This is one of UNABs major projects and is funded by Norwegian Association of the Blind and partially sighted (NABP).Under this project UNAB runs a number of activities which include;
UNAB is a national organisation of the blind and has adapted its priorities to the society in Uganda. UNAB influences its society through the dissemination of information, socio-political motivation and general activities. UNAB’s main purpose is to promote the interests of blind and partially sighted people in the entire country. To do so, UNAB needs to strengthen the organisation with expansion of branches and members. In addition the branches need to increase their capacity and knowledge of how to run a strong organisation, how to be a voice for the blind and partially sighted and how to empower people to speak for themselves.
UNAB works together with other service NGO’s and Disabled Peoples organisations (DPOs) to ensure that the issues of disability and the rights of individuals with visual impairment are at the forefront of government discussions, budget allocations and service delivery. UNABs advocacy work involves influencing others to support UNABs cause.
Under this project, UNAB also works with and empowers communities. Visually impaired people are not always included in community development programmes, Reversing this situation and encouraging community involvement will help change behaviours and lead to empowerment of the blind and partially sighted. Significant work is undertaken by UNAB to empower blind and partially sighted (BPS) people and the branches so that the members are included as equals in their communities.
Organizational strengthening of UNAB also involves increasing knowledge t of UNAB branches through training . The branches are trained by the UNAB national staff and board in administrative and technical skills, advocacy and awareness work for the rights of blind people. UNAB staff has competence in, amongst others, advocacy skills training, rehabilitation (such as mobility and orientation skills training), functional adult and Braille literacy skills, Braille repair maintenances, storage and proper usage of Perkins Brailler skills, organisational growth and leadership skills, income generating and agricultural skills, adaptable computer skills, sports and games for the blind, livelihood skills for the blind and their families.
In addition, UNAB hires external expertise to do training in local fundraising and resource mobilisation skills, knowledge on democracy and development (sensitive legislation), information and communication access, planning, reporting and monitoring skills.
The authorities have policies and laws to handle disability issues, but there is limited implementation of these policies and laws. This needs to be addressed in order to improve the quality of life for BPS(Blind and partially sighted) people, especially women and children. BPS people suffer from social exclusion, and are among the poorest and most marginalized people in society. They are often not given the chance to maximize their potentials.
Under the organisation strengthening project, UNAB aims to make visually impaired people equal members of society, and to ensure that the government implements their obligations under international conventions for disabled people. UNAB works to enable the branches to become effective advocates for their members’ rights. This is done through training of members in basic daily living skills (DLS),Advocacy skills, mobility and orientation skills (M&O), vocational training (such as computer/IT) and training in income generating activities. This enables the blind and partially sighted to become self sufficient in addition to enabling them to speak for themselves.
The vocational training of blind and partially sighted persons is also done at Nabumali training centre. The students are trained in Braille, income generating activities (IGA) such as poultry farming, bakery and farming/agriculture. Today there are few blind and partially sighted (BPS) students in the centre due to financial constraints on the students and UNAB.
Regarding inclusive education, the access for disabled children is still a challenge in Uganda. Quality education is one of the keys to empowerment; raising self esteem and lifting people out of poverty . Lobbying for visually impaired children is most effective as part of advocacy for the inclusion of all disabled children, but with recognition that the diversity of learning needs must be addressed. Teachers have a responsibility to educate all children in their classes, but do not always have the skills and knowledge to cater for the blind and partially sighted children
UNAB aims at ensuring that the authorities provide equal opportunities for all blind and partially sighted children, enabling them to receive quality education within the existing system.
Furthermore, the UNAB national staff and board advocate for the BPS children and youth to be included in the education systems, and also support visually impaired children and youth to study in mainstream education (with school materials). UNAB staff (both at national and branch level) also create awareness in the school system, in communities and among parents, focusing on the importance of enrolling the BPS children and youths in school.
UNAB does not administer any eye services, but collaborates with the already existing eye services in Uganda. Sight Savers, Lions Aid, standard Chartered Bank and other NGO’s are working towards reducing blindness, and UNAB collaborates with the already existing initiatives regarding prevention of blindness.