Gerald Dirks Scholarship for Advancement of Braille Literacy and Post-Secondary Education for Blind and Partially Sighted Persons


The scholarship, established in 2013, recognizes Dr. Gerald Dirks’ passion for and extensive use of Braille throughout his distinguished academic career. Dr. Dirks held the position of Professor in the Politics department at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada where he combined a successful teaching career with research and writing.

The World Blind Union (WBU) acknowledges with appreciation the inaugural gift in support of this scholarship from Dr. Patricia Dirks, Gerald’s widow; and further by designated donations from family, friends, former colleagues and other supporters.


The scholarship honors Gerald’s commitment to Braille literacy, inclusive education for blind and partially sighted children, support of post-secondary education for blind and partially sighted persons and the expansion of employment opportunities for blind and partially sighted adults by furthering these causes within the African Union of the Blind.


  1. Applicants must be blind or partially sighted women and men between the ages of 18 and 35 years from the African Union of the Blind.
  2. Applicants are expected to possess Braille reading and writing skills.
  3. Preference will be given to candidates who have pre-requisite education or training to qualify either as a teacher of blind or partially sighted pupils; or train as a teaching assistant working alongside a qualified teacher in the classroom; or be involved in a creative Braille literacy project. The scholarship may also be awarded to eligible blind or partially sighted post-secondary education students studying for a career in the public service, the professions or the non-profit sector.

Application Guidelines

  1. Application letters to be received by June 30 of any year. Letter to outline how the scholarship will be used and include a high level budget to a maximum of USD $1000.
  2. Application to be supported by a letter from a recognized organization of or for the blind from within the country where the applicant resides or from a World Blind Union in-country representative. This letter should describe the applicant’s proficiency in the use of Braille.
  3. Applications must be accompanied by a 500 word essay by the applicant describing the proposed course of study or program and the applicant’s career aspirations.
  4. The World Blind Union’s Dr. Gerald Dirks Scholarship Committee will review all eligible applications to select one or more recipients annually. All decisions of the Selection Committee are final.
  5. Complete applications should be submitted either electronically to the World Blind Union, or mailed in print or Braille to the World Blind Union Dr. Gerald Dirks Scholarship Committee, 1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4G 3E8.
  6. The funds will be advanced to the successful applicant by electronic transfer to the supporting association.
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