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Funding Our Core Work and Priorities

Changing What it Means to be Blind

All round the world, blind and partially sighted men, women and children have less access to education and information. They have less access to health care, specialized services and support, and fewer employment opportunities. The problem is magnified in developing countries. 
 
The World Blind Union (WBU) works to ensure that people who are blind or partially sighted have the tools, supports and resources necessary for self-empowerment and equitable access and treatment. 
 
Our work includes capacity building, leadership development, Braille literacy, and empowerment for women, youth and indigenous people. It also includes the development and sharing of tools and resources, and advocacy on issues important to people with vision loss.
 
The World Blind Union ne​​eds your financial support. You can help ensure that blind and partially sighted individuals are able to actively participate in daily life, and are able to provide a positive contribution to the economy and their communities.
 
There are many organizations of and for the blind that date back to the 1800’s. Formal structures to bring together organizations serving blind people and organizations representing blind people were first established in the 1950’s. And, in 1984, the separate organizations for service providers and consumer organizations united to form the World Blind Union. Today the WBU has members in 190 countries in all regions of the world, representing blind people from all walks of life and economic levels.  
 
The World Blind Union envisages a community where people who are blind or partially sighted can participate on an equal basis in all aspects of social, economic, political and cultural life.
 
We are a worldwide movement of blind and partially sighted people acting on our ow​​n behalf to:
  • Eliminate prejudice;
  • Promote belief in the proven abilities of blind and partially sighted people; and
  • Achieve full participation and equality in society.

The Challenge

The World Health Organization estimates that there are approximately 285 Million people with severe vision loss worldwide. 
 
This number is immense - it is just under the population of the United States of America (third largest population of the world) and greater than the population of Indonesia (4th largest population). Blind and partially sighted people however, live all over the world, and usually do so in poverty. 90% of these people struggle to live in developing countries and the saddest part is that close to 80% of all vision loss is preventable or treatable. 
So many people become blind unnecessarily due to lack of access to clean water, proper sanitation, lack of medicines, or treatment, lack of proper nutrition, and also due to a lack of safety standards and equipment designed to protect people's eyesight. 
 
Cataracts, which can be easily removed through surgery, blind millions of people, because the costs of this simple medical intervention is often out of reach for those too poor to pay for the service. Eye exams are vital to catch many eye diseases in the earliest stages to prevent blindness by managing the condition (glaucoma for example). There is a definite​ link between disability leading to poverty, and poverty resulting in disability.
 
People with vision impairments are among the worst affected by natural disasters such as the 2004 Tsunami, and more recently the earthquakes in Haiti, Pakistan and Japan where traditional forms of emergency aid did not necessarily reach the most vulnerable victims of the disasters, those who were already disabled. 
Of course disasters like these kill many people, but they leave many more permanently disabled. 
 
The plight of women and children who lose their vision is staggering. 90% of blind children in most developing countries never attend school or get a useful education. They are deprived of any real opportunity to lead an independent life. Blind or disabled girls have even less of a chance to be educated, with only about 1% of blind girls (who live in developing countries) getting an education.
 
Blind and partially sighted women have less access to healthcare, education and employment.
They are often subjected to abuse and violence and are more vulnerable than most to HIV/AIDS.

WBU Goals

Blind and disabled people worldwide need help to live in dignity with their vision loss and be given opportunities to live as equals within their communities. This does not mean giving charity, or an outdated view towards taking care of those less able-bodied. Blind people want to be a part of the solution and work with others to bring about change in the world. By providing blind people with the same access to society, and education that their sighted fellow citizens enjoy, gives them a means to interact with their fellow citizens. Blind and partially sighted children can learn, and grow in confidence. They can then lead productive lives and make meaningful contributions in their communities. 
 
To address this concern WBU's programs and activities focus on the following six goals:
 
  1. We promote equalisation of opportunities and full participation in society for blind and partially sighted people. We want to ensure blind people have the tools the need to access their communities, and not be shut-ins.
  2. We seek to empower blind and partially sighted people to enhance their self-esteem, and develop the skills needed to be more independent.
  3. We serve as an international resource on issues relating to blindness, as well as convey how major world issues affect those who are blind and partially sighted.
  4. We provide an international forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of blindness. We seek to promote a greater awareness of this issue and work with other organizations focused on greater integration of the disabled into society.
  5. Working with our members in 190 countries, we strengthen programs and services related to the education, health, welfare, rehabilitation and general well-being of all blind people.
  6. ​We promote prevention of blindness, and work with our Vision Alliance partner, the IAPB, to reduce the incidence of blindness, and seek rehabilitation and training opportunities for those whose eyesight cannot be corrected. We promote education of all blind people and work with ICEVI to ensure the skills and tools are available to allow for greater education opportunities in all regions of the world.​​

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