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WBU Committees & Working Groups

This page lists our committees and working groups, with brief explanations of what they do. The WBU is involved in several global campaigns related to the achievement of our objectives and improving access for blind and partially sighted persons. If you need to contact with any of these committees, networks or working groups, please contact the WBU office​ and we would be happy to send the Chairperson of the committee your enquiry.

The WBU also has individuals from our executive or membership who sit on international panels to ensure the needs of blind people are considered when dealing with major world issues like changes to the international postal system, transit standards, etc. 
A list of these bodies and our representatives is provided in this section under WBU Representation on External Bodies page.

Photo of WBU representatives.Working committee

Right to Read Working Group

Chair: Maryanne Diamond 
This group is currently focused on getting the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty ratified by governments around the world so that the 500 million print-disabled people can access books produced in braille, large print and audio. 
This treaty has been created to deal with the international copyright bans on making such books widely available. Information about the work and progress of this group is available under Our Priorities, the Right 2 Read campaign. Each of our global regions has a representative who can help you approach your own government to discuss the importance of accessible books and reading materials.

Marrakesh Treaty Ratification Campaign Regional Coordinators

Scott Labarre – NA/C
Pablo Lecuona - ULAC
Wolfgang Angermann - EBU
S K Rungta - ABU
Neil Jarvis – WBU-AP
Jace Nair - AFUB

Human Rights Working Group

Chair: ​Santosh Rungta 
This group works on the issues associated with implementing human rights in all societies, creating awareness and educating people as to their rights to access education, healthcare, and even the ability to vote along with other services provided by the government to its citizens. This committee has helped in the production of the CRPD toolkit  (CRPD Toolkit - Final Mar 2012.docCRPD Toolkit ) that gives tools and ways to implement the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities within countries and advice on how to work with your local government agencies. This can also be downloaded in our Resources section. 
  • CRPD REGIONAL NETWORK
Fernando Riano
Lars Bosselmann
Martine Abel-Williamson – WBUAP
Dean Lerman– ULAC
Gertrude O. Fofoame – AFUB
Philippe Chazal -  EBU
Rebbeca Sheffield– NA/C
S. K. Rungta - ABU
staff support - Jose Viera, WBU
 

Employment Working Group

Chair: Angela Hartley
This group works to find ways to expand the opportunities for those who are blind or partially sighted to gain meaningful employment. This has led to the funding for a WBU Employment website - Project Aspiro -that provide many features to assist people in considering different types of careers, as well as give pointers on how to prepare for a search in the job market. 
It offers advice and educates employers on how to accommodate their workplaces for those who are blind but would make great employees. Link to Project Aspiro here.
 

Technology Working Group

Chair: Sachin Pavithran 
Technology is becoming the primary means of how most people connect with the world. This group works on making modern technology more accessible for blind and partially sighted people, ensuring easy use is built into the design of all macro (large scale) and micro (personal use) technology. This includes such items as mobile phones or smart phones, and the associated applications, computers, tablets and other electronic devices used to connect with other people, and used to do work. As manual push buttons on most devices give way to touch screens or sensory pads we must ensure the designs of even common things like small appliances still work for blind people's usage​.
 

Capacity Development Working Group

Chair: John Heilbrunn
Development represents the processes of empowering blind people and their organizations through skills training and capacity building for better governance. Our goal is to develop and increase our members' capacity to better manage their organizations, and serve their blind citizens. We strive for results where blind and partially sighted people can confidently participate in cultural processes alongside their fellow citizens to shift social acceptance. We want our member organizations to have the tools and skills needed to both empower blind citizens and advocate to the government and society on their behalf, making their world a better place. 
 

Access to the Environment Working Group

Chair: Martine Abel-Williamson
Our goal is a world that is fully accessible for blind and partially sighted people. This means safe access to our streets, parks, nature paths and recreation centres, public and private buildings, learning institutions, entertainment venues, shopping districts, and heritage sites. All these need to be assessed, checking that universal design and disability measures include ensuring these places can be easily navigated by blind people. Those who use guide dogs also need to be able to access these spaces. Those with low vision can have different design needs than blind people, so just adding braille labels does not do-the-trick in making places accessible.
Our group works to provide tools and advice for planning or revising our environments. This group created a toolkit to help WBU members teach local movie theatre owners how to make their theatres accessible for blind and low vision customers. You can link to it here: WBU Audio Description Toolkit.docWBU Audio Description Toolkit 
This toolkit is also available under our Resources section of our website.
 

Rehabilitation Working Group

Chair: Anil Aneja 

People can be born blind but most people dealing with vision loss become blind later in life. People can develop blindness through genetic diseases, loosing their sight over time; or people can be blinded suddenly through natural disasters, or motor vehicle accidents, workplace injuries, etc. Going blind can be traumatic and isolating as the person loses the ability to function as they once did. This is why knowledge of and access to reliable rehabilitation methods is vital for blind and partially sighted people. The rehabilitation working group's focus is to ensure rehabilitation standards exits in member organizations checking that the methodologies taught provide blind people with social skills, navigation tools and other skills to continue to connect to their world. 
Staff support: Victor Cordeiro

Resource Generation Working Group

Chair: Fernando Riano 

This group works on seeking funds from sources outside our membership to support the ongoing core work and projects of the WBU. This group consists of fund development experts from many of our organizations.
We hope we can help other WBU members learn to fundraise for their own organizations in order to build capacity within our members and lead to sustainability of projects that improve the lives of the partially sighted. The notes from our first seminar for fund development staff of blindness organizations can be read here:
RGWG  Fund Development Conference notes Day 1.docRGWG Fund Development Conference notes Day 1 and
RGWG Fund Development Conference notes Day 2.docRGWG Fund Development Conference notes Day 2 
Staff support: Marianne McQuillan

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International Development Program Engagement Working Group

Chair: Charles Mossop​

 

World Braille Council

Chair: Kevi Carey   
UNESCO set up a Braille working group back in 1949 to find a way to unify the various Braille systems used around the world.  
This has resulted in the acceptance of a Unified English Braille in 2004 that has been adopted by countries worldwide. WBU provides advice to this group to ensure the needs of all groups are weighed in any decisions made as to updating or changing the Braille systems used. The UEB rulebook, second edition is available here: www.iceb.org/ueb.html
 

Policy Papers Working Group

Chair: Penny Hartin
This group reviews WBU established policies and recommends the need for amendments to these policies when necessary, and also advises on the creation of new polices to ensure we are current in covering the needs of our members.

Constitution Committee

Chair: Wolfgang Angermann  
This committee reviews, and accepts recommendations for amendments to the WBU constitution and submits these for the consideration of the membership at each WBU General Assembly (held every 4 years).
The WBU constitution is available here:
WBU revised Constitution - 9th GA 2016 (1).docWBU revised Constitution - 9th GA 2016 or to review on this website under the About Us section.
 

Scholarships subcommittee

Chair: Enrique Perez
This group reviews all scholarship applications received from blind and partially sighted students around the world who seek funding in order to further their academic careers. The committee assesses each entry in order to determine who will receive financial support from the WBU scholarships.
(More information about each scholarship is under the Resources, Scholarship section).

Finance Committee

Chair: Martine Abel-Williamson
This group oversees all budgeting and financial processes and monitors the spending of the WBU to ensure we stay on track and can justify the use of the dues and donations entrusted to us from our members and donors. We are transparent in our actions and produce audited financial statements annually to review how funds were used and allocated for the administration and projects we are responsible for. These reports are available under the About Us section.

Membership Fee Committee

Chair: Martine Abel- Williamson
This group works on the review and implementation of the fee structure and levels for all members to ensure we can set membership fee levels that are fair to all countries and still support the work of the WBU.

Nominations Committee

Chair: Maryanne Diamond
This group looks for experts and key people to fill the volunteer roles of the WBU executive and regions.
We seek to find talented blind and low vision youth, women and men in all regions of the world who can become leaders in the blindness field, and contribute their skills and knowledge for the betterment of blind or partially sighted people globally.

Structure Review Working Group

Chair: Arnt Holte
This group assess the various aspects of the work of the WBU offering advice to improve or streamline areas/projects that no longer suit the current needs. This group can offer advice on modifying the responsibilities​ of executive positions, or established committees, or regional responsibilities.

Diversity Committee

Chair: Rina Prasarani
This group is the umbrella committee that includes all the networks listed below and was set up to ensure those who are blind or partially sighted and also identify themselves in one of these special interest groups (such as women, youth or low vision) are heard and their special needs are included in the consideration of WBU projects, and priorities. Some of these networks (like the Elderly) have produced reports on the status of their work and what they hope to achieve. These reports are available under the Resources section.
 
NETWORKS:
 
Children
Chair: Susan LaVenture – USA (NA/C)
 
Elderly
Chair: Charles Mossop – USA (NA/C)
 
Low Vision
Chair: Penny Hartin – Canada (NA/C)
 
Women
Chair: Cathy Donaldson– South Africa (ABU)
 
Youth
Chair: Diane Bergeron – Canada (NA/C)

 
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