12 January 2006

United Nations to Print First-Ever Braille Documents at Headquarters, Thanks to Disability Organization Donation on 12 January

NEW YORK, 11 January (UN Headquarters) -- The United Nations will be able for the first time to print directly material in Braille thanks to the donation of a state-of-the-art printer by the non-profit organization Services for the Visually Impaired, in collaboration with the World Blind Union.

Dr. Harold Snider, Executive Director of the Maryland-based disability organization, will deliver a Thiel Beta X printer to Ambassador Don MacKay of New Zealand, the Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Committee on a convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, at a press event to be held on Thursday, 12 January at 11:15 a.m. at United Nations Headquarters (Room S-226).  The software is being donated by Duxbury Systems.

The equipment will be immediately used at the seventh session of the General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, which is meeting at the United Nations from 16 January to 3 February.  The Ad Hoc Committee will use the equipment to ensure the full participation to the session of visually impaired participants, both from Governments and disability organizations.

"This is a positive step towards making the United Nations accessible", said Mr. MacKay.  "We are most grateful to the donors, whose gift will greatly facilitate the workings of the Committee drafting the first-ever international convention on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities."

Dr. Snider also donated on behalf of his organization a Braille printer to the United Nations Office in Vienna in 1989.

Based in Silver Spring, Maryland, Services for the Visually Impaired provides skills and resources to residents of the Washington, D.C., area who are blind or are experiencing vision loss.  The non-profit organization seeks to help people regain and maintain their independence.

Among other things, the organization's specialists visit seniors and offer practical help so they can be safe in their homes; teach newly blind people to use canes and navigate independently in the community; place volunteers to help read mail, shop for groceries and other important tasks of daily life; offer a variety of assistive products that help people regain their ability to read and handle other daily needs; and train people in assistive technology so they can continue to do their jobs or prepare for new jobs.

Duxbury Systems, based in Westford, Massachusetts, is the world's leading company for software for Braille.  Two of its software programmes are used by virtually all of the world's leading Braille publishers.

The World Blind Union is the only organization entitled to speak on behalf of blind and partially sighted persons of the world, representing 180 million blind and visually impaired persons from about 600 different organizations in 158 countries.

For information, please contact Edoardo Bellando at the United Nations Department of Public Information, tel.:  (212) 963-8275, e-mail: .

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