Highlights & History
The Africa Forum is the first and only international conference on blindness services in Africa bringing together organizational leaders, experts, service providers and educators to exchange experiences, best practices, and raise awareness Africa.
Highlights from the Most Recent Africa Forum
Our Fourth Africa Forum in 2007 was the most successful to date, attracting more than 350 participants from 37 African countries and a dozen others from Europe, North America, and Asia. Below are just a few of the highlights.
- The forum affirmed the need for engagement with government towards disability legislation and the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Hon. Maina Kamanda, the then Kenyan Minister for Gender, Sport, Culture and Social Services, said the government of Kenya is committed to becoming the second country, following Jamaica, to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities UNCRPD.
- Jamaica’s former Minister of State Hon. Floyd Morris, who is himself blind, gave the keynote address and challenged people who are blind in Africa to promote self-determination, demonstrate perseverance and understand the enormous value of education. He is a notable example of the increasing number of people who are blind achieving high office in public life.
- Kenyan Paralympian gold medalist and world record holder Henry Wanyoike addressed the forum, prompting a first-ever discussion about the significance of sports and leisure in the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.
- The forum once again served as a launch pad for a new continental body; this time for albinism, a condition often accompanied by low vision. Six countries met and committed to work towards the formation of a Pan African albinism network.
Measurable Progress and Key Service Areas
Since the last Forum vast progress has taken place and several key service areas were identified and/or affirmed. Some notable successes are listed below.
- The forum affirmed the need to advocate for an interventionist approach by governments which can include imposing quotas, introducing progressive legislation and stressing the importance of quality education and job training, relevant to job opportunities.
- The Forum affirmed the need for a field dedicated to HIV/AIDS programs targeted at persons with visual impairment. Key areas of priority have been and shall remain research, provision of accessible material, training of peer educators, gender responsive programs and the use of mass media to spread knowledge and raise awareness about prevention, testing, care and support services. It was affirmed that the key strategy should be to mainstream the efforts by addressing national AIDS Commission bodies to access funding and ensure that all relevant issues pertaining to people who are visually impaired are included in the mainstream programs and policies.
- Launching of the Sight Savers Dolphin Pen, a low-price portable powerful device which offers screen reader, screen magnification and text book reading capabilities. This device has come about through groundbreaking collaboration and support from Sight Savers International, UK’s RNIB and Dolphin systems. The new Pen offers on arrival affordability and enhanced mobility at ten percent of the previous cost.
- With the launch of Education for All children with visual impairment in Africa (EFA-VI), the Forum in partnership with the International Council for the Education of the Visually Impaired, affirmed that focused attention on inclusive education is the way forward for children and youth who are blind and partially sighted. There are currently 4.4 million children who are blind or partially sighted who do not have access to education. All children who are visually impaired deserve the right to an education. This initiative is directly linked to the global Education for All campaign of UNESCO and the UN millennium goal on education.