Clear Print guidelines

The EBU clear print guidelines are available (pdf format, January 2017). The document offers basic principles with good practice examples for printed documents that you can easily apply. The guidelines are also available in German, and Lithuanian (pdf files July, 2017). For fuller information on the accessiblity of information, see our Making Information Accessible For All page.


As for all children, it is vital for young blind and partially sighted youngsters to have access to and enjoy a good education. Inclusive education helps to build an inclusive society. Inclusive education teaches visually impaired and sighted children to learn and play together, making the concept of diversity and equality a practical and natural way of thinking for them.

EBU supports Inclusive education, provided that adequate support is guaranteed for blind and partially sighted students. To this aim EBU started important partnerships with  the International Council for Education and Rehabilitation of People with Visual Impairment, Europe (ICEVI-Europe) and the Inclusive Mobility Alliance (IMA), an alliance of European organisations aiming at promoting inclusive mobility for students and youth from a number of disadvantaged and underrepresented groups.


'Erasmus+ Mobility of Students with Disability'

In order to obtain a clear picture of the possibilities and barriers of exchange programs for university students with visual impairments (VI), EBU and ICEVI-Europe have set up a research group. The research group consists of a researcher from ELTE University Bárczi Faculty of Special Education, Budapest (Hungary), a specialist in visual impairment from ICEVI-Europe, a university disability coordinator from Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovakia) and a member of EBU. The research group has gathered information about the experience of students with VI and Erasmus+ coordinators, resulting in the following documents;

  • Recommendations for students with visual impairment participating in international exchange programmes (pdf)
    The aim of this brochure is to motivate blind and partially sighted students to participate in international mobility with the Erasmus+ program and to help them prepare for a successful academic experience and stay abroad. Information, recommendations, questions and messages are mainly drawn from the above-mentioned surveys and project materials. But other resources, recommendations and initiatives pursuing the same goal - promoting engagement, equal opportunities and implementing measures that will ensure the conditions for active participation are also used. .
  • A report 'Erasmus+ Mobility of Students with Disability'
    A State-of-the-art report on the accessibility of exchange programs for students with visual impairments jointly produced with ICEVI Europe which intends to obtain a clear picture of the possibilities and barriers of exchange programs for university students with visual impairments.
  • Pilot Survey report among Erasmus+ and Disability Coordinators,
    The main objective of this report is to describe the situation in and access to mobility of students with visual impairment in different higher education institutions which accept Erasmus students with disabilities.
  • Accessible Universities for Erasmus+ Students with Visual Impairment
    This document reports on the outcomes of the activities of the common project in its 2nd phase. The activities were aimed at investigating the opinions, experiences and suggestions of Erasmus+ mobility participants, and employees of universities involved in arranging international mobility programmes for students with visual impairment.
  • The 'Pedagogy and Language Learning for Blind and Partially Sighted Adults in Europe' project ran from 2008 to 2010 and aimed at Improving the accessibility of language learning for visually impaired (VI) persons. The final document 'Good practice for improving language learning for visually impaired adults' is now available in pdf format in Czech, English, French, Greek and Slovak.


Nearly 90% of all blind and partially sighted Europeans are over the age of 60, and two thirds are over the age of 65. Elderly people with sight loss may have additional health problems such as loss of hearing and reduced physical mobility.

They find it more difficult to learn new ways to adapt to their new condition and to cope with daily tasks. They are less likely to have access to adequate rehabilitation programmes or have the opportunity to register as disabled, because they feel it is ‘just part of growing old.' Agencies providing services to older people may have low awareness of sight problems. Consequently older people may be less aware of the support services available to them, and are at increased risk of isolation.


  • View the EBU Age Related video (The video is also available with a voice-over in Croatian) or read the text transcription
  • EBU closely follows all issues affecting the elderly and produced a concept paper (pdf 88 ko) on how to engage with them.
  • The new EBU information paper 'Rehabilitation and Older People with Acquired Sight Loss' (word).
    Also available in French, German and Spanish.
  • A Tale of Three Cities, a partnership project between the European Blind Union and the European Guide Dog Federation with additional collaborative support and assistance from Age Platform Europe. This looks at the experiences of a cross section of blind and partially sighted elderly people in three European cities, Tullamore in Ireland, Salzburg in Austria and Marseille in France. The resulting Tale of Three Cities report (pdf), uses specific criteria to examine the experiences of older people in adapting to poor vision whilst endeavouring to continue accessing the communities in which they live.
  • BIOVI report (pdf file) on two big projects took on in order to secure access to information for visually impaired people in Iceland, with special attention to the needs of senior citizens with visual impairments.
  • The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe 2012 Ministerial Conference in Ageing ‘Ensuring a Society for all Ages'. Alan Suttie (Co-ordinator, Elderly Network, since deceased) attended this meeting as an invited representative on behalf of European Blind Union (EBU) and with support from World Blind Union (WBU) who have United Nations (UN) consultative status. Download Ensuring a Society for all Ages report (.doc 25ko), and the Ministerial Declaration (pdf 381 ko)

Employment, rehabilitation and vocational training

Blind and partially sighted Europeans are undoubtedly among the most vulnerable and least visible members of society. For the most part they are at the bottom end of the earnings league.

Poverty and social exclusion are inextricably linked and are caused by a complex combination of factors. Poor education and housing, unemployment and inadequate social protection, inaccessible information, transport and the built environment, negative attitudes and prejudices in society are all factors that lead to exclusion.

Rehabilitation and vocational training are closely related to employment and a decent income. All blind and partially sighted people should have access to these services and EBU advocates minimum quality standards. EBU is currently working on a study, 'The situation of blind and partially sighted people regarding  employment in Europe after 10 years of the UN CRPD : Challenges and opportunities' led by our Spanish member, ONCE.


The Hidden Majority (HM)

The Reports

A series of studies (word) of economic inactivity among blind and partially sighted people in

The Summary Reports

A summary report (word) written in 2013 of the Hidden Majority studies in Sweden, Germany, Romania, Netherlands, Poland, France and Austria is now available. This report is now available in the languages of the countries covered (word): Swedish, German, Romanian, Dutch, Polish, French and also Spanish.

The HM 'How To' Manual

A "how to" manual (word)l was also developed to help the EBU members produce their own HM report. In order to further assist countries wishing to produce a HM report of their own, this document is now available in (word) Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Slovak, Slovenian, and Spanish.

See also useful links for more employment resourses

Transport and the built environment

Outdoor mobility presents difficulties for blind and partially sighted people. The design of vehicles as well as infrastructure such as stations and stops, many of the standards for which are set at European level, affect how easy or not it is for blind and partially sighted women, men and children to travel. The growing number of electric vehicle (EV) and electric-hybrid vehicles (EHV) is a fundamental concern to blind and partially sighted people. Due to the strong intervention of the European Blind Union, the European Union and the UNECE (United Nations economic Commission for Europe) have addressed the necessity for additional artificial sound generation for electric and electric hybrid vehicles, more on this in our campaigns section.


  • Assistance dogs -Travelling in and out of Europe following Brexit (02/03/2021)

    Following the UK’s exit from the EU at the end of 2020, the rules applying to travelling with a guide or assistance dog have changed. These are detailed in the links below, however, always check with your vet before you plan to travel. The new rules discriminate against persons with disabilities who wish to travel from the UK into Europe with their guide dog, as a new Animal Health Certificate (AHC) must be obtained for each and every trip out of the UK. For most people travelling with a dog is a choice; for a person with disabilities who relies on their guide dog, this is an essential. This means that short notice trips will be impossible to arrange, whether for business, pleasure or family matters. Each trip will incur a substantial additional cost, extra planning and time taken spent in the process involved obtaining the AHC. This is in addition to the current discrimination often experienced when travelling with a guide dog and highlights the inequalities suffered compared with other travellers. EGDF is engaging with MEP’s, the European Disability Forum, the European Blind Union and other Assistance Dog Organisations to campaign to create a level playing field.Travellers to Europe or Northern Ireland from the UK with their guide or assistance dog will no longer be able to use a UK issued EU Pet Passport.

    Detailed guidance for travelling into Europe or Northern Ireland can be found here

    For those travelling from the European Union into the UK however, rules have not changed and are detailed in the link below

    Detailed Guidance for travelling into the UK from Europe or Northern Ireland can be found here

  • In 2019, EBU invited its member organisations to submit examples of best practices on the accessibility of mobility for visually impaired persons. These were compiled into a brochure.
    The brochure is available (pdf files) in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish and Turkish.
    This present brochure documents best practices towards independent and safe mobility from across Europe. It is structured in three clusters, which reflect important and interlocking areas of accessible mobility: legislation and standards, built environment and infrastructure and lastly digital solutions. A short discussion section complements these chapters in order to contextualise some pertinent issues on the safety and independency of mobility for visually impaired persons.
    The full document of the selected best practice, submitted by our Slovenian member, on Strategic Accessibility Planning, is available (pdf document).
  • 2019, EBU published a report to the European Commission’s DG Mobility and Transport, unit “Social Aspects, Passenger Rights & Equal Opportunities” entitled 'Most frequent problems experienced by blind and partially sighted persons when travelling by air' (pdf document).
  • In 2011, the EBU Commission on Transport and Mobility conducted a survey on the rights of VI air passengers to assess the impact of the Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 of 5 July 2006 on VI air passengers. Read the final report (word) "Survey report on the implementation of the EU Regulation concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility (PRMs) when travelling by air and its impact on visually impaired passengers' air travel experience"

See also useful links for more transport resources


The Roads That Lead To The Top: a video on blind and partially sighted women’s leadership, a short video portraying the stories of ten women who are blind or partially sighted and traces the paths they followed towards pursuing their dreams.
There is also a transcript of the video content, this is also available in French, German and Spanish (word files).

NEW! (02/2021) On the occasion of the 2021 International Women’s Day, EBU launched the 2021 – 2023 Gender Equality Committee Action Plan. EBU fosters equal opportunities for both genders to full participation and aims at increasing the representation of women in decision making positions. This means raising awareness on the added value of diversity and on the right to equal opportunities, and also the empowerment of women to take their rightful place in society.

Leadership training and women´s forums organised by EBU gave women the opportunity to learn skills and to strengthen their network.

In 2018 EBU implemented a four-year activity, called GEAR - Gender Equality Awareness-Raising. On 14 - 16 June in Malmö (Sweden) the biggest event of this project took place. It was the GEAR conference. Our EBU Fous newsletter looks at the conference in detail. It is available in English, French, Spanish, and German, and in .doc only in Polish, Serbian and Turkish.
Audio files of the conference are now available, each mp3 file covers half a day of the conference: Friday afternoon, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning.
The results and conclusions of the conference can be found in the 2019 Malmö Declaration. Blind and partially sighted women who are interested in joining the EBU women´s network can contact and our secretary general Maria Kyriacou at


Covid 19 resources and information

The Covid 19 / Corona Virus crisis situation has had a worldwide impact. EBU is publishing here relevant information, good practices and advice which will be updated on a regular basis.(last update -20/01/2021)

EBU Information

  • In September 2020 EBU published a position paper as a result of its' work around the Covid19 crisis. In this document EBU attempts to draw some key lessons learned from the crisis. We do so in the hope that those lessons learned will greatly help societies at large to be more inclusive for visually impaired people moving forward; whether in a situation of a major crisis or at “normal” times.We build on ongoing feedback we gathered from our members across Europe throughout the lockdown phase, but also on a series of specific interviews we conducted after most countries started lifting those measures. This document is now also available in Montengrin.
  • On June 04 the European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights took written questions from the public in a chat on the topic: “A fair and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis”.
    Via Twitter, EBU submitted the following question:
    The Commission Work Programme for 2020, as adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, still makes no mention of persons with disabilities. As always, persons with disabilities will largely fall out of the radar of victims of the resulting economic crisis, due to a persistent lack of reliable and useful statistics at EU level. Question: how concretely can the EU ensure that it delivers on its commitment and obligation to include disabled persons in the jobs market, if it lacks the necessary statistical tools, and what does the Commission plan to do about it?
    We received the following rather specific and instructive reply:
    Thanks for your question European Blind Union.
    The European Commission is well aware of the problem related to statistics. Until now only statistics on employment were available via EU-SILC. However, the Commission focused on this important topic as it is essential to have clear data.
    That is why disability questions are soon to be included into the Labour Force Survey. On this issue,  it is also important to stress that there is a real correlation between the data collected from SILC and the ones collected from the Labour Force Survey as demonstrated with the two Labour Force Survey ad hoc modules on employment of persons with disabilities. This way, it is possible for the Commission to address the situation of persons with disabilities in both the European Semester and the Joint Employment Report. Finally, some measures have been implemented in the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, such as several studies, peer reviews, studies or collection of best practices in the Disability High Level Group reports etc.(end of reply)
    For your full information, after having had to look into it Antoine Fobe can report that:
    EU-SILC is the EU statistics on Income and Living Conditions, which aims to collect timely and comparable cross-sectional and longitudinal multidimensional microdata on income, poverty, social exclusion and living conditions. EU-SILC data also provide quantitative evidence for monitoring the implementation of the social protection and inclusion dimension of the European Pillar of Social Rights. All statistics under the Income and Living conditions (ILC) domain in the Eurostat dissemination database are EU-SILC data. The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is a large household sample survey providing quarterly results on labour participation of people aged 15 and over as well as on persons outside the labour force. LFS surveys are conducted by the national statistical institutes across Europe and are centrally processed by Eurostat.
  • In June 2020, as many countries were gradually easing lockdown measures, EBU's Focus newletter, in 7 languages, was entitled 'Learning from the Covid Crisis' and contains interviews with other international organisations and an MEP, on the management of the crisis and what can be taken forward from it.
  • EBU published its call for an accessible and inclusive response to the crisis.
  • The March EBU Member's Newsletter including practical handwashing advice, including links to a video and audio file.
  • The 21st EBU Access Cast podcast contains lots of useful tips for these troubled times.
  • EBU Executive Director Lars Bosselmann was interviewed for a second time on the RNIB Connect Radio programme about the COVID crisis and EBU's ongoing work, on 23 June. The first interview from April is still available. See more information on the RNIB Connect radio website.
  • EBU Executive Director Lars Bosselmann was interviewed on the BBC In Touch radio programme, along with other contributors, on the theme of social distancing and leaving lockdown. Lars arrived as EBU Director on the very day lockdown was introduced, and so has had to come to terms with a new job, flat and city, all within the context of lockdown. Other contributors include Kirsten Hearn, a blind listener, Peter Brass, a board member of the German Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted, and Professor Robert Dingwall, a sociologist with a public health specialism based at Nottingham Trent University. The programme is presented by Peter White.

Advice and information from EBU member countries

  • Austria
    Our Austrian member reports that local branches offer various assistance for members, for example going shopping for them, explaining how they can be as safe as possible, offering online meetings instead of face-to-face meetings, etc. On a national level, their disability council sent out two letters to the government, asking for financial support for disability organisations in addition to the financial support that businesses are receiving, and to make sure that all technical services offered during the crisis will be accessible. And of course they report on theirhomepage and in newsletters on the current situation.
  • Belgium
    Our Belgian member has a specific Covid 19 information page (in French) for visually impaired citizens, and at National Government level the 'Conseil Supérieur National des Personnes Handicapées' also has a specific page (in French). They have also published their information page in Dutch. On March 16, 2020, Brailleliga /Ligue Braille had to close its offices due to the Covid-19 crisis. During lockdown theyvcontinued to help blind and visually impaired members from a distance. For example, they launched a new initiative “Telephone tales”. Members could make an appointment to receive a relaxing phone call, during which one of the volunteer storytellers reads a tale to the visually impaired person. They launched this initiative to give members an opportunity to break through their isolation and to offer them a short escape to a fantasy world during these challenging times. Since 25 May, thevoffices are gradually reopening. They are making every effort to resume our normal service, subject to safety regulations.
  • Denmark
    In the Danish Association of the Blind we have been actively following the national development and been particularly concerned with the distribution of information to all including blind and partially sighted persons. We have with great success collaborated with our national umbrella organisation DPOD and have through this collaboration sought to influence the Danish authorities to include persons with disabilities in their initiatives. Thus on the official webpage providing information on the current situation restrictions, prevention of Covid-19, contact to the GPs and hospitals a section is particularly dedicated to all questions related to persons with disabilities and other particularly vulnerable groups.

    In DAB we have had a particular focus on the wellbeing of all members. We have through our team of social workers reached out to all members to see how they are handling the situation, if they have experienced challenges or changes in the help and assistance they normally receive or if they generally feel ok in this uncertain situation. The response from members to this outreach has been extremely positive. Some members have faced challenges since their assistance for e.g. cleaning and other daily activities have been cut back and many report on a feeling of loneliness since their activities are cancelled and since they feel at risk and unable to leave their homes. Through the outreach from DAB members feel they are seen and that someone actually cares about their wellbeing.

    Finally, it should be mentioned that on the introduction of lockdown it was announced that all production and distribution of audiobooks and other material would be put on pause. Since reading is one of the few activities blind and partially sighted can continue to engage in from the comfort of home DAB launched strong efforts to change this situation. Fortunately the work has paid off and members now have access to materials again at least to some extent. In DAB we continue to follow the situation closely, and in the organisation we are prepared to engage with the challenges as they arise. For us the main issues are to continue the close collaboration with the umbrella organisation to ensure we reach the health authorities with our concerns and needs and simultaneously keep in close contact with our members to be able to assist and also spot unfortunate trends and situations.

  • France
    In France, the Federation des Aveugles de France (FAF) have a full information section with practical advice, (in French) as does (also in French) the Association Valentin Hauy

    The French Federation for the Blind and Partially Sighted and the French Rare Diseases Network SENSGENE created a series of short films to explain to visually impaired people how to protect themselves in times of COVID-19 epidemic. These films are now adapted in a 2-minute video in English by the European Reference Network ERN-EYE.

    Some moves are more difficult to perform for blind and partially sighted people who may also be more vulnerable to the virus COVID-19. How can protective measures be respected when sight is replaced by touch? This is the topic of this short video with audio description: Washing your hands, going out, putting on a mask or knowing if you are vulnerable to COVID-19.The goal is to make blind and partially sighted people and their relatives aware of the good practices to adopt.

    This video provide useful information about protective measures that require more vigilance so that they are carried out properly by both the visually impaired and their family or caregiver. And even more widely because it's up to all of us!

    These films were made by Dowino creative studio in France. They have been adapted in English by ERN-EYE with the help of one of the ePAG patients. Find more information about COVID-19 protective measures and recommendations in English on and in French on  and The full video is available in English and French.

  • Germany
    The German Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted has set-up a corona guidebook page on its homepage with relevant information in these time, for instance regarding:
    - the opening times of Ophthalmologists and provided care,
    - safe wearing of contact lenses and COVID-19,
    - an interview with a prominent German virologists giving advice for people with visual impairments,
    - other reliable sources of information on the health issues concerning corona,
    - Information for professionals on their rights when working from home,
    - our service ‘focus on the eye’: advice currently only available by telephone or online
    - good information on how to keep a safe distance during this period.
    All this information and more, in German, is available at:
    Regarding campaigning to convince our national authorities and decision-makers to provide the accessibility of public health information they are working with the national umbrella organization German Disability Council and sending letters to relevant government bodies, for instance to the German chancellor’s spokesperson. They demanded accessible formats of health information. The government printed information on COVID-19 in braille. Here you can find their statement: have alsostarted a campaign on the occasion of International Children's Book Day on 2 April 2020: “Without books in quarantine - DBSV starts fundraising campaign for more children's tacticle books”. So also using this occasion to raise awareness regarding the lack of tactile children’s books which are very costly and time intensive in production. Here you can find the statement:ücher-in-der-quarantäne.html
    The local branches provide information also in German) on:

    Delivery of supermarket chains

    How to deal with anxiety

    Where to find help

    Which activities one can do at home: listening to concerts, tv shows with audio description, audio books

    Using assistive technology while teleworking

  • Ireland
    Our Irish member, NCBI, ensured the accessibility of the offical Covid app. Thanks to the involvement of the NCBI Advocacy department and NCBI Labs, Ireland has one of the most accessible Covid-19 tracking apps in the world.  The advocacy team contacted the HSE in late April on learning of the app being developed stressing how important it would be to ensure the app was accessible to people who are blind and vision impaired. A number of NCBI advocates raised this issue with the HSE and the Government also.  These actions resulted in the HSE considering the needs of people who are blind and vision impaired and them acquiring the expert services of NCBI Labs who worked closely with the app developers to ensure the app was fully accessible to our community.

    What is it?

    Launched by the HSE and Department of Health on Tuesday 7th July, the Covid Tracking app will help us to protect each other and slow the spread of Covid 19 in Ireland. It is a free and easy to use app available from the App Store and Google Play Store that has three specific functions:

    1. Digital contact tracing of close contacts of confirmed cases of Covid-19
    2. Allow users to record if they have symptoms
    3. Provide daily information about Covid-19 from a trusted source

    How does it work?
    Once you open the app, you will be asked for permission to collect and share anonymous data in order to facilitate contact tracing. You also have the option to add your phone number so the HSE can contact you if you are thought to be in need of a test. It should all take less than two minutes, and you're up and running.

  • Italy
    Mario Barbuto, President of our our Italian member UICI states: First of all I would like to underline that, being well aware that blind and partially sighted people run a greater risk of COVID-19 infection due to the fact that they cannot keep effective social distancing as they may not see where other persons around them are, and they often need personal assistants to accompany them; that they have often to rely on touch to know what is around them and to read Braille; that information is not always accessible, we at UICI -since the beginning of this emergency- have been proactively engaged in finding effective solutions. We are particularly concerned about people suffering from intersectional discrimination, e.g. older blind and partially sighted persons and women with visual disabilities, as well as  about deafblind people and persons with additional disabilities, and all those who live alone.
    UICI has also published he following information and taken the measures below:

    1. A press release was issued in March, which was mentioned in a number of articles published in the main national newspapers. UICI President has been interviewed in different TV and radio programmes, during which he highlighted the main issues/difficulties faced by blind and partially sighted people in the current   COVID-19 emergency.


    It is essential to provide for mandatory assistance, to create a permanent support unit and to allocate resources to organisations/associations that are facing the emergency

    Rome, March 2020 - The measures to prevent and contain the spread of the Coronavirus adopted by the Government and the Regions are putting persons with disabilities at risk of isolation, mainly due to the lack of volunteers and other key support persons/professionals.

    Coronavirus is creating huge inconveniences especially for people with disabilities and their families. In Italy there are over 360,000 totally blind persons and over a million and a half partially sighted people, and persons with visual and additional disabilities. They are in great difficulty because their disability does not allow them to always respect the safety distance from others and because they are forced to self-confinement at home, without the assistance of support volunteers.

    Moreover, in many cases, they are unable to perform work from home and complain of serious mobility problems to reach the workplace, both for the significant lack of personal assistants/guides, and because the latter, when available, are often denied entry to places to be reached together with the accompanied person.

    It is therefore essential that home care is guaranteed to meet at least the primary needs for food, medicines, treatment or accompanying service to reach the workplace (where there is no possibility of working from home). Furthermore, the measures already partially provided for in the Decree-Law no. 14/2020 containing "Urgent provisions for the strengthening of the National Health Service in relation to the COVID-19 emergency" must be strengthened and made mandatory, establishing the duty, and not the right, for local authorities to provide assistance and support to people with disabilities.

    The national associations of persons with disabilities, in particular UICI with its 21 regional branches, 107 local offices, subsections and related institutions, in these frantic weeks are playing an active role disseminating information and giving psychological and operational support, often substituting for the Public institutions, but they are beginning to be exhausted.

    To cope with this situation, it would be crucial to establish a permanent coordination unit -to be organized in agreement with the most representative associations- in charge of the daily management and identification of the needs and requirements of people with disabilities. Equally fundamental is the allocation of dedicated resources both to the Associations and for vouchers provided by the State to be used for the necessary support from volunteers who are currently missing.

    "Health emergencies require drastic measures but, as a representative association of blind and partially sighted Italian persons, we feel the duty to highlight the current critical issues and make ourselves available to collaborate with the Institutions to identify and implement the right solutions together” - declared UICI national President Mario Barbuto. “This year also marks the UICI foundation centenary, the celebrations of which we will resume in dozens of Italian cities as soon as this nightmare is over. It is an event that recalls a hundred years of battles led by blind people to gain basic rights such as care, education, employment, i.e. true social inclusion."»
    2) Steps to convince national authorities and decision-makers at large to implement measures based on equal treatment and inclusion.

    -UICI has been constantly monitoring the Government measures, which might need to be “steered”, interpreted and corrected, especially when they lead to confusion and disorientation. UICI President has participated, to this aim, in a number of TV and radio programmes and interviews.

    - Slash Radio, the UICI web radio, has been going on with its usual and special programmes, resulting to be a useful resource for giving regular updates, disseminating information and raising awareness on the specific COVID-19-related problems for blind and partially sighted people.

    - UICI called for and obtained the  reactivation, -with the necessary caution, of course- of the National Civilian Service projects foreseeing the work of volunteers to help organisations in their ordinary  activities, as well as to provide personal accompanying services to persons with visual disabilities.

    - UICI constantly carried out awareness-raising activities towards the general public, the government and local institutions/authorities, both directly and through FAND and FISH, the two main national disability federations. As a consequence, the disability office of the Italian Presidency of the Council has just disseminated a survey/questionnaire, which is aimed to gather information on the state of the art, issues and good practice regarding inclusive education services; alternative services to the currently closed day-care centres for persons with disabilities; home care assistance for non-self-sufficient persons; and mobility, as well as any other relevant information. Although some important issues/questions are missing in the survey, it is in any case a step in the right direction.

    - UICI has purchased a considerable quantity of masks to be distributed to all its local offices in order to protect executives, employees and volunteers already working to support people with visual disabilities, in particular those who live alone or are very old or suffering very severe discomfort. Since this might not be sufficient in the long run, UICI has called on the Extraordinary Administrator in charge of the strengthening of needed hospital facilities to face the COVID-19 emergency, and on the head of the Civil protection department for them to provide UICI with surgical masks, disposable gloves and sanitizing detergents to be delivered to its local branches, for the next few months.
    3) On the more practical side, good practice in terms of providing assistance to perform daily living activities such as shopping, access to information and  leisure, in difficult contexts (non availability of the usual facilities and services, confinement…).

    Everybody at UICI, both at the head office and at the local branches, has been working together to facilitate the daily life of blind and partially sighted people in the current times of confinement and distancing.

    - A general information service is available two hours per day on Monday-Friday operated by UICI national Board members

    - Remote education support has been put in place:

    * The "At School with you" telephone consultancy service has been established, to inform and guide parents, curricular and support teachers, as well as assistants -in the field autonomy and communication- of blind and partially sighted students.

    * Also the experts from the Educational Resource centres for blind and partially sighted students in different Italian regions are available to give information and support regarding remote education. The Cavazza Institute for the Blind in Bologna, in particular, gives support, upon request, in relation to blindness/low vision-related information technology.

    - The UICI has also published the contact details and relevant time slots of the psychologists-psychotherapists belonging to the "On the same path to grow together" project network, who have made themselves available free of charge to offer listening, comfort and support.

    Moreover UICI has:

    - published an article regarding  the "Specialized Help" service,  recently introduced by Be My Eyes, which allows  users to contact the customer support experts of many companies through the Be My Eyes application. Among these, Google, Microsoft and Pantene. The service is currently available in Italy only in English.

    - signed an agreement with the Italian Red Cross according to  which UICI local branches can ask local Presidents of the Red Cross for support with regard to daily needs of blind and partially sighted people in significant difficulty, such as shopping, etc.. "

    - called on large food distribution chains for them to make available preferential lanes for blind and partially sighted persons (a few of them have put in place such measures).

    There is a dedicated page on UICI website where a lot of information is made available, i.e. useful general and UICI-related information, COVID-19 legislative and regulatory provisions, best practices related to health, school/education and social responsibility, critical issues, initiatives and experiences carried out at the local level, emergency-related articles and interventions by UICI  in the Press, as well as on  Radio and TV programmes. A special section is about the measures adopted in favor of people with disabilities, implemented at an administrative level (INPS, Public Function, and Ministry of Labor).

  • The Netherlands
    Our member from the Netherlands states that
    1. until now no particular advice and warnings were given by the government related to the problems of blind and visually impaired people because of this corona crisis.
    2. There will be a specific meeting with our government (ministry of health services) to discuss the problems and needs of all disabled people in the Netherlands, with as a hopeful outcome what can be done to solve their problems and also to make our society aware that for some of us it is difficult to meet the measures taken As an example (in particular for visually impaired people): to keep a social distance of 1,5m from each other.
    3. As part of a coordinated action of The Eye Association, VISIO en Bartimeus, the eye association itself has sent a short list of tips to their members. VISIO and Bartmeus, professional Dutch organizations for blind and visually impaired people (with advice as one of their tasks), have also sent some information to their clients.  (It must be stressed that these messages are for a particular group of people and not a message to the whole society...).
    The most important advice is:
    A Try to walk and shop with a sighted guide.
    If this is not possible and you walk alone:
    B Use the white cane (blind people) and the recognition stick (visually impaired people) not as an option: it is a must! Obviously it will help the sighted people to recognize and to act accordingly. The recognition stick is shorter than the white cane so it is advisable to keep the stick in an angle before you.
    C if you ask for assistance on the street, it is recommended to keep your distance for instance by using your cane or stick. Is is advisable to take plastic handgloves with you for the person who acts as guide.
    D In the case of shopping it is advisable to inform the store staff of your problems beforehand, and ask them for a “helping hand”. Maybe it is possible to make a phone call in advance and ask the store staff to collect the items needed. It is not possible to use the normal (transport)infrastructure; using public transport apart for work is not recommended for all people, furthermore most special taxi’s for disabled people have stopped their services.
    Most services like the ones of the already mentioned VISIO and Bartimeus are closed, which is also the case in hospitals etc. If there is an emergency case, hospitals are still open.
  • Scotland
    RNIB Scotland issued the following statement as a press release;

    People with diabetes are being advised that their normal routine eye-screening check-ups have been postponed due to the current coronavirus situation. While such check-ups are important in detecting the early signs of diabetic retinopathy, a complication of the disease that can impair vision, it is felt patients run the more serious risk of being infected by the virus if hospital eye clinics remained open as normal.

    Healthcare professionals stress it is very unlikely that anyone would develop diabetic retinopathy during this delay in screening that could not be later treated.

    In the meantime, people with diabetes are urged to look after their general health as best they can, continue to control blood sugar levels, and contact their GP if they feel their diabetic control is not as good as it should be.

    However, should you notice any sudden change in your vision - including double vision, blurring, floating bits or flashes in your vision - call your local optician for advice in the first instance. If needed, they can refer you on to emergency eye care services locally.

    Dr Tasmin Sommerfield, Consultant in Public Health Medicine for Screening from NHS National Services Scotland, said: “Following a risk assessment of the coronavirus situation, and in order to protect vulnerable groups, a recommendation to pause the Diabetic Screening Programme was agreed with the Scottish Government. The Programme will be re-commenced when it’s safe to do so.

    “People with diabetes, who have concerns about changes in their sight during the pause in the Programme, should contact their General Practice, their diabetes specialist or their optician to discuss their concerns.”

    More information can be found on the NHS Inform website, in the Coronavirus section where there is guidance on Immunisation and Screening.

    The RNIB Helpline is also available on (+0044) 0303 123 999 from 8am to 8pm on weekdays, and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.

  • Spain

    ONCE Social Group has again turned its focus in these difficult times to solidarity, both towards our members and employees and towards other citizens.

    We have contacted the 15 000 ONCE members who live alone as well as our deafblind colleagues. Our teachers are making sure the 7 500 student members can study at home. ONCE Foundation has introduced voluntary schemes to reach isolated people with reduced mobility. Our 3D printers are being used to make masks and ventilators for hospitals…and our education centres are being converted into medical care homes.       

    In Ilunion, our staff is cleaning clothes and bedding for hospitals and care homes, running emergency hotlines, disinfecting at-risk areas, and making our hotels, such as Ilunion Atrium and Alcala Norte in Madrid or Alcora in Seville, available to the health authorities.

    Club ONCE, an on-line, members-only space on our web site, has beefed up several of its services:

    1. ONCE digital library: over 62 500 downloadable works.

    2. Audesc video library: over 700 audio-described films.

    3. Stage hands: dramatized works by our members.

    4. Audio library: unique and unrepeatable recordings.

    5. Leisure and cultural magazines.

    6. Training material for self-learning.

    7. App accessibility assessment: our assessment of apps and some handy tips.

    8. On-line ONCE shop.

    9. ‘Integration’ magazine and specialist publications on visual impairment.

    10. Virtual visit to the ONCE Museum for the Blind.

    We are people with the ability to be able and to demonstrate it. Upwards and onwards, colleagues! A longer, more detailed version of this information can be downloaded. (word document)

  • Sweden

    SRF, our Swedish member, states;
    We have information on our web-site about the current situation in regard to Covid-19. It is information from different authorities and information about activities within SRF.

    On the 7th of April persons using braille received information in braille about the current crisis from the Public health agency of Sweden.

    The Public health agency of Sweden have three different brochures about Covid-19 and they are in braille and as MP3-file.

    The Swedish Agency for Accessible media, MTM, have different information in Braille and as audio file on their web site.

    MTM distribute regularly information from The Swedish Civil Contingencies  Agency to all braille readers that are registered at MTM.

    Activities within SRF:

    Radio SRF sends live everyday between 10.00-11.00

    A newsletter to all members are sent by mail every week

    Members over 70 are contacted by phone about the situation

    A poetry circle by phone

    A digital book circle

    We inform our local branches about the possibilities to receive help with shopping from for example Red cross

    Through our social media we highlight the importance of audio descriptions of pictures

Other disability-related resources

  • International Disability Alliance (IDA) Survey on Experience of Persons with Disabilities Adapting to COVID-19 Global Pandemic. The IDA survey is now available in all languages planned including English, International Sign, French, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Serbian and Creole. All links and more information about the survey.
  • The International Disability Alliance launched a report on 'The experience of persons with disabilities on COVID-19' on 29/06/2020
  • The World Blind Union (WBU) have published 19 Actions for an inclusive Covid-19 response, also available in French and Spanish. They have also placed on line a recording of their facebook live seesion on “Orientation and mobility, personal safety in time of Covid-19", and another session on "Home schooling, how to help our children in time of Covid-19". On 27 August WBU published a report, 'COVID-19, AMPLIFYING VOICES: OUR LIVES, OUR SAY', after having conducted a study to examine the extent to which COVID-19 pandemic has exposed some deep structural inequalities in society. Data gathered from the study is evidencing that persons with disabilities, older persons, and persons from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds are among those hardest hit by the pandemic. While this report puts a spotlight on the voices of blind and partially sighted persons, many of the experiences shared strongly resonate with numerous other studies that are also highlighting how marginalised groups have been affected by this crisis. On the occasion of White Cane Day, 15 Oct. 2020, WBU issued a statement which EBU fully approuves and endorses, which includes the following call to law makers; "As the world grapples with the impact of COVID-19, we take this opportunity to remind law and policy makers and all stakeholders involved to ensure that designing or redesigning proper infrastructure adheres to COVID-19 protocols, that universal design is considered and everyone is sensitized. It is necessary for all of us to adjust to the "new normal" and in doing so, no one must be left behind.".
  • Inclusion Europe have published easy-to-read information on the corona virus and also have a full resources section on their website
  • The Social Platform issued their own statement, and also publish responses and reactions of their members
  • The European Disability Forum have a thorough resources section of their own, which contains much relevant information, on 15/04 they published an open letter to EU leaders: COVID 19 economic recovery planning – planning for sustainable inclusive societies.
  • Eurocarers have published a page with practical support for informal carers.
  • The European Deaf-Blind Union have published a video on facebook offering comments and suggestions of things to do during the quarantine from the EDbU vicepresident.
  • The Centre for Disability Law and Policy published a statement on their website of the legal implications of the crisis.
  • An article in Forbes journal on the difficulties of social distancing for visually impaired people.
  • Women Enabled International issued a statement on on Rights at the Intersection of Gender and Disability during COVID-19 (pdf document).
  • The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness has thier own resource page, angled more towards eye health.
  • The World Bank's Disability Inclusive Development team, and more specifically the Inclusive Education Initiative's Disability-Inclusive Education Community of Practice, have developed a survey to understand if learners with disabilities and their families have access to the support they need to continue learning while schools are closed due to COVID-19. This survey is to be completed by parents of children with disabilities, teachers for children with disabilities, and persons with disabilities.
  • On Monday 27th April, the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) issued an open letter to the United Nations and the World Health Organisation calling for the UN and its agencies to make their daily briefings and any supporting documents on COVID-19 fully accessible to persons with disabilities.
    Today (Tuesday 12th May), we received responses from the United Nations Secretary General:
    Read the response to IDA
    Read the response to IDDC
    The main points of the letter are as follows:
    - The United Nations COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund has been established to directly support certain groups including persons with disabilities. It is envisaged that persons with disabilities will be systematically included through the various pillars of the Framework. Under-Secretary-General Menéndez and her team are coordinating with the Trust Fund to ensure that persons with disabilities are meaningfully addressed in the response, and to support greater collection of data disaggregated by disability on the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic.
    - This month, UN entities will be reporting on their implementation of the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy, including on indicators regarding accessibility and communications. The Secretary-General has requested entities to provide information in their reports on disability-inclusive actions undertaken and planned related to the COVID-19 response and recovery
    - The UN will produce in accessible e-Pub the eight COVID-19 policy briefs which the Secretary-General has launched
    - The policy brief on COVID-19 and persons with disabilities is available in accessible ePub and easy-to-read formats, and a video of the Executive Summary has been produced in International Sign. 
    - WHO press briefings are now live captioned, and the transcripts are being produced in an accessible format as of 1 May.

International Organisations