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URBAN OCTOBER social media campaign

Dear WBU members,
WBU is delighted to launch a worldwide advocacy campaign on Accessibility in Smart Cities beginning 24 October 2019.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and New Urban Agenda (NUA) recognize the critical importance to address accessibility to foster inclusion and participation. WBU recognizes that great challenges remain for blind and partially sighted people to access infrastructure, facilities, public spaces and basic services on an equal basis with others. Accessibility is a core priority for WBU. As part of our Global initiative on Accessibility in Smart Cities we now plan to roll out a social media campaign in October. Urban stakeholders worldwide view October as the urban month to campaign around the transformation of cities as drivers of development. WBU would like to take this opportunity to share member-driven initiatives.​ Download full campaign details below:

Urban October Campaign Day 1: October 24 

Today, the WBU is delighted to launch a global advocacy campaign on Accessibility in Smart Cities. Watch this opening message from the WBU Treasurer Ms. Martine Abel-Williamson of New Zealand also chair of the WBU Access to the Environment Committee 
WBU Treasurer Ms. Abel-Williamson of New Zealand - video message on Urban October campaign

Urban October Campaign Day 2: October 25

Our national member in South Africa, the National Council for the Blind, is currently rolling out several initiatives related to accessibility in public transport to create awareness on the challenges faced by blind and partially sighted, and the broader disability community, to access transport on an equal basis with others. South Africa and its provincial governments have legislation on the equal access to transport, but it is noted that the awareness levels among provides and municipal staff on how to translate this into practice remains low. 

The Council, In a collaboration with other disability organisations and the Ministry for Transport, the Gauteng Provincial Government, Municipalities of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane seek to further sensitize service providers, municipal staff and the general public on how to approach persons with diverse disabilities in the day-to-day operations, and plan for universal access to transport. Examples of activities carried out:   
  • ​Joint Accessibility inspections of Bus Rapid Transport systems, regular buses, taxis, trains and airports in the above localities. 
  • White Cane rallies across the country with a focus on access to public transport 
  • Sensitisation of municipal staff and service providers on accessibility needs and attitudes in day-to-day commutes  
  • Joint inspections of Tactile Guidance pathways, accessibility at bus stations and street crossings. 
Note: This post is part of WBU’s campaign to share examples from our members on initiatives undertaken to address accessibility in urban development. 

Also check out this children's song and video​ created to help sighted people understand a little about the visually-impaired person's white cane and to encourage its use by those who will benefit most.

Urban October Campaign Day 3: October 28

WBU is delighted to share a new best practices publication on the Accessibility of mobility for blind and partially sighted persons published by our regional member; the European Blind Union. The brochure documents best practices towards independent and safe mobility from across Europe. It is structured in three clusters, which reflect important and interlocking areas of accessible mobility: legislation and standards, built environment and infrastructure and digital solutions. The full document is available in various languages on EBU website​.

Urban October Campaign Day 4: October 29

WBU member, the Eritrean National Association of the Blind (ERNAB) along with our worldwide membership is working towards breaking environmental, attitudinal and institutional barriers faced by blind and partially sighted persons to access services and spaces on an equal basis with others.  ERNAB reports of recent landmark achievements in Eritrea when it comes to the promotion of accessibility for persons with disabilities. ERNAB has contributed greatly to the development of comprehensive national policy guidelines for rights of persons with disabilities. Together with other stakeholders, ERNAB has been engaged in sensitisation initiatives to create awareness about these guidelines by holding a plethora of workshops in the country and mass media campaigns. 

ERNAB has also made great strides to specifically highlight the importance of White Canes through workshops and puppet shows in schools where pupils with visual impairment have demonstrated to other children the critical use of a White Cane and what difference it makes in one’s mobility and independence. ERNAB continues to distribute White Canes and to sensitise the public about the importance of safe and accessible environment for blind and partially sighted persons.

Urban October Campaign Day 5: October 30

WBU Platinum Sponsor, the CNIB foundation (Canadian Institute for the Blind) is spearheading various initiatives to promote more accessible and inclusive cities and neighborhoods across Canada. In Toronto, for example, the CNIB has established the "BlindSquare Enabled" project to help make businesses welcoming for blind and partially sighted persons. About 200 local businesses in the city have installed beacons in their spaces. The beacons connect to the BlindSquare GPS app on an iPhone or iPad to give a spoken description of the business, including store name, layout and what it sells.  With the help of GPS information provided through the beacons, persons with sight loss can easily navigate their way from subway station, through streets, businesses and the neighbourhood as described in this "Blind Square experience".
CNIB has also established a 'BlindSquare Enabled' project in Downtown Regina where the city has become easier to navigate for people who are blind or partially sighted. "For CNIB the goal of this project was to make downtown more accessible and inclusive for people with vision loss. We also wanted to help community members understand that wayfinding technology like this enables people with vision loss to navigate independently," said Christall Beaudry executive director of CNIB Foundation Saskatchewan.Find out more on CNIB Foundation website​.

Urban October Campaign Day 6: October 31

Urban Accessibility Initiatives in New Zealand

Example 1: Safe and accessible footpaths.
Blind & Low Vision New Zealand has been advocating for safe and #accessible footpaths, following the introduction of rental e-scooter trials onto city streets a year ago. Taking the position that e-scooters should not be ridden on the footpath to ensure pedestrian safety, Blind & Low Vision NZ invited clients in impacted cities to participate in a survey. Receiving 210 responses, 84% agreed with the e-scooter position and many had stories to tell about concern with e-scooters left lying around posing a trip hazard and having accidents themselves. The results have helped Blind & Low Vision NZ raise awareness about the concerns of blind and low vision persons with the general public, and gained support as a trusted commentator on the topic in the media. The trial outcomes are still pending and Blind & Low Vision NZ is lobbying with advocacy group Living Streets Aotearoa with a petition to prevent e-scooters from being on the footpaths. Blind & Low Vision NZ plans to continue raising concerns and having a voice on this topic to seek a solution that enables micro-mobility and pedestrian safety to co-exist in a future of accessible and smart cities. Read more on the Blind & Low Vision NZ website.

Example 2: AccessLaw2020 - Access Matters campaign to put Accessibility Legislation at the heart of more inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand
Meanwhile, Blind & Low Vision NZ is a proud member of the Access Alliance and its Access Matters campaign. The Access Matters campaign is seeking the introduction of Accessibility legislation to create a more inclusive New Zealand. 

"We were ecstatic in December 2018 when the New Zealand Government signed off on a major accessibility work programme to thoroughly explore how we achieve full accessibility for disabled people and all New Zealanders. The Access Alliance has been co-designing the next phase with government, alongside raising awareness with businesses and the public about the need for and benefits of accessibility in all parts of life. An accessible Aotearoa means that our public buildings and spaces are universally designed and do the job they are supposed to do. To get an accessibility law in this term of government, we need it to be seen as an urgent priority, from the Minister for Disability Issues, and across the New Zealand Government. We need to put Accessibility on the agenda for the 2020."

Blind & Low Vision NZ is urging the public to add their voice to the call for #AccessLaw2020 by using the Access Matters social media action page and the social media toolkit with suggested messages and images to share. 

Urban October Campaign Day: November 1
Closing remarks by WBU Treasurer, Ms. Martine​ Abel-Williamson, of New Zealand, also chair of the WBU Access to the Environment Committee.


CITIES FOR ALL: Global Compact on Inclusive and Accessible Cities

The “Cities for All” Network emerged out of the need for the voices of the global disability community in local and international decision-making processes guiding urban planning and development. The “Cities for All” Network strategic planning and engagements are directly influencing urban development processes.  The Global Compact on Inclusive and Accessible Cities is a declaration that aligns key commitments to accessibility, universal design and inclusion within The Sustainable Development Goals, The New Urban Agenda, The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the WHO’s Age Friendly Cities Initiative. It affirms the rights of 1 billion persons with disabilities and the increasing share of the global population aged 60 or older that experience barriers to their equitable participation in society. Half of all persons with disabilities and older persons around the world now live in towns and cities, and these groups are estimated to number over 2 billion persons in cities worldwide by 2050. This global call for action lays at the core of the #Cities4All campaign.​ Signatories of the Global Compact reaffirm their determination to build cities for all and agree to actively promote and progressively realize the Universal Inclusion and Accessibility of all persons in cities and human settlements; particularly older persons and all persons with disabilities-including persons with psychosocial, intellectual and developmental disabilities. Read more on the campaign's website.