Bill Jolley – Blind Citizens Australia

I was born and raised in Melbourne, the third in a family of seven children of whom the first four were born totally blind. My parents were both sighted, and there was no history of blindness in our family. I attribute my life’s happiness and successes to the love of my parents for each other and their children and to the encouragement and high expectations of family, friends, peers and role models who were blind or vision-impaired. I am happily married for 38 years, and Carmel and I have four adult children the youngest of whom is recently married and living in South Korea.

Braille was the bedrock of my literacy, enabling me to get a good education, study advanced mathematics at university and work in the telecommunications industry as a network analyst and computer programmer. I also worked managing computerised braille production and as a policy analyst in telecommunications regulation. Having retired from full time work I now have more time to pursue my interests which include advocacy and governance to assist people who are blind and the study of modern physics encompassing relativity, quantum mechanics and cosmology.

I am currently a director of Vision Australia and a member of the finance committee of Blind Citizens Australia (BCA). My involvement with BCA goes back forty years as the first secretary in 1975, and I have since been President for 7.5 years and Executive Officer for 6.5 years. The installation of audible traffic signals throughout Australia, and the Fifth WBU General Assembly in Melbourne in 2000, lead my BCA highlights.

As a young leader I was introduced to the World Blind Union by David blyth, attending my first General Assembly in 1988. I’ve attended all of them since, except for Bangkok in 2012. During 1992–2000 I was a WBU Executive member and a Vice-President in the East Asia Pacific region. I also chaired resolutions and elections committees at General Assemblies.

I have been very fortunate to have been involved in some very special international projects including computerised braille production training in Africa, capacity building in Fiji and braille literacy teacher training in viet Nam. I have also carried out project evaluations for the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted (NABP) and the Danish Association of the Blind (DAB).

As a newly appointed member of the WBU-AP Board, I hope to build on our strengths and continue the commitment of past leaders. In particular, I bring a strong corporate knowledge of WBU and understanding of blindness services globally, experience of local and international governance best practice, and high-level policy development experience concerning braille and assistive technology.

I look forward to supporting the capacity-building of our WBU-AP members, and to partnering with allied organisations as we pursue our common goals of implementing the Marrakesh Treaty, the CRPD, and other intergovernmental policies to make a positive difference for blind people throughout Asia and the Pacific.