november-december 2012

Welcome to the EBU Newsletter.

To counteract the gloomy news that we so often see in our newspapers and on our televisions at the moment, EBU would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a healthy, happy and  also, we hope, prosperous new year for 2013! The EBU Newsletter is published every two months in English, French, German and Spanish. It is produced and translated thanks to the financial support of the European Commission DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. We hope you enjoy reading it, and we welcome your comments and feedback.

EU update

EU Public Procurement Directive 

Throughout 2012 EBU has worked closely with Members of the European Parliament to table a key amendment to the draft EU Public Procurement Directive.

WIPO update

WIPO member states met in Geneva between 17th and 19th October and then again between 19th and 23rd November to improve the draft treaty text.
Representatives from the European Blind Union and World Blind Union attended these meetings, and worked to advise the member states delegates. Of course, much of our work on this matter has been done, and is still being done, between these more formal meetings.
The highlight of the past couple of months is that the EU negotiators pronounced, finally, that they could support a binding WIPO treaty.


Launch of the European VISAL project!

The VISAL (Visually Impaired Seniors Active Learning) project will develop an informal training module tailored to the needs of elderly visually impaired people, for whom there exist limited and poorly adapted training programmes

National news

Austria – Blind and partially sighted demand lower TV license fees

Blind and partially sighted people in Austria call for a significant reduction in television license fees for them as only a small fraction of the national public broadcasting offer is accessible for those living with visual impairment. Those with low incomes should continue to be fully exempted.

United Kingdom - The Tipping Point

A new report entitled 'The Tipping Point', co-authored by RNIB, was published on 22 October 2012. It exposes how the UK Government's welfare cuts are hitting disabled people hardest.

Estonia - International White Cane Day

The Estonian Federation of the Blind, celebrated International White Cane Day by organizing an event for the representatives of its regional member organization and the public

Norway - NABP's project seminar in Cambodia, 2012

Every other year The Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted (NABP) assemble a project seminar with its partner organizations. This year's seminar took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and focused on sustainability and related issues, such as advocacy and income generating activities for the organizations. How can NABP's partner organizations become strong and influential? What kind of income generating activities can organizations of the blind succeed in? How can these income generating activities help the organizations to become sustainable? These were just some of the questions that were raised during the four-day seminar in October.


BANA Adopts Unified English Braille (UEB) for United States

On November 2, 2012, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) set a new course for the future of braille in the United States (U.S.) when it adopted Unified English Braille (UEB). The motion, which passed decisively, specifies that UEB will eventually replace the current English Braille American Edition and that the U.S. will retain the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation.


The impact of the current financial crisis on the EBU member organisations.

The European financial crisis has been going on for three years now. Crushed by public debts and distressed banks, countries such as Greece, Spain and Ireland face ongoing recession while others like Germany have defied the shock waves of the crisis so far amazingly well. There is more than enough reason for concern for organizations of blind and partially sighted people. Austerity measures have been introduced in many countries making it difficult for many NGOs to maintain their level of service delivery. There is every reason to be concerned for the European Blind Union as well. Member countries find it increasingly difficult to afford the costs related to actively participating in the activities of the European Blind Union. What is the impact of the financial crisis on disability issues? What is the impact on subsidies and access to labour market for disabled people?