu Ta Fu Shan Park. They were all dressed in their own uniforms holding their own team flags and ready for the 5K run. After the official kick-off ceremony, the Executive Vice Chairman of CAB, Mr. Li Wei Hong, the Presidents of the Guangzhou and Pan Yu Disabled Persons Federation, Mr. Leung Chor Yee and Ms. Chang Bor, the Vice President of GDPF, Ms. Fu De, Chairman of GAB, Mr. Chen Yang and Mrs. Grace Chan, CEO of HKBSA led all participants to start the marathon run. During the activity, many visitors stopped and watched our blind friends running. Some even gave applause to encourage them to run. As a result, our Hong Kong marathon runner, Mr. Ho Wing Luen, finished the 5K run in 18 minutes followed by our Mr. Liu King Tsang and Dai Shek Lung within 20 minutes. The teams from Guangzhou and Pan Yu received special achievement awards.

In the afternoon, participants were divided into 2-member groups (1 sighted in front and 1 blind at the back) to enjoy the tandem cycling in the Park. Some were even so courageous that two blind persons played the tandem cycling together!
The Park has all of a sudden become an Adventurous Park with laughing, screaming and singing in every corner of the Park!

We are so pleased to see that our initiative has aroused the interest of organizations of and for the blind in China. We sincerely hope that these activities just mark the beginning of blind sports development in China and more such activities especially marathon can be organized in different parts of China. Maybe one day we will have a blind marathon activity in China!




BRAILLE BIG EVENT: celebrating the bicentennial of Louis Braille and 150th anniversary of the birth of Kuraji Ishikawa


Braille authorities in Japan organized the Braille Big Event on October 31 and November 1, in commemoration of Louis Braille bicentennial and the 150th birthday of Kuraji Ishikawa, the founder of Braille in Japan. Big Event consisted of Braille Essay Contest among primary school students at blind schools and sighted primary school students who had exchange programs with blind schools, Braille reading and writing competitions, and 2 lectures by a Braille authority and another by a prominent novelist. The Big Event also highlighted donations of Braille paper, styluses and slates, and English picture books with Braille and tactile pictures, to developing countries in Asia and Africa. The Event had the honor of being attended by secretaries of embassies in Japan, from the Philippines, Timor Leste and Cameroon.






Braille on Manly Beach was a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille with a truly Australian flavor. We want to spread
the word that
Braille rocks.

After 18 months of planning, Braille on Manly Beach became a happening thing on Sunday September 20 as part of the Manly Arts Festival. Teams of volunteers coordinated by artist Anne Walton and under the expert guidance of sand sculptor Dennis Massoud worked enthusiastically to make a giant Braille message in the sand of Manly's West Esplanade harbor-side beach.

The teams that had been recruited prior to the event were joined by dozens of beach-going locals and tourists of all ages who pitched in to shovel sand and carry buckets of water. The shoveling and water-carrying began at 9:30,
and the 23-dot message quickly took shape. Each dot was 1 metre in diameter
and 0.5 metres high. The entire message was completed at about 3pm, 2 hours ahead of schedule, and just in time for the helicopter fly-over that produced some stunning aerial photographs of the message set amid the panorama of Sydney's northern beaches.

Those who preferred a more relaxed experience kept themselves busy buying tickets in the raffle for 4 tactile T-shirts with the alphabet embossed on the front in Braille and print. Long lines of children formed near the marquee waiting to have messages Brailled for them by a crack team of on-location Braille transcribers, while others contributed messages to the Braille time capsule.

Just before 5pm, a short ceremony took place, during which Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes unveiled the message that had been made in the sand: Braille rocks (using the "brl" contraction for "Braille"). Graeme also announced the four lucky winners of the Braille T-shirts.

The time-capsule will be earmarked for opening on January 4 2109, the 300th birth of Louis Braille. Graeme and I have already put it in our diaries.

Braille on Manly Beach was conceived by Anne Walton, who has become internationally respected for working with Braille in ways that are both artistic and inclusive, and Braille advocate Bruce Maguire. It was made possible by the expertise and enthusiasm of sand sculptor Dennis Massoud, and the event was supported by a grant from the Community Partnerships Division of the Australia Council. And it all happened because so many people were inspired by the coming-together of Braille and the beach, and gave generously of their time and energy. Thank you to all who were involved.







On 17 and 18 October 2009 Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) held their biennial national convention at Royal on the Park hotel in Brisbane. The two day event was preceded by a Technology Expo which allowed blind and vision impaired people to check out the latest technology and to also speak to service providers. The expo was very well attended at all times.

The weekend began on Friday night with a welcome function hosted by the Brisbane branch at the Irish Club. About seventy blind and vision impaired people walked to the venue, a distance of about four city blocks, to enjoy drinks, finger food and the opportunity to greet other convention attendees. The function manager at the Irish Club commented it was great for her staff to learn to provide a service which could accommodate the needs of blind and vision impaired people.

Convention was officially opened on Saturday morning by the Hon. Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disability in the Australian federal government. Key note speaker at the convention, Dr Mark Maurer, President of the National Federation of the blind in the United States, spoke passionately about We honoured Louis Braille at morning tea with a birthday cake to celebrate two hundred years of Braille.

The theme of the convention program was “Strengthening Our Voice” and we began with a session on Capacity Building at a local, Asia Pacific regional and an international level. Mary Ann Diamond, president of the World Blind Union, participated in this session.

The day proceeded with session son “Service Providers: Are they meeting our needs?; Education revolution: Is equal opportunity leading to equal outcomes?; and Our Vibes –blind and low vision everyday stuff.

It was Saturday night and time to relax and catch up with old friends at convention dinner. During the dinner BCA presented several awards:

The Aspirations Award presented by the Women’s Branch to a member who has been an outstanding role model for blind ad vision impaired women was presented to Christine Simpson;

The David blithe award for outstanding service to the blind and vision impaired community was presented to Barry Chapman;

Certificates of appreciation were presented to Erica Webb and Lee Smith;

Sunday began with the Annual General Meeting of BCA which included the President’s report and the financial report as well as the executive officer’s report. Two new board members were welcomed together with two newly elected representatives to the National Policy and Development Council (NPDC)

Following the AGM we heard national office happenings with reports from Jodie Holdback National Advocacy Officer and Wayne Hawkins National Policy Officer Communications and Information Access, Youth Leadership and Beyond Blindness with appositive Attitude commanded attention and participation from convention attendees. The convention came to a close with a light hearted and satirical look at the Good, the bad and the Unsightly of National Convention 2009.

National convention provides members with an opportunity to network become more independent, socially interact with other vision impaired and blind people and gain new skills: there were one hundred and twenty six attendees at this convention, thirty six of whom were first time attendees, making it one of the most successful national conventions yet.    ,

By Cheryl Pascual, Vice-President of Blind Citizens Australia (BCA)
Email: cpascual@bca.org.au




WE CAN CHANGE ATTITUDES NOW: Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Conference 2009


Over the weekend of 9-11 October, in Auckland, this conference focussed on how we as blind and vision impaired persons can change the attitudes of others in the commercial sector, local and central government and the general public with regards to the abilities of people with disabilities. Changing one’s own attitudes around blindness, service provision, possibilities with regards to advocacy efforts, employment, etc was also touched upon.

Keynote and guest speakers, addressing conference, included Rosslyn Noonan, NZ’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Maryanne Diamond – President of the WBU, our Associate Minister for Disability, the opposition party’s Spokesperson on Disability and the Mayor of Manukau City, the region we met in.

A panel discussion was facilitated around attitudes and the UNCRPD (United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) in NZ and specifics were raised around the fact that websites in the public domain are still not accessible and whether legislation re this should be advocated for, as is the case with regards to public buildings.

Aspects such as reasonable accommodation and undue hardship were discussed in the light of new NZ legislation, allowing small and medium sized businesses to fire a person following 90 days of employment, without providing a reason, for many disabled people feel quite threatened by this latest employment law item.

Our 10th year of hosting leadership seminars directly prior to Conference, was celebrated and, this was also the third year that we facilitated an advocacy workshop directly following Conference, so, our suite of capacity building opportunities is expanding into more than 1 area.






A great forum was held in Fiji for parents of children who are blind or have low vision. This forum brought many parents from remote areas of Fiji together for the first time where they exchanged stories and ideas about getting their children access to education. In particular, parents were connected with community rehabilitation workers that were responsible for their regions and gained key contacts and confidence to assist their children. A national parent body was established which is a direct outcome of the efforts and commitment from Fiji and people like Paul Manning from NZ and Frances Gentle in implementing the EFA campaign.






The Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) is the peak body representing organisations of persons with disabilities in the Pacific region. PDF was established in 2004, and its current membership consists of approximately 34 full and associate member organisations including: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, as well as representatives from Timor-Leste, development partners, regional and international organisations such as the International Council for the Education of persons with Vision Impairment (ICEVI). World Blind Union Pacific-Oceania sub-region is a full member.

The 2009 conference was attended by approximately 70 delegates and was preceded by a womens forum, and followed by a general meeting of the PDF Council.

The womens forum included the launch of a United Nations Development Program Pacific Centre 2009 report, written by Daniel Stubbs and Sainimili Tawake, titled “Pacific sisters with disabilities: At the intersection of discrimination”. A report was tabled the following day at the main conference including recommendations such as: ‘Pacific Governments that have not already done so, need to ratify the United Nations conventions for children (CRC), women (CEDAW), and persons with disability (CRPD) and their respective Optional Protocols; and ensure that CRPD Article 6, Women with disabilities and other CRPD Articles containing gender equity measures be given priority for implementation’

The two-day main conference was officially opened by His Excellency, Kalkot Mataskelekele, President of the Republic of Vanuatu. The opening ceremony included a keynote address by Ms Maryanne Diamond, President of the World Blind Union. Maryanne focused on the lack of rights and disadvantaged faced by women with disability, especially in developing countries, and Maryanne’s message to all was to ‘Go for it’ and work together to get our voices heard to attain those basic human rights now endorsed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with disability (CRPD) and other UN instruments.

The theme of the PDF conference was “Advancing disability concerns in the Pacific Region”, and included presentations by national disabled persons organisations (DPOs), the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS), AusAID and NZAID, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Pacific Centre, WBU-AP Pacific-Oceania, ICEVI Pacific, and the Australian Human Rights Commission. Presentation topics included case studies on development in the Pacific, the implementation of the CRPD, the situation of women and girls in the Pacific, inclusive education, the rights-based approach to disability development and current regional development assistance for disability-related programs.

Frances Gentle, representing ICEVI and Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) (Australia) gave a presentation on the launch of ICEVI and World Blind Union’s “Education for All Children with Vision Impairments” (EFA-VI) global campaign within the Pacific region. The presentation included an overview of EFA-VI activities during 2008, including the development of the Fiji EFA-VI National Task Force and Fiji EFA-VI Plan and the train-the-trainer “Professional Diploma in Orientation and Mobility, Pacific Region”. Two graduates of the orientation and mobility program were awarded their certificates and a donation of white canes as part of the presentation. Conference delegates were advised of the adoption of Unified English Braille (UEB) code in Australia and New Zealand in 2005, and the merit of adopting one Braille code across all English-speaking Pacific Island countries.

The Pacific Regional Conference on Disability concluded with the production of a report containing 12 recommendations that were unanimously endorsed by PDF and the conference delegates. These recommendations are available at www.pacificdisability.org

This report was presented to Mr. Joe Ligo, Director General, Ministry of Justice and Social Welfare during the conference closing ceremony, with a request that the recommendations be raised by the Vanuatu government at the August 2009 Pacific Islands Forum meeting.

The PDF Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday April 23rd, and included the tabling of the Chief Executive Officer’s Report, audited financial accounts, reports from PDF organisational members, and the election of the executive committee for the next two years.






Dato' Kulasegaran, in his capacity as the Chair of the South-East Asia Sub-Regional Committee, and Ivan Ho, the Secretary General of WBUAP, visited Myanmar from 20 - 23 December 2009. They held long discussions with the representatives from the Education Centre for Blind Affairs (ECBA) and the Myanmar National Association of the Blind (MNAB) immediately upon their arrival. MNAB very kindly arranged for them to visit two of their affiliates, St. Mary's Workshop for the Blind and the Collective Workforce Association of the Blind.

St. Mary's Workshop is built on a two-acre site and it has 26 male and female workers who stay in the compound with their families. The workers are mostly masseurs as weaving and basket-making have ceased due to the high prices of raw materials. The Collective Workforce Association is a merger of two organisations, the New Light and the Collective Workforce, which came together in 2003. They raised some funds from their fund-raising activities and bought a piece of land measuring 25 by 60 feet on which they built a thatched shelter (without rooms) for their regular gatherings and activities. Last year, Cyclone Nargis brought the shelter down and they had to rebuild part of the structure with financial assistance from MNAB which was donated to MNAB by WBUAP. The members are mostly masseurs or handicraft-makers and they operate from their own houses and do their own marketing. The Collective Workforce Association supplies their members with the raw materials at cost price.

Their efforts in persuading ECBA to join MNAB were unsuccessful although ECBA assured them that they would, wherever possible, work closely with other organisations serving the blind. On the other hand, MNAB has forged ahead since their last visit in 2007. MNAB has helped with the training of masseurs, setting up massage centres and formed an ICT Committee with the aim of teaching computer skills to both blind users and teachers of the blind. MNAB has also drawn up an Action Plan to impart teaching of blindness-specific skills to people having connections with blind people, to create public awareness on the capabilities of blind people and their need for employment opportunities. Currently, the most popular avenues for employment are massage and playing music.

Dato' Kula advised MNAB to form the Committee on Education For All Vision Impaired Children and to appoint an independent Chairman, preferably from the Government, and to invite members from bodies interested in the education of blind children, including ECBA, to serve on it. MNAB have informed them that they have approached the Government, which is very receptive to the idea, but indicated they prefer a committee for all disabled groups. Dato' Kula's advice to them was to convince the Government that the EFA-VIC Initiative was an ICEVI/WBU Project; failing which, MNAB should request that sub-committees be set up for each group to deal with their specific needs.

Before departing, Dato' Kula presented the donation of Braille items from the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia (NCBM) worth over $800 comprising white canes, writing slates, chess sets and talking calculators to ECBA and MNAB.






As reported briefly in east Wind No. 6, DANIDA Capacity Building Project has been going on in the Asia Pacific Region practically since 2006, mainly targeted at our colleagues in Mongolia and Lao PDR, with the hard works of our colleagues at the Danish Association of the Blind and support from DANIDA, the development aid agency of Danish government. The whole project aimed at organizational strengthening, increased capacity in advocacy and lobbying, establishment of women’s wings, and the increased capacity of WBUAP as a regional structure. For this purpose, various activities were conducted including: Leadership Training seminars and Follow-up Seminars on organizational skills and leadership, research of blind and visually impaired women of the two countries, and women’s forums in the two countries.

The 3 years of these activities brought about remarkable achievements. The two organizations are now stronger, more visible and recognized in their societies, have more members and branches of their organization. LAB succeeded in being registered from the government, while MNFB has been presenting itself as a strong advocate. Although women’s wings are not yet in place as initially anticipated, their women’s forums made enormous changes to the blind and partially sighted women who attended them, and some of them are even developing leadership skills.

The Project also set aside some of the funds for so-called Small Scale Projects: the two organizations were to design their own activities, and the Project Steering Committee reviewed and made suggestions. This was a wonderful scheme, as the outcome of these activities was brilliant. Following are some of the very successful Small Scale Projects:

Mongolian National Federation of the Blind:

·         MNFB established several additional branches in provinces where there were no branches before, so that the MNFB services can be reached to the blind and visually impaired individuals living in rural areas of the huge land of Mongolia.

·         MNFB set up information centers and library within their provincial branches, sometimes using the local government offices for their sites. These offices made the rural blind people more visible to the general public, which eventually increased the number of volunteers in reading, writing or guiding. They also provoked support from other local organizations.

·         MNFB held a workshop in a provincial branch attended by representatives from smaller districts. The workshop highlighted fundraising and other organizational management issues, advocacy and lobbying, issues of human rights etc., so that these knowledge will be shared by the blind living in rural areas.

Lao Association of the Blind:

·         White Cane Day: LAB held a large event in 2008 with participants from the government, business circles, the media, and more than 200 blind and visually impaired persons, raising awareness about the needs of the blind in a very visible way.

·         LAB purchased musical instruments, trained their members, and formed a musical group. The bank plays at public events or even for some money, which can be shared by the members themselves and the LAB.

·         LAB used the project fund to create the brochure of their activities.

·         LAB succeeded in making the media broadcast LAB programs, on the ratio and on the TV.


During the year 2009, there were 3 major project-related events in our Region.


·         Vision Conference (May) in Vientiane, Lao PDR: Representatives gathered from MNFB, LAB and DAB as well as from Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Brunei, and AP Board. The conference was aimed at common understanding of what have been useful in the project, sharing the status of organizations attending, gather ideas for possible future opportunities and cooperation, etc.

·         Evaluation Workshop (September) in Ulan Baator, Mongolia: Representatives from MNFB, LAB and WBUAP, jointly with colleagues from DAB and the Evaluator, to discuss findings and lessons learned from the 4 years of the Project, to be a step forward for the idea of future projects.

·         Logical Framework Workshop (December) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Representatives from MNFB, LAB and WBUAP, together with colleagues from DAB discussed and presented ideas to be included in the application for future project to be submitted to Danida, focusing on the areas of strengthening organization, advocacy and lobbying, and strengthening of regional functions.


The WBUAP Mid-term Assembly, scheduled for October 2010 in Chiba, Japan, will have a session on the project and capacity building, and we are hoping to welcome our colleagues from MNFB, LAB and DAB, to share more of the stories with us.






After a successful pilot project in 2008, WBU-AP with the support of Royal Society for the Blind (RSB) of South Australia, has established a region-wide low-tech equipment recycling website. People who are blind or have low vision throughout the Asia-Pacific region can visit the site and request items available for free, such as magnifiers, digital watches, Braille items, white canes etc. We also encourage organizations who have surplus or obsolete low-tech equipment to visit the site and donate their stock to the site. Have a look at: www.rsb.org.au/wbu






The Sponsors of the Contest, Onkyo Corporation and the Braille Mainichi of Japan, together with the WBUAP Onkyo Selection Committee, announced the winners of the 2009 Contest as follows:



The Otsuki Prize of $1,000 was awarded to Mr. Dong Huy Lieu from Vietnam with his entry “Braille - Lighting Up My Life". The reasons for awarding him this prize are:

(a) It is a well rounded essay with a clear focus on the topic. He is able to show how Braille has helped him to achieve his goals in life.

(b) He is able to bring out the positive spirit in his struggle to live a normal life and how this enabled him to inspire others around him.

(c) While relating his personal experiences, he has provided interesting insights into Vietnamese life as he made his personal journey on the road to success.



(Ages from 14 to 25 years old):

1. The Excellent Prize of $500 was awarded to Miss Ria Andriani from Australia with her entry "Some Things Are Meant To Be True". She is awarded the prize for the following reasons:

(a) She is able to bring out a clear message of hope concerning the role of Braille in helping her to appreciate music and achieve success.

(b) She is able to depict a struggle of determination and positive outlook despite great odds to fulfill her life's goal in the field of music.



(Ages from 26 years old and above):

1. The Excellent Prize of $500 was awarded to Mr. Atung Yuniarto from Indonesia with his entry "Touching The Points of Hope" which scored 73 points. The reasons for awarding him the prize are:

(a) He displayed very well his writing craft with interesting and varied details as he depicted his journey of hope and ultimate success.

(b) He showed how with the help of Braille he was able to fulfill his dream and to inspire others.


2. Two Fine Works Prizes of $200 each are awarded to:

2.1. Miss Khong Thanh Thuy from Vietnam

2.2. Miss Daw Byar Mee from Myanmar


We take this opportunity to extend our heartiest congratulations to all the winners. We also wish to express our deep gratitude to the National Onkyo Selection Committees of Australia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam for encouraging, facilitating and selecting the best entries sent to the WBUAP Onkyo Selection Committee.






At the WBUAP Joint Board and Policy Council Meeting held in Mongolia in September 2009, the Vice-President reported the sad news that Prof. Datuk Dr Ismail Md. Salleh, the Chair of the ICEVI East Asia Committee, and President of the Malaysian Association for the Blind, passed away on 27 August 2009. A moment of silence was observed in his memory.

The death of Datuk Prof. Ismail Md. Salleh was a great loss, not only to his family and country, but also to the blind people of Malaysia and the region. He struggled against the limitations of vision impairment to become one of the outstanding blind persons in Malaysia. The late Datuk Prof. Dr Ismail was conferred the Professorship on Economics by the National University of Malaysia, thus becoming the first blind Malaysian to have achieved this intellectual position. Subsequently, he was appointed a member of the Think-Tank group at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies of Malaysia. On account of his long and dedicated services to the blind people of Malaysia as the President of the Malaysian Association for the Blind, and as Chairman of the Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital, and his understanding of the issues of persons with disabilities, he was appointed the first Senator for the Disabled in December 2007. That same month the Malaysian Parliament passed the Persons with Disabilities Act.

We have lost an outstanding man in Datuk Prof. Dr Ismail who demonstrated that blindness was no barrier to success, and what it means to be blind. The President of WBUAP, and all Board and Policy Council members extend their heartfelt condolences to his wife and children.






The 8th WBUAP Onkyo Braille Essay Contest 2010


The Onkyo Corporation Ltd., The Tenji Mainichi Newspaper "The Braille Mainichi" and WBUAP announced the start of the 8th WBUAP Onkyo Braille Essay Contest for blind and vision impaired people in the Asia Pacific Region. Cash prizes of US$1,000.00, US$500.00 and US$200.00 will be awarded respectively to the best seven entries from two age groups from all countries in the region.

The closing day is April 30, 2010.

For further details, please contact Ivan Ho Tuck Choy at the contact details at the end of this newsletter.


The 10TH WBUAP Regional Seminar on Massage for the Blind


Date, Monday May 3 to Thursday May 6, 2010

Place: Seoul, Korea

For further details, please contact the Conference Secretariat at: Korea Blind Union, 3F Eroom Center 17-13 Yeouido-dong Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Tel: 82-2-6925-1114
Fax: 82-2-6925-1117
E-mail: kblindunion@hotmail.com


The 13TH World Conference of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment


Date, Monday August 9 to Friday August 13, 2010

Place: Hotel Ambassador City, Jomtien, Thailand

For Abstract Submission contact the ICEVI Secretariat at: 3, Professors' Colony, Palamalai Road, S R K Vidyalaya Post, Coimbatore 641 020, Tamil Nadu, INDIA
Tel : +91 422 2469 104
Fax : +91 422 2693 414
E-mail : sgicevi@vsnl.net

For Registration contact the Foundation for the Employment Promotion of the Blind at: 2218/86 Chan Road, Khet Yan Nawa, Bangkok - 10120, THAILAND
Tel : +662 6780256 / 6689 8302573
Fax : +662 6780765
E-mail : kan@fepblind.com

The Conference has opened its own website at: http://www.icevi.org/13thWC/


The WBUAP Mid-term Assembly


Date, Friday October 29 to Monday November 1, 2010

Place: Hotel Green Tower, Chiba, Japan

For further details, please contact the secretariat of the organizing committee at the National Committee of Welfare for the Blind in Japan, at: ncwbj@mbm.nifty.com


THE International Conference on Low Vision


Date, February 2011

Place: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia




We Are Waiting for Your Contributions!!

Send in your writings…reports, essays, poems, commentary, just about anything, that you might want to share with your friends and colleagues in the Region.


Your Donations Is Always Welcome!!

Help us make a difference of what it means to be blind. Your donations will help our international blindness movement in particular from our friends in less economically privileged circumstances.

Your generous contribution is very much appreciated. Please note that, following the election of our new Treasurer, we have our new USD account in Australia.

Please direct your payment to:

National Australia Bank

Bank Address: 330 Collins Street , Melbourne, Australia

BSB: 083-004

Account Number: WBUAPUSD01

Swift Code: NATAAU3303M

Name: World Blind Union – Asia Pacific






President, WBUAP

Chuji Sashida

E-mail: csashida@nifty.com

National Committee of Welfare for the Blind in Japan

E-mail: ncwbj@mbm.nifty.com

2-18-2 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-0051 Japan



Michiko Tabata

E-mail: tabacchi@par.odn.ne.jp

National Committee of Welfare for the Blind in Japan

E-mail: ncwbj@mbm.nifty.com

2-18-2 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-0051 Japan


Secretary General:

Ivan Ho Tuck Choy

E-mail: ncftb@po.jaring.my

National Council for the Blind, Malaysia

94B Jalan Tun Sambanthan

50470 Kuala Lumpur



East Asia Sub-Region

Michiko Tabata


Pacific-Oceania Sub-Region

Kevin Murfitt

E-mail: Kevin.murfitt@visionaustralia.org

3-6 Allambee Ave

Camberwell, Victoria, 3124 Australia


South East Asia Sub-Region

Dato Kulasegaran

E-mail: ncftb@po.jaring.my

National Council for the Blind, Malaysia

94B Jalan Tun Sambanthan

50470 Kuala Lumpur