“Yet, out of millions of publications each year, fewer than five per cent are made available in accessible formats for visually impaired persons in developing countries,” he added.
The global superstar, who lost his sight shortly after birth, was designated as a Messenger of Peace in 2009 with a focus on persons with disabilities. He has advocated for the adoption of the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or have other print disabilities.
“Someone being sighted doesn’t mean that they should be blind to those things in the world that we need to fix,” he said.
Connecting the dots
It’s a staggering figure: more than one billion people suffer from vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.
That’s according to the UN World Health Organization WHO which also pointed out that anyone whose eyesight is impaired is likely to be poorer and more disadvantaged than someone with 20/20 vision.
To coincide with World Braille Day on 4 January in celebration of the organized patterns of raised dots that blind people use in order to read, WHO noted that vision problems often leave people with “a lifetime of inequality, poorer health and barriers to education and employment”.
This is why the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should be welcomed by all, the UN health agency said.
WHO explained that the Convention backs the promotion of Braille which is “essential for education, freedom of expression and opinion, access to information and social inclusion.
UN initiatives and programmes to help people learn Braille are ongoing, including in Afghanistan, where the refugee agency UNHCR has launched a programme offering Braille classes and mobility training to women.