WBU Newsletter: Global Outlook – December 2022 Issue

December 22, 2022 1:04 pm Published by


Dear Reader,

Welcome to the first edition of the WBU’s electronic newsletter, Global Outlook! You’ll receive this short, informative newsletter straight into your inbox every two months. We hope you enjoy. Please feel free to share with others who may be interested.

We are already in the holiday spirits here at the WBU, and we are so excited to be closing the year on such a high note! We have great plans in store for next year and we can’t wait to roll them out. Please stay tuned for more to come in the near future.

We have had a busy year here at the WBU with the organization engaging in many areas to help us reach our goal, a world in which all those who are blind or partially sighted can participate fully in any aspect of life we choose.

Elsewhere in this newsletter, our President, Martine Abel-Williamson, and our CEO, Marc Workman, will tell you how the organization is doing and some of the plans that we have for the near future. Additionally, WBU Senior Advisor for Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development, Benjamin Dard, has a roundup of the progress we are making in advocating for urban development that is inclusive and accessible. We will also share some progress on our work to promote the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty.

Please continue reading to see what we have been up to and what we hope to accomplish in the next little while.

Feel free to share with others. If anyone reading this newsletter wants to subscribe to receive future editions of Global Outlook, just send a quick note to info@wbu.ngo.



World Blind Union President Martine Abel-Williamson donning a white cap with WBU Logo

World Blind Union President Martine Abel-Williamson donning a white cap with WBU Logo

Dear friend,

It’s such a pleasure to write to you as part of our brand-new electronic newsletter. I look forward to sharing regular updates with you through the WBU’s Global Outlook. This newsletter is for you, our members and supporters, and it will grow and evolve over time based on your feedback. Please reach out to us if you have any comments or suggestions.

This has been quite the year for the World Blind Union, as I know it has been for you as well. We welcomed our new CEO in January and there has been no shortage of activities since then. Although we haven’t yet fully left the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, we are starting to enter a rebuilding phase. I’m excited to begin the process of getting back to normal, including the ability to travel and interact with the grassroots in person, which is something I love to do! Our community has certainly shown tremendous resilience during what has been a very difficult time, and I know we will come back stronger than ever.

More than resilience, our community has also shown incredible generosity and compassion this year. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the WBU created the Ukrainian Unity Fund where those wishing to assist Ukrainians who are blind or partially sighted could channel their support. The response was overwhelming, particularly around the We’re With You benefit concert in April. I was deeply moved by the outpouring of support, and I’m happy that WBU can do its small part to assist in this very difficult time. Support has already started flowing to Ukraine and will continue into next year. This is only possible thanks to the many individuals – both blind and sighted – and the many WBU member organizations who generously donated to this cause. Thank you for your kindness and generosity.

December is always one of my favorite times of year. Not only do I love the holidays, but this is the month in which we celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3 and Human Rights Day on December 10. You’ll find a link to our statement for this year’s IDPD elsewhere in this newsletter. I hope you were able to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities this year and to reflect on the progress we’ve made so far as well as the path that still lies ahead of us. I look forward to working with you to continue our fight for a world that is free from discrimination where people with disabilities can fully participate in their communities.

I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter. I welcome any feedback you may have. If you celebrate any holidays this month, I hope your celebrations are joyful and re-energizing. Have a great rest of 2022 and we’ll connect again in 2023!


Martine Abel-Williamson, WBU President



World Blind Union CEO Marc Workman smiling brightly under a bright sun and in a grey polo shirt.

World Blind Union CEO Marc Workman smiling brightly under a bright sun and in a grey polo shirt.

Dear colleague:

It has been almost one year since I joined the WBU in the role of CEO on January 24, 2022. Over these past 11 months, I’ve learned a great deal about this organization and about the many wonderful people and organizations working to improve the lives of blind people around the world.

I am so grateful for this opportunity, but I also recognize the tremendous responsibility that comes with a role like this. There are huge challenges facing those who are blind or partially sighted, and many people and organizations count on the World Blind Union to act as the global voice for those who are blind or partially sighted.

Whether the challenge has to do with armed conflict as in Ukraine, or natural disasters as in Pakistan, or simply discriminatory attitudes that persist throughout the world, the WBU exists as a platform for advocacy and building capacity within and across the entire global blindness movement. And though these challenges are great, our commitment to equality and justice is even greater. I am confident we will continue to break down barriers as a united community, and in doing so, create a world where people who are blind or partially sighted can live the lives they choose.

I thank those many individuals I’ve gotten to know this past year for warmly welcoming me into this organization. I’m also grateful to the WBU Secretariat team for all of their hard work on behalf of the WBU. There has been a lot to learn, and I appreciate the support, patience, and guidance I’ve received in my time here.

I want to acknowledge that the blindness movement has lost a number of giants in the last few months. We were deeply saddened at the passing of Rodolfo Cattani in September and, more recently, the loss of Scott LaBarre earlier in December. Both men contributed in immeasurable ways to the global blindness movement, and although our path forward will be much harder without them, we know they would want us to continue building on their many contributions to our movement, so that is what we shall do.

I’m looking forward to the year ahead. You can expect to see some exciting initiatives around member engagement, communications, urban development, the Marrakesh Treaty, and many other areas. Please stay tuned for future editions of Global Outlook to learn more about what’s happening across the global blindness movement.

In solidarity,

Marc Workman, WBU CEO



Marrakesh Treaty workshop

The WBU was pleased to hold a three-day training workshop on the Marrakesh Treaty in Nairobi, Kenya in October 2022 with representatives of national organizations of the blind from at least 14 African countries. The Marrakesh Treaty holds a lot of promise, but we have yet to realize its full potential. As such, the theme of the workshop was “Moving from Ratification to Implementation”.

During the workshop, participants discussed experiences within their own countries and shared strategies on how to move from ratification to implementation. This workshop was a beginning, not a conclusion. A strategy document was produced as a result of participant feedback, and over the course of the next year, WBU will work with member organizations across Africa and elsewhere in the world to put this strategy into practice and push for full implementation of Marrakesh.

This training would not have been possible without support from our partners. We offer our sincere thanks to the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, the International Disability Alliance, and our regional affiliate, the African Union of the Blind for your support to make this workshop a success.


Meeting with UN Habitat in Nairobi

The World Blind Union President Martine Abel-Williamson, it’s CEO Marc Workman, and the Communications Specialist Fridah Mlemwa, visited the UN-Habitat offices in Nairobi, Kenya in October to discuss the crucial partnership between UN Habitat and the WBU. UN Habitat is a key partner for WBU when it comes to our work on inclusive and accessible urban development.

The meeting in October provided an excellent opportunity for senior officials with WBU and UN Habitat to reflect on this partnership and identify ways to strengthen our collaboration in the years to come.


UCLG World Congress in Daejeon

World Blind Union CEO Marc Workman in the middle in a blue suit holding a white cane surrounded by WBU staff and partners at UCLG conference in Daejon, South Korea

World Blind Union CEO Marc Workman in the middle in a blue suit holding a white cane surrounded by WBU staff and partners at UCLG conference in Daejon, South Korea

Earlier this year, the World Blind Union was invited by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) to take part, for the second time, in the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders held from October 10 to 14 in Daejeon, South Korea. The Daejeon UCLG World Congress gathered participants from over 140 countries and 1,000 cities from all over the world. One key outcome of the Congress was the adoption of the Pact for the Future of Humanity.

Why this matters for WBU

Since COVID-19, the role of local governments has become ever more important to ensure no one and no place is left behind. Local authorities have the power and mandate to tackle the complex issues that have created barriers for people who are blind or partially sighted. Cities decide on physical and digital infrastructure, access to public services and spaces, education, employment, Disaster Risk Reduction and climate action, transportation, mobility and more.

In Daejeon, the WBU met with the local municipal movement, local leadership and international actors to discuss ways to solve today’s challenges that impact persons with disabilities the most including climate change, poverty and exclusion, disasters and humanitarian emergencies.

The work of WBU at the Congress

WBU was the main global Organisation of Persons with Disabilities represented at the Congress, and we took part in many dialogues and sessions to share our experience, tools and expertise. WBU led the coordination of an Accessibility Caucus together with a diverse network of partners and allies who have been actively engaged in promoting cities for all and supporting implementation of accessibility and the New Urban Agenda at the local level.

Building on the work completed since the previous UCLG Congress and the advocacy work on the New Urban Agenda, the WBU and the Accessibility Caucus have worked to ensure that the progress and commitments made by cities, local and regional governments towards inclusive and accessible cities, are not forgotten or compromised but instead put into action.

For more information, please visit our YouTube channel and learn more about the WBU and the Accessibility Caucus.

Benjamin Dard, WBU Senior Advisor for Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development


Officers meeting in Nairobi

The WBU held its fall officers meeting this year in Nairobi, Kenya in early December. Over the course of four days, the Officers provided updates on key activities, reviewed financial matters and adopted a budget, discussed many challenging subjects, and made numerous decisions that will set the course for WBU in 2023.,

The location of this meeting also created opportunities to meet with key partners such as UN Habitat, the African Union of the Blind, and United Disabled People of Kenya. We thank the WBU Secretariat staff for their support with organizing this meeting and the WBU Officers for their dedication and participation.


Statement on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The WBU celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2022. You can read our statement by visiting https://worldblindunion.org/blog/2022/12/03/statement-of-the-world-blind-union-on-international-day-of-persons-with-disabilities-december-3-2022/.


Access European Blind Union’s latest podcast. As part of their PARVIS project, the EBU has launched an Inclusive Education episode, which you can find in the following link: https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-h3ngg-12980c3?utm_campaign=w_share_ep&utm_medium=dlink&utm_source=w_share


We want to celebrate our members and all of the great work happening around the world. Together we are achieving great things—the work we do matters. Your success can be an inspiration to others. So let’s keep each other in the loop of what is happening or set to happen. Write to us with your latest news. Email info@wbu.ngo with any updates.



Fire in Uganda

It was a tragedy to learn of the passing of young souls at Salama school for the blind in Uganda in late October 2022.

On the night of 24th October, 12 children ages four to 13 perished from a fire that broke out in one of the girl’s dormitories. The school’s head teacher Francis Kirube, who is also blind, told the media that the flames swept through the dormitory as the pupils slept. Salama School for the Blind is in Mukono district’s Luga village in Eastern Uganda. Salama was built in April 1999 by the local government in Mukono and serves children and young adults between the ages of six and 25.

We have called upon authorities to thoroughly investigate what went on and to put in place measures to ensure a tragedy like this never occurs again.

Help Salama Blind school raise funds to rebuild after the devastating fire. Click here to donate https://www.gofundme.com/f/eedz7x-help-salama-blind-school-after-devastating-fire?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet



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This post was written by Marc Workman