NEWS: Violence Against Disabled Denounced by Albanian Disability Rights Foundation (English and në gjuhën shqipe)

Posted on 29 May 2009. Filed under: Blind, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Human Rights, News, Violence | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

në gjuhën shqipe

Tirana, May 22nd, 2009
PRESS RELEASE

Albanian Disability Rights Foundation denounces the violence towards people with disability

Albanian Disability Rights Foundation (ADRF), through this declaration expresses the indignation on the violence exercised on May 21st, 2009 during the peaceful protest organized by blind people in front of the Government Building.

ADRF, expresses its concern for the violence of integrity and dignity of blind people, an action that was done in presence of staff of authorities responsible to guarantee the order and security of the Albanian citizens. Such acts, confirm once again the multiple discrimination and human rights violation faced by people with disability especially women with disability in Albania.

ADRF strongly denounces the act of violence and demand from the Albanian Government to take all measures to punish the person conducting this act and requires compensation to the person to whom violence was exercised.

ADRF makes an appeal to the Albanian Government to undertake in the future concrete measures that aim to eliminate discriminatory situations, to guarantee observance of human rights to all categories of people with disability on equal bases to all Albanian citizens.

ADRF
www.adrf.org.al
Tel: (04) 2269426
Rr: “Bogdani” (ish-A.Z.Çajupi) Pall. 15 Kt i 3, Tirane, Albania

Tiranë më 22.05.2009
DEKLARATE PËR SHTYP

FSHDPAK dënon dhunën e ushtruar ndaj Personave me aftësi të kufizuara në shikim

Fondacioni Shqiptar për të Drejtat e Personave me Aftësi të Kufizuara (FSHDPAK), me anë të kësaj deklarate shpreh indinjatën e thellë për dhunën e ushtruar në datë 21.05.2009, gjatë protestës së organizuar nga personat me aftësi të kufizuar në shikim, përpara selisë së Këshillit të Ministrave.

FSHDPAK, shpreh shqetësimin për cënimin e integritetit dhe dinjitetit të kategorisë të personave me aftësi të kufizuar në shikim, ndodhur për më tepër në prani të organeve të mbrojtjes së rendit dhe sigurisë të shtetasve Shqiptarë. Akte të tilla konfirmojnë edhe njëhërë diskriminimin e shumfishtë dhe shkeljen e të drejtave themelore të njeriut ndaj personave me aftësi të kufizuara dhe në mënyrë të veçantë ndaj grave me aftësi të kufizuara.

FSHDPAK, dënon me forcë aktin e dhunshëm dhe kërkon nga Qeveria Shqiptare marrjen e të gjitha masave për dënimin e dhunuesit dhe dëmshpërblimin e personit ndaj të cilit u ushtrua dhunë.

FSHDPAK, gjithashtu, kërkon të tërheqë vëmendjen e qeverisë Shqiptare për ndërrmarjen në të ardhmen të masave konkrete me synim eleminimin e situatave të tilla diskriminuese, garantimin dhe respektimin e të të drejtave themelore të njeriut për të gjitha kategoritë e personave me aftësi të kufizuar, si pjesë e rëndësishme në shoqërinë Shqiptare.

FSHDPAK
www.adrf.org.al
Tel: (04) 2269426
Rr: “Bogdani” (ish-A.Z.Çajupi) Pall. 15 Kt i 3, Tirane, Shqiperi



We Can Do received this press release via the Asia Pacific Disability email discussion group.

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[Published at wecando.wordpress.com (We Can Do)]

Tirana, May 22nd, 2009

PRESS RELEASE

Albanian Disability Rights Foundation denounces the violence towards people with disability

Albanian Disability Rights Foundation (ADRF), through this declaration expresses the indignation on the violence exercised on May 21st, 2009 during the peaceful protest organized by blind people in front of the Government Building.

ADRF, expresses its concern for the violence of integrity and dignity of blind people, an action that was done in presence of staff of authorities responsible to guarantee the order and security of the Albanian citizens. Such acts, confirm once again the multiple discrimination and human rights violation faced by people with disability especially women with disability in Albania.

ADRF strongly denounces the act of violence and demand from the Albanian Government to take all measures to punish the person conducting this act and requires compensation to the person to whom violence was exercised.

ADRF makes an appeal to the Albanian Government to undertake in the future concrete measures that aim to eliminate discriminatory situations, to guarantee observance of human rights to all categories of people with disability on equal bases to all Albanian citizens.

ADRF

http://www.adrf.org.al
Tel: (04) 2269426
Rr: “Bogdani” (ish-A.Z.Çajupi) Pall. 15 Kt i 3, Tirane, Albania

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NEWS: Jamaica HIV & AIDS Program Includes Disabled People

Posted on 2 October 2008. Filed under: Blind, Cross-Disability, Deaf, Health, HIV/AIDS, Inclusion, Latin America & Caribbean | Tags: , , , , |

The United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) program in Jamaica has been taking action to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind in HIV/AIDS education efforts. Initiatives include providing materials in Braille for blind people and incorporating sign language into television public service announcements for deaf people. Read more detail about the project at:

http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/Resources/FeatureStories/archive/2008/20080905_disability_hiv_jamaica.asp

Learn more about HIV/AIDS in relation to people with disabilities, and some of the resources available to help, by clicking on HIV/AIDS in the pull-down menu under “Topics/Categories” in the right-hand navigation bar.



I learned about this project via a recent issue of the Disabled Peoples International electronic newsletter.

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Stories of People with Disabilities in Developing Countries from Around the World

Posted on 15 September 2008. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Announcements, Cross-Disability, Democratic Participation, Education, Human Rights, Inclusion, Latin America & Caribbean, Mobility Impariments, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Too often, the voices of people with disabilities are simply not heard–within their country, within their community, or sometimes even within families. The voices of disabled people in developing countries are even more suppressed.

One special issue of the New Internationalist, released in 2005, brings us the voices of people with disabilities from India … Zimbabwe … Sri Lanka … Colombia … Bangladesh … and elsewhere.

The stories and interviews published in their magazine, available for free on-line, share the experiences of people with disabilities in developing countries in their struggle for sexual expression … the harrowing experience of rape … the push to achieve recognition for their human rights … the battle against severe poverty and starvation … success at becoming a blind teacher … getting involved with politics … and overcoming discrimination in the work force.

Browse the stories at the New Internationalist website at:

http://www.newint.org/issue384/index.htm

Each story can be read on-line in html format; they do not need to be downloaded.



I learned of this magazine issue when several of its stories were recently circulated via email on the Disability Information Dissemination Network, which is managed by the Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID), Bangladesh, and currently sponsored by Handicap International. People may subscribe directly to the CSID mailing list by sending an email to csid@bdmail.net, csid@bdonline.com, or info@csididnet.org, with the word “join” in the subject line.

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RESOURCE: Disabled Women’s Organizations in Pacific-Asia

Posted on 7 April 2008. Filed under: Cross-Disability, East Asia Pacific Region, Resources, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The following list of Disabled Women’s Organizations, Groups, and Committees in the Asia/Pacific Region (plus a few in Africa) was developed at the International Labour Organisation in Bangkok in December 2007. We Can Do readers should note that contact information can change quickly. If you try contacting an organization and cannot seem to reach them with the contact information given here, try googling the name of the contact person, or the name of the organization, or both. You can also consult other resources that can help you find more disability-oriented organizations around the world.

List of Disabled Women’ Organizations/Groups/Committee
Date: 19-12-2007

Annie Parkinson
President of Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
Post Office Box 605 Rosny Park, Tasmania 7018 Australia
Tel: + 61 3 62448288
Fax: + 61 3 62448255
E-mail: wwda@wwda.org.au
Web: http://www.wwda.org.au

Sabina Hossain Kochi
Chair Person of
Women with Disabilities Development Foundation BPKS complex, Dhakkhinkhan, Uttara, Dhaka 1230. Bangladesh
Tel: + 880-8923915,8960077
E-mail: bpks@citechco.net

Ashrafun Nahar Misti
Deputy coordinator of Women with Disabilities Development Network
BPKS complex, Dhakkhinkhan, Uttara, Dhaka 1230, Bangladesh
Tel: +880-8923915,8960077
E-mail: cotoed@bpksbd.org
Champa Dash
Chairperson of
Disabled Women’ Development Committee
PSID center Narail
Moheshkhola Narail PSID Center
Post: Narail, Upzilla & dist: Narail, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Mob: +880-8901713196017

Shucithra Rani Shaha
Chairperson of Disabled Women ‘s Development Committee,
Nagarpur Disabled Peoples Organizations Tangail Bangladesh
Vill & Post : Mamud Nagar
Upazilla: Nagarpur, District: Tangail
Bangladesh
Mob: +880-01711`512295, 01712078249

Mah,uda Khatun
Chairperson of Disabled Women Committee Narshindi
Narshindi Disabled People Organization to Development
Vill: Ashrafpur (Near Sub registry Office )
Upazilla: Shibpur, District : Narshingdi
Bangladesh
Mob: +880-01712078247, 01713196024

Hafsa Akter
Chairperson of
Disabled Women Development Committee
Chandpur
Chandpur Disabled People Organizations to Development
Vill: Charbashanto, Upazilla: Faridgonj
District Chandpur, Bangladesh
Mob: +8801712o78245

Soyada Shahina
Disabled Women’s Development Committee
NDDS Protibandhi Kallayan Society (PKS)
24, R K Mission Road, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Mob:+880-01712069686
e-mail: pks-bd@agnionline.com

Naznin Nahar
Coordinator of
Disabled Women’s Development Committee, Meherpur
SPD Complex, Post: Mujibnagar
Dist: Meherpur-7100
Bangladesh
Tel:+880-2-07923-74011
Fax: +880-2-8332924
e-mail:spd@bdonline.com

Nasima khatun
Chairperson of Disabled Women’s Development Committee, Disabled People Organizations to Development Moulovibazar, Bangladesh
Vill: natissar, Post: Giash Nagar ,
Upazilla & Dist: Moulovibazar , Bangladesh
Mob: +880-01712078248

Lovely akter Shapla
Chairperson of Disabled Women’s Development Committee, Monmanshingh Disabled Peoples Organizations to Development
Vill: Voradoba Klab bazaar, Upazilla: Valuka
Dist: Moimanshingh, Bangladesh
Mob: +880-01713196029

Women with Disabilities Project Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID)
House # 715, Road # 10,
Baitul Aman Housing Society
Adabor
Dhaka- 1207 Bangladesh
Tel: 9129727, 8143882
Fax: 8125669
E-mail: csid@bdonline.com, csid@bdmail.net
Web: www.csidnetwork.org

Disabled Women’s Committee
Fiji Disabled People Association 355 Waimanu Road, Suva G.P.O. Box 15178, Suva, Fiji
Phone: +679- 331-1203
Fax: +679- 330-1161.

Association of Women with Disabilities Hong Kong
Room 11-12, G/F, Wang Cho House
Wang Tau Hom Estate Kowloon,
Hong Kong, China
Fax: +852-2337-1549
Email: women@awdhk_conf.org
For all disabilities.

Miss Berhane Daba
President of Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association (EWDNA)
P.o. Box 43128
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: + 252-1-0911-451717
Email address berhanedaba@yahoo.com

Regina
Secretary of Sadhana Women with Disabilities Association Tamil Nadu
ADD India
Kallukadai Steet, Sathyamoorthy Nagar
Keeranur Pudukottai District
Tamil Nadu, India
Email: addindiatn@rediffmail.com
All disabilities

Kuhu Das,
Director of Association of Women with Disabilities 6/J, Surah 2nd Lane, Phoolbagan, Kolkata-700010, India
Tel: +91-64535802
Fax: +91-23639115
Mobile: +91-9830226718
E-mail: sawwd@vsnl.net

Shampa Sengupta
Representative of Women with Disability, Sruti Disability Rights Centre
Sruti disAbility Rights centre
5A R.K. Ghosal Road
Kolkata 700 042, India
Tel: +91- 9433174978

Sobhagya Goyal
Vice President of National Forum for Visually Impaired Women
All India Confederation of the Blind Ghasety Bazar Ajmer
Rajasthan, India
Tel. : +91- 0145-2621185
Mob. : +91 – 9414708018

Ms. Lidya Miranita
Indonesian Association of Women with Disabilities (HWPCI)
Jl. Cempaka Putih raya No. 1, Jakarta – Pusat
Jakarta – 10510 – Indonesia
Tel/Fax : +62-21-42879844
E-mail : ariani_0704@yahoo.com
website : www.hwpci.org

Indonesian Blind Women Union (PERTUNI)
Gedung Inkoppol, Gd II, lt. 2
Jl. Tambak No. 2, Jakarta – Pusat
Jakarta – 10320, Indonesia
Tel/fax : +62-21-31931704
email : pertuni_dpp@yahoo.co.id

Ms. Kimie Nagumo
President of DPI Women with Disabilities Network Japan
Japan
nagumo-kimie@mwe.biglobe.ne.jp

Kim, Mi Joo
Representative of Women with Disabilities Arts and Culture and Network
Seoul Women’s Plaza 3F NGO Center 345-1
Daebang-dong Dongjak-gu Seoul 156-808 Korea
Tel: +82-02-823-8360
Cell: 011-746-2196
Email: kim_mijoo@yahoo.com
Web: http://www.kkipan.com

Koo Gwi Hoi
Coordinator of Organizing Committee for the Global Summit of Women with Disabilities
Swon Bdg, IF, 877-13, Shinjeong5-dong, Yangcheon-gu,
Seoul, Korea
Tel: +82-2-2692-2293
Mobile: +82-19-285-5447
Email: koohj19@hanmail.net

Lee Ye-ja
Korean Differently Abled Women United Organization
Rm 811, Chritian Building
136-46 Yonci-dong, Chongno-Ku, Seoul
Korea (110-736)
Tel: +82-2-3675-9935
Email: kdawu@hanmail.com
leeyeja@shinburo.com
Web: http://www.kdawu.org

Catherine Mwayoga
Women’s Committee
United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK) Waiyaki Way; P.O. box 13488; Nairobi, Kenya
Tel.: +254-2-443915
Fax: +254-2-446065,
E-mail: disability@wananchi.com

Ms. Daloonny Souvannavong
Director of Lao Disabled Women Development Center
Ban Dongphosy, Hatsayfong District Vientiane
PO Box 6751, Thadeua Rd, Hatsayfong District
Vientiane Capital, Lao
Tel : +21 812282
Fax : +21 812282
Email : ldwdc@laotel.com

Shusila Poudel
President of Nepal Disabled Women Society (NDWS)
Pulchowk, Lalitpur:3; PO Box 5445, Nepal
Tel: +997-1- 535770, 531324
Fax: +997-1- 535770, 535142
E-Mail: sushila@coho.wlink.np
ndws@coho.wlink.com.np

Indira Chapagain
President of Nepal Disabled Women Association (NDWA)
NPC 8973,00560
Kathmandu, Putalisadak, Nepal
Tel: +977-1-6635926
Email: ndwa_ndwa@hotmail.com
Nara Kumari Karki
President of National Association for Disabled Women-Nepal (NADW-Nepal)
P.O. Box 7268 Koteshwor
Kathmandu Nepal
Tel: +977-14496664
E-mail: nadw@hotmail.com

Shrijana Singh
President of Deaf Women Development Committee (DWDC)
P.O. Box 4601 Putalisadak Kathmandu
Tel: +977-1-415-568
Fax: +977-1-416-200 Deaf and hard of hearing

Ola Abu Alghaib
Stars Of Hope Center ‘Empowerment of women with Disabilities’ Palestine
Palestine-Mamalloh-Al Elsal-Bazar Commercial Center-4th Floor
Tel: +972-2-2972345
Mobile: +972-599-026260
Email: starofhope2007@gmail.com

Miss N.G. Kamalawathie,
President of Association of Women with Disabilities (AKASA)
Pahalagama Road , Kongollewa,
Talawa, Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 25 5670329
Fax : +94 25 2275022
Mobile :+94 773121062
E-mail : akasa7@sltnet.lk

Savina Nongebatu
Member of Disabled Women’s Committee Solomon
Disabled People Organization Solomon DPASI(DPO) Solomon
Tel: +677- 24863, 677- 36062
savina_nongebatu@yahoo.com.au
cbr@moh.gov.sb

Association of Blind Women Thailand 94/4 Moo 13 Sihaburanukit Road
Minburi, Bangkok, 10510, Thailand
Tel: +66-2-233-6079
Email: abwt@tab.or.th

Ms. Supattraporn Tanatikom
Disabled Peoples’ International Asia Pacific Regional Office
92 Phaholyothin 5 Road, Samsennai, Phayathai Bangkok 10400 THAILAND
Telephone numbers: (662) 271 2123
Fax : (662) 2712124
E-mail: sarahmaithai@gmail.com,
supattraporn@dpiap.org
Website: www.dpiap.org

Ms. Hellen Asamo
African Women with Disabilities
P.O. Box 8567, Kampala, Uganda
Tel.: +256-41-540179
Fax: +256-41-540178
E-Mail: nudipu@starcom.co.ug

Ms. Duong Thi Van
Women’s Committee of Bright Future Group for People with Disabilities
124 A Dai La Street, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: +844 628-0527
E-mail: van@netnam.com

Ms. Nguyen Hong Oanh
Director of Hanoi Women with Disabilities Club 112B5, 46B Pham Ngoc Thach alley, Hanoi (the front gate), Vietnam
Tel: +84-4-8522 778
Email: phunuthudo@nguoikhuyettat.org
lananhdf@gmail.com



Thank you to Bishnu Maya Dhungana for passing along this list.

Do YOU have a list of disability-oriented organizations in developing nations or regions? Please share with We Can Do readers by submitting it to me at ashettle [at] patriot.net.

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REPORT: Violence Against Disabled Children

Posted on 8 March 2008. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Children, Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Reports, Resources, Violence | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

UNICEF has released a summary report entitled, “Violence Against Disabled Children” (PDF format 245 Kb), with the subtitle “UN Secretary Generals Report on Violence against Children, Thematic Group on Violence against Disabled Children, Findings and Recommendations.”

The first half of this report, released in July 2005, summarizes what is known about violence toward children with disabilities at home, in schools, in institutions, in the criminal justice system, within the broader community, and at work (in child labor situations). Children with disabilities are known to be at higher risk for abuse, partly because they may be perceived as “easy victims.” Also, abuse toward disabled children is less likely to be investigated or persecuted, which means abusers know it is easier to escape consequences even if the abuse is discovered.

Many children, with or without disabilities, may face adults who fail to listen or to believe them when they try to report abuse. But children with disabilities face additional barriers. As one example, some adults may mistakenly assume that a child with intellectual disabilities or psycho-social disabilities must surely be “confused,” or unable to tell right from wrong, or unable to make their own decisions about what is done to their bodies.

Disabled children may also be targeted for child murder, either because parents perceive them as bringing shame to the family or because adults may be convinced they will be “better off” dead than disabled. In countries where many men share the belief that sex with a virgin will “cleanse” them of HIV/AIDS, girls, boys, and adults with disabilities may be targeted for rape on the assumption that they do not have sex. Children with disabilities also may be forcibly sterilized, sometimes as early as the age of 8 or 9.

The report makes a series of 13 recommendations for families, communities, policy makers, governments, advocates, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or Civil Society Organizations, United Nations agencies, and other stakeholders with an interest in preventing violence toward disabled children. These recommendations include, as a few examples: increasing public awareness; reforming legislation so that the laws can better protect children with disabilities; advocating change to improve inclusion of disabled people throughout society; improving reporting mechanisms so that people who become aware of abuse have a way to report it; closing down institutions and integrating disabled children into the community; but also improving government oversight of institutions for as long as they continue to exist.

The 33-page report can be downloaded in PDF format (245 Kb) at:

http://www.unicef.org/videoaudio/PDFs/UNICEF_Violence_Against_Disabled_Children_Report_Distributed_Version.pdf

People interested in the topic of violence against children may also wish to read an article on violence and disabled children in the 2003 issue of the joint Rehabilitation International and UNICEF newsletter, One in Ten:

http://riglobal.org/publications2/10_24.htm

Also of possible interest:

A recent report, Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities could give ideas to advocates and families for how they can use international human rights laws to protect the rights of children with disabilities.

Learn about a report on human rights abuses of disabled children and adults in Serbia, including the use of violence.

Read a paper on Violence Against Blind and Visually Impaired Girls in Malawi

Those interested in abuse and human rights violations in institutional settings may also wish to read the following first-hand accounts written by the same author, Amanda Baggs. These are well worth reading. Some talk about the more obvious kinds of violence that most people are used to thinking of as “abuse.” Some talk about forms of psychological manipulation that are so subtle that outside observers might miss them. But Amanda Baggs makes powerful arguments for why “outposts in our head,” or the uses of power nevertheless can be at least as important for anyone who cares about the well-being of children (and adults) with disabilities. Click on any title below to see Amanda Bagg’s post:

Why It’s So Hard to Write Directly About My Life
Outposts in Our Heads: The Intangible Horrors of Institutions that Must Not Be Forgotten
The Meaning of Power
Extreme Measures, and Then Some



We Can Do learned about the UNICEF report on violence against disabled children from the AskSource.info database. Asksource.info provides a library of information, resources, and toolkits related to people with disabilities and to health issues, particularly in developing countries.



Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com).



Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.



This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts: BlogAfrica.com and www.RatifyNow.org. Other sites are most likely plagiarizing this post without permission.

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NEWS: New Thai Senator to Represent Disability Community

Posted on 20 February 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Blind, Democratic Participation, East Asia Pacific Region, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Aiko Akiyama of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) has recently circulated the following email:

I would like to spread a good news for Thailand, which just came out. Mr Monthian Buntan was just appointed as a senator here in Thailand. According to what I heard, 75 members of the Senate are appointed by a selection committee, taking due considerations of diversity of society and different professional fields. So, Monthian was selected as a representative from the disability community. As Thailand revised its comprehensive law on disability to be more rights-based, and as it is preparing for the ratification of the Convention. His appointment would certainly serve as a good impetus.

Thanks and regards,

Aiko Akiyama
Social Affairs Officer
Emerging Social Issues Division (ESID)
UNESCAP
RAJDAMNERN NOK AVENUE,
BANGKOK 10200
THAILAND
http://www.unescap.org/esid/psis/disability/index.asp

Note from We Can Do: a search for Monthian Buntan’s name on the Web turns up several references to him as president of the Thailand Association of the Blind (TAB). The association’s web site (in Thai) is at http://www.tabod.net/

Thank you to Aiko Akiyama for circulating this email on the mailing list for the Global Partnership on Disability and Development (GPDD).

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FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Preventing Visual Impairment

Posted on 20 February 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Blind, Funding, Health, Opportunities | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Carson Harte, of the Cambodian Trust, recently circulated the following email message(s). Note that the application deadline for this funding opportunity is April 30, every year, though there is a different theme each year. If you are reading this after April 30, 2008, then the theme for 2009 will be something different.



Dear Colleagues

I attach a string of emails below regarding the Arab Gulf Fund for UN Development prize fund (AGFUND)

In 2002, we (Cambodia Trust) were recipients of one of the prizes, hence we are asked, each year to give an opinion on who should be nominated.

As you will see, this year, AGFUND have decided to concentrate on those individuals and organizations who are working in the area of prevention of visual impairment.

Since I have no expertise in this area, and many of you have, I have asked permission from AGFUND to forward the email to those of you who work in this area.

They are seeking nominations in three categories: International organizations, Non Government Organizations and Individuals.

Please feel free to nominate direct to the website or the mail on the header below, as you see fit.

The prize is not insubstantial, when my employer received the prize it was in the second category and the prize was $100,000. I am not sure what it is this year. [Note from We Can Do: from looking at the AGFUND website, it seems that the prize is $150,000 for UN, international, and regional organizations; $100,000 for projects implemented by NGOs; and $50,000 for projects founded, sponsored, or implemented by individuals.]

Further info is on the website http://www.agfund.org/english/prize/

Best wishes
Carson


—— Forwarded Message
From: Ali Tahir
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 09:02:03 +0300
To: “Carson Harte. The Cambodia Trust”
Conversation: AGFUND Prize
Subject: RE: AGFUND Prize

Dear Mr. Carson Harte,
Thank you for your e-mail.
Please note that it will be a pleasure if you forward it to your colleagues worldwide.

Thanks for your cooperation.

Best regards
_______________________
Ali Eltahir Elabbas
AGFUND International Prize
Communications Dept.
Tel: 00966 1 4418888 ext. 251
Fax: 00966 14412962/3
E-mail: ali@agfund.org >
Dept. E-mail: prize@agfund.org
PLS visit : www.agfund.org


On 17/2/08 08:19, “Ali Tahir” wrote:
Mr. Carson Harte,
International Director,
The Cambodia Trust
Email: carson@cambodiatrust.co.uk

Dear Mr. Harte,
Further to the announcement of the subject of AGFUND International Prize for Pioneering Development Projects 2008 on “Prevention of visual impairment”, I take pleasure in requesting your kind cooperation in nominating experts as you may see fit for the evaluation of the projects nominated for the Prize in the fields detailed hereunder:
– First Category: (The international organizations’ role in supporting the developing countries’ national policies and programs to control the main causing diseases of visual impairment), for projects implemented by UN, international or regional organizations.
– Second Category: (NGOs efforts in the prevention of visual impairment and rehabilitation of the blind people), for projects implemented by national NGOs.
– Third Category: (Individual-led initiatives to develop the blind’s capabilities and invest their skills), for projects initiated, sponsored and/or implemented by individuals.

I look forward to receiving the available contact information of the expert/s you may nominate.

With my best regards,

Yours sincerely,
Nasser Al-Kahtani,
Executive Director

Inquiries about this prize can be directed to prize@agfund.org

Further information about this annual funding opportunity and the themes chosen for past years is available at

http://www.agfund.org/english/prize/



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NEWS: AIR Foundation Committed to Making Web Universally Accessible for Blind, Low-Vision People

Posted on 19 February 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Blind, News, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Nonprofit Launched to Bring Free Accessibility Worldwide

The AIR Foundation committed to ‘accessibility is a right’

Orlando, Florida – January 31, 2008 – The AIR Foundation, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA was announced today at a press conference held during the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2008 National Conference at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, Florida. The mission of the foundation is to promote universal accessibility so that every blind and low-vision person in the world has access to digital information over the Internet and Worldwide Web.

The foundation’s executive director, Art Schreiber, also announced that the organization’s first offering will be free usage of a Web 2.0 accessible screen reader. The product is provided through an exclusive license in perpetuity granted to The AIR Foundation from Serotek Corporation, the leading provider of Internet and digital information accessibility software and services. The screen reader is called SA To Go and is powered by Serotek’s award-winning System Access software which provides immediate text to speech, magnified visual, and Braille access to digital information presented through the Web or other means, while the user is directly connected to the Internet. The software does not remain resident on the user’s computer when the connection to the Internet is interrupted or terminated. Users can obtain access to the free software by calling 877-369-0101 or visiting www.AccessibilityIsaRight.org http://www.accessibilityisaright.org/

“The basic tenet of The AIR Foundation is that accessibility is a fundamental human right, regardless of financial or geographic constraints” said Art Schreiber, executive director of The AIR Foundation, “by allowing the blind and visually impaired to have equal access to computer and Internet information through the free use of an advanced screen reader like SA To Go, we have already taken great strides toward our mission.”

The AIR Foundation will solicit funds and contract development of product enhancements including availability in other languages. The organization’s first priority is to make SA To Go available in Mandarin Chinese.

“SA To Go is highly intuitive and requires minimal training to use,” said Serotek CEO, Mike Calvo, “the user not only has access to information displayed on Web pages, but to Web-based applications such as Internet telephone service, and to applications resident on the host computer. The user can also access PDF files, fill out forms, and otherwise interact with information with the same facility as a sighted person.”

The AIR Foundation will operate through the generosity of organizations donating their time, expertise, and funds. It invites other nonprofits, assistive technology vendors, mainstream hardware and software companies and anyone interested in promoting accessibility as every person’s right, to align with the AIR team.

The AIR Foundation
The AIR Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate, teach, and deliver information accessibility tools. We focus on the accessibility needs of blind and low-vision people. Our mantra is “accessibility is a right” and we work with corporations and agencies worldwide to deliver free accessibility to all. For more information, call 877-369-0101 or visit http://www.accessibilityisaright.org/

Serotek Corporation
Serotek Corporation is a leading technology company that develops software and manufactures accessibility solutions. Committed to the mission of providing accessibility anywhere, Serotek launched the first online community specifically designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Since then, Serotek has introduced several powerful, affordable solutions that require minimal training and investment. For more information, visit http://www.serotek.com/.



This press release was first posted at the Air Foundation web site. It has also been circulated on several on-line newsletters and mailing lists, incluing AdHoc_IDC, the DPI newsletter, and Intl-Dev.

People interested in technology for people with vision impairments may also wish to learn more about the Sightsaver’s Dolphin Pen, which is a low-cost screenreader targeted at people in developing countries, or in information about low-cost, mechanical Braille writers.



Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.



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This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (https://wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts: BlogAfrica.com and www.RatifyNow.org. If you are reading this anywhere OTHER THAN We Can Do, BlogAfrica, or RatifyNow, then you are most likely reading a web site that regularly plagiarizes the work of other people without their permission.

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NEWS: Radio Program for Blind Listeners Recognized

Posted on 18 February 2008. Filed under: Blind, Media & Journalism, News, South Asian Region | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Announcement from Score Foundation, India

It is with great pleasure that we at Score Foundation share with you the good news that our Radio programme Eyeway, yea hai roshni ka karwan has won the Radio Duniya Award for 2008 in the category “Best Social Responsibility Initiative”. The award comprises a shield and a certificate.

Project Eyeway is a single stop information Help Desk on the eye and blindness. The Eyeway, yea hai roshni ka karwan is a half hour radio show in Hindi broadcast over the 29 stations of the Vivid Bharti network of All India Radio. The programme comprises interviews, profiles read by celebrities, advice on various issues, music and competitions. The programme that was first launched in November 2005 connects the Eyeway Help Desk with our stake holders across the country. At the present moment we receive an average of 35 to 40 calls a week. The callers share with our Help Desk questions and concerns regarding matters like careers, parenting, education, discrimination, human rights violation, legal issues, technology and life in general. Our Help Desk counsels them and connects them with organisations and professionals who have the where with all to help.

The award is a recognition of the relevance and value of our effort and is definitely a great motivation for all of us at Score Foundation to take our work to the next level.

Best regards,

George

George Abraham
CEO
Score Foundation
Y-70, Lower Ground Floor
Hauz Khas
New Delhi 110016
Ph: 91 11 26852581/91 11 26852559
Mob: 91 9810934040
Email: george [at] eyeway.org
website: www.eyeway.org

Ps. You can also hear the radio programme online at
www.eyeway.org/include/radio/radio.php

[Note from We Can Do: it is not clear from their web site if they have transcripts or captions available for deaf people interested in their radio program. Any interested Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing impaired individuals should go to their web site and contact them directly to inquire.]



Thank you to George Abraham for circulating this notice about Eyeway’s award.



Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.



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This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (https://wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts: BlogAfrica.com and www.RatifyNow.org. If you are reading this anywhere OTHER THAN We Can Do, BlogAfrica, or RatifyNow, then you are most likely reading a web site that regularly plagiarizes the work of other people without their permission.

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REPORT: Human-Rights Approach to Education for All

Posted on 30 January 2008. Filed under: Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Human Rights, Reports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has released a report on a human rights based approach to making education accessible to all children, entitled A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education for All: A framework for the realization of children’s right to education and rights within education (PDF format, 812 Kb). The report discusses current thinking and practice on human rights based approaches in the education sector. It presents key issues and challenges in rights-based approaches and provides a framework for developing policies and programs at the school, local, national, or international levels. It is targeted particularly at governments, civil society organizations, United Nations and bilateral agencies, and other development partners.

This report touches briefly on issues affecting disabled children in education throughout. A search for the word “disabilities” finds multiple short references in the text. For example, there is a mention of such issues as the fact that the birth of some children–but particularly disabled children–may not be registered in some countries, making it more difficult to accurately estimate the need for schooling. And the report asserts that attention must be paid to the communication needs of children with sensory impairments (Braille for blind students; sign language for deaf students).

There are some disappointments here. For instance, the introduction has the usual discussion of the 77 million children who are currently out of school but misses an opportunity to point out that disabled children are disproportionately represented among them. But the integration of disability related concerns into a broader discussion of educational issues is itself an important step in the right direction. Especially positive is seeing disability issues integrated into a report like this one that emphasizes education as a human right for all children–including children with disabilities.

The report can be downloaded in PDF format (812 Kb) at:

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001548/154861E.pdf



We Can Do learned about this report via the Disabled People’s International on-line newsletter. DPI’s newsletter can be subscribed to, via email, for free.



Find more Research, reports, or papers, or find more blog posts like this one on children, education, or humanrights.

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RESOURCE: Low-Cost, Mechanical Braille-Writers

Posted on 18 January 2008. Filed under: Blind, News, Resources, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

[Originally published at wecando.wordpress.com (We Can Do) at http://tinyurl.com/26lwyl]

As many as 90% of the world’s 45 million blind people live in developing countries. But only about 10% of them have the tools they need to write in Braille. Even if they had electronic Braille writing equipment, specialized Braille paper is even more rare in developing countries. Also, two billion people still lack access to electricity.

Tim Connell, in writing for the January 2008 issue of the American Foundation of the Blind Access World newsletter says there is a solution to this problem. Two products have recently been developed that can write Braille onto regular paper without using electricity. One is the Jot a Dot, which has been used successfully in a pilot evaluation project in Uganda. The other is the Tatrapoint Braille Writer, which has the additional innovation that the keys can be spaced differently to accommodate different sized hands. (Think of rapidly growing children, with their rapidly growing hands.) Both are designed to be small and portable, like the traditional stylus and slate that also has been used for producing Braille by hand. However, both operate similarly to electronic Braille writers.

Tim Connell criticizes most blindness agencies and organizations for failing to give more support to distributing simple Braille writing technologies in developing countries. It should be noted that Connell works for the Quantam Technology company that sells both the Jot a Dot and the Tatrapoint Braille Writer. This, however, does not invalidate some of his underlying arguments. For example, he points out that blind people deserve to have a wider range of technologies and tools that enable them to write in different situations and contexts–just like sighted people do.

Read more about the Jot a Dot, the Tatrapoint Braille Writer, and Tim Connell’s views on why agencies should be more actively involved in supporting low-tech (and high-tech) solutions for blind people, at http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw090107.

Read more about the Jot a Dot and the Tatrapoint Braille Writer products at the Quantam Technology web site.

If you’re interested in other low-cost, portable technologies for blind people in developing countries, then you might also be interested in reading about the Sightsaver’s Dolphin Pen. The Dolphin Pen is designed to enable blind people in developing countries to read computers.



We Can Do learned about Tim Connell’s article on alternate Braille writing equipment through the Accessibility discussion group. The Accessibility email group is devoted to brainstorming how to make the XO laptop more accessible for disabled children in developing countries. People can join the Accessibility mailing list for free.



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REPORT: State of Disabled People’s Rights in Kenya (2007)

Posted on 17 January 2008. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Blind, Cognitive Impairments, Cross-Disability, Deaf, Human Rights, Mobility Impariments, Reports, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

[Originally published at wecando.wordpress.com (We Can Do) at http://tinyurl.com/27gxpy]

A recent publication, entitled “State of Disabled People’s Rights in Kenya (2007) Report,” analyzes national and regional Kenyan legislation on disability; government programs and policies on disability, and case law in disability. The report also presents the results of interviews with disabled people in three selected regions within Kenya about their human rights situation, in respect to dignity, autonomy, equality, and inclusion. Deaf people, blind people, and people with mobility impairments, and intellectual disabilities were interviewed. An overview of the disability rights movement in Kenya is given.

The examination of legislation and policies found that the Constitution of Kenya guarantees the human rights and liberties of all citizens. However, although the constitution outlaws discrimination on grounds such as race, tribe, or color, it does not specifically outlaw discrimination on the basis of disability. Further, anti-discrimination laws have not been enforced in cases where disability-related discrimination has occurred.

Interviews with individual disabled people in Kenya found that nearly three-quarters had been denied the right to make decisions affecting their own lives. Also, 80% report experiencing segregation, isolation, and lack of support for their needs. More than one-third reported that their own families had committed abuse or violence on them, and more than 45 percent said their families did not allow them to participate in family activities on the same basis as other family members.

The report recommends strengthening the capacity of Disabled People’s Organizations to address human rights issues; mainstreaming disability rights issues into government bodies and the national development strategy; involving disabled people and their organization in improving anti-discrimination legislation; and making the court process more accessible to disabled people so they can more effectively challenge disability-based discrimination.

The “State of Disabled People’s Rights in Kenya (2007) Report” was commissioned by the African Union of the Blind in collaboration with the Kenyan Union of the Blind, the World Blind Union, and the Centre for Disability Rights Education and Advocacy (CREAD), with support from the Swedish International Development Agency, the Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired, and Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI).

The report can be read on-line at http://www.yorku.ca/drpi/Kenya07.html#startContent

The report also can be downloaded in PDF format (1.2 Mb) at http://www.yorku.ca/drpi/files/KenyaReport07.pdf



This article has been reposted at the RatifyNow.org web site with permission of author. RatifyNow is an organization working to maximize the number of countries signing, ratifying, and implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).



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Helping Make We Can Do Accessible

Posted on 7 January 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Inclusion, Introduction to "We Can Do" | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Do you have an interest in ensuring that We Can Do is accessible to as many people as possible? Do you have advice, ideas, feedback, concerns, or other comments to share related to accessibility at We Can Do? If so, please consult the new page on “Accessibility“. I can use YOUR help. This can be as simple as two minutes of your time to comment on accessibility barriers you have encountered at We Can Do. Or it could mean 10 or 20 minutes to help advise me on how to create a table and make it accessible to blind people. Or it could mean a more extensive, on-going commitment to translate We Can Do materials into other languages.

“Accessibility” in part refers to making We Can Do accessible to people with disabilities. The disability group that tends to face the most barriers on the Web are people with vision impairments. Of particular concern are people who use screen readers, whether due to vision impairments or for other reasons such as dyslexia. So far, the people I know who use screen readers have not told me about any problems in navigating We Can Do. But each screen reader is different. And sometimes different people differ in how well they know how to use the equipment they have. So if you use a screen reader, I still want to hear your feedback on accessibility at We Can Do. I also would welcome advice and assistance in specific areas such as making pictures or tables accessible to blind people. If you think you might be able to help, please consult the Accessibility page for more details about what questions I have.

People who are blind are not the only people who face accessibility barriers. People who are deaf or hard of hearing, or have mobility impairments, specific learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, or cognitive disabilities all face challenges in navigating the web. If you might have feedback you want to share in these areas, please consult the Accessibility page and share your comments.

At We Can Do, I am concerned with not only accessibility for people with disabilities fortunate enough to have Internet access and literacy skills. I also want to ensure that We Can Do is as accessible as possible for people in developing countries who may be using very old, slow equipment and dial-up connections. Or for people who cannot access the Internet at all. Or who do not read well in English. If you have thoughts you want to share, or if you have the time and interest to help, please consult the Accessibility page and contact me.

I realize I have been posting many “administrivia” items at We Can Do lately and somewhat fewer fresh materials. I do have a couple more pages in mind that I want to add to the top navigation bar. But I will also be posting more news, resources, and papers in the coming few weeks. Please do keep coming back to We Can Do.



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NEWS: Enabling Blind to Read Computers in Africa, Other Developing Regions

Posted on 11 December 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Blind, East Asia and Central Asia, East Asia Pacific Region, Latin America & Caribbean, News, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Sightsavers Dolphin Pen – For developing countries

What is Sightsavers Dolphin Pen?

The Sightsavers Dolphin Pen is a low-cost, lightweight pen drive with a screen magnifier and screen reader, designed to benefit those living in some of the world’s poorest communities. It enables visually impaired people in Africa and other developing regions to gain the same access to computers as sighted people – and so to develop their skills and employment prospects.

This is an exciting venture because it is the first time a world-ranked assistive technology manufacturer has collaborated with an NGO (non-government organisation) to make high-quality product such as this available at cost price to eligible overseas projects.

Robin Spinks of Sightsavers International says: “Blind and low vision computer users can now carry their assistive software on a pen drive and use it on any PC. This represents a huge step forward for visually impaired computer users in developing countries.”

Users can take magnification and speech with them to any PC.
Easy to use and quick to set up. Simply plug in and go.
Lightweight yet robust. Fits in a pocket.
Gives independence to produce documents, send email and surf the web.
Will be made available in schools and universities wherever possible.

The pen will be available in eligible African countries and in other eligible countries in Asia (both Eastern Asia and Southern Asia); Eastern Europe and Central Asia; and Latin America and the Caribbean.

For more information:

http://www.yourdolphin.com/productdetail.asp?id=27&utm_source=SSdolphinpenKenya&utm_medium=email


Most of the text for this blog post is taken from the Dolphin Pen web site. We Can Do first learned about the Dolphin Pen through an announcement distributed on the Intl-Dev email news distribution list.


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CONFERENCE: Unite for Sight Int’l Health Conference

Posted on 27 November 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Blind, Events and Conferences, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Unite For Sight 5th Annual International Health Conference: Building Global Health For Today & Tomorrow

This conference, to be held April 12 & 13, 2008, at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, is targeted at people interested in in public health, medicine, social entrepreneurship, nonprofits, philanthropy, anthropology, eye care, and international development. Other interested individuals may include students, doctors, nurses, Peace Corps volunteers, public health, business and nonprofit professionals, anthropologists, policy makers, philanthropists, educators, and others.

There will be 150 expert speakers in international health and development, public health, eye care, medicine, social entrepreneurship, nonprofits, philanthropy, microfinance, human righs, anthropology, health policy, advocacy, public service, environmental health, and education. These will include keynote addresses by Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Dr. Sonia Sachs, Dr. Susan Blumenthal, and Dr. Jim Yong Kim.

Registration for the conferences ranges from $65 to $150 depending on how promptly you register (the earlier, the cheaper) and on whether you are a student (in which case, it is cheaper). Several hotels are located near the conference, but a special rate has been arranged at the Courtyard by Marriot for $129 per night. I could not locate information on the Unite for Sight website regarding whether there is any assistance for lodging, travel, or other expenses for participants traveling from developing nations.

For more information, including how to register, follow the link to the conference website.


The information for this blog post, and part of the text, was harvested from the conference website. We Can Do learned about this conference through the Poverty Reduction and Disability List (PRD-L).


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RESOURCE: VSO Handbook on Mainstreaming Disability

Posted on 17 November 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Case Studies, Cross-Disability, Inclusion, Poverty, Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A publication from Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) offers practical advice to mainstream international development organizations on how they can better include disabled people in the programs they run in developing countries. It is entitled A Handbook on Mainstreaming Disability (PDF format, 1.9 Mb) and can be retrieved from the asksource.info web site at http://www.asksource.info/pdf/33903_vsomainstreamingdisability_2006.pdf.

VSO recommends that all readers begin with chapter 1, which provides an overview of disabilities; what it means to “mainstream” disability; and why it is important. This chapter strives to ease readers into what can initially seem a daunting task:

“Mainstreaming is an ongoing process of including disability into all our work. However, this process can seem so huge that we never start. Looking at the experiences gathered for this handbook, we found it was most helpful to think about mainstreaming as a project. Like any other project, it is important to plan and budget first, carry out some activities, then review progress and make a new plan to follow up.” (VSO, 2006, “A Handbook on Mainstreaming Disability,” p. 12)

VSO also encourages all users to read chapter 2 no matter what other, more specific interests they may have. This chapter explains how to challenge discrimination toward disabled people on an individual basis and provides practical hints and tips on interacting with people with disabilities and what language is appropriate. At the end of the chapter are two case studies on how people have challenged discrimination toward people with disabilities in developing countries.

Subsequent chapters can be read in any order, according to an organization’s interests and priorities in relation to gradually increasing how much they include disabled people in their activities. Once an organization becomes comfortable with tackling one challenge, users can then select another chapter in the handbook to read. Each chapter contains an introduction to the topic with key messages; practical advice and lessons, illustrated with examples; case studies from VSO’s mainstreaming experience; and key resources on the Internet.

  • Chapter 3 discusses why it is important to have both the commitment of individual staff members and management support in mainstreaming disability; the importance of including disabled people and their organizations in building your organization’s commitment to inclusion; and developing a clear rationale for mainstreaming that is linked to your organization’s existing mission and values.
  • Chapter 4 covers the process of sensitization; here, the term refers to engaging each individual with the organization’s commitment to disability.
  • On the philosophy that “mainstreaming starts with us,” Chapter 5 discusses how an organization can actively include disabled workers among its own staff.
  • Chapter 6 addresses how to include disabled people in your organization’s program planning, implementation, management and review processes as the best way of ensuring that your programs will not be discriminatory.
  • Chapter 7 describes how to include disabled people across various programs and sectors such as education programs, HIV/AIDS programs, and so forth.
  • Chapter 8 argues that, without a policy framework,”mainstreaming will remain small-scale, local and unsustainable”; here, organizations can find guidance on addressing policy and institutional barriers that prevent disabled people from equal participation.

In addition to VSO’s Handbook on Mainstreaming Disability, international development professionals may also wish to consult my earlier blog post entitled Finding Local Disability Organizations for help with finding people with disabilities and their organizations in developing countries. Note that one of the resources listed, Mobility International USA, provides free consultation service and training to international development organizations that are working to be more inclusive of disabled people.

Organizations that already have some experience in mainstreaming disability, and that are ready for more ambitious challenges, may also wish to view Including the Disabled in Poverty Reduction Strategies. The resource linked from this post could help you support grassroots disability advocacy efforts in negotiating with country governments to include disabled people in their poverty reduction efforts.

The paper Disability Movement from Charity to Empowerment by Kishor Bhanushali may be an interesting read for people new to disability.

Also click on “resources” under “categories” in the right-hand navigation bar to see what other resources are listed at We Can Do that might be useful to you.


I learned about this resource through a bi-monthly email newsbulletin from the AskSource website. AskSource is targeted at people who share an interest in health or disability issues in developing countries. People who wish to subscribe themselves to their mailing list to be alerted of future new resources like this one can fill out the form at www.asksource.info. Or, you can email source@ich.ucl.ac.uk, type SUBSCRIBE SOURCE in the subject line, and state your name, organisation and email address. Additional information, such as your subject interests or activities, will help AskSource tailor their communications to your needs.


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Violence Against Blind/VI Girls in Malawi

Posted on 6 October 2007. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Blind, Case Studies, Children, Guest Blogger, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, Violence | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This paper was presented by its author Abigail Suka at the 12th International Council on Education for People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) World Conference held in Malaysia from 16-21 July 2006.  Although she was with Sightsavers International at the time she presented this paper, Abigail Suka is now an independent consultant in development issues, team building, and planning.  She is also a part-time postgraduate student working toward a Masters of Public Health (MPH) at the University of Malawi.  Thank you to Abigail Suka for granting permission to publish her paper at We Can Do.

Violence against Girls who are Blind and
Visually Impaired in Schools in Malawi

Abigail Suka
Country Representative
Sight Savers International
Private Bag A 197
Lilongwe
Malawi
Introduction
In Malawi violence against girls (VAG) is rampant. Research work commissioned between recently by DFID, Action Aid and its partners shows that out of all the incidences of violence in schools 65% of these affect girls while 35% affect boys.(1) None of this research has looked at how violence in school affects girls with disabilities in general and visual impairment in particular.

Sight Savers International (SSI) in Malawi is a member of the Civil Society Coalition for Quality Basic Education (CSQBE) which recently conducted a study on Violence Against Girls. SSI collaborated with Malawi Union of the Blind to also gather some information from this study and extrapolate it to attempt to establish how the girl who is blind is affected by such violence. This paper reports issues raised in discussions held by the writer with MUB Girl Guide members using the CSQBE study report as a guide, and some key informants, mainly blind young women who have defied the odds and passed through an unsafe school system. It also draws on literature available on the subject.

What is Gender Based Violence (GBV)?
The Fourth World Conference of Women, held in Beijing, China in 1995, reported the continued exploitation and abuse of girls in spite of the ratification of various UN conventions notably the Convention of the Rights of the Child of 1989. Specific issues raised included the violence directed at girls in the form of female genital mutilation, forced and early marriages, sexual exploitation, unequal access to education and health care. GBV recognizes that violence directed at girls and women is expressive of patriarchal power and authority.(2)

What is School Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV)?
SRGBV comes in various forms such as sexual, physical, verbal, emotional and psychological and occurs in and out of school. Perpetrators of VAG are many but most of the VAG is committed by male pupils and male teachers thereby making schools unsafe for girls. This problem came into the limelight because in most schools enrolment for girls in upper primary school and secondary schools in much lower than boys. Moreover in most schools girls perform poorly during classroom exercises, tests and examinations. This problem is partly attributed to violence and is of concern because they cause high drop out and low education attainment for girls.

The Global Statistics on Violence Against Girls with Disabilities
The FREDA Research Centre on VAG, based in Canada, reports that (3)
• 53% of women with disabilities from birth have been raped, abused, or assaulted (Lynn & O’Neill 1995:278)
• The rate of sexual abuse for girls with disabilities is quadruple that of the national average (Razack 1994)
Another study conducted through the New York City Board of Education who documented cases of adult to student sexual abuse found that whilst students receiving special education made up only 7% of the student body as a whole, they made up twice that percentage of targets of abuse.(4) A report by Waxman Fiduccia summarizing a few studies that offer a gender breakdown suggests that women and girls face higher rates of abuse than men and boys, often at the rate of more than twice the rate of non disabled girls. (5)

Perceptions about Violence Against Girls
Centre for Social Research in Malawi found the following perceptions about acts that constitute violence against girls at school(6):

• Corporal punishments like digging pits, molding bricks during class time
• Teasing, bullying and beating by boys and teachers
• Forced to have relationships and sex with boys and teachers
• Verbal abuse
• Sexually harassment i.e. touching their breasts and other private parts.
• Rape
• Impregnation
• Discrimination by teachers.
• Suspending and expelling girls without warnings.
• Not giving girls chance to voice out their views.

A focus group discussion undertaken with Malawi Union of the Blind – Youth Wing girls when they were undergoing Girl Guide training, identified all the above as factors affecting them and added some more as:

• Threats and actual sexual abuse from specialist teachers, class room (contact) teachers and blind boys
• Promises to marry from blind adults in leadership positions in the organization of the Blind
• Extensive teasing, such as leading them to a wrong classroom, hiding their white cane and their writing materials (Primary Education Pack)
• Not escorting them to the toilet
• Name Calling: For girls with albinism and low vision they face ridiculing name calling such as Zigoma: after the name of a singer with albinism or Mzungu or whitey
• Verbal abuse : belittling them suggesting no one would be interested in an affair with a blind girl

The Face of SRGBV: Low Enrolment of Visually Impaired Girls in School
There are more women with visual impairment than men, however enrolment figures obtained from an integrated education programme that Sightsavers International supports consistently show a lower enrolment of girls in primary schools. Data from 8 project districts is tabulated below:

MALAWI INTEGRATED EDUCATION PROGRAMME
ENROLMENT 2004
DISTRICT IT’s VIC BOYS VIC GIRLS VIC TOTAL
Blantyre 10 129 81 210
Lilongwe 11 140 104 244
Rumphi 8 64 64 128
Chikwawa 5 37 28 65
Zomba 6 35 39 74
Salima 5 41 30 71
Balaka 6 45 58 103
Machinga 8 65 80 145

Total 59 556 484 1040
53% 47%

The Basic Education Statistics 2005, reported national enrollment of visually impaired children in schools in 2005 to be 15490 (7), of which 7412(47%) are girls and 8078 (53%) are boys, as in the project districts supported.

Analysis of the Basic Education Statistics published for 2005 demonstrates that of the number of visually impaired girls who would have started off primary school in Standard 1, only 15% make it to the final class in primary school (Standard 8) indicating an unacceptably high level of drop outs. Although ‘lack of interest’ is indicated as the major reason contributing to high drop out, this consultation and other evidence suggests that violence against these visually impaired girls in school is a key factor in this high drop out rate. Or at least violence in schools is a major cause of the lack of interest, in other words, girls simply stop going to school because of the unsafe environment and this is interpreted as ‘ a lack of interest’ Compared to sighted girls, 25% reach the final primary school class. Compared to visually impaired boys, 31% would reach Standard 8, even beating the sighted pupils demonstrating that girls in general occupy a lower place in society. This also accentuates the fact that when a girl, is not only a girl but is also blind, the odds of her finishing her education are even more limited.

Sadly continuation to secondary school is even more dismal. Of 607 girls with visual impairment who would have completed Standard 8 in 2005, only 217 (35%) would make it to secondary school and not all of these will complete secondary school.

Factors affecting their propensity to Violence
The first obvious factor has to be the limitation caused by the disability itself that may make it more difficult for a girl with visual impairment to detect or even discern the behavior of her perpetrator. Harilyn Rousso in her paper on ‘Sexual harassment in Schools’ intimates that ‘disability – related limitations make it difficult for girls with certain disabilities, to detect and fully understand the nature of the perpetrators behaviour, and some disabilities may limit her ability to defend herself or move away from perpetrators and to report incidents of violence.(8)

The more underlying reasons however lie in the negative attitudes that girls with disability face in their day to day lives. The focus group discussion undertaken with MUB girl guides indicate that many suffer from low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence which makes them portray a sense of helpless which in turn licenses perpetrators. For many girls such abuses start from their homes and extend to their trusted mentors such as a specialist teacher. There is no data to quantify the extent to which people in position of trust such as specialist teachers and classroom teacher, guides etc. This is mainly because the girls will lack the courage to report. Those who can talk about it are no longer in the school system.
In her paper, The Girl Child: Having to ‘Fit’, Yasmin Jiwani, Ph.D. states that ‘girls with disabilities experience higher rates of sexual abuse (at 4 times the national average) because of their dependent status, isolation, and the negative stereotypes that prevail in the dominant society. Afraid to report the abuse because of the fear of not being believed, many of these girls continue to lead lives that are jeopardized by threats and actual incidents of violence’ They are often stereotyped, thereby undermining for actors to deal with unique and specific issue different to each girl. Harilyn Rousso reports of an extreme example of a stereotypical attitude in an incident of a young woman with disability who tried to report an attempted rape, her counselor said ‘Who would want to rape YOU?’ Furthermore, it is unbelievable that in some countries some courts will not entertain allegations of sexual violence brought by blind women or girls, because of supposed difficulties in identifying the perpetrator.

Why should we address Violence against Visually Impaired girls NOW?

1) MDGs and EFA
One of the UN Millennium Development Goals adopted by the Heads of State and Government is to ensure that children everywhere, boys and girls alike, should be able to complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015. In order to achieve this goal, there is need for a 100% net enrolment and completion rates for school age children, including those with disabilities. There are far too few girls with disabilities completing school (15%). If this phenomenon is not addressed, it threatens to derail efforts by governments and other stakeholders to promote girls education and achieve 2015 Education for All (EFA) goals. Without visually impaired girls attaining an education, MDG and EFA will not be a reality for Malawi.

Girls with Disabilities are bound together by double discrimination based on gender and disability. Statistics tell us that females with disabilities are achieving less in terms of employment and socialization into the mainstream of life than men with disabilities, with the vast majority of women living in dependent and comparatively impoverished circumstances.(9) In many developing countries, there are few educational opportunities for girls with disability. When there are opportunities for education, in special schools, boys usually receive them. Therefore it is necessary to ensure that where visually impaired girls are managing to go to school as is the case in Malawi where at least 400 girls with visual impairment were attending an integrated education in 2004, concerted effort should be made by stakeholders in their education to make sure that they stay in school.

2) The time is right
There is sufficient platform provided by Women’s Rights Activism, Women Disability Rights and the UN Charter on Disabilities. These international instruments will help to accelerate the effort to address and advocate for safe environment for girls who are blind and visually impaired to go to school.

3) HIV/AIDS
In Malawi, we are racing against the deadly HIV/AIDS pandemic. Not only is the rate of HIV/AIDS among people with disabilities threatening to scourge, on account of poverty related socio economic factors and attitudes, but sadly also due to prevalent cultural beliefs that having sex with a person with a disabilities will cure or ‘cleanse’ you of AIDS. Grace Massa, chairperson of Albinism Fellowship in Malawi intimates it is a common belief that girls with albinism are the best ‘cleansers’. (10)

According to the World Bank funded Global Survey of HIV/AIDS among disabled populations(11), HIV/AIDS is a significant and almost wholly unrecognized problem among disabled populations worldwide. A growing body of literature and experience supports the notion that HIV/AIDS educational, testing and clinical programs around the world are largely inaccessible to individuals with disability.

Continued low literacy rates among disabled individuals, particularly girls present real challenges to prevention efforts. It is therefore imperative that we address the issue of a safe environment for a girl who is blind to stay in school so that she can have higher literacy rates.

What strategies can we employ?
Concrete information: Obtaining information and data is the first step towards developing appropriate responses and services. It has been acknowledge that there is insufficient information in this important area. We need to undertake studies specifically addressing Violence against Girls with Disabilities and specifically with visual impairment because there are unique aspects to visual impairment.

Challenging stereotypes: through community education, youth projects and media campaigns. In particular challenging “the almost universal belief that disabled people cannot be a reliable witness on their own behalf.” (12)

Raising awareness: of the adverse effect SRGBV has on a girl who is blind to the various audiences that we have access to.

Empowerment Programmes specifically designed to empower girls who are blind and visually impaired. Many state that they fail to report incidents of violence because they were shy. Therefore, programmes to improve the assertiveness of girls are necessary.

However, shyness sometimes comes about because the reporting procedures themselves are not conducive. Therefore, advocating for the establishment of ‘safe pathways’ or procedures that encourages girls who are blind to report incidents of violence.

Advocacy & Coalition Building – by remaining alert on SRGBV issues and participating in the wider advocacy arena, we can influence changes in legislation, school practice and curricula aimed at stopping violence against girls and we will have opportunity to add a voice regarding the girl who is blind. Joining established ‘voices’ or platforms such as the Civil Society Coalition will add credibility and muscle to our voice. Going it alone is unnecessary and expensive. However for us to participate in this advocacy effort we need to bring a body of evidence to the table, hence the need for professional research in this area.

Motivation & Role Models – What would be the point of going to school if there no hope of you getting employment or engaging in meaningful pursuits? There is a role that role models can play. In this regards, the few girls who are blind and have completed their education and are participating meaningfully and interdependently in society need to be involved in programmes to reach the younger blind girls and talk to them about what career options they have. In this regard most of the key informants to this interview are in that category. They have demonstrated that they are not passive victims of harassment and violence. Theirs are stories that also need to be told.

(1) CSCQBE report 2005
(2) The Girl Child: Having to Fit by Yasmin Jiwani 19998.
(3) The FREDA Centre for Research on Violence Against Girls and Women
(4) Sexual Harassment in School, An invisible issue for Girls and Young Women with Disabilities, Harilyn Rouso
(5) Disabled Women and violence Fact sheet, B.F. Waxman Fiduccia
(6) Study Report: Violence Against Girls in School by University of Malawi, Centre for Social Research
(7) Education Basic Statistics Malawi 2005, ME&HRD Statistics Unit, Page 33
(8) Harilyn Rousso, Sexual Harassment in Schools: An invisible Issue for Girls and Young Women with Disabilities
(9) Having a Daughter With a Disability: Is it Different For Girls? An extract from news Digest
(10) Newspaper article, Grace Massa, Chairperson of Albino Association in Malawi
(11) Groce N. Global Survey on HIV/AIDS and Disability. The World Bank/Yale University. April 2004. http://circa.med.yale.edu/globalsurvey
(12) Nosek MA, Howland CA, Hughes RB. The investigation of abuse and women with disabilities: going beyond assumptions. Violence Against Women2001; 7:477-99.

_________________________________

We Can Do first received this paper via the Disability Information Dissemination Network, which is sponsored by Sightsavers International. If you wish to receive papers like this one directly, you can subscribe to the CSID mailing list by sending an email to csid@bdmail.net or csid@bdonline.com and putting the word “join” in the subject line.


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