The World Blind Union was formed in 1984 through the Union of the International Federation of the Blind (IFB) and the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind (WCWB). The first General Assembly, the Founding Assembly of WBU, was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 26 October 1984. Since then, another eight subsequent General Assemblies took place every four years in Madrid 1988, Cairo 1992, Toronto 1996, Melbourne 2000, Cape Town 2004, Geneva 2008, Bangkok 2012, and Orlando 2016. The next General Assembly will be held online from 28 to 30 June 2021.

Participants at WBU General Assembly held in Geneva in 2008

Participants at WBU General Assembly held in Geneva in 2008

The WBU is divided into six regions: Africa, Asia, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America and the Caribbean.

At its beginning, 60 countries were registered as WBU members, but the number rose to approximately 190 during the following 30 years. The use of three world languages – English, French, and Spanish – were adopted,​ facilitating an efficient global communication among all members. Strengthening the activities of its six regional unions, WBU quickly became a powerful internationally recognized voice in the worldwide disability movement.

Through the leadership of the WBU and its constitution, one of its achievements has been to provide a forum where blind and partially sighted persons established the right to speak for themselves. Eliminating prejudice, promoting belief in the proven abilities of blind and partially sighted people, as well as achieving full participation and equality in society, involves three of the main issues of WBU’s goals and objectives. ​​

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