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Disabilities Activist Attends Blind Union Assembly

Disabilities human rights activist attends General Assembly of World Blind Union in South Africa

Maaka Tibble, Tairawhiti District Health Maori Health Manager, is a strong advocate of blind and visually impaired issues at a local national and international level.

"Perhaps the most rewarding activity that I have been involved in recent times is as the Chair Person of the World Blind Union committee on indigenous peoples issues."

It is a four-year appointment, which ends in Capetown next week.

Mr Tibble said the key achievements over the four-year period were the development of a special project for the indigenous blind and visually impaired people of Ecuador. This project concentrated on access to information and Braille leading to education.

"Access to the printed word is the major barrier for persons like myself".

Mr Tibble said the other major project has been the United Nations convention on disabilities, and ensuring that indigenous blind persons' issues are reflected in it.

"One of the most satisfying things about this involvement is the chairing of a committee of blind indigenous persons from throughout the World. It is truly for indigenous blind persons. We have met face-to-face in different parts of the world and have held countless telephone conference calls".

"I am privileged to represent over 1000 blind and visually impaired Maori from throughout Aotearoa and Ngati Kapo (a whanau of Kapo people) in this international forum."

Mr Tibble said the World Blind Union is the voice of Blind and visually impaired peoples from throughout the world.

"At this General Assembly there will be representatives from more than 100 countries over the world and we have a unique chance to show the unity and strength that we possess. Together we represent 180 million blind and partially sighted persons in the world. We have the duty to make their voices heard in one way or another at this General Assembly through our collective wisdoms and contributions.

So we will all, women and men, young and old, blind and partially sighted, rich and poor from the whole world will resolve to make this sixth General Assembly of the World Blind Union a manifestation of peace, mutual understanding and commitment.

Mr Tibble is a regular international traveller who often travels on his own.

"I have a strong network of friends and like-minded contacts in many countries who really go out of their way to look after me and my special needs."

On a number of occasions he has taken his wife, Roberta and his family as companions. Guide dog Hank has also travelled abroad with him on one occasion. However this time he will be travelling alone.

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