A DISTINGUISHED INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR WORLD ACCESS FOR THE BLIND | VISIONEERS
Our Response on Facebook
Our heartfelt thanks to everyone at Zero Project, Ashoka, and the United Nations Vienna, for their wonderful support and welcoming hospitality, and congratulations to our fellow winners – we’re honored to be among you.
Onward to making 2018 our best year yet for reaching and teaching blind persons across the USA and around the world how to see with sound!
DANIEL KISH KEYNOTE AT ZERO PROJECT
“When we hold to convention, we are held by convention to our own blindness.
There’s a better way.
Join us at Visioneers in flying in the face of convention to rise with a new vision of freedom for ourselves and others.”
Daniel Kish #ZeroCon18
WORLD ACCESS FOR THE BLIND | VISIONEERS PAGE AT ZERO PROJECT
Innovative Practice 2018 on Accessibility
TEACHING THE CLICKING OF TONGUE TECHNIQUE TO NAVIGATE
“Samuel picked up the clicking quite easily. We’re so proud and hope he’ll be able to choose the quality of life he wants, rather than having it mapped out for him.”
|NAME OF INNOVATIVE PRACTICE:||Teaching the clicking of tongue technique to navigate|
|ORGANISATION:||World Access for the Blind|
With Flashsonar, World Access for the Blind is rewriting the mobility instructor certification practice, a professional certification to demonstrate professional competency that supports quality service delivery to persons with vision impairments. For some employment opportunities this certification is mandatory in the United States and other countries.Since 2001, WAFTB has held over 250 professional development workshops on Flashsonar and the full-length Perception Cane for service providers in 39 countries.
OUTLOOK, TRANSFERABILITY AND FUNDING
The project has expanded internationally by using the ‘training-of trainers’ model, which prepares blind trainees to instruct other blind or visually impaired persons. Further, the organization has published a textbook and a set of training materials to help students, families, and other instructors develop their own freedom with less dependence on local institutions.
Flashsonar’s funding comes from public grants (10 per cent), private donors and fundraising (25 per cent), and such project income as student tuition and service fees from agencies (65 per cent).
ABOUT ZERO PROJECT
Vision and Mission Statement
The Zero Project was initiated by the Essl Foundation in 2008 and focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally. It is a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face, are shared. Its mission is to support the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and to work for a world without barriers.
We take a solutions-based approach to our work. Together with a continuously growing network of over 4,000 experts, with and without disabilities, in over 150 countries, we seek to identify the most innovative and effective Policies and Practices that improve the lives of persons with disabilities. And we tell the world about those Policies & Practices.
Throughout the year, we also disseminate these solution-oriented approaches to decision makers and opinion leaders worldwide and present the results of our research at various national and international conferences, for example, at Side Events at the annual Conference of State Parties to UN CRPD in New York.
The annual Zero Project Report presents the Policies & Practices that have been selected as the most innovative in their approach to that year’s theme. It also evaluated just how the UN CRPD is being implemented around the world. For this we created Social Indicators.
In recent years, and based on the large network and growing expertise, the Zero Project has been developing other subprojects and formats that support the implementation of the UN CRPD, both internationally and specifically within Austria, the home country of the Zero Project.
Innovative Practices and Innovative Policies
Each year we identify and share innovations that improve the daily lives and legal rights of all persons with disabilities by carefully selecting Innovative Practices and Innovative Policies. The Zero Project Awards, presented at our annual conference, supports their outstanding work with global recognition.
Team and Organization
The core of our work is the global research on Innovative Practices and Policies, which is conducted in an annual cycle: starting in early spring with exploring the new topic, followed by the nomination and selection process, and ending with publishing of the Zero Project Report and Website, and the Zero Project Conference in February. The research and all other activities are funded and managed by the Essl Foundation, based in Vienna, Austria. Some sub projects such as the Zero Project Dialogues in Austria, require additional funding.
The Zero Project Network: 4,000 experts
Most of the research of the Zero Project is based on contributions (nominations, evaluations, voting, selection, responding to questionnaires, etc.) from our partners and the full Zero Project network, using a transparent crowdsourcing methodology. Every year more than 1,000 experts contribute in this way, without compensation, simply because they share the same goal of realizing a world without barriers, as well as acknowledging the global impact of this joint effort. Over the past four years, more than 4,000 experts (with and without disabilities) from all sectors of society and 180 countries have contributed their expertise.
Further, we have developed close relationships with many partner organizations, including U.N. agencies, international membership organizations, international funding agencies, academic institutions, foundations, NGOs, DPOs, professionals, activists, and others who share the common interest in identifying and scaling-up innovations that support the implementation of the UN CRPD.
Zero Project Social Indicators
The network includes all respondents who filled in the Zero Project Questionnaires which measure the implementation of the UN CRPD on country and regional level since 2010. The Zero Project Social Indicators have been the first research topic (initially called the Essl Social Index until 2011), with more than 1,000 respondents since 2010.
A Four-Year Research Cycle
Our research is based on a four-year research cycle, which began in 2013 with Employment and moved on to Accessibility in 2014, Independent Living and Political Participation in 2015, and finally Education in 2016. We concluded this cycle by summarising the most important findings and its impact in the Zero Project Almanac (published in early 2017). In 2017 the cycle began once again with Employment.
To date, more than 400 Innovative Practices and Policies have been selected. Each year we also develop and research Social Indicators that measure how the UN CRPD is being implemented by comparing world regions in an annual survey.
The Zero Project Conference and Awards
The Zero Project Conference is a unique meeting point of people who inspire and want to be inspired, of innovators and change-makers. It is held annually in the Vienna Headquarters of the United Nations, and brings together some 500 participants from more than 70 countries. At the heart of the conference are presentations of the Innovative Practices and Policies as well as by international decision-makers and opinion leaders from all sectors of society – the Zero Project network and partners.
ABOUT ASHOKA U.S.
Ashoka United States was launched in 2001 when we began supporting social entrepreneurs in the U.S. as Ashoka Fellows. To date we have supported more than 230 men and women with creative new approaches for solving social problems and connected them into a dynamic peer network to help them grow their ideas and impact.
Social entrepreneurs play a central part in Ashoka’s mission to build an ‘Everyone A Changemaker’ world, in part because they create roles for so many others to be problem solvers for the good of all. But they can’t do so alone. Over the last decade, our work has expanded in new directions with a particular focus on changing how young people grow up so they gain the skills and practice they need to step into the world as changemakers themselves.
Today we work to ensure that every child masters empathy through our Start Empathy initiative, which includes a growing network of Changemaker Schools. Via Youth Venture we reach teens and the organizations that serve them to encourage young changemaking. Ashoka U, meanwhile, has set the standard at the university level for what it means to incorporate social innovation into the culture and curriculum of higher education. And Changemakers.com continues to be a platform for changemakers of all kinds to come together in service of social progress, most notably via its online competitions.
All of this work supports our central aim: to shape a country where problems no longer outrun solutions, and where each one of us feels empowered to drive positive change in ways big and small.
We think of our Fellows as practical visionaries—practical in that they are highly attentive to the nuts and bolts of making things work, and visionary in that they often reframe the problem in the first place and cast a long-term view for change. They apply creativity and empathy in solving social problems, and they highlight the importance of systems thinking to get at the root of those problems.
The Ashoka Fellows in the United States work at the leading edge of the most significant social and economic problems of our time—increasing access to quality education and healthcare, introducing solutions to mass incarceration, facilitating economic development on American Indian land, improving mental health resources for returning veterans, and even designing new methods of carbon-trapping ocean farming that nourish us while restoring our waters and combatting climate change. To learn more about these entrepreneurs in the U.S. and around the globe, check out our searchable network map.
Unfortunately, too much of this map is polarized in a handful of coastal U.S. cities—a problem that afflicts not just Ashoka but the entire field of social entrepreneurship, which risks becoming insular and disconnected from the majority of Americans.
To address this problem we launched the All America initiative in 2016, a public commitment to redrawing the map of social entrepreneurship in the United States so that it will better reflect the rich ethnic, racial, gender and geographic diversity of the country.
WHAT WE DO
Ashoka’s four areas of focus and investment help people to understand and adapt to a world of accelerating change where everyone is called on to be a leader:
Ashoka selects world-class social entrepreneurs who are leading the way to an everyone-a-changemaker world.
To thrive in today’s rapidly changing world, everyone must be a changemaker, and changemaking starts with empathy.
Ashoka is leading a movement to transform how young people grow up so they have the power to lead, to contribute — to be in charge.
Team of Teams
Living and working in our changemaker world requires breaking through silos, tearing down walls, and organizing in fluid, open, teams of teams.
Ashoka’s programs in more than 90 countries build networks that help people see and understand this new framework, and take action as changemakers.
Ashoka has pioneered the fields of social entrepreneurship and made great strides in committing the world to framework change since its founding in 1980. From the beginning, measuring the impact of its efforts has been a top priority for the global Ashoka team. We define impact as systemic changes, affecting large numbers of people, that flow from the social entrepreneurs, their ideas, and the networks that Ashoka supports.
How do we know if Ashoka Fellows change systems? What systems do they change? These questions and more are answered in Ashoka’s Impact Studies. Every two years, a selection of Fellows answer a battery of questions to help Ashoka assess the efficacy of the Fellowship program and how it could be improved. These studies consistently show that about 80 percent of Ashoka Fellows have changed a national-level system in at least one way within 10 years of their election to the Ashoka Fellowship. In 2013, 87 percent of Ashoka Fellows surveyed indicated that Ashoka had helped to increase the impact of their work, with 49 percent saying that Ashoka had made a “critical difference” in their efforts.
Apart from the impact of the Fellows network, Ashoka is committed to helping the world adapt to an age that increasingly is defined by change rather than repetition. Through partnerships with media leaders and journalists, Ashoka has helped define social entrepreneurship and what it means to live in an Everyone A Changemaker world. Ashoka’s Changemaker Schools Network is a global community of more than 1,100 leading elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as universities, that prioritize empathy, teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and changemaking as student outcomes. Through Ashoka’s Youth Venture program, founded in 1986, nearly 5,000 teams of young people have launched and led their own community-serving ventures. These ventures serve thousands more people.
Ashoka’s impact is both multifaceted and far-reaching, spanning many levels of change in many nations across the globe. Going forward, we will continue to seek and develop sophisticated means of measuring the impact of Ashoka’s efforts and improving their effectiveness.
CONTACT ASHOKA U.S.
DANIEL KISH – ASHOKA FELLOW
Daniel Kish, Founder and President of Visioneers | World Access For The Blind was named a 2017 Ashoka Fellow for his work as a social entrepreneur in the United States and around the world.
Daniel participated in a Plenary Session at the Zero Project Conference 2018 as part of the Zero Project – Ashoka Forum on Impact Transfer Models. From the Conference’s agenda: “The Essl Foundation and Ashoka join forces to initiate the first Impact Transfer to globalize the most innovative disability solutions for a barrier-free world.”
This excerpt from adescription of Daniel Kish’s work was prepared when Daniel was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2017:
“Daniel Kish is transforming the blindness profession and the lives of people around the world through a model of perceptual navigation that is more respectful of blind dignity and purpose, easier to teach, learn, and use, and is more diversely applicable to all ages, cultures, backgrounds, and ability profiles.
Daniel believes that we must ensure freedom, independence, and mobility for blind people, especially for blind children. Parents of blind children usually lack firsthand experience with blindness, and there is a well-documented resource gap for young kids (as they have historically been deemed “too young” for the trainings and services on offer). Daniel believes that fear is the greatest enemy of independence, and that a lack of independence breeds more fear and greater hopelessness. Unfortunately, the global blindness profession has historically been very slow (and resistant) to change. Today young blind people are increasingly less mobile; blind adults experience 60%+ unemployment and society expects little more of them.
Informed by his own personal and professional experience, Daniel has created a new model of Perceptual Navigation training which may be the most disruptive innovation since the guide dog. Daniel lost his eyes to cancer at 13 months but was raised by parents who prized his independence and ensured he had a childhood full of freedom and free of fear. As a very young person with total vision loss he was still able to bike to school, climb trees, and play tag with his friends who were all sighted. This is because early on Daniel realized (and has since scientifically proven) that by producing a clicking sound with his tongue and using its echoes to “echolocate”, he was effectively able to replace “sight” by allowing audible spatial feedback to light up the visual cortex of the brain. Since then, he has become the first totally blind person to be certified in the traditional Orientation and Mobility profession, and he has developed a practice and training that he and his team of blind instructors has since delivered through activations around the globe to thousands of people in more than 40 countries. According to Daniel, “the individual transformation, we have found, is quite easy; it’s not that hard. But in order to affect individual transformation, you have to affect the system in which the individual is an element.”
To affect – or change – the system, Daniel continues to bring changes to the blindness profession, from leveraging the Americans with Disabilities Act to pave the way for more blind mobility instructors like himself to creating a wholly new practice and certification model built on his innovations around FlashSonar, natural cane use, and his “No Limits” philosophy. Daniel has gained widespread media coverage that he believes helps change the conversation and he is also overhauling academic preparation through the textbook he authored and by influencing university accreditation programs.
Through all these efforts he is challenging the profession’s lack of understanding and appreciation for the power of the non-visual perception system, and break it out of its emphasis on “custodialism” over promoting self-efficacy. At the end of the day and through all these efforts, Daniel is shifting wider cultural perceptions and the limiting beliefs of those in the blindness community, profession, and beyond.”
Daniel Kish is transforming the training and experience of perceptual navigation for blind people. For more on his new idea, see Daniel’s Ashoka profile and Forbes Q&A., and visit his Visioneers Page.
OP-ED ABOUT ASHOKA IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
EVERYONE A CHANGEMAKER
Bill Drayton invented the term “social entrepreneur” and founded Ashoka, the organization that supports 3,500 of them in 93 countries. He’s a legend in the nonprofit world, so I went to him this week to see if he could offer some clarity and hope in discouraging times. He did not disappoint.
Drayton believes we’re in the middle of a necessary but painful historical transition. For millenniums most people’s lives had a certain pattern. You went to school to learn a trade or a skill — baking, farming or accounting. Then you could go into the work force and make a good living repeating the same skill over the course of your career.
But these days machines can do pretty much anything that’s repetitive. The new world requires a different sort of person. Drayton calls this new sort of person a changemaker.
Changemakers are people who can see the patterns around them, identify the problems in any situation, figure out ways to solve the problem, organize fluid teams, lead collective action and then continually adapt as situations change.
For example, Ashoka fellow Andrés Gallardo is a Mexican who lived in a high crime neighborhood. He created an app, called Haus, that allows people to network with their neighbors. The app has a panic button that alerts everybody in the neighborhood when a crime is happening. It allows neighbors to organize, chat, share crime statistics and work together.
To form and lead this community of communities, Gallardo had to possess what Drayton calls “cognitive empathy-based living for the good of all.” Cognitive empathy is the ability to perceive how people are feeling in evolving circumstances. “For the good of all” is the capacity to build teams.
It doesn’t matter if you are working in the cafeteria or the inspection line of a plant, companies will now only hire people who can see problems and organize responses.
Editors Note: David Brooks and Bill Drayton took a lot of heat for this article in the Comments section of the paper, which makes loud and clear the challenges Drayton and Ashoka face in a cynical society.
OTHER VISIONEERS | WORLD ACCESS FOR THE BLIND NEWS HIGHLIGHTS
VISIONEERS | WAFTB TAKES PERCEPTUAL FREEDOM TO BLIND PERSONS IN THAILAND
We have been privileged to provide a series of training courses in FlashSonar™ Echolocation to certify blind student mobility coaches as FlashSonar Instructors in Thailand.
The training is a joint effort by King Prajadhipok’s Institute (Thai monarch 1925 to 1935), the Foundation for the Blind in Thailand under the patronage of Her Majesty The Queen, and Good Intentions, a volunteer group.
We offered our heartfelt condolences to members of the Thai Royal Family and the people of Thailand who were mourning the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, one of the world’s longest-serving monarchs. We feel especially privileged to have honored the late King’s adage that “To help them [the blind] obtain skills to navigate more freely on their own is tantamount to enhancing their independence.”
Our Lead Visioneer Daniel Kish and Senior Visioneers Brian Bushway and Juan Ruiz not only taught the elements of our FlashSonar™refined form of echolocation, they also provided the student coaches with full-length navigation canes. For many of the students, it was their first opportunity to explore areas of Bangkok without being led by a guiding arm from someone.
Read the full report and see photos of the experience at our Assignment: Thailand page.
GIVE A BLIND CHILD THE LIFE SKILLS OF PERCEPTUAL VISION
The work of VISIONEERS is very simple:
We teach blind persons of all ages to see with sound. We teach sighted people to see better.
The impact of our work is very simple:
Blind persons gain self-directed freedom from well-intentioned, but outdated, orientation and mobility programs and attitudes that foster sighted dependence.
The best way for you to be a part of our mission is also very simple:
Give a blind child, teen or adult the life skills of Perceptual Vision by making a secure online donation anytime you’re able. Thank you.
A MESSAGE FROM DANIEL KISH
What a year it has been!
As you may have read previously on our Facebook page, I was named an Ashoka Fellow late last year, and have been selected to present a Keynote Address to, and network with, hundreds of stakeholders and policy makers at the Zero Project Conference for a Barrier-Free World at the U.N. Headquarters in Vienna, and also to undergo a special impact accelerator program to help World Access for the Blind/Visioneers scale-up our work to increase and broaden its impact across the U.S. and around the world.
We were one of 10 out of 371 selected, so I am most appreciative.
Other opportunities are also opening to us. The potentials for networking and support are staggering for all people who face ability challenges. We are most grateful.
These humbling achievements are leading to some game changing expansions of our work and its impact on people that promise to put us in a whole new high-profile league of high-impact capacity and influence.
Not only am I immensely honored, but I am ever reminded that it is all happening in part because of the generous support of our work by many of you who subscribe to receive our Newsletters and who make a donation online or by check. You are our Champions! Thank you most sincerely!
You can read more about all of this in our most recent Newsletter:
I write this letter as a direct appeal for your kind support once more, in whatever manner you can spare it. Because, as exciting and richly rewarding as these opportunities promise to be for us and our students in a future within our grasp, at present we are struggling out of the most financially compromising year we have ever experienced.
These opportunities for a bright and open future are projected to begin gaining us traction by mid 2018 to early 2019. What we need now are the means to reach that future intact.
Growing from my training a few dozen local blind students and their families and supporters to half a dozen blind instructors training over 15,000 in nearly two-thirds of the U.S. and 39 countries through several spin-off organizations, I have never felt at once so hopeful about a prosperous future and so daunted by the task of ensuring our immediate survival.
The social impact of 2017 has, as for so many, constricted our resource stream and threatened our capacity to sustain our life-changing services which have reached almost legendary proportions over the last 17 years of solid growth. How quickly that can change for better or worse.
Given the right boost with your help, I am certain that we can find ourselves back on track for the better. I don’t know how else to express to you my concern except to say simply that, in order to achieve and maintain traction long enough to make effective use of the opportunities availed to us, we simply need your help, as much as you can reasonably give.
Please help us by making a secure online donation below.
All of us at World Access For The Blind/Visioneers and our Junior Visioneer students across the USA and around the world are warmly appreciative of your support.
DONATE BY CHECK
Donations by personal check are also welcome. Please make the check payable to: World Access For The Blind and mail to:
World Access For The Blind
650 N. Rose Drive, #208
Placentia, CA 92870
CORPORATE| ENTERPRISE DONATIONS
VISIONEERS/WAFTB OPERATES ENTIRELY ON DONATIONS WHICH IS WHY WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
Be A Flash Of Inspiration!
Even in this day and age, many blind children in the United States and around the world are ‘falling through the cracks’ of society due to a lack of funding or lack of access to educational resources and services, resulting in language and mobility delays and leading to isolation and dependence. The situation is even worse if they have been diagnosed on the Autism spectrum or with other sensory conditions.
For over 18 years, World Access For The Blind | Visioneers has specialized in working with these students, their families and school districts to formulate multi-faceted activational programs and mobility training approaches designed to instill knowledge, competence, confidence and self-directed independence in these students.
And as media coverage of our work echoes our clicks to billions of people around the world, we need to train and hire more instructors in the USA to meet the backed-up demand for our services.
Be a flash of inspiration for a blind student by contributing to our FlashSonar™ Tuition Scholarships, so that they can learn to light-up their world and leave the darkness behind.
‘Staying The Course Took Perseverance’
Following the founding of World Access For The Blind in 2000, 9/11 shook the economy “top to bottom”, as Success Magazine’s profile of Daniel Kish states. “All funding dried up overnight”, he [Kish] says [while waiting for his tax-exempt status to be confirmed]. He lived off his savings and credit cards . . . his gas was turned off . . . ‘my cupboards were bare’.
But thousands of clients later, Kish is still operating on a budget far leaner than he’d like, in part because he never turns any student away.”
Some years are better than others. 2017 was a particularly challenging year for funding for many charities across the United States, including ours, for political and other reasons. As you read in the message from Lead Visioneer Daniel Kish, we have many exciting opportunities coming up this year, but we need your immediate help to bridge the funding gap in the meantime.
Please help Daniel and the rest of the Visioneers | World Access For The Blind Team bridge that gap to continue to reach more blind students by making a secure online donation that is tax-deductible in the United States. We’ve partnered with the most secure online donation services to make sure your that when you enter your information is strongly encrypted and protected.
“The Boat’s Become A Ship – We Need A Bigger Engine!”
Visioneers | World Access for the Blind is a California-registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that is disrupting well-intentioned, but outdated models of orientation and mobility education for blind persons that keeps them dependent on sighted guidance, and sighted-thinking.
We break through decades-old attitudes and paradigms by teaching blind people to see for themselves in an innovative and self-directed way. We’re a small organization of five blind instructors and a few paid or pro-bono consultants, who can barely keep up with demand. Global media coverage of our work has created a waiting list of blind and sighted people who want to learn our FlashSonar™ Echolocation for personal or professional reasons.
Your donations help to cover related training expenses such as travel and accommodation, especially where we provide affordable or pro-bono services to low-income students in need across the United States and around the world. With the launch of our Visioneers brand, we’ve added new services for Professionals in the Orientation and Mobility field, for Schools and Enterprise operations and other service categories with goal of building revenue that can sustain our current operations, and combined with your donations, build an endowment for the future that enables us to build the Visioneers Academy and support the training and hiring of more instructors to satisfy the growing demand for our services.
We hope you’ll be one of our Champions by making a donation today. Thank you!
COUNTRIES OF STUDENTS WE SERVED IN 2017
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR THOUGHTFUL AND GENEROUS SUPPORT!
LOOKING FOR A GIFT FOR A BLIND PERSON OR A BLINDNESS PROFESSIONAL?
GIVE THEM THE RESOURCE TEXTBOOK GIFT ABOUT LEARNING TO SEE WITH SOUND!
American Printing House for the Blind presents the definitive textbook on FlashSonar Echolocation written by Daniel Kish, considered the foremost expert on the subject, and Jo Hook, Attorney and Professor of Rehabilitation.
Here’s what APH says about it: Echolocation and FlashSonar provides research, case examples, instructional approaches, and practice exercises that can lead to mastery of echolocation skills.
This guidebook, written by Daniel Kish and Jo Hook, provides instructional strategies for teaching persons who are blind and visually impaired who are working independently. Although Echolocation and FlashSonar works well as an instructional manual for O&M specialists, it can also be used by adults who are blind and visually impaired and who are not working with rehabilitation professionals. An extensive list of references and resources is provided for the reader. The cost is $77.00 and a Braille edition is available as a free download.
We hope you will enjoy this book, and find it helpful. Neither the authors nor Visioneers/WAFTB receive any royalties for the sale of this book. If you find this book helpful, please consider helping us reach more blind students in more places with your tax deductible donation to Visioneers | World Access for the Blind.
Thank you kindly.