Calling Braille Writers – Onkyo World Essay Contest Open

The World Blind Union Asia Pacific Onkyo Braille Essay competition is now open for entries. If you or someone you know is a writer who uses braille, please read the information below and share with your networks. We look forward to receiving your entries by 15 May 2017. Should you have any questions, please contact the BCA office on 1800 033 660.


This contest is for people who are blind or vision impaired living in the Asia Pacific region. The Project is sponsored by the Onkyo Corporation Ltd. and The Braille Mainichi Newspaper in Japan, in collaboration with the World Blind Union-Asia Pacific WBUAP.

The Onkyo World Braille Essay Contest is a worldwide initiative planned and sponsored by Onkyo Corporation Ltd. and the Braille Mainichi in Japan, and is implemented by the World Blind Union-Asia Pacific (WBUAP). It is administered locally by the Australian National Onkyo Selection Committee for the World Braille Essay Contest. The Committee comprises representatives from Blind Citizens Australia, the Australian Braille Authority, the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities, and Vision Australia.

The purpose of the contest is to promote Braille literacy and encourage the reading and writing of Braille; and to encourage cultural and social interaction among blind and vision impaired persons through their writings. The top 5 entries will be sent to the WBUAP Onkyo Selection Committee for final consideration, and any winning Australian entries will be published in Blind Citizens News.

This is an annual competition, with cash prizes awarded to the best seven entries received from within the WBU Asia Pacific Region. The main prize, “the Otsuki Prize” is $US 1000. Other prizes are for “Excellent Works” ($US 500) and “Fine Works” (either $US 300 or $US 200) depending on the age group. Participation in the contest is open to people from 14 years of age, living in the World Blind Union-Asia Pacific Region. Entries are divided into two age groups: persons between the ages of 14 and 25 years; and persons from the age of 26 years upwards.

Essay topics:

  • The Positive Experiences and Opportunities of My Life from Being Blind
  • The Importance and Creative Uses of Braille in My Life
  • Music brings opportunities, joy, development and change in my life.

Closing date is 15 May 2017. Winners will be notified in November 2017.

Essays must be between 700 and 1,000 words and presented in hard copy Braille or in computerized Braille if you can provide proof of your Braille literacy. This can be in the form of a letter from your Braille instructor, teacher or other professional who can vouch for your skills.

When submitting your essay to BCA, you must also provide:
An electronic photo of yourself, a cover letter stating your full name, address, and contact details, your date of birth, your status ie. student, home maker, worker. If a student state what school you are from including the name, address and email contact for your school.

Please submit entries to BCA by 15 May 2017 at:

Attention: Emma Bennison

Blind Citizens Australia

Ross House
Level 3, 247-251 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Thursday, August 25, 2016

Orlando, Florida USA: The General Assembly of the World Blind Union (WBU), which meets every four years, has elected its new President, Dr. Fredric Schroeder from the National Federation of the Blind, USA (NFB).

Dr. Schroeder was elected during this quadrennium’s Assembly, which was from August 19th-24th in Orlando, Florida and he was unanimously elected by delegates from the 100 countries present at the Assembly. He will now serve as the lead representative of the blind and partially sighted from over 190 countries at the United Nations and other international multilateral organizations.

Dr. Schroeder brings with him years of national and international experience, including serving as the WBU First Vice President over the last four years, as well as serving several terms as First Vice President of the NFB.

Upon hearing confirmation of his election, Dr. Schroeder expressed his deepest thanks and gratitude to the WBU General Assembly. “I am honoured and humbled to have been selected by the global representatives of the world’s blind to lead the World Blind Union in the face of many global challenges,” remarked Dr. Schroeder, confirming that he will continue to focus on some of the biggest international issues that face the blind and partially sighted across the world, especially combatting societal stigma and low expectations that create barriers for blind people in many nations.

The hosts of the WBU General Assembly, the NFB rejoiced when their peer and friend was elected. “My friend, colleague, and mentor Dr. Fredric K. Schroeder has been an outstanding leader of the National Federation of the Blind for decades and has effectively advocated for and implemented innovative education and rehabilitation programs and policies in many capacities, including as Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Schroeder has also shown leadership on the global stage on advocating for the Marrakesh Treaty as well as addressing issues such as the danger of silent hybrid and electric vehicles. I look forward to continued collaboration with him as he leads the world’s blind into a future where all of us, in whatever nation, can live the lives we want,” said Mr. Mark A. Riccobono, President of NFB.

The current President of the World Blind Union, Arnt Holte from the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted (NABP) commended the results of the Presidential election. “The newly elected President, Dr. Fredric Schroeder from the National Federation of the Blind, USA, is an excellent choice and the right choice for the most important position in our Union, and I am sure that Fredric will take WBU forward and further develop our organization.”

Mr. Holte also expressed gratitude to the members of the WBU for allowing him to serve as their President for the last four years. “I am privileged to have had the honour of being the President of the World Blind Union. It has been an amazing pleasure to represent the WBU all over the world, and I look forward to still being a Board Member as the Immediate Past President for the next four years. I also look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Schroeder as well as all of the new Officers on the WBU Board, and I wish them good luck and great success during their terms.”

Mr. Holte’s tenure as President ended at the official close of the WBU General Assembly on Wednesday, August 24th at 3:30 pm. After the closing of the Assembly, the new Executive of the WBU had its first Executive Committee meeting.

The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization representing the estimated 285 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations run by blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment.

Visit our website at

For further information, please contact:
Caitlin Reid
Communications Officer, World Blind Union

Message from the BCA President – Emma Bennison

Dear Members

The World Blind Union (WBU) General Assembly adjourned today and has provided much food for thought.

It has been an honour and a privilege for Bill Jolley and I to represent BCA and we will provide a full report once we return to Australia.

For now though, there are two important items I wanted to update you on:

Firstly, Maryanne Diamond who was WBU president during 2008 to 2012 and former Executive Officer of our organisation, has been awarded the Louis Braille medal in recognition of her outstanding contribution to improving the quality of life of blind and vision-impaired people throughout the world. This is the highest honour bestowed by the WBU. Our congratulations and gratitude to Maryanne for her tireless dedication to this work.

Secondly, Bill Jolley has been elected to the Board of the WBU Asia Pacific. We are delighted that Bill has taken on this important role and congratulate him on his election.

Best wishes.
Emma Bennison

Audio Streaming – World Blind Union 2016 General Assembly

the following information has been passed on from the Australian Blindness Forum. The message below contains the link for audio streaming of the WBU General Assembly.

There is a 14 hour time difference between eastern Australia and Orlando Florida.

As some of you may know, the World Blind Union General Assembly commences later this week in Orlando, Florida. ABF is Australia’s representative to the World Blind Union and has sent 4 delegates to the General Assembly – Tony Starkey, Kevin Murfitt, Emma Bennison and Bill Jolley.

As they have done in the past, the American Council of the Blind will be audio streaming all of the plenary sessions of the WBU General Assembly. It will be streamed live on their website starting Friday, August 19th until the end of the General Assembly on August 24th. The link to the audio streaming is World Blind Union 2016

World Blind Union – Asia Pacific – East Wind Newsletter

The latest issue of East Wind, the newsletter of the World Blind Union – Asia Pacific region is now available. To download or read please go to: WBU East Wind No 18 (Word 89kb)