Happy International Women’s Day from the WBU

The World Blind Union Logo

04 March 2019

RE: World Blind Union statement on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2019

The World Blind Union joins the United Nations to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2019. The theme this year is Think equal, build smart, innovate for change. It focuses on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. Hence it is a day to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, including women with visual disabilities.

Generally, blind and partially sighted women and girls experience multiple forms of discrimination, which infringe on their basic human rights and empowerment.  Due to the intersections of discrimination based on gender and disability, blind and partially sighted women are at a higher risk of neglect, gender-based violence and exploitation.

The latest data shows that 55% of the world’s visually impaired are women (139 million). States must address the unique needs of blind and partially sighted women to ensure equal participation and access to education, innovation and technology opportunities, employment, rehabilitation, among other basic rights.

According to Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) states parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Furthermore, gender inequality continues to hold women back and deprives them of basic rights and opportunities as per Sustainable Development Goal 5. This Goal states that empowering women requires addressing structural issues such as unfair social norms and attitudes as well as developing progressive legal frameworks that promote equality between women and men. The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality, innovation and the empowerment of all women and girls.

The World Blind Union, therefore, reminds states to fulfil their obligations by protecting and respecting the rights of women, particularly blind and partially sighted women. As we commemorate International Women’s Day, we appeal to states, UN agencies, development partners and civil society to mainstream the rights of women with disabilities in their development plans, programs and policies. We urge governments to end all forms of discrimination against women with disabilities and put in place necessary provisions to promote gender equality and other fundamental rights of all women.

It is vital that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.


The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at www.worldblindunion.org

For further information, please contact:

Terry Mutuku

Communications Officer, World Blind Union

Terry.Mutuku@wbu.ngo ​​

Survey Deadline EXTENDED!

CCB Survey on Accessibility and Assistive Technology

You now have until MARCH 18th to finish the survey!

As you know, the employment rate of Canadians who are blind, partially-sighted, and deaf-blind is very low, and the cost of assistive and accessible technology is very high. Given these facts, the CCB is endeavouring to better understand your thoughts, experiences, and goals in these matters so that we may advocate for you more effectively. We want to work with you towards a future with a higher employment rate for those with vision loss as well as increased accessibility and independence. 

Our goal is to eliminate or minimize the barriers limiting those with vision loss from acquiring the education of their choice and from entering and thriving in today’s workforce. So help us help you and submit the survey below!

Tell us about your circumstances. Where you are and where do you want to go? We want to help you get there.



Please invest the 8 to 10 minutes it will take to complete the above survey by March 18, 2019. With the accumulated information you will provide, we will be able to better understand the present status of Canadians with vision loss and to act accordingly. Thank you in advance for your participation.

All the best,

Louise Gillis' signature

Louise Gillis

National President

Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)

In Memorium – John Rempel

The Canadian Council of the Blind is sad to inform you about the passing of Mr. John Rempel on January 17th.  Please see the letter below from the National Board of Directors about John.

I think of John on a regular basis.  If it was not for John I would not be here, and most likely neither would the Council.  His dedication and belief in the council assisted and encouraged the members to work together for the benefit of the community.

John’s leadership helped steer us through some very difficult and challenging periods for the Council.  His Strong leadership, knowledge, commitment, and ability helped bring the council together.

Since 1975 John has been active in the Council at Chapter, Divisional, and National levels. John’s involvement with the CCB began in the Saskatoon White Cane Club, where he served as President for seven years.  He then moved on to serve the Division for another six years becoming Division President for his last two years.  In 1998 he became National President, and spent the following six years directing and building programs to create a better Council.

What I see as one of John’s best moments was during the 2006 Convention where he brought together the members allowing them to pass the bylaws they were working on at that time. We all owe him a strong debt of gratitude for all he has done for the Council. 

John always put the Council first before his own interests. He maintained a great interest even after his retirement which I really recognized when I visited him in his home when I last was in Saskatchewan. From 1998 when he became President and Past President until 2010, and even beyond, he worked through his times of pain to keep this organization alive so we could one day be the beneficiaries of his unselfish efforts and his work ethic which taught us the true value of always reaching for more. John was a soft spoken man of great wisdom and when needed he sure he got his point across for the betterment of the Council.

Selma, I want to thank you for your continued support through all these years as you not only assisted John in many ways but you also assisted any board member needing help at the meetings plus many more things that we are not even aware. Please take care of yourself and thank you for sharing John with us who helped to make us stronger leaders in the Council.\

Louise Gillis, Jim Tokos, Jim Prowse and the Members of the National Board of Directors.

United Nations General Assembly adopted the World Blind Union’s World Braille Day.

The United Nations General Assembly has today adopted the World Blind Union’s Resolution recognizing the World Braille Day.

The purpose of the World Braille Day, celebrated every January 4, is to raise awareness of the importance of braille to converting the written word to tactile form for the benefit of blind and partially sighted persons worldwide.

WBU members and partners around the world have reacted with excitement upon receiving the news.

“This is wonderful achievement especially because braille is the means of literacy for blind people. Literacy is the foundation of education and foundation of full integration of employment’ says WBU’s President Dr. Fred Schroeder, from the UN Head Quarters in New York City. Watch his full remarks on WBU YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=29&v=uWwwLjBiG80

“In United States braille has come to be recognised as an important item because if we can read and write, we can fully participate in all the activities in life that everybody else takes for granted, says Former President of the National Federation of the Blind-USA, Mr. Marc Maurer. Watch his full remarks on WBU YouTube Channel:https://youtu.be/5YrrqwbAkIM

From Rwanda, the WBU Second Vice President Ms. Donatilla Kanimba,said “This is a great opportunity to advocate for braille as the most important literacy tool for the blind community, especially children here in Africa who cannot pursue education because they cannot access braille for their literacy needs, says. “As the World Blind Union, we believe that reading is a human right and therefore we are grateful that the UN is recognizing this right. We urge governments to recognize this right as well and provide braille literacy in schools”.

Petition for Motion M-183

Eye Health and Vision Care M-183 bilingual

This is our chance to make a difference, to make a statement on behalf of Canada’s blind low vision community. Please take the time to support NDP Member of Parliament Carol Hughes of Algoma-Manitouline-Kapauskasing’s efforts, through her motion M-183 calling for a Pan-Canadian Framework for Action on Eye Health and Vision Care. Canada needs, we need, a national strategy on eye health and vision care. You can read the full text of her motion below. MP Hughes’ motion is right on message is consistent with the mandate of the Canadian Council of the Blind in “changing what it means to be blind”.

You can make a difference and it is a relatively simple task. Just follow the attached link and print 3 copies of the first page for English, or the second page for French. Once that is done, spend the time and effort to get 25 signatures (please use a blue pen) and then follow mailing instructions found at the bottom of the petition send the signed petitions to MP Hughes at her office in the House of Commons, Ottawa K1A 0A6. MP Hughes will share your petition with other MPs who will then present your petition in the House. Do this and you will lend your voice to the call for Canadian action on Eye Health and Vision Care.

Here’s the text of motion M-183, for your reference

M-183: Pan-Canadian Framework for Action on Eye Health and Vision Care:

Text of the Motion:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Government should work with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities and government, not-for-profit eye health and vision care organizations towards the creation of a pan-Canadian Framework for Action on Eye Health and Vision Care, that respects jurisdictional authority and Quebec’s right to withdraw with compensation, and that will: (a) establish an Office for Vision Health at the Public Health Agency of Canada, charged with working with provinces and territories on strategies for eye health, vision care and the full integration of post-vision loss rehabilitation therapy into the health care continuum; (b) enhance funding for vision health research, beginning with ensuring representation on dedicated Canadian Institutes

of Health Research review and evaluation committees; (c) ensure enhanced access to eye health and vision care for Indigenous peoples, seniors and children;

(d) to engage in vision care pilot projects that reflects the entire journey of vision loss from prevention to rehabilitation, and encourage direct citizen engagement; and (e) engage in a public information campaign based on population health strategies aimed at influencing individual behaviors and that encourages

Canadians to think about their eye and vision health.

Job Posting: Accountant


The Canadian Council of the Blind

Ottawa, ON


Job Description:


The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) is looking for an accountant that is responsible for the daily accounting, the annual budget and all financial reporting for the National Charity, located in Ottawa, ON.




  • All payable/receivable entries
  • Deposits, Bank Reconciliations, Cash Flow reports
  • Payroll (including government remittances)
  • Budgets for organization including, programs and grants, as well as updating projections.
  • Monthly, Quarterly, Yearly closing journal entries (accruals, government and tax remittances etc)
  • Financial Statement preparation


Desired Skills and Experience:


  • Post Secondary education in Business, Accounting or Finance
  • Two or more years experience in a similar role
  • Experience in Quickbooks or other accounting software would be considered an asset
  • Strong Excel skills and familiar with Microsoft Word
  • Strong english verbal and written communication skills


Company Description:


The Canadian Council of the Blind is a registered Canadian charity that is governed by a board of directors who are blind or visually impaired. The council has membership based chapters across the company who work on core programs of advocating for the Blind and visually impaired community, and activities that promote the inclusion and guard against the isolation of blind and visually impaired persons. This position is based in the National office in Ottawa, ON where there are approximately 10 full time employees.


If interested please email your cover letter and resume to Mary Ellen Durkee, jobs@ccbnational.net

WBU statement on the World Sight Day 2018

The World Sight Day is the most important advocacy and communications event on the eye health calendar. Observed annually on the second Thursday of October, it is a global event meant to draw attention on blindness and vision impairment. On this day, the World Blind Union (WBU) in collaboration with other organizations provide information through awareness raising regarding eye care. One of the priorities of WBU is to ensure the prevention of sight loss through advocacy for affordable and accessible eye health services as well as providing referrals.

Around 253 million people live with vision impairment worldwide, of which 36 million are blind. The vast majority live in low-income settings. More than 80% are aged 50 years or above. Globally, uncorrected refractive errors and un-operated cataract are the top two causes of vision impairment. More than 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. Measures to do so should focus on increasing access to quality, comprehensive eye care services, especially at the community level (WHO)


The World Sight Day is therefore significant to raise public awareness of blindness and vision impairment, influence governments to participate in and designate funds for national blindness prevention programmes and educate the public about blindness prevention.


Globally, cataracts and glaucoma are the leading causes of blindness. The defects include: long sightedness, short sightedness, low vision, most of which defects can be corrected through eye health interventions recommended by the world health organization, vision 2020​ among others. The right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health stipulated under the CRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) includes provision of accessible eye care services nearer to the community. This obligation has been accepted by about 174 states parties that ratified the Convention. However, this right manifests several challenges: There are very few eye care doctors, ophthalmologists and optometrists that provide eye care services in the communities across the world; Most of the families in the communities at both national and regional levels are not aware of the existing eye care services; These services are under funded by governments and are not available, accessible and affordable to the entire communities that need them; Eye glasses are too expensive for our communities to afford yet they need them.


During this World Sight Day celebrations, on October 11, the World blind Union provides the following advice and call for action:

  • It is important for all children and adults to have their eyes screened once a year in order to avoid preventable causes of blindness.
  • Governments should allocate appropriate budgets across the world to conduct the following activities: Construct vision corridors in the communities to enable village health teams and nurses to conduct eye health screening; conduct eye health services in schools to ensure that children receive them; conduct outreach clinics to provide eye care services; provide eye glasses at a subsidized cost; provide medical examination equipment in all hospitals and health centers; as well as encourage trainings of doctors, optometrists and ophthalmologists to improve their skills in eye health.
  • WBU also encourages radio and television campaigns to sensitize the public about eye conditions and interventions.

If this is done, we are sure that governments would have met their obligation of providing eye care services to blind and partially sighted persons across the globe.


The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at www.worldblindunion.org


For further information, please contact:


Terry Mutuku

Communications Officer, World Blind Union


WBU statement on White Cane Day October 15, 2018

In October every year, blind and partially sighted persons across the world celebrate White Cane Day. The mission of White Cane Day is to educate the world about blindness and how the blind and visually sighted persons can live and work independently while giving back to their communities. It is also aimed at celebrating the abilities and successes achieved by blind and partially sighted persons worldwide and to honor the many contributions they make to the society.

The white cane is recognized as a symbol of independence, a sign of autonomy and respect for the inherent dignity for the blind and partially sighted persons which is in line with Article 3 of the principles enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The White cane is also in line with the obligations stipulated under Article 9 of the CRPD on accessibility, Article 20 on mobility and sustainable development goal number 11 on accessible cities and human settlements.

On this year’s World Cane Day, October 15, the World Blind Union emphasizes that trainings and awareness campaigns towards the promotion of mobility and orientation using the white cane guarantee autonomy to blind and partially sighted persons to choose places they would like to go to and to participate effectively in their communities. This day helps to create a platform for advocacy to several public and private entities regarding the needs and rights of blind and partially sighted persons.


However, one of the key challenges is that white canes are too expensive and not affordable to most blind persons in developing countries. Even when blind and partially sighted persons have white canes, they continue to face significant barriers during their movements. These barriers include: lack of safe and accessible urban spaces that are user friendly as well as lack of tactile markers that facilitate the use of a white cane.


The World Blind Union is appealing to member states to meet their obligations of the CRPD and the commitments enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is critical that governments allocate budgets and national action plans to include provision of white canes as well as the provision of mobility trainings for blind and partially sighted persons. Governments should also provide adequate resources to facilitate the provision of white canes to blind people at the national level free of charge in the spirit of leave no one behind in order to promote inclusive development.


Our conviction is that a more inclusive, accessible and equal society will lead to better living conditions for our community. We envision a world in which we, as blind or partially sighted people, can participate fully in any aspect of life we choose.



The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at www.worldblindunion.org


For further information, please contact:


Terry Mutuku

Communications Officer, World Blind Union


Declaration of Solidarity by the World Blind

Declaration of Solidarity by the World Blind


We are the representatives of the organizations of the blind from various countries who are gathered in the ancient theatre located in the ruins of Troy, hosted by the office of the Çanakkale Governor, at the invitation of the Turkish Federation of the Blind, in keeping with the fact that 2018 has been declared the “Year of Troy” by the government of the Turkish Republic. Each of us is working to strengthen people with visual impairments in our own geographical area by establishing local, national and international networks, and considering each other from the perspective of knowledge and love.


Today, we have come here to these fertile lands of ancient times tested by war and violence with our messages of solidarity, peace and fellowship.


Embracing the blind poet, Homer, who depicted the Trojan Wars in a lively, colorful and effective manner in his epic The Iliad as our common value, and taking the world-wide solidarity and fellowship of the blind into consideration against the brutality and cruelty of the war described in this unique masterpiece; in this mesmerizing atmosphere created by these feelings we would like to call out to all the communities around the whole world to say the following:


According to research, the number of persons who have lost their lives in local, regional and global wars throughout human history is as high as the present population of the world. In the First World War, one of the two most deadly catastrophic events of the 20th century, 17 million people lost their lives, and 65 million people lost their lives in the Second World War. The number of injured was twice as much.


War is one of the main reasons of disability. A non-defensive war is a crime against humanity and is irrational as a problem-solving method. By destroying people and nature, it destroys civilizations created over thousands of years. This is because a substantial part of the pecuniary resources is spent on the development and trade of mass destruction weapons, rather than on eradicating hunger from the earth, on solving problems such as the ones faced in health, education, social security, rehabilitation, accessibility and on increasing the welfare of people. Therefore, war is the greatest obstacle to the progress of humanity.


The blind are the most sincere and determined opponents of war, as war increases the population of the blind to a significant extent and leads to the use of resources needed in the prevention of disability or in improving living standards for persons with disabilities to be wasted.


Since the early ages, persons with disabilities have been ignored and totally disregarded in time of war, as they are the most degraded, marginalized, neglected and forgotten population in the community. War eliminates human values as well ​​because it darkens the souls and makes them more selfish and violent. The greatest force behind the fight of the blind is universal humanitarian values ​​and public conscience which war also destroys.


Ensuring the world to be a very peaceful environment is in favor of the blind from every angle. In this way, the huge amount of money allocated for war would be spent on solving the fundamental problems of humanity, on improving the level of prosperity and happiness. The blind would get their share of this. As more resources would be allocated to health services, to prevent traffic and occupational accidents, to eliminate poverty and ignorance in a permanent peace environment, the number of persons with disabilities would decrease. Therefore, importance would be attached more to the solutions of the problems of persons with disabilities on education, rehabilitation and employment; discrimination against persons with disabilities would be prevented; and more intensive efforts would be made for training and awareness of the community about persons with disabilities.




With those ideas, we would like to remind you of one of the meaningful expressions of the Republic of Turkey’s founder Atatürk: “Unless the nation’s existence is in danger, war is murder.”


We promise to work full steam ahead to ensure a future in which blissful peace and fellowship blossom and in which wars turn into memories imbedded in the history books.