Welcome to Blind Citizens Australia

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is the united voice of Australians who are blind or vision impaired.

Our mission is to achieve equity and equality by our empowerment, by promoting positive community attitudes, and by striving for high quality and accessible services which meet our needs.

Whether you are blind, have a vision impairment yourself, or are the family member or friend of a person who is blind or vision impaired, BCA is here to assist you. We provide information, peer support, individual and systemic advocacy, and consultancy services. Our Branches act as local lobby groups and provide opportunities for social interaction for members.

Explore our site. Learn about us. Listen to SoundAbout for profiles of people who are blind or vision impaired and those working with our community. If you are interested in audio-described TV, cinema and DVD content check out It’s Our Turn. Set your dial and tune in to our weekly radio program New Horizons. For the issues and policies that affect you, plus useful information and tips, turn to the pages of BC News or Parent News.

Welcome to BCA, the national organisation of people who are blind or vision impaired.

contact BCA:

Toll Free:
1800 033 660

Phone:
(03) 9654 1400

Email: Blind Citizens Australia

Donate to Blind Citizens Australia by using the PayPal button below




BCA 2015 National Convention

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is the representative body for Australians who are blind or vision impaired.

This year’s theme is “Looking Forward Looking Back” Celebrating Blind Citizens Australia.

Event details
Date: Saturday 10 – Sunday 11 October 2015

Venue: Mercure Perth Hotel
10 Irwin Street, Perth WA 6000
Phone: 08 9326 7000
Email Mercure Perth
Mercure Perth website

Follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #BCACONV and on Twitter @au_BCA

Visit the BCA 2015 National Convention webpage for more information or for Registration and Payment details.

Disability groups granted temporary funding reprieve

The Sydney Morning Herald
Date: March 1, 2015
Julia May

Federal government delays a 40 per cent funding cut to the disability sector amid allegations it was in breach of United Nations convention.

The federal government has made a partial backflip on its cuts to disability groups, granting a temporary reprieve to eight bodies whose funding was due to run out on Saturday.
Last month the Department of Social Services announced it would cut funding to the disability sector by 40 per cent and support an alliance of just five representative bodies. It left eight bodies representing 200,000 people with disabilities under threat and sparked allegations that the government was in breach of the United Nations convention on the rights of disabled people.

But on Thursday the eight organisations – including the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, Blind Citizens Australia, Brain Injury Australia and Inclusion Australia, representing people with an intellectual disability – were told they had secured “transition funding” of $450,000 until the end of June.

Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield said he decided to extend the groups’ funding and to “provide an additional payment to each of them to assist with a smooth transition”.
“I have also directed my department to explore other potential capacity-building projects and funding that may be suitable for organisations to apply for, such as NDIS preparedness activities,” he said.

The minister did not explain what prompted the change of heart, what “capacity-building” meant or how much extra funding would be available.
Australian Federation of Disability Organisations chief executive Matthew Wright welcomed the reprieve, saying the government had listened to the voice of people with disability. He said he had noticed a new willingness from the department to engage with the sector.
“That’s definitely a positive and a very recent development,” he said. “We’re looking forward to further negotiations on our long-term future.”

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, who is leading a Senate inquiry into how the Department of Social Services awards funding, also applauded the funding extension but questioned the government’s plans beyond June. She said the new alliance model did not reflect the grassroots needs or views of people with disabilities and accusing the government of being “top-down in its approach: this is what we want, now do it”.

The funding cuts had attracted the ire of Ron McCallum, the former chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Disabled Persons, and former disability commissioner, Graeme Innes.

New Horizons program 387

This week on program 387 of New Horizons, Rikki Chaplin speaks with Jeremy Wurm of Brooker Consulting about the employment of people with disabilities.

You can use the embedded audio player above to listen or download the program.

New Horizons is now available as a podcast! Using your pod catcher of choice, use the search term “Blind Citizens Australia”, you should then be able to subscribe to the New Horizons program.

New Horizons is Blind Citizens Australia’s weekly radio program. It can be heard on RPH and community radio stations throughout Australia. Go here for Broadcast times and stations

Current and past Episodes of New Horizons can also be found on the Blind Citizens Australia audio page

And on the The Global Voice

New Horizons is produced at the studios of Vision Australia Radio in Melbourne. Blind Citizens Australia thanks Vision Australia for their technical Support and for the use of their resources. You can visit Vision Australia on the web at Vision Australia website

World Blind Union Press Release

Braille – the Key to Accessing Language and Literacy for the Blind of the World

As we commemorate Mother Language Day on February 21st , it is important to reflect on the importance of braille to ensuring that blind persons have the opportunity to acquire and use their mother language – whatever that language may be. Braille has been called a super script, “The queen of all scripts”. For, it is the only script in the world in which any language of the world can be read or written. No other script has this unique capacity. So indeed it is only Braille that has the ability to enable blind persons to truly master their mother language.

It would be no exaggeration to state that Braille occupies the same status in reading and writing for the blind as print for the sighted. Just as recorded books or e-books cannot replace hard copy books for the sighted, similarly, books in Braille are integral components of meaningful education and rehabilitation for blind persons. That is why, Braille has stood the test of time and competition from various quarters for about 160 years, since its acceptance by the French in 1854, two years after the death of its inventor, Louis Braille, for whom the script is named.

Continuous Braille reading holds the key to learning spelling and active literacy skills. Braille is essential for subjects requiring intensive study like mathematics, science, geography, grammar, semantics, phonetics, etc. Indeed, Braille will remain the doyen of systems for giving to the visually impaired access to knowledge which is the main source of empowerment.

While the importance of Braille for developing countries is widely recognized, it is often contended that Braille is fast declining in more advanced countries due to the advent of technology. On the contrary, technology has enabled much increased production of braille, which can now be produced in quantities of thousands of pages a day using high speed braille printers housed in braille production centers in countries around the world. Moreover, advocacy efforts are underway to have more braille available – on signage, household appliances, consumer items and even pharmaceutical products.

And innovative technologies continue to be mobilized to produce a wide range of Braille reading and writing devices, bearing further testimony to the enduring importance of the system. The new upward Braille writing Frame recently brought out by RNIB in the UK, the ingenious devices recognized at World Braille 21 Congress in 2011, various heavy duty high speed Braille embossers, electronic Braille notetakers and the Smart Brailler, which is a new Braille learning and teaching device developed by Perkins Products, are just a few cases in point. Efforts are also currently underway to develop a low cost Refreshable Braille Display which will solve the issue of large and heavy Braille books and will make such technology available to developing countries.

Several UN instruments so critical to the disability sector, also recognize the continuing utility of Braille, and it receives particular mention in several Articles of the UNCRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). And the June 2013 adoption by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities will break down barriers for the production and sharing of accessible format materials, including Braille.

It is the fervent belief and opinion of the World Blind Union that other accessible formats, including those accessed via technology, and Braille do not compete, but rather supplement one another. Indeed, they are essential for helping the visually impaired reader to keep abreast of the modern-day explosion of knowledge and information and to enhance their literacy and learning.

The impact of Braille is no better described than by quoting from “An Open Letter to Louis Braille” composed by a former Secretary-General, World Blind Union, Pedro Zurita who wrote: “And you know what, Louis? … I exhibit your invention everywhere. I read material the way you invented it standing, lying down, sitting, in any position, … Because your code, Louis, has afforded many, many blind people–myself among them, naturally–dignity, freedom, and many hours of incomparable spiritual enjoyment.”

As we celebrate International Mother Language Day, let us not forget the importance of Braille to ensuring access to their mother language by blind and partially sighted persons around the world.

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.

For further information contact:
World Blind Union
Marianne McQuillan,
Manager, Communications
Marianne.McQuillan@wbuoffice.org

BC Update February edition

The February 2015 edition of BC Update is now available. Please go here to grab your copy BC Update February 2015 (word doc)