The updating of digital technologies of accessibility
Barriers are broken down in Culture and Information
Technology as a tool for entering the labour market
apolinar salcedo, blind mayor
of cali (Colombia)
arne husveg dies
Arne Husveg died on 16th November at 71 years of age after a long illness
over two centuries of fighting for equality
4 editorial Beyond 2004
5 opinion Enrique Sanz, “Conquering the future”
6 WBU current events Arne Husveg dies. New Executives, Board of Directors of Norway and last minute news on the General Assembly
18 CURRENT EVENTS The WBU and its relationship with the Universal Postal Union, by Geoffrey F. Gibbs
14 technology and integration Barriers are broken down in culture and communications
26 interview Ismael Martínez Liébana, blind professor of Philosophy at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid
32 report Nicaragua: cultivating the earth with the vision of one‟s hands
42 report Argentina: a newspaper for the blind
48 report Record-breaking blind people
52 report Sabriye Tenberken, a blind horsewoman from Tibet
62 brief notes and agenda
ON OUR COVER: Updating digital technologies of accessibility and blind people
24 First person singular Ismael Martínez Liébana
36 report Apolinar Salcedo, blind mayor of the city of Cali (Colombia)
When we reach the last month of the year, we always have the temptation to take stock
of the year that is about to close. In the field of disability there are two facts that should set out our route for the next few years.
First, this year 2004 which has almost come to an end was chosen by the Latin
American authorities as Latin American year of People with Disabilities. In a
subcontinent situated south of Rio Grande, full of shortages and of scarce social policies
for the most disadvantaged, the designation of the Latin American year of People with
Disabilities is a step forward to becoming aware of the precarious reality of people with
disabilities. The end of this year should not, in turn, mean the end of initiatives intended to promote improvements and become just a memory of the anniversary under the
pompous title of Latin American Year...
The second event is more related to our organisation, to the World Blind Union, which
has been running for twenty years and, in a few days time, will hold its 6th General
Assembly in Cape Town (South Africa), with a major issue on the agenda. As we
already indicated in our Union publications, the assembly will study the potential
amendment of the articles so that the WBU president may be able to be re-elected for a
Thus, both the celebration of the Latin American year of People with Disabilities and
the holding of this 6th General Assembly of the WBU should not become mere dates to
be remembered, but rather they should be steps forward to improve and overcome the
problems encountered by people with disabilities around the world who, regretfully, in
most cases, are badly in need of them.
Conquering the future. It is almost certain that this article will be the last one in my
professional career, although there is a Spanish saying that goes “One can never say I
will never drink this water”, and I would not dare contradict popular wisdom. But the
truth is that each person, each institution, in short, every thing and every case has its
cycle and its time. Mine is coming to an end with the holding of the 6th General
Assembly of the WBU where a new team of officers will be elected, and as and from thDecember 10 a new team will lead the organisation for the next four years. But there is
no regret, not at all, I just wish to emphasise the temporary character of things.
When one takes stock of a cycle, there are always things one could have done and did
not do because of the circumstances at the time or simply because this or that is not
deemed appropriate. However, modesty apart, during this period when I led the General
Secretariat, I believe remarkable actions were undertaken and strengthened the WBU as
regards my field of responsibility. Just to summarise, I would highlight the undertaking
of the web page, the Bulletin and the Magazine of the General Secretariat, the
digitalisation of the documentary historical file of the Union ever since its beginnings in
All this work is not carried out individually. In my case, I received such important help
and support that, without them, I would have been unable to reach a successful
conclusion in most cases. And apart from the people I have worked with, the support of
the National Organisation of Blind People of Spain (ONCE) was a determining factor in improving the development of my work. Without their determination to promote the General Secretariat of the WBU, I sincerely think that it would have been unable to reach the levels of efficiency and robustness it enjoys today.
But all this is history now. My small history, but already in the past. What really matters now is the future, because although people pass by, fortunately institutions remain and th General Assembly, apart from their work and devotion to the WBU, progress. In any environment, it would be very dangerous if the progress of the activity will reach goals and success that will strengthen and make our World Blind Union was slowed down by the replacement of an individual. Thus I am sure that the new team greater and stronger. Twenty years in existence provide a wealth of knowledge more elected at the 6than sufficient to ensure that the WBU has consolidated as an entity able to gather the interests of blind people throughout the world.
Therefore, I think we are on the right track to progress and go deeper: to reach the utopia of the full integration of blind people.
The future will surely show us that this goal is not so difficult to reach if we all co-operate, regardless of the names of those who lead the WBU at any given time. As any other great Institution, ours should be beyond individuals in order to conquer the common goal for all blind and visually impaired people throughout the world: reaching full social mainstreaming.
ABU EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Amer Youssef Makarem, C/o. Youth Association of the Blind, P.O. Box. 113-5487, Beirut (Lebanon).
Abjapparov Bakhtiyar, C/o. Uzbek Association of the Blind, 22, Bobour Street, 700100 Tashkent (Republic of Uzbekistan). Telefax: 0998712-533045; 00998712-55655 Email: email@example.com
J.L. Kaul, C/o. All India Confederation of the Blind, Sector-5, Rohini, Delhi-110085 (India).
Ahmed Mohammad Mousa Allousi, C/o. Friendship Association of the Blind, P.O. Box
7063; Amman (Jordan).
Manjula Rath, Chair, ABU Women Committee.
C/o. All India Confederation of the Blind, Sector-5, Rohini, Delhi-110085 (India).
Nashat Ayoub Ali, C/o. Blind Care Association in Damascus, Damascus-Mujtahid,
Behind Al-Mansour Mosque,
Opp. Martyre Mustafa Jaweed School, P.O. Box 4881, Damascus (Syria).
Abdul Aziz Al-Shatti, Kuwait Association of the Blind,, Box 43244, Code:32047
Hawalli Square (Kuwait).
Tengniev Kholmahmad Axmadovich,
C/o. Tajik Association of the Blind,
Karamov Street 205, Dushanbe 734027 (Tajikistan). Ph: 00992372-373331/373231
Sherin Aqa Saddiqi,
C/o. Afghanistan Association of the Blind, Gul Haji Plaza, 4th floor, Flat No.410, University Town, Peshawar, (Pakistan). Telefax:0092-91-850861
Qari Saad Noor,
C/o. Pakistan Association of the Blind,
PAB House, Haider Shah Town, Street n. 3, Delazak Road, Peshawar city, (Pakistan).
R.A. Sirisena, C/o. Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped, 74, Church Street, Colombo-2 (Sri Lanka).
North America-Caribbean Region
Penny Hartin, The Canadian National Institute for the Blind. 1929 Bayview Avenue.
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8 (Canada)
Ph: (1-416) 486-2500
Fax: (1-416) 480-7000
Marc Maurer, National Federation of the Blind (NFB), 1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
Ph: (1-410) 659 9314
Fax: (1-410) 685-5653
President & CEO:
Jim Gibbons, National Industries for the Blind. 1901 N. Beauregard St. Alexandria,
James Sanders, The Canadian National Institute for the Blind. 1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8 (Canada)
Ph: (1-416) 486-2500
Fax: (1-416) 480-7000
Alternate members to the Executive who can vote on behalf of the region should the
above named delegate not be able to attend.
Mary Ellen Jernigan, National Federation of the Blind (NFB), 1800 Johnson Street,
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
Tel: (1-410) 659 9314
Fax: (1-410) 685-5653
Paul Edwards, presidente;
President, American Council of the Blind, 200330 N.E 20th Court. Miami, Florida
Ph: (1-305) 2371146
Fax: (1-202) 467-5085 (ACB in D.C)
Norway: Board of Directors
ndrd and 3 a compulsory meeting of the Board of Directors of the WBU On October 2was held in Hurdal, Norway, at which the amendments to the Constitution proposed
both by the Constitutional Committee and by the region of North America and the
Caribbean and the Spanish organisation ONCE, were reviewed. It was agreed that the Executive Committee could make recommendations with regard to the amendments
during its presentation at the General Assembly and before the final decision of the delegates.
Apart from other matters of government, the Board approved the members of the group in charge of the electoral count (Barbara Marjeram, for North America and the
Caribbean; Judith Varsavsky, for South America; Elisabeth Oksum, for Europe; Bill Jolley, for the Asia-Pacific region; Thomas Ongolo, for Africa and Ghulam Rabbani Butt, for Asia). Likewise, the nominations received for those to be awarded the
distinction of Honorary Life Member at the General Assembly were confirmed (Poul
Lüneborg, of Denmark; Bengt Lindqvist, of Sweden and Geoffrey Gibbs, of New
The President announced the awarding of the WBU Louis Braille medal to Arne
Husveg, first vice-president of the organisation, which caused an emotional reaction on the part of several members of the Board as at that time he was in hospital, and died on November 16
th (see pages 8 and 9).
The president of South Africa shall bring the VI assembly to a close
The president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, has confirmed that he will attend the
General Assembly of the World Blind Union that will be held in Cape Town. At the
Assembly, Mbeki shall say a few words to those present on Friday December 10th
during the closing ceremony. However, he will not be able to attend the opening thceremony that will take place on December 6.
Arne Husveg has passed away
Arne Husveg was the Secretary General of the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted (NABP) from 1971 to 1994, before he took over the leadership of the Association‟s international work, as the Director of International Affairs. Before retiring in 2003, he dedicated himself 100% to international work and fought especially hard for the improvement of the visually impaired in developing countries. He had played an important role in several of NABP‟s committees up until the time of his death. He was elected to the NABP Board where he sat for several years. Arne Husveg was the most prominent personality in the work of blindness in modern history in Norway. His death marks the end of an epic for work in Norway in the area of blindness.
Arne Husveg is the one who is mainly responsible for the development of the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted as a modern organisation that
stands in the forefront. Arne Husveg has meant a lot for the situation of the disabled in Norway. He was the leader of the Norwegian Association of Organisations of Disabled for many years, and as a 17 year old in 1950, he helped to establish the predecessor of this umbrella organisation. Arne Husveg was the by far the most prominent representative for the disabled throughout many years in Norway.
Arne Husveg was deeply dedicated to the blind in poor countries. In 1979 he took the initiative to establish NABP‟s work for the visually impaired in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Thanks to funding from the NRK television channel‟s fundraising television
campaigns in 1981 and 1991, and considerable financial support from NORAD, NABP has been able to start and run several projects in developing countries. Approximately 100,000 poor visually impaired persons have had their sight restored at NABP eye clinics in African and Asian countries. Many visually impaired have received an education and help to establish their own businesses, and Arne Husveg has contributed to the building and strengthening of blind organisations in several countries. Arne Husveg played a key role in the development of the European Blind Union in 1984, and as you all well know, he was the President of EBU from 1987 to 1996 and a Board member until 2003, and was at the time of his death the First Vice President of the World Blind Union.
Arne Husveg was awarded with the highest honour given in Norway, the Order of St. Olav. He has also received the World Blind Union‟s highest honour, the Louis Braille medal.
Director of International Affairs
of the Blind
And Partially Sighed (NABP)
Tel.: (47) 23 21 50 38
Mobile: (47) 901 90 732
The UPU is a complex bureaucracy with many interrelated agencies that are in a transitional phase both due to the election of the new director general, Edouard Dayan, and the privatising pressures of the new work environment.
The WBU and its relationship with the Universal Postal Union
A difficult future,
but we shall have a voice
By Geoffrey F. Gibbs*
The WBU occupies its place as a fully-fledged member of the Advisory Group. In the last two years, we have paid our membership fee (CF2000). Given the importance of the postage exemption in the “Articles for Blind People”, it is important that we continue to
be involved in order to supervise the situation and, when necessary, make our demands. Both our friends at the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and the International Council of Educators with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) have asked to join us on this path and both the members of the board and myself applaud this request. As an observer, I believe that a significant aspect has emerged in the form of the growing relationship between the UPU and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Both organisations have great influence in modernising the processes of market classification and structure transformation. This leads us to consider the need to be involved in both world organisations together with our respective governments, if we wish to strengthen our position in terms of the resolution that emerged from the Fifth General Assembly. There is a good level of co-operation between the UPU and the WBU, and a formal memorandum of agreement is being developed. It has been proposed that, in this documentation, we make reference to the requirement of social service inherent in postal systems (exemption), but it has still to be decided whether this mention shall be made.
Loss of importance
The postal industry currently faces several important problems, and in my opinion the situation of blind people has become something not so important among the main issues of today. Interest is mainly focused on the „battle‟ between traditionalists (who we could describe as coming from governmental implication and Public Services in the postal service) and liberals (those who answer to the Boards of Directors and external actors in privatised programs). Throughout the world, the postal monopolies are being dismembered and the subject of the debates mainly concern the diversification of postal services, such as, for example urgent deliveries, exchange of documents, financial services... Whilst some look for subsidies, safeguards and protective barriers, others advocate the elimination of all barriers.
Going back to the relationship with the WBU, it has been suggested that, as the main problems of world trade are centred on agriculture and the textile industry, perhaps the services sector is the key to advancing in the international trade agenda. There is tension between North and South as regards products, but not in services, and perhaps the UPU could take advantage of this situation.
It has been pointed out that the trade union movement is worried about the rapid rate of changes in the sector and the consequent impact on the workers. The trade union movement tries to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to demand independent regulations that protect its cause. Perhaps we should look for a mechanism to unite us with them.
Different documentation elements are being outlined; the most significant refers to customs formalities. Once more, it is confirmed that there is a disparity between postal and private operators – this is a heavily debated issue at the moment -.
It is clear that, given the current trends of postal services and express delivery services, post has rapidly become a highly competitive industry. However, what is not clear, from the growing impetus of the private sector, is who shall be responsible for establishing the criteria for social services in this system, such as the “Articles for Blind People”.
There are those who believe that the letter market (our concern) shall have little future growth, particularly in industrialised countries. The recent decreases in growth rates, even at absolute levels, are attributed to its speedy replacement by technology. Many postal companies do not cover their costs. Letters now do not appear to contribute to their income or profits. The growing opinion is that the social traffic shall remain in the postal systems, while the private operators shall deal with commercial traffic. Obviously,
there are no guarantees in this situation, when, for example, in Japan the services are about to become a purely commercial operation.
The sum of all these factors constitutes a worrying panorama for all member countries RD Congress held in Bucharest in 2004. As a of the World Blind Union. These are complex issues and, as with the Advisory Group, member (we have already applied for this status), we shall enjoy the full status of we should become involved with the Consultative Committee of the UPU, a new body observer in future meetings of the UPU Congress. This means that, as and from 2004, within the UPU established by the 23
the structure of the UPU shall include three groups of interest, more specifically governments or postal regulatory organisations, postal operators and external actors. This is a significant reform as it provides a much more solid work platform for external actors to state their cases.
We are fortunate in that several of our National Members have already negotiated their positions with their respective governments with regard to the protection of something which we consider to be a “right” for blind people. It is an experience that we can share with the rest, who often feel threatened by these changing circumstances.
of a „right‟ Those who perhaps have confronted this challenge most decidedly are our friends at the European Blind Union. I will go on to describe the tasks of the Work Group on Access to Information of the EBU.
Their conclusions are summarised in this question: What elements should be included in free post, if possible?
Free post for Braille of any weight, from and to any person.
Free post for recording tapes of any weight, sent by registered organisations and returned to registered organisations.
Free post for diskettes of any weight, sent by registered organisations and returned to registered organisations.
Free post for CD-ROM of any weight, sent by registered organisations and returned to registered organisations.
Free post for large printed articles of any weight, sent by registered organisations and returned to registered organisations.
It would appear to be a legitimate and simple list. We must maintain our solid support within the UPU and to do this we recommend to the General Assembly and the incoming Executive Committee that the World Blind Union continues to pay its membership fee in order to maintain its status as a fully-fledged member of the Consultative Committee of the Universal Postal Union.
* The writer of this text, Dr. Geoffrey F Gibbs, Treasurer of the WBU, took on the tasks of liasing with the UPU following the request of Dr Herie de Cesar in this work in 2003.
It is not clear who will be responsible
for establishing the criteria for social services
Blind people now occupy a less important position in postal services
Whilst some look for protective barriers,
others advocate the elimination of all barriers
From left to right, the new assistant general manager of the UPU International Post, Huang Guozhong; the new general manager Edouard Dayan; the outgoing general manager, Thomas E. Leavey, and Moussibahou Mazou, outgoing assistant general manager.
The new general manager, Edouard Dayan, elected
rdat the 23 Congress of the UPU International Post
rdThe 23 Congress took place in Bucharest thon September 29
TECHNOLOGY AND INTEGRATION
Today, like yesterday, information and culture are essential tools for the personal development of blind people or people with visual impairments and, therefore, for social integration and contribution. But today, unlike yesterday, adapted computer technology is increasingly essential for accessing these tools. Two large cultural institutions, the Congress Library of the United States and Radio France, have begun to take their first steps so that, in the very near future, this may become a reality.
Updating digital technologies of accessibility
BARRIERS ARE BROKEN DOWN IN CULTURE AND INFORMATION
ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS… ALFONSO XII…
Blind or visually and physically impaired users of the United States Congress Library will soon be able to access speaking magazines through Internet, thanks to new digital technologies which the Library has begun to try out. In fact, a pilot program has already begun with a group of chosen readers who can access a specific number of publications digitised by the National Program of Speaking Magazines of the National Service of Governmental Libraries for Blind People and for People with Physical Disabilities of the U.S.A. (NLS), a section of the Congress Library. If the predicted results are achieved, as expected, it shall be extended in subsequent years, until in 2008 the service reaches all users who currently use Braille newspapers and books, cassettes or CD-ROM.
The aforementioned National Program of Speaking Magazines produces a total of 44 magazines in a special audio tape format, some of the best-selling magazines such as the monthly issue of Good Housekeeping, the famous National Geographic, Sports Illustrated and the weekly general information magazine U.S. News and World Report. The plan is to convert the chosen titles into digital sound files which shall be published