White Cane Week 2011 Local Events:
Here are a few more highlights of local activities from across the country. Stay tuned for more to come!
During White Cane Week 2011 CCB Parksville & District 69 Chapter members provided an educational experience for some local children.
Members demonstrated the use of white canes and provided special vision-obscuring glasses to children so that they could experience what it was like to live with poor vision.
Afterwards, the children and members enjoyed special cupcakes provided by the Chapter.
CCB Windsor/Essex Low Vision Chapter’s 2011 WCW event was held at Lion’s Manor, a residential building designed & built for blind & vision impaired.
Vendors of both high and low-tech devices and agencies such a CNIB, Canadian Diabetes, Hard of Hearing, Handi-Transit & Leader Dog for the Blind joined the chapter for an interesting day of information and demonstrations to help raise public awareness.
The local O.H.L. Hockey Team (Windsor Spitfires” donated tickets that were placed in a draw at the end of the day. The public was very complimentary about the presentation and it was quite a successful event.
On March 04, 2011, CCB Waterloo Region Club was invited to Stewart Avenue Public School in Cambridge, Ontario for a special fund raising presentation.
CCB Waterloo Region Club President Deborah Sampson and fellow members Dean Schmidt, Tiffani Schmidt and Cecilia Beechey were welcomed to Stewart Avenue by the principal, Leslie Tinning, Vision Itinerant Specialist Teacher Ms. Jennifer Vastagh and Grade Eight student Harpreet Jaura.
Ms Vastagh provides direct instruction and program support for blind and limited vision students at different schools for the Waterloo Region District School Board.
In February Harpreet Jaura researched on the internet and found the CCB website and information regarding White Cane Week. Harpreet chose to hold a school-wide fundraising event for WCW by selling lollipops and other hard candies. His fantastic efforts resulted in raising $360.
The presentation to CCB members took place in Harpreet’s classroom with fellow classmates present. The students were invited to ask the CCB members questions; and the class was very interested in Deborah’s guide dog, Viva. They asked questions about her upbringing, training and how she helps Deborah. Deborah gave a short demonstration for the students.
The classroom teacher, educational assistant and Ms. Vastagh asked questions about CCB and members presented the students with CCB wristbands and bookmarks as a small token of thanks.
An Interview with Jim Sanders: Life after CNIB
Jim Sanders is coming up on two years since retiring as President/CEO of CNIB, following forty-two years of service. He is currently the volunteer Executive Director for the Sir Arthur Pearson Association of War Blinded (SAPA).
“My involvement with SAPA extends back to 1989,” states Sanders. “I simply, on a volunteer basis, maintained this role following my retirement on May 1st, 2010, from CNIB. I consider my continuing work with SAPA a privilege.”
As an individual Veterans' Association, SAPA has made many appearances before Parliamentary Committees on matters related to blindness resulting from military service since its inception in 1925, and has worked diligently on behalf of Canadian veterans in general.
“When you look at the history of SAPA and what it stands for, it really is a symbol of hope,” says Sanders. “In 1914 -1918, to say blind people had the right to work, to marry, to raise a family, to contribute to the community—this was not a common attitude in society—but this was Sir Arthur Pearson’s approach.”
A Brief History of Returning War-Blinded Veterans, CNIB and SAPA:
When approximately 350 blinded war veterans returned to Canada from the First World War, no national services for the blind existed, including rehabilitation services.
Veterans attempted to assimilate into the blind school in Halifax, but this attempt was unsuccessful due to cultural differences in life between soldiers and civilians. The federal government recognized this issue and felt pressured to act.
During this time, Colonel Baker, a returning war-blinded veteran who had received training through Sir Arthur Pearson—a blind entrepreneur, was helping to foster an emerging attitude that being blind did not relegate you to a life of unemployment, isolation, inactivity and segregation.
The next event in history which further influenced social policy for the blind in Canada was the Halifax explosion. The disaster left many individuals vision impaired.
At this point Canada now had growing numbers of blind, a shared attitude of inclusion, and now the Halifax explosion—all of this coalesced, prompting the federal government to finally approve the CNIB Charter on March 30th, 1918 and provide a grant for vision rehabilitation. This grant gave CNIB a foothold as a service organization; and through CNIB, both the civilian blind and war-blind began to receive training.
“Looking back at the history of advocacy work for the blind in Canada, I doubt that CNIB alone would have had access to the Prime Minister, the Ministers and the policy makers at the federal level,” states Sanders. “It took E.A. Baker, a war-blinded veteran, and CEO of CNIB, coupled with senior veterans with amputations and in wheel chairs, working together with a concerted voice to effect change. This was a wonderful example of the cross-disability sector working together, with each individual need being considered.”
Sanders further notes, the work of War Blinded Canadians has directly shaped social policy on disability in this country.
“When blinded war veterans returned to Canada, and wanted to lead productive lives, Canadians recognized that these individuals gave their eyesight for this country, and deserved a quality of life,” states Sanders. “This attitude carried over to blind civilians as well; prompting social change and an attitudinal shift.”
Blind persons were the first to receive Old Age Security [pensions] prior to age 70. Blind persons were the first to receive an income tax deduction/credit due to their blindness, a "blind persons allowance" [BPA], Duty and Federal Tax exemptions on importation of specialized technology and more. All due to the advocacy lead by War Blinded and CNIB.
War-blinded veterans returning from the Second World War continued in this positive direction when they help form the Canadian Council of the Blind, with the objective of providing a social and recreational outlet for blind Canadians.
In May 2010, the history of SAPA was released. The book, by noted author and historian, Dr. Serge Durflinger and published by UBC Press titled, "Veterans with a Vision: Canada's War Blinded In peace And War", which is available in braille, DAISY audio and large print.
SAPA can provide DAISY copies of the book at no charge to members of CCB and a Braille version is available on-loan through the CNIB library. A large print version is available to CCB members for $25, including shipping.
For more information on The Sir Arthur Pearson Association of War Blinded, please visit:
Join CCB’s Won with One at the Ottawa Race Weekend:
Join the Won with One team for the 2011 Ottawa Race Weekend festivities, May 28 - 29. Boasting a race of over 36,000 runners, the Ottawa Race Weekend has truly gained International notoriety within the running community. Won with One is taking this opportunity to invite you, your friends and your family to come out and join our team and run/walk in either the 5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon.
Won with One is proud and honoured to be a recognized charity within the Ottawa Race Weekend for 2011! Having a large crowd of supporters will help us in our goal of raising awareness to the abilities of blind/visually impaired people within our country.
By joining our team you will be racing under the Won with One banner in support of our team and helping us reach our goal of raising $10,000. 100% of all funds raised will go directly back to supporting Canada’s only Paratriathlon program for blind and visually impaired athletes.
We encourage you to challenge yourself personally during the Ottawa Race Weekend! As a VI runner, guide or solo supporter, take on your first 5k or train hard for your first marathon. We will cheer you on regardless of finishing place or time.
Won with One is determined to break down the stereotypes of what blind/visually impaired athletes are perceived capable of; we are out here to prove that everyone should be included and respected on the field of play.
Visit www.wonwithone.com to join our team in the 2011 race weekend or contact Jan Ditchfield at
for more information!
On Saturday, March 5th, 2011, CCB London Chapter Member Chelsea Mohler spoke in front of an audience of the Churches Congregation and members of the Blind Community at Dundas Street Centre United Church
Chelsea focused on her developing research for her Masters Degree from the University of Western Ontario.
Chelsea was given a warm introduction by Martha Harding who spoke about Chelsea's research and accomplishments.
The potluck dinner was served by members of the congregation of Rev. Catherine Tovell and we extend our warmest thanks to Rev. Tovell and her Congregation for the hard work putting and excellent meal together for the evenings event.
Chelsea focused on some of the issues that provided barriers for the blind in gaining employment mentioning that; "National estimates indicate only 32% of blind and low vision individuals are employed, compared to 68% of individuals with no visual disability.
Some of the factors included the lack of accessible technology in the work place, negative employer attitudes, job application forms in formats not accessible to persons with low vision and many others.
Her research utilized, "... a qualitative study using in-depth, semi-structured interviews with participants recruited from The CNIB in South-Western Ontario and the CCB."
Chelsea concluded: “This research has the potential to identify innovative ways that blind and low vision individuals seek and maintain employment. Such knowledge may enable service providers to assist clients in implementing successful strategies, may promote attitudinal changes among employers, and may inspire job seekers not to abandon their search.”
Special thanks to members of CCB London and the blind community who attended and shared their work experiences with those in attendance.
Chelsea has been accepted for a doctorate at UBC in rehabilitation sciences, and will be starting in January 2012. We wish her well in her studies.
Visually impaired runner takes to the streets:
For most people, running a half-marathon is a big enough challenge. But try doing it with your eyes closed.
That’s almost what it’s like for Leona Emberson, a 27-year-old visually impaired Ottawa runner who completed her first half-marathon at Ottawa’s Army Run in September 2010.
With the help of her guide, Jeff Dodds, manager of Ottawa’s Bank Street Running Room, Emberson made the leap from the treadmill to the streets in March 2010, when she registered for a 10k clinic.
“Some of my friends run, and they had run the last couple of years in the Ottawa Race Weekend 10k,” Emberson says. “I’d always wanted to do that, but I never thought I’d be able to find a guide and I had never really enjoyed running so I didn’t think I’d be good at it.”
Emberson has played goalball, a blind-specific sport, on the national development team and was shortlisted for the 2006 Paralympics in Beijing, so she is not new to athletics. But for a blind person, able-bodied sports pose significant challenges. In 2009, Emberson had taken up kayaking with the Rideau Canoe Club’s PaddleAll Paracanoe program.
Without a category for blind paddlers, Emberson found herself competing in the open category against sighted paddlers.
“She’s an amazing individual who can achieve anything she puts her mind to,” says Victoria Tuttle, her paddling coach. “She’s very focused and driven, and also willing to put in the hard work to get to where she wants to be.”
Her integration into an able-bodied sport and the support she got from the paddling community gave Emberson the impetus she needed to move her runs off the treadmill. With her new confidence and a commitment from Dodds to be her guide, Emberson began running outside in March 2010.
“The first run was nerve-wracking,” Dodds recalls. “I said every thing about what was around us … I have to admit, though, when I got back it was a bit of a rush because we got through it. I came back with her in one piece and I was looking forward to the next run.”
Within a couple of months Emberson, with Dodds by her side, had run her first 10k race, another in mid summer, and then her first half-marathon in 1:54:13 in the fall. There were some collisions along the way, though. In her training, Emberson tripped over the odd curb, pinecone and person – but now that she’s more experienced, today’s runs are generally incident-free.
“My confidence has gone up, and not just in running, but in life in general,” Emberson says. “It’s something that I thought I couldn’t do. I didn’t think I could be a runner and I’ve surprised myself a lot.”
Dodds is just as surprised by how much he enjoys being Emberson’s guide. “I get a bigger rush out of seeing her finish a race than I have out of any of my races … At the Army Run she literally jumped up and down because she did so well. That moment was better than any race that I’ve finished.”
By: Dawn Lomer
Canadian Running Magazine
Onkyo Braille Literacy Essay Contest:
Again this year the National Federation of the Blind will administer the Onkyo Braille Literacy Essay Contest on behalf of the North America/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union. The contest was created to promote Braille literacy and to encourage the exchange of social and cultural information. Blind people in the United States and Canada are eligible to apply. Essays must be written in Braille and must pertain to:
a) How do you acquire knowledge and information through Braille or audio devices? (Illustrate with some interesting personal stories/episodes.)
b) How can blind persons become independent by learning Braille or music?
c) Individual concept about world peace from the viewpoint of persons with disabilities.
The contest has two categories: one for people twenty-five and younger and the other for people above twenty-five. Cash prizes will be awarded. The contest began February 1, 2011, and will end April 30, 2011. All entries must be received by April 30. To obtain the application package, contact Mike Potvin at 1-877-304-0968, or by e-mail at:
Free Directory Assistance:
Free Directory Assistance is in place with SHAW; and customers need only identify themselves as visually impaired to receive this concession. If you have a telephone agreement with SHAW, simply contact them; no forms required!
Support for Haiti Update:
Over this past year, a number of World Blind Union (WBU) members, including CCB, came together to contribute support to help our member in Haiti following the devastating earthquake there in January of 2010.
While there is still much to be done, at the same time a good deal has been achieved. Following the earthquake, a small working group was established by the WBU North America/Caribbean Region to work with Michel Péan, Coordinator of the Haitian Society of the Blind (SHAA) to develop a three year plan to rebuild SHAA’s services. That group worked over many months to develop a plan and strategy for moving forward.
During the course of 2009, close to $30,000 was collected for support to Haiti from a number of WBU members. These funds were sent to SHAA in December to support particular aspects of the plan. The particular elements of the plan that the funds supported included the provision of emergency relief to 150 blind individuals and their families, the implementation of a youth leadership program – identified as a real need to develop new leaders within SHAA and a program targeted at blind and partially sighted women in Haiti.
Since December, an additional $10,000 was received by the WBU office from some members. SHAA has requested that these funds be used to support inclusive education for 50 blind and partially sighted children.
In addition to the funds received by the WBU office from members, contributions have also been collected by ONCE in Spain and NABP in Norway from among their members. ONCE has agreed to support the replacement of a good deal of the technology that was lost and this is now underway. NABP is just now finalizing the use of the funds they raised to support the education programs in Haiti as well as SHAA programs.
Chief Executive Officer, World Blind Union
NOTE: $4,230.00 was donated towards Haitian Support by individuals, chapters and divisions of the CCB. Thank you for your generosity!