[jaws-uk] Re: Gates Signs Deal On Software For The Blind

  • From: "Barry" <bbinc@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Jaws list" <jaws-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 07:09:42 -0000

Do you know why Bill Gates is developing the software in Spain? It might have 
something to do with the Spanish association for the blind running a national  
lottery and, therefore, being one of the richest companies in Spain.  Bill 
Gates may give a lot to charity but he is still a business man and has to look 
after his shareholders.

Here's an article from the Spanish National Federation of the Blind that I wish 
all governments would adopt :






Editor?s Note: The following article is re-printed from the Associated Press, 
May 29, 2000.


MADRID, Spain (AP) - The Spanish Civil War killed and maimed hundreds of 
thousands of soldiers and civilians and left much of Spain in ruins. Yet, for 

disabled group, the war's legacy has had advantages.


No one knows how many people were blinded in the 1936-39 conflict, but eager to 
rid himself of the problem, dictator Francisco Franco ordered them to form

a national organization and take care of themselves. To encourage them, he 
granted the right to create a national lottery. Six decades later, with Franco

long dead and democracy fully restored, the National Organization of Blind 
Spaniards has blossomed into one of Spain's most successful businesses and one

of the world's most dynamic disabled support groups.


"There's no doubt about it, if you're going to be blind, be Spanish," quips 
Miguel Callejas, a blind man who has sold lottery tickets the past 28 years

for ONCE, the Spanish acronym for the organization. Lottery drawings, staged 
every day except Saturday, bring in the equivalent of dlrs 2.3 billion a year.

Profits enable the organization to guarantee employment for nearly all of 
Spain's 60,000 blind.


"I know of nothing even comparable to the ONCE in the entire world," said Edwin 
Vaughan, a blind sociology professor at the University of Missouri who has

studied how countries view and treat blind people. "In nearly every country, 
the United States included, blindness is associated with begging and the blind

are virtually totally dependent on welfare assistance with employment 
opportunities severely limited," he said. "In Spain, it's the opposite."


In the United States, unemployment among the blind rarely falls below 70 
percent, while in Spain, it's hardly ever above 5 percent, Vaughan said. The 

Blind Union says its latest figures, for 1995, showed that out of 41,000 blind 
adults available for work in Germany, only 9,000 had a job. In France, only

7,000 of the 18,000 working age blind were employed. ONCE receives no 
government subsidy and its board is independent and elected every four years by 

members, all blind or sight-impaired. The growth of the lottery allowed ONCE to 
gradually build up a business empire with stakes in everything from hotels

to construction. In the 1980s, it branched into the media, founding a private 
national TV channel, a national daily newspaper and a popular radio chain.

But sensing expansion was tarnishing its more-important image as a caring group 
for the disabled, ONCE sold off its principal media holdings -- at a profit.

Nowadays, ONCE is as Spanish as bullfighting, sidewalk cafes and soccer. 
Vendors wearing dark glasses and carrying canes pace the streets in nearly every

village, barking out, "Lucky numbers for today!" In the cities, single vendors 
sit in enclosed ONCE kiosks, selling tickets through glass windows.


The lottery has thrived not only because Spaniards love to gamble, but because 
of clever marketing and slick advertising. Midweek coupons sell for 200 pesetas

(dlrs 1.25), offering a chance at 500 daily top prizes of 5 million pesetas 
(dlrs 33,000) each and thousands of smaller winnings. The No. 1 prize for the

Sunday lottery pays dlrs 58,000 a year for 25 years.


Totally independent since 1982, ONCE plows its profits into serving its 
members. It runs Europe's biggest guide dog school, a factory whose products 

canes, children's Braille sets and portable speech-activated computers and 
social rehabilitation centers. It also works with other companies, such as 

to develop systems and technical innovations for the blind. On a more public 
level, ONCE runs a touch-and-feel art Museum for the Blind. In 1998, it 

an international competition in Madrid for blind athletes. In recent years, 
ONCE has supported projects for the blind abroad, including in several Latin

American nations, notably Chile and Argentina.


ONCE estimates there are 150 million blind people in the world, but many poor 
countries do not keep records on who and where they are. "The ONCE's idea

is that the blind should care for the blind. In most countries, nobody looks 
after them at all," said Rafael Mondaca, the organization's director of 

relations. ONCE recognizes that even though it is private, it has a privileged 
position and the government could withdraw its lottery rights or grant licenses

to other causes. "Fortunately, it wouldn't make business sense for the Spanish 
government to do so because it knows that if ONCE crumbled it would then

be responsible for looking after the blind itself," said Pedro Zurrita, who 
heads the World Blind Organization, which is based in Madrid.


"For the Civil War authorities, it was a load off their mind," he said. "Back 
then no one thought the lottery was ever going to be so successful. It's 

that any government would do it today."


Barry H

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