Category Archives: Vision Impaired Persons


In August 2013 Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability, Executive Committee Member of the Asian Blind Union and General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped (2010 to 2015) was the national coordinator and the organizer to organize a seminar for visually impaired women in South Asian countries organized by the Asian Blind Union. Asian Blind Union organized a sub-regional workshop for South Asian Sub Regional countries for empowerment and strengthening of leadership and managerial skills of blind women leaders associated with its affiliated blindness organizations at Tangerine Beach Hotel, Kalutara. Asian Blind Union is one of the regional unions of World Blind Union which is the only voice of the blind at the international level and has a consultative status with the United Nations and its agencies. It has its affiliate organizations in almost all the countries of south Asian sub region, central Asian sub region and Middle East sub region. The workshop was inaugurated by its President Mr. S. K. Rungta from India. While inaugurating the workshop, Mr. Rungta expressed the concern about non utilization of our blind women leader’s skills in the organizational work. He informed that a study undertaken by Asian Blind Union has revealed that the participation of blind women in organizational work and their coverage in the services and programmes for the blind both in Government and NGO sector is very minimal. Keeping in view, this factor, the Union has undertaken a project titled as “women and IT” by which a greater role for blind women leaders would be facilitated both in terms of enhancement of their roles in organizational work and their coverage.

Addressing the inaugural function of the workshop, Ms. Sachu Ramalingam, project manager informed that opportunities will be provided to blind women leaders to first plan and formulate small projects for empowerment of blind women in their respective e countries and there after implement the same with the financial support from the Asian Blind Union. She maintained that this approach would build and enhance self confidence among blind women leaders. This will also help in change the attitudes of the leadership of blindness organizations towards the attainment of gender equity and equality.

Mr. QariSaad Noor, Treasurer Asian blind Union, Mr. Alex Jayawardane, President Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped, Ms. Shalika Karunaratne, Executive Committee member, Sri Lanka Council for the Blind and Ms. Manique Gunaratne, Executive Committee member of the Asian Blind Union and local coordinator of the workshop also emphasized the need for such initiatives and expressed their commitment to work together in this laudable endeavour.

About twenty women participants from five countries viz. India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal participated in this workshop. On this occasion, a manual titled as, “Manual on organizational leadership and project management” which has been prepared through voluntary contributions of Mr. S. K. Rungta, President ABU, Mr. Amer Makaram, Secretary General ABU, Mr. K. Ramkrishna, General Secretary National Association for the Blind, India, Ms. Sachu Ramalingam, Project Manager, ABU. This manual is one of first of its kind to be used as reference material in organizational work and project management particularly by those who aspire to undertake responsible positions in the organizations of / for the blind as it provides very basic knowledge and skills in those areas.  The Union has published this manual in all accessible formats including Braille and large print. It will also be translated in Russian and Arabic languages to make it accessible for the benefit of leaders in central Asia in Middle East.  This workshop was the first in its series of three workshops as two remaining workshops will be organized for central Asia and Middle East in September and October respectively. This project has been financially supported by Norwegian Association of the blind and partially sighted. Media was present at the occasion. Several TV channels telecasted this programme in their main news bulletin. Following areas were covered in the programme.

An overview of organizational structure and responsibilities of different functionaries for identifying the reasons of lesser participation of women in different organizational roles

Requirement in terms of empowerment of women leaders to enable them to participate at different levels equally with male leaders.

An overview of the concept of project and project planning SESSION

Project Writing

Identification of project idea and the project planning

Around the idea so identified.

Describing organizational profile in the project including ‘SWOT’ analysis

Writing organizational profile

Describing activity plan in the project

Describing resource plan and budget of a project

Implementation strategies and administration of a project

Writing the activity plan around a project idea.

Resource plan and developing a badger for the project

Meeting Management

Conducting meetings

Documentation and recording decisions, resolutions and descend

Monitoring, its meaning and object

The role and involvement of different functionaries in monitoring of the Project by ABU including National Affiliated Organization, Staff of affiliated organizations, focal points, Project Manager and Table Officers

Monitoring Tools

Strategies of monitoring

Tools for monitoring


Manique Gunaratne

Face Book – Manique Gunaratne



In October 2013, Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability and General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped (2010 to 2015) together with the officials of the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped had a meeting with the President of Sri Lanka 2005 to 2015) Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksha to mark the International White Cane Day. The officers who attended the meeting received the first set of white canes from the President.


Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Group photograph with the president.

group pic with president

2 Manique receiving the white cane from the president.

manique with president 1

3 Discussion with the president.

discussion _MG_0515



Manique Gunaratne

E-mail –


International white cane day 2013

International white cane day 2013

In October 2013 the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped celebrated the International White Cane Day at the Public Library. The Chief Guest was the Minister of Environment, Mr. Susil Premjayanth. White canes and self-employment assistance were distributed among the visually impaired persons. The Army band provided the music for the occasion. Ms. Manique Gunaratne delivered a speech on the significant of the white cane. The Colombo District branch also celebrated the International White Cane Day and Ms. Manique Gunaratne was invited to make a speech on the significant of the white cane and the techniques of using the white cane.


Manique Gunaratne

Founder Members Team – South Asian Women with Disabilities Network

Organizational capacity assessment tool

Organizational capacity assessment tool


In November 2013 Ms. ManiqueGunaratne of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability and Executive Committee Member of the Asian Blind Union participated at an OCAT (Organizational capacity assessment tool) workshop and the Asian blind Union executive committee meeting in New Delhi, India. This was organized by the Asian Blind Union and National Federation of the Blind, India at Hotel Thirty Three. Following areas were covered at the workshop.

The Four Abilities

The four abilities model is a framework for organization development and a tool for self-assessment within an organization.  The assessment should be done in a participatory manner, but the process should be facilitated by someone outside the organization.  The organization capacity assessment tool (OCAT) may serve as a “health check” of an organization, provide as a baseline, serve as a planning tool and may also be used to assess progress and monitor the development of the organization.

The framework proposes to look at an organization as a complex system, where an organization is divided into four parts or four abilities. These parts represent a specific ability needed in organizations that can be used for measuring the status quo in the organization.  The four abilities have been given the following names; Ability to be, ability to organize/manage, ability to relate and the ability to do. Each of these abilities contains various capacities and each capacity represents an important aspect for all organizations. Each capacity is given a score from 1 – 4 depending on which of the descriptions that best represents the current situation or the status quo in the organization.

The development of the OCAT, has also been inspired and mentored by INTRAC and Jan Knight. Further, the framework used (that of ‘4 Abilities’) is inspired by a framework developed by Digni (a Norwegian umbrella NGO).


Picture descriptions:

1 At the hotel

2 At the workshop

3 Manique making presentation.making presentation



Council Member – Cisco Networking Academy Council


International White cane day 2015


The International White Cane day is celebrated every year on 15 October. All organisations working for vision impaired persons celebrated this event. National Forum of Visually Handicapped Women celebrated this event in October at the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped with representatives from Women in Management, International Women’s Society, representatives from the Divisional Secretariat, Father LokendraAbeyratne and vision impaired women.

The Colombo district branch of the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped celebrated this day in November with the representatives of the Lions Club and vision impaired members. A walk was organized from Independence Square to the Lions Club Activity Centre. Thereafter was a gather at the Lions Club Activity Centre. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne from the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability was invited to make a speech on “Significance of the white cane and the international white cane day”.



Executive Committee Member – Daisy Lanka Foundation




The Visually Handicapped Trust Fund Board provides numerous services for vision impaired persons. This board is under the Ministry of Social Services. This board was established by an act in 1993. The Chair Person of the board is the Secretary to the Ministry of Social Services. The rest of the board members are Director of Social Services, Representative from the Prime Minister’s Office, Director of the Disability Secretariat, Board secretary, treasurer and five vision impaired persons. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne was a board member of the Visually Handicapped Trust Fund from 2010 to 2015. The Visually Handicapped Trust Fund provides many services for vision impaired persons in Sri Lanka such as scholarships for vision impaired university students, school children, scholarships for sighted students of vision impaired parents, medical assistance, assistance for assistive devices, sports activities of vision impaired persons and many other projects related to vision impaired persons.      




Executive Committee Member – Daisy Lanka Foundation




Rights based approach for organisations working for vision impaired persons


The Asian Blind Union organized a workshop on “Right based approach of organisations” in August 2015 at Hotel: Courtyard by Marriott Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

There were vision impaired participants from South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East and the Executive Committee Members of the Asian Blind Union.

The following areas were taken into consideration.

Expectation sharing.

Criteria of representative organisations representing vision impaired persons.

Roles and mandates of organisations working for vision impaired persons.

Organisations priorities and human rights.

Human rights principles.

Organisations process and human rights principles.

Distinction between charities based, needs based and right based models.

Language of rights based organisations.

Organisational assessment.

Human rights based approach to development.

Civil society and rights based organisations.

Paradigm and history of rights.

Frame work tool and instruments to Millennium Development Goal.

Application of rights based organisations.

Challenges and constraints.

Executive Committee Member of the Asian Blind Union, Ms. ManiqueGunaratne participated at this really informative and fruitful workshop.


Picture descriptions:

1 The organisers took the delegates to a barbecue dinner at an Arabic restaurant. Everyone enjoying the dinner.

traditional Arabic Dinner

2 It was really fun when all the ladies wore the traditional Abaya dress. It was compulsory to wear the Abaya for women when going outside of the hotel.

group waring abaya

3 First day all the delegates enjoyed a traditional Arabic dinner at a traditional Cottage Hotel. It was their tradition to have the ladies in one room and men in another room. The delegates enjoyed the dinner sitting on the ground. Traditional Arabic coffee, dates, traditional Arabic food was served.

barbacue dinner

4 Enjoying the lectures at the workshop.

Workshop participant 2

5 Listening to a fruitful presentation.

workshop participants



National Campaigner for Rights of Women with Disabilities – Raising Our Voices for Us


In February 2014 the “Leadership and Project Management” workshop was organized by the Asian Blind Union and the Nepal Association of the Blind at Hotel Manaslu in Katmandu, Nepal. Following areas were covered at the conference.

An overview of International Treaties and strategies for their Ratification and implementation.

Gender policy of Asian Blind Union.

Identifying issues and developing strategies for implementation of Asian Blind Union Gender Policy.

Assessment of the status of Ratification of Marrakesh Copy Right Treaty.

Issues relating to strengthening of organizational capacity of Asian Blind Union affiliate organization in the sub-region, Mapping of need.

Identifying issues relating to formation of groups by women leaders in the process of development of the respective project and their experiences with regard to group dynamic.

Strategy to enhance participation of Asian Blind Union affiliate organizations in the work of Asian Blind Union

Identifying the issues and difficulties faced by women leaders during development of their respective projects by using the project format.

Developing and Presentation of a strategy for implementation of the specific project.

Strengthening skills for advocacy on Ratification and Implementation of UNCRPD.

Empowering Affiliate organizations for ensuring inclusion of blind /partially sighted persons in the programmes of International Developmental Agencies such as UNDP, UNICEF, Asian Development Bank, UNESCO, ILO etc.

Development of project for implementation in the respective country by developing partnership with aforementioned international agencies.

Vision impaired persons from South Asian countries participated for this workshop. Ms. Manique Gunaratne represented Sri Lanka for this workshop.



Manique Gunaratne

Fax – 0094114547649




It is very important for vision impaired persons to be empowered and also to know their rights. People in the very grassroots level do not get any opportunity to be educated in their rights. UNCRPD clearly states the rights of persons with disabilities. The Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped and Myright Sweden organized a workshop for 30 vision impaired persons in Kalutara, Galle, Matara and in Hambanthota districts. The participants were really enthusiastic to learn about the 50 articles of the UNCRPD. Practical training sessions made them understand more on the subject matter. Persons with disabilities are marginalized mainly due to lack of knowledge on their rights. Although persons with disabilities are subject to discrimination they hardly take legal action. The reason behind this is that they do not know the actions they should take as persons with disabilities. In June 2014 when this workshop was conducted at Dilena Hotel Ms. Manique Gunaratne was one of the resource persons.

activities for participants lecture on leadership development


Smart Cane device is an electronic travel aid used in conjunction with a normal white cane that assists a visually impaired person in mobility and navigation.

While the normal white cane can only detect obstacles up to knee height, this device is capable of detecting obstacles from knee to head height. In other words, the Smart Cane is not meant to replace the white cane but to augment its functionality. It can detect obstacles up to 3 meters when used outdoor and up to 1.8 meters when used indoor. With this increased range, it warns the users about impending obstacles before possible collision happens and helps in finding collision-free paths.

Smart cane device is not meant to replace white cane but to augment its functionality.


The benefits of using the SmartCane device are as follows:

  • It helps to detect knee-above obstacles which are usually not detected by the white cane. Such obstacles might include a tree branch, underside of a car, hanging cloth strings, protruding window air conditioners, etc. As these obstacles usually pose a risk of injury to the head and upper part of the body, it is critical to detect them early.
  • It increases the detection range to 3 meters in the long-range mode and to 1.8 meters in the short-range mode. The enhanced detection range helps in informing the user about the presence of obstacles much before touching the actual obstacle. An object as big as wall and as small as a 3 cm wide raised pipe at 3 m can be detected from mentioned distance. This early detection helps in avoiding unwanted collisions.
  • It helps in finding collision free-paths while walking by detecting and avoiding obstacles.


In March 2015 The Indian Institute of Technology gave a smart cane training for a group of vision impaired persons at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon. Ms. Manique Gunaratne is also a proud user of a smart cane training