There are around 161 million blind or visually impaired people around the world, 40 million of whom suffer from total blindness, according to WHO (World Health Organization) estimates. Most of them live in developing countries and lack access to education, physical rehabilitation and jobs, placing them at a distinct disadvantage with respect to their fellow citizens.
The ONCE is keenly aware of this situation and, to the extent that it can, cooperates in basic personal and social rehabilitation aspects. Currently the ONCE is involved in over thirty international organizations that work to aid those with disabilities, without detriment to any help it may provide under unusual or high-need situations, as was the case in Haiti.
As a result of the violent earthquake of January 12, 2010, that had its epicenter in the capital, Port au Prince, and the aftershocks, Haiti suffered untold human losses and material damage. The ONCE and its Foundation launched an aid campaign within both institutions that culminated with the sending of an aid package to their brother organization, the Haitian Society for the Blind, one of the most vulnerable groups.
In addition to these exceptional initiatives which the ONCE is still involved in, there are three main principles guiding the ONCE’s work: representing people with disabilities in general, and the blind in particular; promoting education; and boosting employment. These efforts are in addition to those projects involving new technologies, culture and sports.