march-april 2013

Welcome to the EBU Newsletter 91.

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

Public Procurement: EBU calling on Member States to act

Following the publication of the European Parliament IMCO Committee and Council positions at first reading, EU governments and MEPs are now trying to reach a political agreement on the public procurement directive.

WIPO update

I am writing in London where we have been enduring months of glacial arctic blasts. However, the campaign for the WIPO treaty to improve access to books for blind people has not gone cold.


VISAL update number one - the launch of the project website

The VISAL project, which started in November 2012 and which EBU is coordinating, is now really beginning to take shape. We can now present the brand-new VISAL project website, ! The development of the site followed hot on the heels of the design of the project logo.

Lusophone countries create a Portuguese Speaking Blind Union (UCLP)

The creation of a Portuguese Speaking Blind Union has been, for decades, an aspiration of the organizations representing visually impaired persons who speak Portuguese worldwide.

National news


Croatia - New life of ‘The Bald Soprano'

This year, the Theatre of the Blind and Visually Impaired New Life celebrates its 65th anniversary, at the same time celebrating the oldest theater in the world of its kind. The show that marked the celebration was a masterpiece of the theatre of the absurd – The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco, and it premiered on 7th March 2013 on the stage of the Vidra theatre.

Slovakia - Assessing competences of people with visual impairment using ICF

The Slovak Blind and Partially Sighted Union (UNSS) is implementing a European project called TEC – Tools for the Evaluation of Competence of People with Special Needs in Line with ICF.
The main purpose of this project is to develop innovative and effective tools for the evaluation of competences of adult people with disabilities.

France - Guide dog owners experience at least one problem per week when trying to enter a public place!

119 guide dog users tested 1044 places from the 12th to the 27th of February 2013 and the verdict is severe: in 15% of cases, guide dogs and their owners do not have free access to places open to the public. Their accessibility is reduced in 8,8% of cases and denied in 6,3% of cases. This represents at least one difficulty per week for guide dog users

Austria – Set of criteria for accessible and talking cash machines finalised

With the aim of promoting the independence of blind and partially sighted people when withdrawing money, organisations of and for the blind, the six major Austrian banks as well as automated teller machine (ATM) manufacturers and software developers collaborated for more than a year to define a list of criteria for ATM accessibility.


In memory of Erik Staaf

Erik Staaf died on March 3rd, after several years of persistent struggle against cancer. He was 54 years old.

Creation of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals

The mission of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals is to define, promote and improve the accessibility profession globally through networking, education and certification in order to enable the creation of accessible products, content and services.

English language course for blind and partially-sighted students

A residential English language course for blind and partially-sighted students from around Europe is available.

RNIB is creating a new way of working.

This will concentrate on providing methods for people and businesses that make content, products, services and environments useable and accessible for blind and partially sighted people.


We haven't heard the last of Braille

Braille under threat?
There are an estimated 7,000 regular Braille users in France out of a total 65,000 blind and 1.2 million partially sighted people.
An article published in The Guardian on 14 February 2012 cites a report by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) which shows that, in 1963, 51% of the 1.3 million legally blind Americans used Braille as their primary reading medium. In 2007, this number fell to just 10%, while in 2011, it stood at under 9%.
In France, less than 25% of pupils use Braille in educational institutions for visually impaired persons. In the 1970s, 3,000 people were subscribed to our journal – in Braille – entitled "Le Louis Braille"; in the 1990s this figure had dropped to 2,000 and in 2012, only 900 subscribers remained.