Listening to the children

The Spanish National Organization for the Blind (ONCE), the Children’s Committee of the World Blind Union (WBU), and the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) have embarked on a terrific journey to document stories from blind and visually impaired children from all over the world, stretching from Cameroon to Cuba and Mexico to Zimbabwe. These heartfelt tales are documented in “Listening to the Children: Testimonies from the world’s blind and partially sighted teenagers”, which was originally part of an essay competition to select teenagers to take part in their international congress (an exciting opportunity in and of itself).

As the foreword states:

The book relates the stories of happy children and sad children; communities willing to accept diversity and others that reject it; families devoted to caring for their children and meeting their needs, and also others that abandon their children because they are unable to face up to a responsibility they feel is overwhelming…whatever the story, here we have a compilation of different —and on many occasions even contrasting— testimonies from boys and girls.

Click here to read some of the stories written by teenagers from around the world.

Included in the works is the declaration that was written by the blind teenagers during the congress, which spells out a unified voice for what they expect from society, no matter where in the world they live. Here’s the declaration:

On behalf of all blind and partially sighted children in the world, we would like to evaluate the current state of affairs with regards to our situation and suggest the following recommendations in order to improve our quality of life.

No blind or partially sighted child should be excluded from equal treatment under the law on the basis of disability.

Given that most blind children do not have access to education, we recommend all individuals have the right to an education and no impairment can prevent this from occurring.

Every child has the right to remain in the family they were born; visual impairment shall not be the grounds for removal.

Every child has the right to contribute to and receive the benefit of living in a community. For this to occur improvements to include all blind children must be made.

Every child has the right to receive appropriate help from the necessary institutions and societies. No child shall be subjected to any sort of mistreatment on the basis of blindness or low vision.

Given the discrimination suffered by blind children, all children have the right not to be mistreated physically or mentally in the areas of school, home, and community.

All children should have the right to move freely within their

We, the blind and partially sighted children of the world, request that the governments and organizations representing our rights allocate funds for organizing events for the benefit of the children in their respective countries.

All blind children have a right to be accepted in any school and can not be discriminated based solely on their disability. There should be at least one teacher in every school with the necessary capabilities to provide an equal education opportunity for the child.

All children in the world, regardless of disability, have the right to be treated equally.

We hope that governments around the world will consider our recommendations.