Publications and resources
The EBU clear print guidelines are available in docx and pdf format (January 2017) currently only in English. The document offers basic principles with good practice examples for printed documents that you can easily apply. 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.
In order to obtain a clear picture of the possibilities and barriers of exchange programs for university students with visual impairments (VI), the European Blind Union (EBU) and the International Council for Education and Rehabilitation of People with Visual Impairment, Europe (ICEVI-Europe) has 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;
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.
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.
A series of studies (word) of economic inactivity among blind and partially sighted people in
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.
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
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.
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 email@example.com and our secretary general Maria Kyriacou at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
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 www.ern-eye.eu/covid-19 and in French on www.aveuglesdefrance.org and www.sensgene.com. The full video is available in English and French.
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.
THE ITALIAN UNION OF THE BLIND AND PARTIALLY SIGHTED SOUNDS THE ALARM: ALMOST 2 MILLION TOTALLY BLIND, PARTIALLY SIGHTED AND MULTI-DISABLED PERSONS AT RISK OF ISOLATION. THERE IS A LACK OF VOLUNTEERS FOR HOME ASSISTANCE RELATED TO BASIC NEEDS, AND OF SUPPORT PERSONS FOR PUPILS AND STUDENTS DUE TO SUSPENSION OF THE SCHOOL SERVICE
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).
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.
The ability to be able
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)
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.
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