The International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) has awarded Rima Canawati with the International Leadership Award for the outstanding service to people with a visual impairments.

The award ceremony held on Wednesday in Orlando, honored Canawati’s exceptional leadership and development skills.

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ICEVI President, Colin Low, said the award was based on, “The determination Rima has shown in persuading the government of Palestine to honor its obligations to children and young people with a visual impairment and in holding them to their commitments in very difficult political circumstances.

Canawati established the Vision Rehabilitation Department at the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR) in Palestine. She is currently the head of Program Development at BASR, and has over 22 years’ experience with disability and inclusive development work.

She is a member of the Palestinian Higher Council of the Affairs of People with Disabilities, Deputy Chair of the West Asia Regional Committee of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI), Vice Chair of CBM-EMR Regional Advisory Committee, a member of CBM ‘Community of Practice’ on Inclusive Education, and country representative of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network of the World Council of Churches – Middle East.

In 2009, she was awarded the International Service Human Rights award for her contributions and long struggle for defending the human rights of people with disabilities and her advocacy and lobbying for mainstreaming people with disabilities in all aspects of development

In addition, she was speaker at the UN High Level Meeting on Disability and Development on behalf of civil society, September 2013.

Canawati also initiated the establishment of a resource center at Bethlehem University to support students with vision impairment and offer them equal access to quality higher education and study materials in accessible format.

She also lobbied the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education for the implementation of a national program on the educational inclusion of persons with impaired vision.

Formed in 1952, the ICEVI is a global association of individuals and organizations that promotes equal access to appropriate education for all children and youth with visual impairment in order to allow them to achieve their full potentiala