Two girls stare cheekily at the camera, both wearing glasses

UK hosts its first ever Global Disability Summit

The Global Disability Summit is taking place in London in July and is bringing together governments, multilaterals, private sector and civil society to drive real change in ensuring the rights, freedoms, dignity and inclusion of all persons with disabilities.

This week, the UK Government is hosting its first ever Global Disability Summit with the International Disability Alliance and the Government of Kenya. The summit will see commitments being made to ensure that the 800 million people living with disabilities in low and middle income countries have equal access to their rights, are included in all aspects of society, and are able to live with freedom and dignity.

Across the world, 253 million people are living with visual impairment, and 89% of these people live in low and middle income countries.

Many disabled people are being denied their rights in accessing education, going to work and making independent decisions. Many experience limited participation in community and political life, including because of stigma and discrimination.

Visual impairment can stop women like Hamida – a tailor – going to work, earning an income, and living independently.

Visual impairment can stop children like Suhati from reading her textbook and seeing the blackboard.

Suhati’s story is all too frequent. Myopia – or near-sightedness – is the major cause of visual impairment among school-aged children.

But research tells us that only 1 in 5 children actually receive the glasses they need. It does not have to be this way.

Orbis UK is taking action through our programmes, including eye screenings in schools and local communities. Screenings can help ensure that children with visual impairment can continue to access education and to learn – they can lead to a diagnosis, a glasses prescription, or referral for treatment (such as surgery) or other rehabilitative support.

We are also:

  • working to ensure better support for people with disabilities in humanitarian settings. Orbis has been screening and treating Rohingya people in South East Bangladesh as the first eye care organisation to establish services within the relief camps. Between February and April 2018, Orbis conducted almost 5,000 eye tests and provided over 2,500 treatments thanks to support form Qatar Fund for Development
  • working on generating better data on disability, including by using the Washington Group questions to understand the experiences of the people supported by some of our programmes in areas of Southern Ethiopia.

And we have signed up to the UK Department for International Development’s Charter for Change because we are serious about ensuring the rights, freedoms and dignity and inclusion for all people with disabilities.

This Global Disability Summit we want governments, multilaterals, private sector and civil society to come together to make concrete, actionable and measurable commitments to ensure the rights, freedoms, dignity and inclusion of all persons with disabilities.

This must include ensuring that assistive devices such as glasses are available and affordable for all of those that need them.

Join the conversation on Twitter using #DisabilitySummit and #NowIsTheTime

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