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WBU appoints three new staff

The World Blind Union is pleased to announce the appointment of three new staff. They are: Mr. Hannes Juhlin Lagrelius from Sweden, Ms. Jessica Kashia Jacobie from St. Lucia and Mr. Benjamin Dard from France. 

1. Mr. Hannes Lagrelius, Programme Officer, Accessibility in Smart Cities Initiative
Hannes Lagrelius, Programme Officer, Accessibility in Smart Cities Initiative
Mr. Hannes Juhlin Lagrelius, from Sweden, is the new Programme Officer for Accessibility in Smart Cities Initiatives. He is part of a Bilateral Associate Expert’s trainee program at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA.He will be with us for 2019-2020 and stationed at our Africa Regional Secretariat (African Union of the Blind) in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Mr. Lagrelius holds Bachelor's degrees in Peace and Development studies and in Political Science from Linnaeus University in Sweden. As part of his studies, he did internship programs at SIDA's Department for Africa and the Swedish Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda. 

Prior to joining the WBU, he was a Programme officer for international development cooperation at the Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired, SRF. At the SRF he was the officer in charge of international partnership projects with several of WBU's country member organisations in Eastern Europe, Central America and Africa. The projects focused on capacity development and strengthening of advocacy work springing from the UNCRPD (The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Mr. Lagrelius has had an extensive engagement in the Swedish disability rights movement, advocating for the inclusion of persons with disabilities within Sweden’s development cooperation. Although he is only 26 years old, he has held several board positions in the Swedish Association of Visually Impaired Youth and MyRight (former SHIA). In addition, he has been an advisor in the formation and development of the Blind Youth Association Nepal, now one of Nepal’s most influential youth organisations. 

Mr. Lagrelius believes that today, cities globally are being developed and transformed in a rapid pace never experienced before. "My aspiration is to support WBU and our regional/national members to become active parties at the tables where plans and policies are developed with the objective that smart cities must be accessible and inclusive of persons with visual impairment. We need to be in the forefront in order for our issues to be considered in international debates", says Mr. Lagrelius, adding that his first step is to determine what a truly smart and accessible city means for persons with visual impairment. 

" I will support the World Blind Union to increase its presence in global and regional fora on accessibility and urban development and transformation. To further enhance the base for global, regional and national advocacy I will collect and share good practices of accessibility measures which works around the globe. In various ways we will work on initiatives to support the capacity development of member organisations which is something you will hear more about later on", says Mr. Lagrelius. 

2. Ms. Jessica Kashia Jacobie, Human Rights Officer

Ms. Jessica Kashia Jacobie, from St. Lucia, is the new Human Rights Officer for the WBU. She is supported by the International Disability Alliance (IDA) as a fellow for the “No One Left Behind” programme (NOLB), a Fellowship Programme developed by IDA together with its members to strengthen their operational and advocacy capacities. 

The NOLB program was launched in 2017 and is funded by the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom. WBU will use the Fellowship Program to conduct research and consequent advocacy work to establish the current level at which Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being met,  the extent to which the needs of persons who are blind and partially sighted are being catered for and the extent to which they are included in the development of their country and region within the Caribbean. This will be done by using different international instruments such as the UNCRPD, Marrakesh Treaty, the ILO, Disabled persons convention and other human rights conventions and Treaties as bench marks. 

Prior to joining the WBU, Ms. Jacobie was a Special Education Teacher for the Ministry of Education Human Resource Development & Labour, Government of St. Lucia. She has also worked as an Assistant Project Development and Resource Mobilization Officer for the Saint Lucia Blind Welfare Association (SLBWA), among other positions.

"As a young woman from the Island of St Lucia in the Caribbean, born blind and having had to strive to break barriers in education and employment systems in my country, my greatest desire is to be an advocate and the voice of persons with visual disabilities locally, regionally and internationally", says Jessica. She hopes that through the WBU she will have a positive life changing impact on the lives of blind and partially sighted persons in her region and globally.

3.Mr.Benjamin Dard, CBM’s Technical Advisor for accessibility and universal design
Mr. Benjamin Dard, from France, is the Technical Advisor for accessibility and universal design for CBM International and its global and national partners, including the World Blind Union (WBU), through its accessible Smart Cities initiative. 

Prior to joining CBM, he worked closely with the Disability Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development (DIAUD) Network, including persons with disabilities and disability rights advocates, policymakers and government officials, urban development professionals, academia, foundations, the private sector, and development cooperation partners, to promote inclusive cities and ensure implementation of the New Urban Agenda in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). 

Mr. Dard has a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the Urban Planning Institute of Grenoble and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
Key contributions include the development of key recommendations for an inclusive urban agenda, tools for improving digital accessibility and the launch of the Cities For All global campaign and the Global Compact on Inclusive and Accessible Cities​ together with the DIAUD Network, CBM and the WBU. He will continue to provide technical expertise and contribute to existing initiatives including the WBU’s accessible Smart Cities initiative.

“Over the next 35 years, cities will shape virtually every aspect of global development, including the manner in which fundamental human rights are won and implemented. Cities worldwide are uniquely positioned to advance human rights, including accessibility and digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons”, says Benjamin.  

Meanwhile, the World Blind Union wishes to thank Ms. Florence Ndagire, the former Human Rights Policy Advisor from Uganda, upon completion of her programme contract last December. We wish Ms. Ndagire the very best in her future career endeavors.

For further information, please contact:

Terry Mutuku
Communications Officer, World Blind Union