Envision at the European Blind Union's General Assembly
28 October 2015
Hello! My name is Alba. I have been a member of Envision since it started in 2013 and I am now part of our steering group.
On 28 October, fellow steering group member, Chris Reddington, and I gave a presentation about young campaigners and the role of Envision at the European Blind Union’s General Assembly.
Most of you may not have heard of the European Blind Union (EBU) and we hadn’t either, to tell you the truth. But it turns out that they have been set up for almost 40 years. They’re an organization that promotes the rights of VI people across Europe. They’re currently fighting for an EU Web Accessibility Directive in order for all public sector apps and websites to be made accessible. Find out more about the campaign on the EBU’s website.
What is the EBU and what do they campaign on?
I first came into contact with the EBU at an event at the European Parliament in Brussels that they organised, where we blindfolded MEPs and made them use tactile screens to show the barriers that we face. The poor MEPs struggled a great deal! I then became aware of the power that we have as campaigners to make things more equal. Prior to that event, I had thought that because I am blind I had to adjust to the world as it is. But this is a lie! The world needs to catch up with our needs and we have the responsibility to make this happen!
The General Assembly
The EBU is a strong, well organised network, but they lack the help and influence from young people like us all. This was made clear to us as soon as we stepped into their General Assembly; the average age of the 300 people in the room was 55 years old. So this is what Chris and I came to do; to talk about how VI young people can make a difference in campaigning.
We had been given a 15 minute slot and we made sure we used every second wisely! We talked broadly about Envision. Chris started the presentation introducing our network, highlighting the powerful impact that we had when we visited the Houses of Parliament on 14 October. We then talked about ourselves at a more personal level, giving examples to explain why it is so important to engage with young people. To finalise, we stated what is obvious:
"Young people have a massive power of influence on decision makers, because we have the whole future in front of us and we need to shape services to our necessities!"
The talk was very well received and people from other countries have shown an interest in Envision and how it works. Of the 35 countries represented at the General Assembly, very few have network of young campaigners, like Envision, we hope this will change in the next years.
This is why it is important that we keep our network strong, to show them that our voice is loud and that our abilities are limitless!