Mr. Yaw Ofori-Debra, a Ghanaian disability activist and chairman of the National Council for People with Disabilities, was elected second vice president of the World Blind Union (WBU).
He was overwhelmingly elected on June 23, 2021 ahead of the Union’s 10th Fourth Annual Meeting, held between June 28 and 30 in Madrid, Spain, at which delegates elected five executives to run the business from 2021 to Lead in 2025.
The new leadership includes President Martine Abel-Williamson (New Zealand); 1st Vice-President Fernando Riaño (Spain); 2nd Vice President: Yaw Ofori Debra (Ghana); Secretary General Diana Stentoft (Denmark) and Treasurer Diane Bergeron (Canada)
Mr. Ofori-Debra is the first West African to have held a leadership position at WBU since its inception in 1984 to be the voice of the blind and visually impaired in the context of human rights.
The Union represents an estimated 253 million blind or partially sighted people in 196 countries and provides the platform for members to articulate and advocate human rights and opportunities to improve their wellbeing.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Thursday, Mr Ofori-Debra said he will use his new position to seek innovative solutions to the challenges the blind and visually impaired (BPD) face in their daily lives.
He envisioned working with UN agencies and national governments to fund the mass production of assistive technologies that make the work and social lives of BPS people easier and that are available and affordable to all.
He said promoting blindness sports and recreation, increasing youth participation in WBU activities, and leadership were priorities.
Mr Ofori-Debra has served in various capacities for organizations for the disabled.
He was formerly President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations, an umbrella organization that advocates for various groups of disabled people in Ghana.
Before that he was President of the Ghana Blind Union and Vice President of the African Union of the Blind.
In 2018, the United States Embassy in Ghana presented Ofori-Debra with the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Peace and Social Justice for his activism and work focused on people with disabilities and disabled rights.