PRESS RELEASE – The St. Lucia Blind Welfare Association (SLBWA) and The World Blind Union WBU) joined the celebration of International Day for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) on December 3rd 2018, guided by this year’s theme “Empowering Persons with Disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.”
The WBU magnified the spirit of the theme by impressing upon Governments, development partners, UN agencies and International Funding Institutions/Agencies to “mainstream the rights of blind and partially sighted persons in their planning, policy framework, programming, budgeting and implementation.”
The World Blind Union has emphatically declared that “Blind and partially sighted persons worldwide continue to face significant challenges such as: inaccessible environment and non-inclusive education systems; learning facilities including textbooks remain largely in print as opposed to being accessible in Braille, large print, audio and electronic formats”.
The underlying principle in the sustainable development goals is “leave no one behind”.
We cannot have inclusion and equality if the rights of persons with visual disabilities are not mainstreamed in the development processes.
We call upon states to respect our plight and mainstream our rights into the development processes.
A landmark achievement of the WBU is the development of the Treaty of Marrakesh.
The Treaty aims to facilitate access to published works for people living with blindness, and visual impairment.
The Treaty facilitates copyright exemption for organizations to reproduce reading material in an accessible format for target groups, without being in breach of copyright laws.
The Treaty also comprises import and export exemptions which allow material digitized for the use of the blind and visually impaired to transcend national borders. This is seen as a major step towards equalizing access opportunities for print – disabled citizens across the world.