In order to create an inclusive society for people with visual impairment, in which they have equal rights and opportunities as anyone else within the society we have built strong partnerships with major government bodies. One of our main assets is that Ms. Mabrouk is a member of the National Council for Disability Affairs in Egypt. Ms. Mabrouk advocates the special needs of people with visual impairment and the making of laws that realize the special needs of each disability rather than treating them all as equal. The three main partner ministries which we work with are: The ministry of education & ministry of health & population, ministry of social solidarity. We work with the vital government partners on:
We work with the ministries in order to create, amend, and implement policies relating to disabilities in general and to people with visual impairment specifically. Some of our work in influencing policies include:
In 2016 we were able to get the ministry of higher education to accept visually impaired in all universities Departments with no discrimination if they have the proper grades and requirements of entry. Before they only used to be accepted in some literature departments.
Visually impaired needed to have a guardian to open bank account. BASEERA took the initiative to advocate for the independence of the VIPs in managing their banking accounts. BASEERA coordinated with the banks union in Egypt to change this. As a result, There are 3 banks in Egypt (2 of them are the biggest in Egypt: El Ahly Bank and CIB) which accept VIPs to independently open and manage their accounts without a guardian.
In promoting the full independence of VIPs, we succeeded in getting the Ministry of Education's approval on allowing the VIPs to take their exams on the computer rather than the traditional method which requires a delegated person to accompany the VIP students and write on their behalf. This year two visually impaired female students, who have been enrolled in our programs since they were infants, took the 6th grade government test on the computer. Which is considered a major step towards fully integrating VIPs in mainstream schools. And we will continue promoting this method until it becomes regularly applied in VIPs education.
We have shown the possibilities of inclusive education for visually impaired by putting it into practice. This has been the key factor to success, a mind shift has taken place within the ministries and schools from talking about inclusion and being sceptical towards acting and seeing positive results. More schools accept students with a visual impairment. The ministry of education is eager to understand the practical implications of inclusive education, we coordinate with the ministry of education through providing them with guidance and advice.
Moreover, the special need students were not admitted in Technical Education by Law, after lobbying by BASEERA low vision students are now accepted.
In order to be able to provide the best services for the VI community and advocate for their rights we have vital local and international partners. We have created sustainable networks of other NGOs, which work for the rights of people with disabilities, one of our major networks is the "Network for changing Policies for Inclusive Education," from among our partners in this initiative are CARITAS( which works on enhancing the lives of people with mental disabilities), NEDA'(which works with people with hearing disability), and ADVANCE which works on developing Skills of Children with Special Needs).
We also coordinate with international partners who work in developing the lives of people with visual impairment. BASEERA's staff every year attend international conferences and summits that address the needs of the people with visual impairment and discuss new methods, technologies, and tools to address these needs. We have strong connections with international organizations who provide us with important technical assistance and know-how such as VISIO, the centre of expertise for blind and partially sighted people of all ages, including those with additional disabilities; International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI), a global association of individuals and organizations that promotes equal access to appropriate education for all children and youth with visual impairment, and the Lighthouse Guild, which is a leading NGO and healthcare organization, with a long-standing heritage of addressing the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired.
In order to create an accepting society for people with visual impairment raising awareness is a major aspect. As part of our raising awareness mission our staff and programs' participants have appeared in a number of widely watched television programs such as Lamis El-Haddidi's program "Hona Al-Asema", Mohamed Sobhey's program "Mafesh Moshkela Khales," Sada Al-Balad Program "Nas men Baladna," among others. We have held a number of awareness sessions and distributed informative leaflets on people with visual impairment and their needs to government entities, schools, and the general public.
As part of our strategic plan this year is to hold wide awareness campaigns in two ways, firstly, as a major component in our projects' that are implemented in Egypt's governorates and secondly, as a component by itself through holding awareness campaigns which are addressed to government workers, school employers, health professionals. Awareness campaigns that target the general public through having a presence in universities, schools, social clubs, public spaces such as malls, among others.