Thailand Association of the Blind (TAB) now has almost 10,000 members from all over Thailand. Under the current constitution, TAB is run under the principle of representative democracy. It consists of 9 executive committee ,and no more than 200 delegates from eleven regional branches at the TAB national convention. TAB has its national headquarters located in Bangkok. TAB’s current president is Mr. Torpong Selanon
From the past to present, the Association has expanded our network to develop the capability of persons with visual impairment. Eleven branches of the Thailand Association of the Blind were established in local communities nationwide. Moreover, other organizations were founded; for instance,
-Thai National Research and Development Institute for the Blind .
-Thonburi Life-long and Career Demonstration Center for the Blind
-The Center for learning and Career Demonstration of the Blind, North lower branch, upper central branch.
-The National Library of the Blind and Persons with Print Disability.
-The Thailand Service Co-operative of the Blind.
1.Describe one or two recent highlights (over the past 2 years).
1.1 Thailand International Blind Music Festival
The International Blind Music Festival was initiated by the Thailand Association of the Blind in 2012 during the WBU-ICEVI 2012 General Assembly in Bangkok. In 2013, Thailand Association of the Blind continued to hold the 2nd Thailand International Blind Music Festival under the theme “Breathing in the Dark”. The event was being held between 14-15 December 2013 in the Santichaiprakarn Park in Bangkok; and on 14 February 2014 in Chiang Mai province, locating in the northern part of the country. The event was participated by various blind musicians and singers, both from Thailand and abroad. The international bands participated were: Sebastiao Antunes from Protugal; Fortissimo from Indonesia; Phalung Chai from Lao and AYDD Show from Cambodia.Besides,There were Thai musicians and singers such as the Ionion, CMBLIND BAND (a band from Chiang Mai School for the Blind), Miss Fah and Miss Pang Ubolwan from the T.V. program – Thailand’s Got Talent, as well as Miss Tuk Athisri Songkroh. This December, we will hold the 3rd Thailand International Blind Music Festival which will show the public that we can create friendship without border through music.
1.2 The 1st Thailand International Braille Reading and Writing Contest
During 17-19 January 2014, the Thailand Association of the Blind together with the Ratchasuda College, Mahidol University held the 1st International Braille Reading and Writing Contest at the campus of Ratchasuda College, Mahidol University. In this first year, there were 25 contestants from 4 countries; namely, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand. There were individual reading and writing contest for those under 25 years old and those who are above 25 years old. Contestants from all 4 countries performed excellently and were able to win in either reading or writing contest.
Thailand has continually organized the national Braille reading and writing contest for the plaque from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn every year for 19 years. The aim of this contest is to encourage blind people to continually practice reading and writing Braille. Also, it is an opportunity for blind people to show our abilities to the general public.
The 6th marathon Braille reading contest was started following the international Braille reading and writing contest in the afternoon of 18 January. The winner of this year marathon Braille reading contest was a young lady called Arphorn Chanthila who able to read Braille for 38 hours!
1.3 ASEAN Community Blind Forum (ACBF).
Thailand Association of the Blind holds its TAB Convention around late April of every year. The main purpose of this annual convention is to provide opportunities for blind people and stakeholders throughout Thailand to participate in forums to exchange and discuss ways to improve the quality of life of blind people. In 2013, Thailand Association of the Blind initiated the 1st ASEAN Community Blind Forum (ACBF). There were 17 participants from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Philippine, Singapore and Vietnam. And of course some representatives from Thailand. In 2014, the 2nd ACBF was participated by 15 representatives from 6 countries; namely, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The forum acted as a platform for representatives to collaboratively set the guidelines to improve the quality of life of blind people in the region to welcome ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
1.4 The 12th World Blind Union Asia-Pacific massage seminar
The Foundation for the employment promotion of the blind and The Thailand Association of the Blind together organized The 12th World Blind Union Asia-Pacific massage seminar on May 5-7, 2014 at the Golden Tulip Sovereign Hotel in Bangkok. The seminar theme was “Medical massage for the blind”. The keynote address was about the Development of medical massage for the blind in Thailand.
- What challenges are being faced at present at organization or country level?
2.1 Build awareness in accessing information and knowledge. Thailand Association of the Blind tries to encourage the access to information and knowledge by persons with visual impairment. We aim to expand accessible learning resource centers to blind people. Moreover, we urge blind people to use technology to independently access information.
2.2 Support the employment. Blind people nationwide have the right to be employed according to the law, as well as to work according to the individual’s abilities and skills. Blind people will have to work in accordance to their life style and local culture. In addition, we try to run new businesses such as social enterprises.
2.3 Support the international participation of blind people. Moreover, support blind people to have a role in international levels – both at the ASEAN and world levels.
3.Name examples of progress in your country towards ratifying, implementation and monitoring of the UNCRPD (United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)
Concerning the progress of ratification implementation and monitoring of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Thailand has been actively participating in the process of drafting and negotiating of the Convention since its inception. In particularly, Mr. Monthian Buntan, since his role as first Vice President of Thailand Association of the Blind and his 8 years as President of TAB, has been involved by first being appointed to serve as head of the Thai delegation to the act of Thai committee to draft and negotiate the text of the Convention, making the Convention the first of its kind in the UN history which contains the text referring to accessibility of itself. Upon UN adoption of the Convention, Thailand quickly signed the CRPD and went through dramatic changes of its domestic law, including total revision of the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Act 1991 and the re-enactment of such law renamed as the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Act 2007 followed by the enactment of Persons with Disabilities Education Act 2008. In addition, there were more than 20 pieces of legislation being either revised or amended to be in line with the Convention. As a result, in 2008 Thailand ratified the CRPD. In the year 2012, Thailand proposed Mr. Monthian Buntan, then President of TAB, as a candidate to run for a seat in the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He got elected with the highest score among all candidates in that year. He will continue to serve as CRPD Committee until the end of 2016. Thailand now has one of the most progressive disability law, and just recently made some amendment by strengthening the implementation of the Convention through expanding service from government sector to civil society sector. Disability service centre is on its way to be established in all provinces and communities, taking away the role of providing services from central government to DPOs, including organizations of blind people, the local governments and other civil society organizations. Now, Thailand is on its way to present its first report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, scheduled to be in April of 2016. Meanwhile, the DPO side is also preparing to draft and present its parallel report to the Committee as well. Things that are yet finished is that Thailand has not ratified the CRPD Optional Protocol, but hope to do so before its initial report is being considered in 2016. Thailand Association of the Blind and other organizations in disability field are going to work very closely and follow step by step on this process and make sure that blind people will be guaranteed full human rights and fundamental freedoms. Related to the implementation and monitoring of the CRPD implementation, the National Legislative Assembly is now on its way to adopt the amendment to the Copyright Act which should be adopted by now by the NLA. Such adoption will pave the way for Thailand to sign and ratify the Marrakesh Treaty very soon. We hope to inform such good news to the blindness community of our region as soon as possible.
- Explain how you are supporting other neighboring or developing countries in terms of the wellbeing and capacity building or empowerment of blind and vision impaired persons.
4.1 Thailand Association of the Blind in cooperation with the Mongolian National Federation of the Blind (MNFB) organized the massage training in Thailand for 4 months.
4.2 Thai represent as speaker in How to comply with UNCRPD seminar in Lao PDR.
4.3 Continually sponsor the development of NVDA for 3 years (since 2012).
4.4 Held The 1st Thailand International Braille reading and writing Contest between 17-19 January 2014.
4.5 Held 2 Thailand International Blind Music Festivals since 2012. The 3rd festival will be held in December 2014.
4.6 Held 2 ASEAN Community Blind Forum (ACBF) since 2013.