Category: CCB Newsletters

VISIONS April 2018

Apr 05 2018

Click here to download the PDF of Visions April 2018 DIGITAL


Please support our sponsor Bell by learning about their accessibility programs here.



Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter



April 2018

“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”




President’s Message++


Welcome Spring! As we “spring” forward in time let us spring into action in several ways. It is time to become more active physically now that we have sidewalks that are clear and easier access to travel we can participate in CCB Health & Fitness activities with Ryan as our guide. Ryan can provide individual fitness plans to help improve our physical and mental health so please read the article in this newsletter to find out how to get involved.


Another way to spring forward is through “advocacy”. Advocacy does not stand alone, but rather, it needs people to take action to get things done in a non-aggressive way. That is to say that we work with organizations, industry, government, etc. to help find appropriate solutions to issues at hand. Some concerns that we have been active in working to find solutions for are VIA Rail – to make the train stations and new cars better suited to needs of those traveling with disabilities. We continue to support the need for accessible library materials for persons with print disabilities. We are working on Point of Sale (POS) devices with two other organizations, banks, industry, and businesses. There are a number of drug and therapeutic items that we continue to be active with as well. CCB has been working with WBU to find what the barriers are that prevent individuals from becoming leaders in a global sense as well as in Canada then look for ways to change or reduce the barriers.


There are other initiatives that CCB continues to work on both nationally and at our individual chapter level. If you have items that you need assistance with finding a solution for, you may notify our National Office and they will pass it on to our committee.


By springing into action we can build a stronger and healthier body to help us meet the everyday challenges we face individually as well as an organization. Positive thoughts support and understanding will help us along the way.


Louise Gillis, National President.


CCB Health & Fitness Monthly Update++:



Good day all newsletter readers!  In our attempt to keep you better informed on the CCB Health & Fitness program and all that is happening, we will look to post a monthly update.  Certainly we encourage you to reach out to Ryan Van Praet, the Program Manager, if you have any questions, suggestions for video or podcast topics, or if you want to offer up your abilities as a “local champion” (see below).  So with that, here is a brief update on all things health, fitness and fun!


1) Local Champions

We are still and always looking for local champions to contact Ryan and be added to the list.  Local Champs are essentially ambassadors

to the Health & Fitness programs within their community.  You need no special training or knowledge, just a desire to promote health and fitness and physical activity within your community.  You will convert information about our program and then will pass along any questions or comments from your group, back up to Ryan.  This allows great flow of questions, information, inspiration and networking!  Get on the list today!


2) #eyeammore

The EYE AM MORE campaign is designed to get everyone thinking about who they are as individuals.  Our commonalities are our visual impairments, however we are all unique and capable of great things.  Submit a few words or a short video on who you are MORE than just someone with vision loss.  We can share your story to everyone through our videos or podcasts, inspiring other by how cool you are and getting them to think about what makes them awesome too!  Self-esteem is key to being motivated to be active and aim big!   Email your story or video to Ryan today!



3) Virtual Run

June 1st – Our second ever virtual 5k run/walk is going to be held on Friday June 1st.  Ryan will host his event at about 6pm EST and encourages you to run or walk 5k, with friends, family, your community, at roughly the same time.  Cost is $30 and you get a cool CCB Health & Fitness trucker hat.

Log onto the blog or contact Ryan to get Registration link.  Deadline to ensure a hat is May 6th, but you can register right up until June 1.   WIN a Wahoo Tickr heart rate monitor that interacts with your smart device, or a gift card, if you are the lucky name drawn.


4) “Peercast” to launch

In an attempt to further engage our members and drive discussions on how to live a kick butt lifestyle while dealing with vision loss, we are starting a new show on the Podcast channel.  Currently on “The Canadian Council of the Blind” podcast Ryan hosts the Health & Fitness show but will be starting the Peercast Show very shortly.  An interview style discussion on various topics on living with blindness, how to thrive, how to support each other and more.  It’s all about engagement and this show will be designed to present a topic then wait for your comments and considerations.  Subscribe to the podcast, listen to all the content we have up already, it won’t put you to sleep, we promise!


5) Coaching calls

Ryan is always accepting coaching calls if you need some personalized coaching towards your fitness goal, just shoot him an email or give him a call to set up a time to chat…all FREE to you!


Tons of ways to follow us and contact us.  Please like, follow, subscribe, share and comment on all our social media content.  We want you to engage with us!


Facebook – search “CCB Health & Fitness”

Youtube – search “CCB Health & Fitness”

Podcast – search “The Canadian Council of the Blind”

Twitter – @ccb_healthfit

Email list – email


Newsletter – email Ryan to be added at:

Call: 226-627-2179



Introducing Canadian Assistive Technology Ltd.++:

Canadian Assistive Technology was founded by Steve Barclay and now, after a year of operation employs Ryan Fleury for Technical Support and Rob Mineault for Sales and Marketing Support.  All three were former employees of Aroga Technologies and have many years of experience with assistive technology.  Rob, Ryan, and Steve are also the hosts of the AT Banter Podcast, which offers news and insights about all manners of assistive technology, as well as human interest stories from the community of people who use it.


The company focuses primarily on cutting edge technologies for people who are blind or visually impaired, but also carries products for people with physical and communication limitations.


Included in our product lineup are some of the leading manufacturers in the world including:

Ablenet, AI Squared, ALVA, Duxbury Systems, Dolphin, Enhanced Vision Systems, Eschenbach, Freedom Scientific, Handitech, Hartgen Consultancy, HIMS, Humanware, Iris Vision, Innovation Rehabilitation, KNFB, Low Vision International, Optelec, Orcam and Right-Hear.


Our mission is to provide the highest level of service and support for our clients.  We maintain a demo pool of equipment which people can arrange to borrow and try before making a purchasing decision. We offer a 30 day no-questions asked money back guarantee on all of our hardware based low vision aids and we cover all of our products with lifetime toll-free technical support.  We try to ensure that hardware warranty and non-warranty repairs can be conducted in Canada and work with our servicing partner, Chaos Technical Services, owned by Rick Chant another past Aroga veteran.  As part of our standard terms we will also cover all shipping costs for any product we have sold that needs to go in for warranty repair.


We are passionate supporters of Braille and all efforts to promote Braille literacy.  Our free Unified English Braille chart, developed in conjunction with Cay Holbrook and the vision teacher training program at the University of British Columbia, is used as a resource by educators all over the English speaking world.


Our free Low Vision Guide, developed in conjunction with Enhanced Vision Systems is used as an education piece by Optometrists and Ophthalmologists all across the country.  This guide and the Braille chart are also available by download from our website.


If you or a loved one are investigating assistive technology options, please call us and explore our website.  We have many years of experience in helping people find the right solutions for their needs.

Visit or email and phone 1-844-795-8324


Librarians Seek Reading Recommendations++:


Hello, my name is Sabina and I work as a librarian with the National Network for Equitable Library Service, commonly known as NNELS. We produce books in accessible formats for Canadian readers with print disabilities. I am writing to you because we are looking for book recommendations.


Specifically, we are looking for readers’ favourite children’s picture books: either those people read as children, or those they enjoyed in adulthood.


We are looking for these book recommendations because librarians and volunteers have been asking for an easy way to record books for us, and we finally have a way to invite them to do just that. Volunteer-recorded audiobooks are available for free download from our website for any Canadian with a print disability. And who knows where they will go from there: they might be enjoyed by a reader on the other side of the country or on the other side of the world.


In March, we completed a project with support from the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability Component, the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), and others to create twelve recording kits. Each kit contains a headset microphone, a USB key for saving files, and links to online instructions. With a kit, and a deal with a local public library, volunteers can record a book. Kits can be loaned and sent to any library in Canada for the cost of shipping.


These recording kits are not a magic wand that will suddenly turn all the stories into audiobooks. Rather, they are a small piece of a large puzzle. We hope the kits will remind librarians in communities of all sizes about the importance of accessibility, literacy, and reading. And we hope they bring people the joy that comes from learning and making something new.


In a fragile and sometimes fractured world, one of the very best things we can do is make the time to share stories. And as a librarian who loves children’s books, I would argue that what makes us human, and what reminds us of who we might become, can be found in the stories we share with children. We hope these kits are the beginning of something good. Maybe someone in your own community will surprise you with a wonderful recording. Maybe you will read a book that your great-great-grandchild will hear.


We are looking for books that tell the story through the words rather than the illustrations, do not have any chapters, and that are well-written, as these work best for audio recordings. If you have something to recommend, please call 1-888-848-9250, option 5, or email For more information about the project, please visit


We appreciate the significant contribution of the CCB and their support throughout the project.




Script Ability will be coming to a Sobeys location near you soon++:

Please advise our CCB National office of a Sobeys location near you which you would like to carry the equipment to provide this service. This way they can preorder supplies so that when the program is launched the equipment will be available right away. There is no additional cost on your prescription for this service. This is an initiative that CCB has been working with Sobeys to provide to their pharmacy customers (both old& new). For more information, please contact 1-877-304-0908.



GTT Edmonton Meeting Invitation, Google Home Voice Assistant, April 9, 2018++:


You are invited!  Blind and low vision GTT participants meet monthly to learn about and share their experiences using assistive technologies in their daily lives at home, school, or at work.

Agenda for the Next Edmonton GTT Meeting:

Date: Monday April 9, 7pm to 9pm.

Location: Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 – 83 Street NW, Edmonton. You must enter from the back door. If you arrive late the door may be locked. Please ring the bell to the right of the door.

Theme: Google Home Voice Assistant

During the first half hour Wanda will demonstrate how she and Dave use their Google Home voice assistant speaker to get answers to everyday questions, play songs, make phone calls, and more by simply using their voice.

The remainder of the meeting will be devoted to you. Bring your questions, and any tech you need help with – for example, iPhones, laptops or DAISY players.


Who Should Attend?

Any blind or low vision person who is interested in learning how assistive technologies can help them lead more independent lives.


For More Information contact: or 780.990.8448


Please support our sponsor Bell by learning about their accessibility programs here.

Visually impaired singer takes on world++:

There was a great article that was in the Chronicle Herald on CCB Blind Sports Nova Scotia member Tarah Sawler.


To read the article, please visit:


The article talks about Tarah’s passion for music and some of her experiences as a straight A first year university student with a visual impairment.


On another note, Tarah will be leading the Nova Scotia Junior girls at the Canadian Junior Goalball Championships in Halifax on April 7 & 8 at the Halifax Independent School.




Support the Opportunity for Workers with Disabilities Act++:


Groups like the CCB work hard to maximize opportunities for people with disabilities. Yet sometimes, government seems to stand in the way. As you know, when people with disabilities start earning income, they not only pay taxes, but also face sharp clawbacks of their income, medication, housing, and other supports — meaning they can lose more than they gain from getting a job, earning a raise, or working more hours.


It is a story Linda Chamberlain knows all too well: “After three decades of battling schizophrenia and homelessness and poverty, Chamberlain finally got a job,” wrote former Toronto Star reporter Catherine Porter. As a reward, the government boosted Linda’s rent almost 500% and cut her disability payment, making her $260 per month poorer because she got a job.

So she had to quit her job and remain poor.


She is not alone. “According to Statistics Canada’s 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability, there were over 650,000 disabled individuals aged 15 to 64 who were not in the labour force at the time of the survey and either used to work or indicated they were capable of working. Of these, roughly 94,000 reported that if they were employed, they felt that they would lose additional support. About 82,300 individuals reported that they expected their income to drop if they worked,” according to Statistics Canada.


The Bill

The Opportunity for Workers with Disabilities Act would allow workers with disabilities to gain more in wages than they lose in clawbacks and taxation. It does this through three steps:


  1. Measurement

The bill would require that Finance Canada calculate how much people with disabilities in each province lose in taxes and benefit clawbacks as a result of each additional $1,000 of income earned up to $30,000.

Calculations of the clawbacks would include lost benefits like income assistance, housing, medications, and so forth, and would use publicly available tax and benefit rules, not any person’s private tax and benefit information.


  1. Action if the calculation finds that people with disabilities are losing more than they gain due to clawbacks, the Finance Minister would have to consider changes to the Working Income Tax Benefit Disability Supplement, the Canada Pension Plan Disability Pension, or any federal tax measure that would ensure people with disabilities always benefit from their work.


If the Minister deemed that provincial taxes and clawbacks were the cause of the problem, he would consult with the province to remedy it.


  1. Enforcement The Opportunity Act would attach another condition to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act requiring provinces to arrange their taxes and transfers so that people with disabilities never lose more than they gain from working.



This bill will only pass with the help of respected organizations like the CCB. So, if you agree that governments should reward rather than punish the work of people with disabilities, please add your voice to the Opportunity Act.


Here are three things you can do to help pass the bill:

Please encourage your local Members of Parliament to vote for the Opportunity Act. And ask your friends, family, and supporters to do the same.

Use #OpportunityAct on social media when endorsing and discussing the bill.


Please email my office a few sentences endorsing the bill that we can use for social media and other communications that will build momentum towards its passage. You can email


Thank you for your help. Together, we can empower Canadians with disabilities to get ahead through their talents and work — because, as Dr. Martin Luther King put it, “all labour has dignity.”



Hon. Pierre Poilievre, P.C., M.P.



World Blind Union Survey++:

The WBU Low Vision Working Group is working on initiatives to encourage more engagement of persons with low vision or partial sight in the work of the WBU and our members.  In order to do that we want to know more about the present situation both for organizations and for individuals who have low vision.


Please visit the below link to complete a survey for individuals who are partially sighted or have low vision. We ask you to encourage as many low vision or partially sighted persons as you can to complete the survey.


The deadline for completing the survey and returning them to us at  is April 30th.


The survey can be found at:


Many thanks for your assistance.

Penny Hartin

Chief Executive Officer and

Chair WBU Low Vision Working Group



In the News


Usability Tester Showcase: Bruce Turner’s Story — Knowbility++:


Fellow CCB GTT Members and Participants–Here’s a story about one of our own, Bruce Turner of the GTT Victoria Chapter.


Bruce Turner’s Story — Knowbility

For several years now, Knowbility has recruited people with disabilities to participate in usability studies. During that time, we’ve added hundreds of people from across the United States and beyond to our AccessWorks user testing panel, which partners testers with disabilities with companies interested in improving the accessibility and usability of their products.


So, when a popular Canadian media company reached out to our AccessWorks team with a request for Canadian testers with different disabilities, we were prepared. Bruce Turner was one of these testers, and we’re proud to share his experience.


Born with retinitis pigmentosa and profoundly deaf, Bruce uses a variety of assistive technologies to get things done. He uses ZoomText, a screen magnification program to change the color scheme on his computer. Bruce prefers his text to be white on a black background.


To be more productive on the phone, Bruce uses a relay service. An operator types what is heard on the line, Bruce reads it, and then he responds. It was with this suite of technology and the marvels of off-the-shelf video conferencing software that Bruce successfully completed the usability study. The retired civil servant credits today’s tech in playing a role in promoting social and economic integration.


“If I didn’t have this technology in front of me I don’t think I would be doing as well as I am,” Bruce said. “This technology I wish the heck I had when I was younger. I like the fact that I can do email, I can go online, I can do my banking, I can talk to people, I can communicate.”


Bruce says he enjoys learning how to accomplish tasks online, for example, the steps that are needed to arrive at a website’s homepage.


“It’s like playing a brand-new game for the first time, not knowing what to do, but simply getting there and getting my feet wet and see what I can do,” Bruce said.


Bruce first heard about AccessWorks via a post on the website of Get Together with Technology (GTT), a program run by the Canadian Council of the Blind. Though at first leery about the program’s claims—that people with disabilities could earn extra money working as usability testers—GTT’s Albert Ruel reassured him that Knowbility could be trusted.


“Bruce did a great job! He provided us with a different perspective. He actually helped us to consider other ways of communicating….and we actually did it….we were so thrilled. We learned so much and as a result, we feel very confident going into it!” Marine Menier, AccessWorks Project Manager, said.


Bruce was born and raised in Kamloops, British Columbia. He graduated from the University of Victoria in 1973 and worked for the Canadian federal government for 35 years. As a child, he attended school alongside people of many different ethnicities and varying abilities. He feels that this has influenced his attitudes towards inclusiveness.


“The way I look at the word inclusiveness is getting along with people who have all kinds of disability,” he said. “People who are blind, people who are low vision, people who are deaf, we all share a little bit of everything.”


He considers Knowbility’s usability tester program a force for good, both for companies that need knowledge about the accessibility of their products and for people with disabilities who want to help make websites more accessible.


“The AccessWorks program also increases the self-esteem of those who participate, and that is an important benefit,” he added.


Now retired, Bruce lives with his wife in Victoria, British Columbia.

In addition to reading online articles from ZDNet and GTT to learn about the latest tech, he enjoys photography, gardening, and taking walks along the Gorge Waterway, a scenic inlet near his home.

By Marine Menier



Deaf-Blind Runner Showcased in the Media:++

Gaston Bedard, marathon runner, was on television on March 27.


The interview took place at the CTV studio, in Ottawa. Gaston chatted about guiding in the Ottawa Race Weekend coming up May 26 and 27, 2018; in which Gaston is registered in the Scotiabank Ottawa Half marathon.


The idea is that everyone can participate, it’s easy to walk, jog and guide. Full participation is everything.


The CTV interview clip is called, Race Weekend for Everyone.


We were third in the CTV interview along with our host Annette.

From left to right, in the interview video:

Michel, Annette, Gaston and Christopher.


Please visit the CTV video clip at:


Gyms must do more to accommodate people with disabilities++:


Advances in modern medicine have led doctors to a better understanding of the benefits of exercise in managing a broad range of chronic conditions, from multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and epilepsy. Unfortunately, traditional gyms aren’t designed with this end use in mind. Sure, there’s bound to be an automatic door opener for people with mobility issues, maybe even a wheelchair lift or a ramp, but that tends to be the extent of the services provided to make fitness accessible to all.


Irony of ironies: Where most gyms fail is in serving people with physical disabilities or chronic medical conditions – in other words, people who, in many cases, literally need to work out to save their lives.


I work for a not-for-profit facility that prides itself on inclusiveness and diversity. Forgive me if I sound a little too Hands Across America, but I love the fact that my gym – our gym – can serve as a home away from home for everyone, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or income.


But of course, even idealistic wonderlands have their blind spots.


A couple of months ago, I had a conversation with a member of our gym that left me feeling like an ignorant fool. This young woman told me about her medical condition, explained how basic movement is painful and how she often has to rely on mobility assistance devices. Her doctor recommended yoga as a gentle means of managing this condition, but our yoga studio is on the second floor of the building, and the elevator doesn’t allow for direct access. She would have to take the stairs in order to participate, which, given her condition, is not an option.


Many physical disabilities are easily identifiable for fitness professionals, as are the solutions to the challenges they pose. Some, however, are harder to identify. Take, for example, the guest that dropped by our gym with an unmarked service dog trained to detect seizures. In Ontario, it’s not required for these sorts of service animals to wear identifying harnesses or vests; if a person has a doctor’s note recommending the use of the animal, and that animal is well-behaved, it’s a violation of their rights to deny them access to services and facilities. Of course, when our members saw someone jogging on our indoor track, furry friend in tow, they assumed this dog was simply a pet. Our staff was equally confused.


Granted, this sort of thing isn’t a common occurrence, but it does illustrate how ill-informed – and ill-prepared – businesses are when it comes to addressing non-physical disabilities.


Thankfully, we have people like Dr. Darren Ezer, co-owner, along with his wife, Lianne, of the Live Well Exercise Clinic in Toronto. Live Well is a medicinal fitness franchise that specializes in small group fitness classes for people with chronic diseases, physical disabilities and mental illnesses.


With 14 locations across British Columbia and Ontario, Live Well is

striving to meet the needs of those who may not feel welcome at commercial gyms by delivering evidence-based exercise programs specific to each individual’s condition in a fun and positive environment.


“We’re very different from places like GoodLife,” Ezer said. “Our members find gyms filled with young, fit people intimidating. We offer a huge service by providing group-based exercise with a peer group that looks familiar and specialized equipment that’s truly accessible.”


A new Live Well location is scheduled to open in Oakville, Ont., this year. It’s my hope that more fitness pros and gym owners will take after this example and begin offering a broad range of programs and services for everyone, not just the young, jacked and tanned.


Otherwise, unifying ideals such as diversity and social inclusion lose their power and become nothing more than buzz words for virtue-signaling poseurs.


As for my gym, I’m happy to report that steps are being taken to ensure the next noble service animal that pays us a visit will be welcomed with open and understanding arms.


Paul Landini is a personal trainer and health educator at the Toronto West End College Street YMCA.


You can follow him on Twitter @mrpaullandini.

By PAUL LANDINI, Globe and Mail




Assistive Technology

Donna’s Low Tech Tips, Identifying Money:++


Hello there, I’m Donna Jodhan and I’d like to talk about IDENTIFYING MONEY and I have some great tips for you re how you can go about dealing with your money.  Dollar bills, coins, and cheques.



There are many different ways to identify bills and it really doesn’t matter how you do it as long as your method works for you.


Here are some tips.

Some individuals prefer to separate bills by denomination, placing them in different sections of their purse or wallet. You can purchase a special                          billfold which has different sections for different bills. You can fold your bills in a special way for easy identification. For example:

-Leave five dollar bills completely unfolded.

– Fold ten dollar bills in half lengthwise.

-Fold twenty dollar bills in half, end to end.

-Fold fifty dollar bills end to end, then lengthwise.

-Fold hundred dollar bills in half and in half again.

-When you receive money from others, ask what each bill is and fold it right away or put it in a special section of your wallet so you will be able to recognize it later.  Take your time, don’t be hurried.


An electronic bank note reader is available (through the CNIB) to identify paper currency. The device is easy to use.

Insert a Canadian bank note, push the button at the front of the device, and the reader will announce by voice (in either English or French) the denomination of the bill.



Coins can be identified by touch.

Select one coin at a time and use a fingernail or your fingertips to feel the different sizes and edges of each coin:

-A dime has a serrated edge.

-A nickel has a smooth edge.

-A quarter has a rough grooved edge and is larger and thicker than a nickel.

-A dollar coin (loonie) has an eleven-sided smooth edge and is larger and thicker than a quarter.

-A two dollar coin (toonie) is larger than a loonie. The edge of the coin alternates from rough to smooth.  The centre of the toonie is gold in color and the outer edge is silver.

A special purse or coin organizer with separate slots for nickels, dimes, and quarters may be a useful item.



Large print/tactile cheques are available from your bank. You may find it helpful to make your own cheque template with sections cut out for date, cheque amount, and so on.


So have fun now with your money!



Canadian Council of the Blind    1-877-304-0968

VISIONS March 2018

Mar 14 2018

Please click the image to enlarge for reading.

If you would like to see the accessible text only version, please click here.

Please support our sponsors, Bell, by learning more about there new accessibility plans here.



VISIONS March 2018 – Text Only

Mar 14 2018

Please support our sponsor Bell by learning about their accessibility programs here.

Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

March 2018

“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


President’s Message++

As February was centered on White Cane Week activities, we now March on to the many other events and activities of the Council. As winter draws closer to the end, health and fitness are of great importance because many people are not as mobile as we like. Thanks to CCB Health and Fitness for challenging us to “walk across Canada” and I am excitedly awaiting the results of that challenge.

Many persons with vision loss also live with other health issues. Some are the cause of their eye conditions, some are due to the aging process and others may not be related directly to vision loss but still affect many of us. These are the reasons I will present the following information.

When we visit our health care providers we need to be fully informed of our health issues as well as knowing that we have a choice in our care and decision making for our future treatment and care. One of the major government expenses across Canada is the Health care budget which is why they are looking to find ways to provide care at a lower cost by using substitutes or similar products. While this may be fine for many patients it may not be for all so this is where “fully informed and choice” come into play.

One of the current issues is the use of Biologics vs. Biosimilars. What are these you ask?

Biologics are very specific, highly effective medicines made in living cells. They improve health in many complex conditions, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, psoriasis, HIV, multiple sclerosis, growth deficiencies, and more.

Some examples of biologics include hormones, blood products, cytokines, growth factors, vaccines, gene and cellular therapies, fusion proteins, insulin, interferon, and monoclonal antibody (mAb) products. Patients receive biologics by injection or infusion and cannot take them orally, since the process of digestion breaks down the biologic, making it ineffective.

We have been using biologic medicines since 1796, when scientists created the first rudimentary vaccines for smallpox. Biologics have continued to evolve throughout the years into powerful medicines that have revolutionized treatment for debilitating diseases, giving patients a new chance for a life.

Biosimilars are products that are similar to an already existing brand-name, original biologic (innovator or originator biologic) but, unlike a generic drug, are not identical

Biosimilars are not generic versions of originator biologics, but they are affordable alternatives that work similarly. For patients who have not begun an original biologic, biosimilars may be a useful alternative for physicians to prescribe. However, only qualified health care professionals should be allowed to switch a patient from an innovator biologic to a biosimilar, and only if it is best for the patients’ health.

When your health care provider starts a conversation with you about biosimilars, you may also choose to ask these additional questions: Why are you recommending this biosimilar for me? What if I don’t want to change to the biosimilar? What are the consequences or options? Is there a cost to me if I choose to stay on the brand name biologic?

Health Canada regulates biosimilars as new drugs by comparison with an innovator reference product previously authorized and marketed in Canada. As the federal authority, Health Canada states that biosimilars are not generic biologics. Health Canada only approves biosimilars for marketing in Canada when the manufacturer demonstrates that their product is of similar quality, safety, and efficacy to the original reference drug. Health Canada describes a biosimilar as a drug that has been demonstrated to be highly similar to a reference biologic drug, with no clinically meaningful differences in safety and efficacy between them.

This information is provided so that you have a bit more information when you visit your physician to work out the best plan for your continuing care.

Louise Gillis, National President.

White Cane Week about redefining vision loss++

Born with congenital glaucoma, Ian White had surgery as an infant that afforded him functional vision for four decades.

But at 40 years old, that all changed. White developed cataracts which would eventually lead to a series of corneal, then retinal complications that would leave him blind.

“I was sort of an emotional train wreck,” White said, thinking back to that time – more than 16 years ago. “All of the things I used to redefine myself were based on what I could see.”

At the time, White worked as a senior project manager of a corporate interior design firm. He spent much of his time reading and immersed himself in the realm of art and design.

“I was one of those people who just couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live without being able to see,” White said. “It meant I completely had to redefine how I saw myself in the world – what made me useful and interesting in the world and what kinds of things would give my life meaning.”

For White, that meant finding a new way to read, through audio books, and going back to university to pursue a degree in philosophy.

“I started out very slowly,” White said. “I got connected with the CNIB and I got some skill support – orientation and mobility – and a little bit of braille, and I got connected with the CNIB’s library, which is now the Centre for Equitable Library Access.”

Opening himself up to new opportunities led White to a volunteer position with the CNIB, where he eventually met the people with whom he would form the Canadian Council of the Blind’s Toronto Visionaries, of which White is currently the president.

White says the CCB is dedicated to helping individuals and families dealing with vision loss through providing them with the resources and supports they need, including connecting them with others who are living with vision loss.

“One of the things we found is folks who are just at the beginning of their journey with vision loss, whether it’s come on suddenly or it’s something that is going to develop gradually as their diagnosis progresses, it’s a real struggle to sort of imagine how your life will be at a point in the future where you can’t see as well as you do now,” White said.

“We set up as many opportunities as we can for folks to get together socially and recreationally, and basically give them an excuse to get together with other people in an environment where sharing information is part of the deal.”

This year, White Cane Week, a week to promote awareness about and provide resources for those living with vision loss, ran from Feb. 4 to Feb. 10 and CCB Toronto Visionaries kicked it off with their Experience Expo, held on Feb. 3.

The annual event displays exhibits from a variety of organizations, including recreational groups, adaptive technologies companies, employment services, educational support groups and more.

White says the idea behind White Cane Week is for the blind community to develop initiatives that will educate the public on both the challenges and successes that come with living with vision loss.

“I think one of the most common things that I’ve found is that a lot of people seem to think that blindness is a binary category – you either are blind or you’re not – rather than thinking of vision loss as a gradual scale,” White said. “It’s about creating a sense of the individual instead of the class. It’s seeing beyond that category to the person in the category.”

Alongside his work within the blind community, White says he is dedicated to promoting awareness everywhere he goes.

He stresses the importance for members of the CCB, and other similar organizations, to get out and be active in their respective communities.

“By participating in the general fabric of society, what we’re doing is we’re presenting ourselves as patrons and we are consuming the things that are out there to be consumed and in doing so, on a very gradual and casual basis, we’re offering all of those retailers and institutions the opportunity to work with us to develop their offerings so that they are universally accessible,” White said.

When it comes to individual day-to-day interactions, there is always room for learning, he added.

White says the best advice he can give to someone who is unsure if they can be of assistance to someone with vision loss, is to simply ask if they require any help.

Oftentimes people approach the situation with good intentions, but they aren’t sure about execution, White said.

“One of the things I’ve had happen to me is folks will say, ‘OK, take my hand,’ and they’ll take me by the hand like we’re walking down the street hand-in-hand, which is a little more intimate than I would like,” he said.

“But it’s all about great intentions and what happens at that point is I become the ambassador. I take charge in communicating what kind of help I need and that helps clarify in the other person’s mind what I’m looking for and what kind of help is appropriate and they feel much more comfortable all of a sudden.”
By Veronica Appia

AMI launches fully accessible apps for the blind and partially sighted community++
Toronto, February 15, 2018 – Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) announced today the launch of two accessible applications created especially for people living with sight loss.
The AMI apps are available for iOS and tvOS and were designed by local Toronto developer, The Working Group (TWG). The project took approximately six months and included weeks of research and testing with members of AMI’s target audience to ensure the apps passed all accessibility requirements.

“Accessibility is at the forefront of everything we do here at AMI,” explains Peter Burke, AMI’s Vice-President of Marketing and Communications. “We knew that accessibility had to be considered from inception and the team at TWG was committed to ensuring that the apps underwent vigorous testing with our target audience.”

From an accessibility standpoint, the apps feature closed captioning with all content, accessibility enhancements such as bolded text, a high contrast layout, handy tutorials explaining all the apps’ features and, most important to AMI’s core audience, integrated described video built into every program. End users can watch AMI original content on the go (iOS) or from the comfort of their home (tvOS) as well as download their favourite AMI programs offline for later viewing.

The AMI apps are available in English (AMI-tv) and French (AMI-télé) and can be downloaded for free through the Apple App store.
For further information on AMI and its programs and initiatives, please visit or

White Cane Week 2018++:
Camp Bowen attended the White Cane Week event at Park Royal shopping centre. The event, which is always a great opportunity to connect with individuals and organizations within the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community, was a great success. Alex Jurgensen and Peg Mercer were at the Camp Bowen and AEBC table, where we offered information about our programs, Braille bookmarks, and our Braille puzzle books for sighted readers, the latter two by donation. It ran from 10 AM to 2:30 PM on Thursday, February 8 at the South mall section of Park Royal Shopping Centre in West Vancouver. All in all, it was a successful event with much networking being done between Camp Bowen, community members, and other organizations.
Get Together with Technology (GTT) Tips and Tricks++
How to accessibly and reliably spell check documents on iOS devices with VoiceOver

Taken from this Blog Site:
How to accessibly and reliably spell check documents on iOS devices with VoiceOver

Although I guess possible on older versions of iOS, until iOS 11, spell checking documents on iOS devices was extremely difficult with the screen reader Voiceover.
Occasionally when browsing around a document if VoiceOver said a word was misspelled you could maybe get suggestions if you happened to be exceptionally lucky. But now with iOS 11, here’s a totally accessible and reproducible process. Previously not being able to reliably spell check documents on iOS was a large frustration for me, and meant that all I could efficiently do on the run was to write rough drafts; having to later correct them on my mac back at home. Experiencing that spell checking was now totally doable on iOS 11, I am more than happy to share what I’ve found. I use the word activate, because there are several ways to progress workflows on iOS devices. Yes, if using only the touch screen, I mean double tap; but if a future reader is using a Bluetooth keyboard, a braille display, or the new O6, there are multiple more ways they could do it.

1. Open a document you want to spell check.
2. Make sure VoiceOver says “text field is editing” “quick Nav off”.
3. Rotate the VoiceOver rotor left, often only 1 menu item to “misspelled words”.
4. Swipe up or down to move between a lists of misspelled words.
5. After stopping on a misspelled word you want to correct, change the rotor to “edit”. Edit should be 1 rotor item to the left of misspelled words.
6. Swipe up or down to “select” and activate it. VoiceOver should say “word”
Selected, where word is the word you selected.
7. Then swipe up or down until you get to “replace”, and activate that.
8. After a short wait, probably less than 1 second, VoiceOver will say a word, probably similar to the misspelled word you’re wanting to change. Sometimes, VoiceOver may also instead say text field but in this case just swipe right to the first item in the word suggestions list.
9. If that is the word you want, activate it; if not you can swipe right or left to move through the list of word suggestions until VoiceOver speaks the word you want. Then activate that word.
10. The new word you chose from the list should have replaced the previously misspelled word you wanted to correct.

Back when looking at the list of suggested words, you may also change the rotor to character and spell the words letter by letter.
Arriving on the scene may be a different matter however.

After a few times through the process, you will probably find that it’s not as complicated as it looks. This not only works by using the touch screen, but also by using Bluetooth keyboards. If your braille display keyboard can also use the rotor, it should work for that also.

For someone who writes a lot while on the run, adding “misspelled words” to the rotor may be one of iOS 11’s most appreciated features.

Get Together with Technology Contacts:
For more information please contact your GTT Coordinators:

Albert Ruel or Kim Kilpatrick
1-877-304-0968, 550
1-877-304-0968, 513

Please support our sponsor Bell by learning about their accessibility programs here.

It’s time to have your say++

On March 10, 2018 the Tele Town Hall organizing team will be hosting its fifth and final Tele Town Hall. Like the previous four; this will be open to participants across Canada.

Date: March 10, 2018
Times: 10:00 am Pacific, 11:00 am Mountain, Noon Central, 1:00 pm Eastern, 2:00 pm Atlantic, 2:30 in Newfoundland

In the summer of 2016, we the Tele Town Hall organizing team embarked on a journey to facilitate a number of Tele Town Halls across Canada with the mission to give participants an opportunity to share their views on a variety of topics related to the current state of blindness rehabilitation and consumerism in Canada.

As a non-biased team, we felt strongly that we were in a position to facilitate these Town Halls and at the end of it all to present a report to participants and other stakeholders.

Let’s get it out there
Our first two Tele Town Halls held at the end of October 2016 and in early March 2017 invited participants to share their views on the following:
-The present state of the consumer movement in Canada
– What if anything should we be doing to affect change
-What would be a logical and reasonable path to pursue if change was desired?
-Who could be involved?
– How could this be accomplished and
– What mechanisms could be used in order to accomplish this?

Advocacy without borders
Our third Tele Town Hall held in October 2017 gave participants an opportunity to hear about how rehabilitation services and consumer movements operate in New Zealand and Australia thanks to two guest speakers who shared their views with us.
They were Martine Abel Williamson; treasurer of the World Blind Union and well known advocate from New Zealand and Fran Cutler; a well-known advocate who works both in Australia and Canada splitting her time equally between both countries.
Our fourth Tele Town Hall held in November 2017 gave participants an opportunity to hear from guest speakers from the United States. In similar fashion to our third Tele Town Hall; we featured high profile speakers who shared their views on the state of rehabilitation services and consumer movements in the United States.
They were Mitch Pomerantz; A past president of the American Council of the Blind and an active advocate in the development of the Americans with disabilities Act, and John Panarese; a well-known trainer in Apple products and an active advocate in helping others to gain equal access to training opportunities.

Now it is time to have your final say in this series
The fifth and final Tele Town Hall will give participants an opportunity to have their say and in so doing to help shape the future of our consumer advocacy movement in Canada. Based on comments and suggestions garnered from previous Tele Town Halls, many participants do not believe that living with the status quo is a viable option. Accordingly, we would like to preface the discussions of this final Tele Town Hall with a list of questions meant to help you formulate some thoughts before attending. Also, reading the notes taken during the previous 4 Tele Town Hall meetings might help us all chart a path, and those links are found below our list of “thought provoking” questions.

Question one:
How well do current blindness/low vision rehabilitation service organizations in Canada serve your needs, or how do they not serve your needs as the case may be?

Question two:
How well do current blindness/low vision advocacy/social/support organizations in Canada serve your needs, or how are they not serving your needs as the case may be? IE, are you personally happy with the existing consumer advocacy and support movements in Canada?

Question three:
If not, what will make them more responsive to blind Canadians needs, and flexible enough to move with emerging societal demands?

Question four:
What strategies are required if we’re to strengthen the voice of blind Canadians with Governments, employers and communities? IE, do blind Canadians need one single strong voice in order to advance our needs?

Question five:
What strategies can blind Canadians employ to amplify their voices in order to be better heard within Canadian organizations “of” and “for” the blind? IE, do blind Canadians want to be more involved in driving the organizations that provide rehabilitation services in Canada?

All Four Sets of Tele Town Hall Notes can be downloaded from:
1. October 29, 2016.
2. March 4, 2017.
3. October 14, 2017.
4. November 18, 2017.

To register as a participant please email And you will receive an acknowledgment of your email.
An electronic copy of the rules of engagement will be sent to you during the week of March 04. We thank you!

Signed: Donna Jodhan, Richard Marion, Robin East, Anthony Tibbs, Albert Ruel, Louise Gillis, Pat Seed, Jane Blaine, Melanie Marsden, Kim Kilpatrick, Leo Bissonnette, Paul Edwards

An update for our Feb 23 2018 Dinner Mystery Evening++
On February 23 2018 Author Donna Jodhan and her friends played to a full house at 1929 Bayview Avenue as they delighted the audience with their play, the Bermuda Triangle.

The mystery was a fictional satire written by Donna and featured 3 suspects who all pleaded guilty to the murder of a lady called Vivienne Grabbit, also known as voluptuous Vivienne.

First we had Donaldo Trump who claimed that he did the deed to get Vivienne off his back. He claimed that she had been sent to Toronto by his brother Donald to straighten him out due to his preferences.

Then we had Kathleen Wingate who claimed that she killed Vivienne because she was rebuffed by her. Kathleen was forced to reveal her double life both as a chef and as Premier of Ontario.

Finally we had Hillary Lewinsky who said that she did it because Vivienne double crossed her!

The play was often punctuated with rich applause and tons of laughter.

Before the play dinner was served and there was an entertaining game show.

There was full audience participation; an eight man jury was chosen from among the audience and then the audience chose which sentence would be handed down for Kathleen Wingate who was found guilty.

Author Donna thanks her cast; David Wysocky as Donaldo Trump, Debbie Gillespie as Kathleen Wingate, Pina Dintino as Hillary Lewinsky, and Kamini Rodhan as the bailiff.

Finally to her game show host Kelly MacDonald, her MC Gabriella Sharrard, and to her vice president of the CCB Mysteries chapter Lynda Spinney.

Stay tuned for Donna’s next exciting evening!

$1M in Federal funding expands the National
Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS)++

The BC Libraries Cooperative is very pleased to announce the receipt of $1Million to dramatically expand the impact of NNELS for readers with print disabilities! This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability Component, and will deliver the following outcomes:
• Established and strengthened partnerships among organizations active within Canadian print disability and alternate format communities;
• Canadians with print disabilities are provided with access to an increased number of reading materials in alternate formats through public libraries and the ( website
• Increased capacity to produce alternate formats of reading materials through: publishers publishing accessible material, volunteers recording books in public libraries and, persons with disabilities trained to produce books in accessible formats;
• Improved access to information in a variety of alternate formats for all Canadians with print disabilities; and,
• Improved participation and integration of persons with disabilities in the library community, and by extension, Canadian society, with respect to social inclusion.

Only four years old, NNELS has successfully modeled and scaled a service built on principles of choice, inclusion, partnerships, capacity building and open-source technology. NNELS not only gets books into the hands of readers who have been traditionally underserved, but actively engages with Canadians with perceptual disabilities to select and produce the titles in its national repository.

“We gratefully acknowledge this support from the Government of Canada, and thank the partners, publishers, consumers and students who are working with us to grow NNELS for the benefit of eligible Canadians” said BC Libraries Cooperative Board Chair, Baharak Yousefi.

The BC Libraries Cooperative is a 200-member national cooperative, providing libraries and related organizations the services, cost savings, and support they need to do great work in Canadian communities. An enterprising non-profit and a technology leader, the Co-op is the proud home of NNELS.

The National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS) is a digital public library of downloadable titles for Canadians with perceptual disabilities, supported and fueled by a growing network of readers, community organizations, librarians, publishers, and accessible format producers in Canada and abroad.

A Message from Canadian Blind Sports++:
Cet article est disponible en français sur notre site internet.

Dear members, colleagues and friends:
Canadian Blind Sports is reaching out to our partners, members and extended networks in the sport and physical activity field as well as those in the blind and vision impairment community. Please accept our sincerest thanks in advance of your support with the following request. With support from the Government of Canada, the Canadian Blind Sports Association has undertaken a project to outline the sport and recreation pathways taken by Canadians who are blind, visually impaired, or partially sighted. We are seeking the input from a wide range of stakeholders including Canadians who are blind, partially sighted or visually impaired and those who support them.
Please take your time and answer the survey as best you can in the role that you feel best fits your experience:
A. Person who is blind or visually impaired.
B. Parent/guardian or close relative or friend of a person who is blind or visually impaired.
C. Professional working in the area of sport, physical activity, education, or others working with Canadians who are blind, partially sighted or visually impaired.

If you are connected to more than one stream and you have the time and motivation to complete a second survey please complete each survey separately.
I would also like to note that it should take approximately 20 min to complete one stream of the survey. If you’re using adaptive technology it is expected to take about 30 minutes to complete. There are approximately 90 questions in the Survey for a total of 30 questions per module.

Please note that the survey will close the on March 11th 2018.
Survey in English
Sondage en français

Stephen Burke Bkin ChPC
Director of Domestic Programs
Canadian Blind Sports Association

We Call for Senate of Canada to Include Strengthened Requirements to Accommodate Canadians With Sight Loss++
We are calling on the Senate of Canada to make amendments to strengthen requirements to accommodate Canadians with sight loss. As the Senate resumes sitting at the end of January, they will continue their study of Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act. CNIB and CCB support the passage of this important piece of legislation, specifically the creation of an airline Passenger Bill of Rights.

Canadians with sight loss have difficulties travelling in Canada independently, especially when travelling on an airplane. Problems exists in all facets of airline travel: from booking tickets, to navigating airports, and providing sufficient space for passengers with sight loss and their guide dogs.

“Flying in Canada and internationally is often difficult. I can’t independently book my own ticket online,” said Diane Bergeron, CNIB Vice President, Engagement and International Affairs. “Canadian airline websites fail to meet basic usability guidelines, which makes travel planning nearly impossible. When I’m lucky and I can book my flights, I’m often told to call someone because I have a guide dog.

We want this Bill to be amended so that accommodations for Canadians with sight loss are enshrined in the Passenger Bill of Rights. Canadians with sight loss continue to encounter unnecessary barriers when travelling by air, and many of these simply do not need to exist.”

The Senate has two options: pass the Bill as is or send it back to the House of Commons with amendments.

“The legislation isn’t bad, in fact, Canada needs a Passenger Bill of Rights,” said Thomas Simpson, CNIB’s Manager of Operations and Government Affairs. “The problem CNIB has is there is no disability lens on Bill C-49. No one took the time to think about problems that exist for Canadians with disabilities who travel, and how this piece of legislation can help alleviate these problems.

I’d like to think in 2018 that the Government of Canada would think about persons with disability when drafting all legislation.”

Fran Cutler, a Canadian with sight loss who often flies when travelling, has often experienced barriers to her independence when flying, most recently as a result of the attendant call buttons.

“The flight attendant call button is no longer accessible for me and for hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have sight loss,” said Cutler. “The familiar physical call buttons have been moved to the touchscreen on many refurbished aircraft models. Imagine how helpless you would feel if you could not see the screen and you were ill or being harassed by another passenger!”

Bill C-49, known as the Transportation Modernization Act, seeks to modernize Canada’s Transportation Act and several other associated pieces of legislation. Bill C-49 seeks to create a Passenger Bill of Rights to create standards for how national airlines treat Canadian passengers.

Happenings at Camp Bowen++
2018 is barely three months old and spring is just around the corner but there are already several announcements from the team here at Camp Bowen we hope you will enjoy.

Easter will be here before you know it, bringing with it family get togethers, Easter egg hunts for the children, and, of course, lots and lots of chocolate. This year, it is also bringing an opportunity for you to get your fix of Purdy’s delicious chocolates while supporting programs benefiting blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind Canadians. Spring into Easter with both featured items for Easter and regular favourites.

Purdy’s has been making chocolates in Vancouver since 1907, and it’s still where they craft all your favourites today. On top of supporting the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired, every purchase you make helps improve the lives of cocoa farmers in rural communities.

Easter is just around the corner and Purdy’s chocolates are great treats to offer your friends and family over supper, during an Easter egg hunt, or just because. After all, who ever needed an excuse to eat chocolate?

Place your order online now! This link will take you to our online campaign: You pay the same as you’d pay in-store or online, and the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired gets 25% of sales.

You will need to register by entering your first name, last name, email address and creating a password. Once registered and logged in, you should be directed to the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired Easter Fundraiser Campaign page. From there you are able to: invite other members, shop online, and pay for your orders.

Orders can be picked up at our three pickup locations: Vancouver, Surrey, and Bowen Island. Pickup will take place on the dates below. Please call +1 (604) 947-0021 before March 21, 2018 to arrange a pickup date, time, and location. You don’t pay for shipping!

Pickup Dates and locations:
Bowen Island: Where: In front of the library. When: Thursday, March 22, 2018 from 3:15 to 6:45 PM (Call +1 (604) 947-0021 and press 2 to arrange a pickup time)

Surrey: Where: 5737 180 St., Surrey, BC. When: Friday, March 23 to Thursday, March 29, 2018 (Call +1 (604) 947-0021 and press 2 to arrange a pickup time)

Vancouver: Where: 1720 West 12th Ave., Vancouver, BC. When: Friday, March 23 to Thursday, March 29, 2018 (Call +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 105 to arrange a pickup time)

Don’t miss the order deadline: March 12th. We thank you in advance for your support of programs benefiting blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind Canadians.

Please feel free to call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 with any questions you may have about this fundraiser or our program offerings. From all of us at Camp Bowen, have a happy Easter.
Introducing Canadian Blindness Services
The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired welcomes Canadian Blindness Services to our family of projects. Canadian Blindness Services is designed to be a central and collaborative information exchange and services hub for individuals, families, organizations, and businesses participating within the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community in Canada. We believe that collaboration between those involved in the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community is important because together, we are stronger. We also understand the need to connect those who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind, as well as their families, with information and resources, and we seek to meet this need. This project can be found at

Camp Bowen Books Project Launches on World Braille Day:
“Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge, and that is vitally important for us if we [the blind] are not to go on being despised or patronized by condescending sighted people. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals – and communication is the way this can be brought about.”
-Louis Braille

209 years ago, Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, France. He would later go on to develop Braille, the reading and writing system widely in use by blind people today. It is in his honour that World Braille Day is celebrated. It falls each year on January 4, commemorating his birthday.

It is with great excitement that we announce that the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired has now been made a publisher of accessible books by Library and Archives Canada as part of the new Camp Bowen Books Project. The project compliments our summer camps and training initiatives and will not be taking resources away from either. The Camp Bowen Books project aims to produce books in a variety of accessible formats including electronic text, audio, Braille, and others. We don’t plan to stop at the production of accessible books, though. We want to get them into the hands of as many people as possible. To that end we will be offering the books we produce to the public library system and through our website so that they can be enjoyed by readers everywhere, sighted or not. To find out more about the project, visit the “books” tab of the Camp Bowen website.

Like with most things we do at Camp Bowen, volunteers are central. If you would like to volunteer to become a book producer, audio narrator, proofreader, or have another idea on how you can help, please get in touch via the contact page on our website.

We look forward to making this world a more accessible place and doing our part to close the gap between inaccessible and accessible books. We sincerely hope you will join us on this exciting journey.
Introducing the Camp Bowen Newsline:
We are pleased to introduce the Camp Bowen newsline, a new way to access Camp Bowen news via our telephone system. From now on, all articles on the website will also be available in an audio format by calling either +1 (604) 947-0021 or +1 (844) MYBOWEN (692-6936) and pressing 1.

Supporter Spotlight:
In this month’s Supporter Spotlight, we would like to recognize the following:
– The Royal Canadian Legion Cloverdale Branch #6 for their monetary contribution
– Digitally Hip Corporation, David McCullum, and Emily Erickson McCullum for their dedication and financial assistance in acquiring local Bowen Island phone numbers
– The Bowfest organizers for their continued generosity and support

Our supporters are the only reason we are able to continue offering the kinds of programs we do. If you would like to make a contribution by cheque, money order, or online, please visit the following link for instructions.

As always, if you would like to know more information about Camp Bowen or our various projects, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. WE can be reached by phone at +1 (604) 947-0021 or +1 (844) MYBOWEN (692-6936). Alternately, we can be reached by any of the methods at:

Contact Us

The Camp Bowen Team

Assistive Technology
Enabling Technologies and HumanWare unite to offer the largest range of braille devices++
Enabling Technologies and HumanWare are pleased to announce a new strategic partnership that will increase Enabling Technologies’ embosser distribution and expand HumanWare’s product portfolio offer into print braille.
Joao Beirante, Enabling Technologies president, stated: “During Enabling Technologies 43 year history, our mission has always been clear: Deliver the best braille and the best support to the braille community. Recognizing that more and more of our customers are seeking integrated solutions and a global support network, we have taken a decision to forge a close partnership with HumanWare to serve our growing business needs.”
Bruce Miles, President of HumanWare, said: “Given that we have had such a successful distribution partnership over the past years and the complementary nature of our product portfolios, it made sense to join forces on a worldwide basis. We look forward to distributing, supporting and servicing Enabling Technologies embossers through our global network and developing next generation products with Enabling Technologies’ management.”
Joao will continue to lead the commercial efforts and Enabling Technologies will operate from its current Florida facility. 1-877-304-0968

CCB National Newsletter January 2018

Jan 09 2018

Happy New Year from CCB!



President’s Message ++

“Happy New Year to all”


As we begin 2018 chapters across the country are busily preparing for White Cane Week. I hope that stormy weather will not cause any disruptions in plans for special events.


CCB will continue our working relationships with organizations of and for the blind as well as other disability groups so that we can help in the prevention of blindness and improve the quality of the lives of individuals already experiencing vision loss so they can lead a comfortable and productive lifestyle. Working together with other groups such as (but not limited too) CELA, IFA, BMC, and CTA we are better able to get a voice to make a difference for everyone. We will continue to send support letters for a variety of Patient Groups in their efforts because many of the particular diseases they represent are diseases that our members often re battling as well as blindness so it helps the common good for all.

An example would be a letter of support for when Cannabis becomes legalized latter this year there will be a tax all products. This can be an added burden for those who will be using it through prescriptions for medical reasons, other prescription drugs are not taxable could prevent people who really need this type of pain relief to not be able to afford the prescription. While this can be a controversial issue it CCB is supporting the proper medical use of cannabis only not the recreational usage.

In February, expect to see a new look to our monthly newsletter. We hope to reach a larger population and hence increase membership.


A special Thank You to all our sponsors and donors throughout the year for aiding in promoting our programs and making it possible for more persons with vision loss to enjoy using these programs as well.


Keep well through the coming year and check out our CCB Health and Fitness program.

Louise Gillis, National President


White Cane Week 2018++

Get ready for another fun and exciting awareness week from February 4 to 10. Events include our annual AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship and countless local activities. Please visit the CCB website to keep yourself updated on the many exciting events that will be taking place this year across the country. And stay tuned for reports on events in upcoming newsletters!



A Proclamation from British Columbia++

Thanks to the hard work of the Canadian Council of the Blind members in the British Columbia/Yukon Division the province of British Columbia has proclaimed that February 4 to 10, 2018 shall be known as White Cane Week.




CCB Blind Sports Nova Scotia Chapter Update – December, 2017++:

*Tandem Bike Club *

With excellent cycling weather, the Tandem Bike Club saw a high level of participation! Plenty of individuals loaned tandem bikes throughout the summer and well into October.

New stokers (riders with vision loss) rode with us, we trained new volunteer pilots and returning volunteers who were keen to help us make cycling accessible in Halifax & surrounding areas.


We had a blast getting out for a number of group bike rides, including a few rides over 40 kilometres from Halifax to the Bike and Bean restaurant in Tantallon and back.


Sighted cyclists, family & friends, also joined for the fun & outdoor exercise, and we made new friends on the trails.


*Running, Walking, & Guide Bunnies *

At least 10 runners & walkers with vision loss participated in events at the 13th Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon. The Blue Nose also serves as one of our chapter’s main fund raising events each year.


Stephanie Berry, a CCB Blind Sports NS member raced her first half-marathon at this year’s Army Run in Ottawa. She placed 2nd in the visually impaired category – Congratulations!


Jennie Bovard, CCB Blind Sports NS member & Communications Director and CCB NS Division Advocacy Officer, took on 5 races this season, with highlights including 6th in her division (of 60) at the Navy 5 kilometre race and 19th (of 117) in her division at the Legs for Literacy 10 kilometre road race.


We’re extremely grateful to the Guide Bunnies, a sub-group of the White Rabbit Pacing non-profit, whose guide runners have made it possible for Nova Scotians with vision loss to participate in races alongside sighted peers & achieve new milestones. We can’t wait for next season! Check or email to learn more about them.


*Goalball’s Back*

We’re elated to witness such growth in the sport of goalball throughout Nova Scotia!


The goalball season may have just begun, but we’ve never stopped holding demonstrations for at schools, universities, and community events. Through these event’s, we’ve grown awareness & participation, and inspired our sighted peers to join on the level playing field that is the goalball court.


*Weekly goalball programs are up & running: *

– Junior goalball programs in New Minas, Antigonish, and Halifax

– APSEA youth goalball

– Recreational goalball (all ages, all levels, co-ed) in Halifax

– Junior goalball in Halifax

– Senior men & women’s goalball in Halifax


*3rd Annual Nova Scotia Open Goalball Tournament:*

Thanks to the support & dedication of donors, volunteers, coaches, officials, athletes, and our community, we hosted another successful international tournament in Halifax, the only event of its kind in Atlantic Canada!


Elite and developing athletes from the USA and Canada went head to head in a well-attended, live streamed, event that saw great competition and even media attention.


*Here’s how the standings shook out*

1 Turnstone (USA)

2 California Crown

3 Nova Scotia

4 Quebec

5 Ontario All Black

6 Atlantic Ship Recs


*Coming up…*

*Give Spinning a Spin*

With cycling season over, the Tandem Bike Club offers a free introductory indoor spin class for anyone with vision loss. A great way to stay active during the winter months, the event will take place Sunday, December 17th and will be hosted by long-time volunteer tandem bike pilot, Jim.


*18th Montreal Goalball Tournament *

January 26th to 28th, 2018, the Nova Scotia men’s goalball team will compete alongside athletes from across North America.


Assistive Technology

Tech Article: Apps That Assist Beginners with Learning Voice over Gestures++:

Here are some recommendations for apps that might help new iPhone users learn the iPhone gestures.


These are four apps I think are helpful in learning the VoiceOver gestures of the iPhone.  They are all free, I think.


The Blindfold Bop one is free, however limited in how many times you can use it, so I purchased it for about $6 which allows me unlimited use of the app.


Below I have provided a link to the entire list of iFocus MP3 files in my Dropbox folder.  It is a Zipped file that you can download to your computer.


  1. VO Starter, is an app that is text based and explains the Voice Over gestures well in a well organized fashion. It’s a great manual for learning what’s possible.
  2. Blindfold Bop, is a game based tutorial that gets you to practice gestures with ever increasing speeds and complexity.
  3. VO Tutorial, is an app that works the user through several games requiring that gestures be performed in order to work through the game. It’s great for beginners.
  4. VO Lab, I found this one less helpful as it gets the user to turn off VO and use a self-voicing voice. It might be too confusing for beginners. I don’t like it, but it’s possible that others will learn from it so I included it.


Of course, VO Calendar is a great way to use the Calendar with an accessible and usable overlay on the native on board Calendar app.


iFocus MP3 Zipped File (nearly 3GB):

By Albert Ruel, GTT West Coordinator


Some Tips to help better Utilize the Safari Web browser++:

Safari for iPhone and iPad is an incredibly capable mobile web browser despite its simple, straightforward user interface. It is the browser of choice on iOS, in large part because it is the one pre-installed, but very few people know everything you can do with Safari.


Much of Safari’s advanced functionality is hidden behind “long-pres gestures” that most people do not know exist.


Long press on the Bookmarks button

On Safari for iPhone and iPad, the normal way to add a bookmark for a webpage is to press the Share toolbar button and scroll through the activity pop-up to select the Add Bookmark option. Using a long-press, you can do the same thing more quickly.


Long-press on the Bookmarks button (which tapping on normally takes you to view your bookmarks) and a new action menu appears. The modal features options to Add Bookmark or Add to Reading List. Saving to Reading List is immediate, whilst tapping the bookmark option will open the usual options view to confirm the name and Favorites folder location.


In the News

Engineers are helping the blind ‘see’ fireworks++:

It is almost that time of the year again, the moment that sees out the old and welcomes in the new, on New Year’s Eve. In the seconds that take 23:59 in 2017 to 00:00 in 2018, bursts of fiery light will appear in the night skies around the world as displays of fireworks are triggered.


Some of the world’s grandest fireworks happen on Australia’s Sydney Harbor, on the United Kingdom’s London Eye, on France’s Eiffel Tower in Paris, and  on Brazil’s Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, to name a few.


Nothing dazzles crowds quite like fireworks displays. They are, after all, a marvel of chemical engineering. There is a visceral excitement felt by many when fireworks burst into the sky as a New Year dawns.


However, for visually impaired members of our global population, enjoying a fireworks display is limited to the reverberating explosions alone. The engineers and researchers at Disney Parks and Resorts have worked to find a solution.


The company is world renowned for its firework displays; in fact they are the largest consumer of fireworks in the world. A former Product Designer at Disney Consumer Products, Ben Suarez, says Disney uses up to US$50,000 of fireworks per show at their resorts. It is estimated that the resorts collectively blow up $50 million worth of fireworks every year.


Feeling Fireworks

Researchers at Disney are developing a technology that would allow visually impaired patrons to experience the fireworks at their parks in a new way; by feeling them. A flexible screen is set up, with water jets positioned behind it. By placing their hands against the screen they feel a representation of a firework exploding outwardly.


To further improve the experience, a Microsoft Kinect camera array is set up, for the purposes of tracking users’ hands. Once a user’s hands are up against the flexible screen, the jets are activated through the Kinect sensor and a personalized ‘fireworks explosion’ is performed for the user.


Disney’s researchers are experimenting with a variety of nozzles on the water jets to produce varied patterns and thus a breadth of tactile experience. Using an Arduino-based computer, the engineers control the amount of water the pump emits and can control the direction of the nozzles. The researchers have also found that they can produce the experience inexpensively. They write:

“Our approach is low-cost and scales well, and allows for dynamic tactile effects to be rendered with high spatial resolution.”


The rise and development of haptic technology will enable an increasing number of tactile experiences in the near future. Haptic feedback is something engineers are embedding in technology to make humans feel like their interactions with technology are more genuine.


Disney believes that the technology could be adapted to other industries. The researchers write:

“Beyond the specific application, the technology represents a novel and cost-effective approach for making large scalable tactile displays, with the potential for wider use.”


Disney’s investment in fireworks goes further. According to former Disney & NBC Product Designer Ben Suarez the company has invested millions into “developing new fireworks that left minimal amounts of smoke”, after the smell of their many fiery displays agitated crowds.


A festive season is, after all, for everyone. It is commendable that Disney has used their engineering expertise to ensure this gladness is spread a little more widely.


By Quintus Potgieter



OC Transpo fined $25K for failing to call out bus stops++:

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has hit OC Transpo in Ottawa with a hefty fine after enforcement officers discovered major stops were not being called out on three trips.


A CTA enforcement officer checked buses on routes 4, 7 and 62 on the afternoon of Nov. 14, following a CBC report about problems with OC Transpo’s Next Stop Announcement System, and found a failure to call stops on all three buses.


Visually impaired riders had previously told CBC that stops were not being called out consistently, a problem that was supposed to be solved by the automated system of visual and audio alerts.


The $12-million system, which CCB actively advocated for, was installed in late 2010 following a complaint to the CTA by Terrance Green, a blind user of OC Transpo who said drivers were failing to call stops as required by OC Transpo’s own policy.


Green told CBC in November that problems with the system were ongoing, but his concerns seemed to come as a surprise to OC Transpo’s director of customer systems and planning, who said he believed the system was “working consistently, for everyone’s benefit.”


Pat Scrimgeour said OC Transpo’s staff inspectors had been monitoring the system and found it was functioning properly about 98 per cent of the time.


The transit agency learned about the fine on Monday and will review what happened on those routes, according to Troy Charter, OC Transpo’s director of transit operations. He said it was too soon to say whether the agency would request a review of the decision.


“We need to gather our facts and look at what occurred,” Charter said. “We need to sit down and review our maintenance logs, look at those specific buses, see if there were operator or customer reports, review the downloads . Essentially we need to do our investigation to look at what occurred.”


If the automated system is not functioning, drivers are required to call out the stops to comply with the earlier ruling by the Canadian Transportation Agency.

But Charter noted, if the automated system is not working, drivers on busy routes with crowded buses may not be able to hear it, and so may not know they need to be calling out the stops.


The deadline to pay the $25,000 fine is Jan. 23.

CBC News, December 19, 2017


Friends help blind woman in difficult task of finding a job++:

Tepi Hughes was found as a toddler in the rubble of her famine-torn home-city of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She spent 10 years in an orphanage during the Bangladesh genocide of the 1970s.


At seven, she contracted smallpox, and unlike 300 million people worldwide, Hughes didn’t die of one of the most feared diseases. She did go blind, though.

Life changed at 11 when she was adopted by a Canadian family.

Her formal education finally began when the new family registered her in Grade 4 with the W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind in Ontario.

For nine years, like hundreds of other blind students — Hughes experienced abuse. A class-action lawsuit recently reached a settlement in dealing with the abundance of claims. Of larger consequence to Hughes was the school’s decision to place her in a “learning disability class” where she did not obtain literacy skills.


Hughes thinks the school’s decision was based on her limited ability to speak English and remembers that time as the moment grade school ended — with less than two years of formal education.


Hughes, in her 50s now, has spent more than 40 years in Canada. Like many working-age blind people, she lives below the poverty line. She does her best to make a home as an independent woman with a good network of friends, many from the Canadian Federation of the Blind — an organization that promotes independence. Hughes describes the CFB as: “A group of friends who travels to conferences, meets monthly, practises cane skills and enjoys each other’s company.”


“We all believe a blind person can do anything they set their mind to,” she says.

The only thing I knew about the Bangladesh genocide was that George Harrison and Ravi Shankar had organized benefit concerts. I googled and learned of an estimated three million people, brutally murdered by the West Pakistan military in what was then East Pakistan.


I wondered: How does a person heal from that foundation?

In his latest book, Waiting for First Light, former Canadian general Romeo Dallaire describes the ongoing healing process from his painful experience in Rwanda.


Dallaire is white and tall and handsome and brilliant and powerful and a trained soldier. He has position power and political power as an esteemed Canadian three-star general and senator. He is an author of three extraordinary books. He has a hard-earned international reputation and a supportive family and influential friends. And yet, even with tremendous supports, dealing with his experience of genocide nearly destroyed him, as it has done to many other combat professionals.


I am grateful to Dallaire for his courage in helping all of us to understand. But I am afraid for my friend. A small, blind woman, who grew up in an orphanage surrounded by genocide, has few such support privileges.


And yet, Hughes has an uncommon vitality and light-heartedness.

I met Hughes a few times at Christmas parties for the Canadian Federation of the Blind and remembered a jovial character. I am not a member of that community, but an ally and supporter of their work.


In the summer of 2016, a mutual friend asked me to accompany Hughes as a “sight guide” while she volunteered at the Mustard Seed Street Church’s food bank. It wasn’t until Hughes and I volunteered together that we got to know each other better. For five days we scooped rice and oatmeal and other staples out of 50-pound sacks and into little plastic bags to be distributed in family food hampers.


Hughes worked hard, kept the work space organized, and was thorough in completing her tasks — not too surprising, as she had wrapped candy for a local chocolate factory for 10 years until she was laid off.

She had an easy way of connecting with people in the busy warehouse. If someone walked by, she would call out a friendly “hello.” The next time that person went by, they would say hi, and while Hughes was sorting fruit she would jokingly ask if they wanted to have a blueberry fight.

On her last day, several co-workers said how much they enjoyed working together, and the food bank organizers thanked her for the help. I came away with a nagging feeling that Hughes was underutilized.


She told me she wanted to get a part-time, minimum-wage job to supplement a disability income. I figured that would not be too hard, and offered to help with what I thought would be a two-month search.

We arranged to meet every Tuesday morning to strategize and job-hunt.


According to the job-hunter’s guide, What Colour Is Your Parachute 2017, circulating traditional resumés nets a four per cent success rate, while forwarding a letter of introduction to specific businesses nets an 86 per cent success rate. We decided to hand-deliver 30 tailored letters to selected businesses in the first few weeks.


We reached out in every which way, and made use of local support agencies.

Potential employers at businesses or job fairs frequently saw Hughes as a blind person — and nothing more. Imagine being seen as a sighted person — and nothing more.

Rejections were always, nice, polite, gracious and swift.

With an outgoing personality and disarming charm, Hughes would make a great receptionist, I thought. But I also knew I would not likely convince anyone of that truth.

Fifteen months later, Hughes still does not have a part-time, minimum-wage job that would provide some small income and some large sense of purpose as a working person. Luckily, at the start of our job-hunting saga, we agreed on a “never give up” motto.

We were in a coffee shop on Foul Bay Road recently when two construction workers came in.

“I remember you. You’re Tepi,” one said. “I worked on your street last year.” Hughes listened and then said: “You guys did an amazing job of fixing that sidewalk. People who use wheelchairs in my building are safer now.”

It was a scene I have witnessed frequently. She might not have received a formal education, but Hughes has a PhD in the art of being friendly.

These days, Hughes, another CFB friend, Doris Belusic, and I meet on Tuesday mornings for breakfast, a good chat and, always, a laugh. Beth Cowin, an employment counsellor at Phoenix Human Services is also a supporter and equally determined to help Hughes find a paying job. It is taking longer than she expected, but Cowin is tenacious and not prepared to give up, either.

We are learning that in 2017, many employers in Canada still see blind applicants as helpless and dependent. Hence the 90 per cent unemployment rate for working-age blind people. What a crazy waste of talent!


As ridiculous as it sounds, after surviving genocide, smallpox, blindness, a childhood in an orphanage, a scandalous education system in Ontario and decades of financial challenge while managing a poverty-level existence, Hughes’ biggest challenge of all might be to find an employer in Victoria who will recognize possibility in her strengths — and hire her.

And then her friends will throw a party.

By Thelma Fayle, for Times Colonist


A Gifted Artist Finds Success, Despite Being Deaf and Blind++:

For years, Kelly Brown sat in the corner of a dimly lit Wynnewood warehouse stuffing envelopes. Doing bulk mailings was typical of the work at Lower Merion Vocational Training Center and other state-supported programs for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. Deaf and blind from birth, Brown performed the simplified, repetitive tasks assigned to her and her co-workers. She didn’t complain; she was paid a stipend, and the steady job gave structure to her days.


Brown was considered unremarkable-except for the ropes. Somewhere along the way, she learned to crochet, and during her breaks, she made long, thick, multicolored ropes. Brown did this so often that the ropes crowded her workspace. Not having any use for them, the staff put the ropes in trash bags and stashed them in a spare room. That’s where Stephanie Petro found them years later. From the black plastic bags, she pulled crocheted rainbows of pink, blue and yellow yarn. Petro didn’t see trash. She saw art.

A former social worker with a B.F.A. in painting, Petro was part of a team assembled by Lori Bartol in 2009 to transform the mail house into the Center for Creative Works. Working under the auspices of Pennsylvania’s Resources for Human Development, the center still serves people with intellectual disabilities. But Bartol doesn’t focus on providing traditional therapies.

“We make art,” Bartol says. “We’re not here to fix anyone. We’re here to mentor and support them. Your identity isn’t your disability. Your identity is that of an artist.”


It’s tough to say what Brown thought her identity was, or if she thought about it at all. But Petro had a hunch that Brown was filled with creativity. “I gave her a box of fiber materials, each with a different feeling, and off she went,” Petro says.


“Everything I put in front of her-rubber bands, tape, coffee filters, feathers-she turned into art.”

It was slow going at first. Deaf-blind people like Brown communicate through touch sign language. A branch of American Sign Language, touch sign is also called tactile sign or hand-over-hand sign. The deaf-blind person places their hands over those of the person making the signs. Movements can be felt; words can be spelled.

This is how Helen Keller learned to communicate with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, the woman who brought her out of darkness and silence to become one of history’s most inspiring role models.


But Petro didn’t know sign language. On her own time and dime, she took classes to learn sign language and touch sign.

Next, she gave Brown clay, then a loom, then a wide variety of textiles.

Petro scoured flea markets, yard sales and dollar stores for lampshades, metal frames, colored beads, leis made of plastic flowers, tinsel, and acres of yarn. Most of these objects are used, discarded or on sale because no one sees uses for them.

They may be sitting in dark corners of attics, garages and stores, waiting perhaps for someone to bring them to life.

Brown has done just that, resurrecting the materials into upcycled art. Her vividly colored, multi-textured pieces of fiber art have been displayed and sold at the St. Louis Outsider Art Fair, Grounds For Sculpture in Trenton, and galleries in and around Philadelphia.


Bartol wants that kind of success for all of the 85 artists at the Center for Creative Works-and they are making progress. In the past three years, their pieces have netted more than $50,000 in sales.

“My teachers are really good at recognizing things that are technically part of [the artists’] disabilities, but turning them into the informing piece of their art,”

Bartol says. “Kelly’s tapestries are so textural. The first thing you want to do is touch them. That comes directly out of the fact that she works as a blind person.”


Fame itself doesn’t matter to Brown or Petro or Bartol. What they need, Bartol explains, are sales of art to keep the Center for Creative Works running. For each piece sold, the artist gets 60 percent and the center retains 40 percent. Bartol uses that money to provide a never-ending supply of materials for artists who are as creatively voracious as Brown.


To boost sales, Bartol wants to open a small retail space that would function as the center’s gallery and a community space where artists could teach classes. Bartol already made headway with that concept. Last fall, six of the center’s artists taught at Moore College of Art & Design. “They have the necessary skills,” Bartol says. “But no one ever considered putting them in front of a class to teach.”


Everything the center does jibes with Bartol’s philosophy that the center’s studio residents are artists first and foremost.

“What may be a disability for life is not a disability for artwork,” she says. “It just happens to be who you are, so run with it.

Make art with it. If you’re in a room with people who have no disability at all and take a poll to see how many have artistic sensibilities, the answer is probably none at all. Art isn’t tied to an IQ or intellect. It comes from your soul.”


To learn more about Brown’s work, visit<

By Melissa Jacobs


CCB National Newsletter December 2017

Dec 06 2017




President’s Message++

As the year winds down and we approach 2018, many chapters are busy planning Holiday celebrations with family and friends while we continue with many of our programs at the Canadian Council of the Blind.

CCB continues to work with CELA in Provinces that are not currently being fully served to enable more persons with print disabilities to receive reading materials. Awareness of the abilities of persons with sight loss is a continuous adventure and the advocacy that goes with it to remove barriers is never ending.




Our Advocacy committee is busy working on ways to improve the access to a safe method of ensuring people with vision loss can get the information on their prescriptions in a readable format. This will lessen the danger of taking a wrong medication. In British Columbia several pharmacies are providing Script Talk. This, or a very similar method needs to be available in every province. (See CCB Newsletter Feb. 2016 for more information).


There is a new treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) and Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO). It is OZURDEX® (dexamethasone intravitreal implant) which is a prescription medicine that is an implant injected into the eye. CCB along with FFB and CNIB have completed a patient submission to hopefully get it on the formulary of approved drugs and technology. Like all drugs, not everyone will be medically able to receive it but it will be very helpful for those who are able to get the implant.

Prevention of vision loss is an important part of our mandate so we continue to work with various organizations to get the right medication to the right person at the right time.


The Council is pleased to have Ryan Van Praet who has commenced a new vision in promoting a healthy life style with the formation of the CCB Health & Fitness Program. Anyone of any age or ability can get in touch with Ryan for advice on a fitness program suited to the individual. This is a great time to think about healthy eating as we head into the holiday season!



As a committee member of the WBU’s Women’s Committee, I encourage the women in our community to complete the Questionnaire: Empowerment of Women who are Blind or Partially Sighted ( which has been sent out in November for a reply by Jan 31st 2018.


I wish all our members a happy holiday season – a time to reflect, a time to enjoy friends and family, and a time to watch some TV so on December 25, 26 and 27th tune in to AMI for special all-day holiday programming. Enjoy the time to get refueled for a busy winter of activities ahead.

Louise Gillis, National President


Important Reminder from the Accountant++

Please remember to send any donations that require tax receipts to the National Office before December 31, 2017 in order for your donors to receive 2017 tax receipts.  Complete donor information should be included along with the donation.  Note that mailing addresses are required for all tax receipts, regardless of if the donor has requested a receipt by email.


Anything received by the National Office after December 31, 2017 will be receipted as a 2018 donation.


If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the National Office at for clarification.




The CCB is pleased to announce the re-branding of one of its nationwide programs. Formerly the Trust Your Buddy Program, you can now find all information and resources regarding health, sport and fitness, through the “CCB Health & Fitness” program. Program Manager, Ryan Van Praet, believes the new name reflects the mission and direction of the program much more clearly.  With the rebranding come many avenues to consume the information and to reach out to Ryan as well as your peers.


You can listen to our podcast, watch our videos, then feel free to email Ryan to set up a coaching call if you require more individual guidance


Please visit us at the following links:

Web page:

Podcast:  “The Canadian Council of the Blind” on iTunes, stitcher, pod bean

Group email chat:

Youtube:  CCB Health & Fitness

Facebook:  CCB Health & Fitness

Twitter:  @ccb_healthfit

Email Ryan:



CCB Health & Fitness

National Program Manager & Coach




The CCB is very excited to announce the launch of a brand new podcast that will feature two main shows, plus a whole lot more.

Simply search for “The Canadian Council of the Blind” on your Apple or Android device and you should find it.  We are also working to ensure it is available on all the platforms that our CCB members prefer.


The podcast will feature “The CCB Health & Fitness Show” hosted by Ryan Van Praet.  This program (formerly known as the Trust Your Buddy” program will cover many topics on accessible health and fitness. You can also hear Kim Kilpatrick from the “Get Together with Technology (GTT)” show, covering all things accessible tech related.


It is our hope to possibly have an audio version of this very newsletter for “on the go” consumption.

If you have any questions or are unable to find the podcast, you can email Ryan Van Praet at



AMI needs the support of CCB members across Canada++

AMI is hoping to enlist the help of the CCB’s membership to support us in our efforts to provide a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal.


The broadcast licenses for AMI-tv, AMI-audio and AMI-télé are up for renewal next August and we need your help.


Part of the renewal process includes reaching out to our community partners and customers for letters of support. These letters are vital in demonstrating and reaffirming to the CRTC that AMI is a media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind or partially sighted, and that our services are essential and should be supported and continued.


Letters of support will be accepted until Friday, December 8th and please contact the CCB National office for sample letters. Letters may be submitted to the CRTC via three convenient methods:


Method 1: CRTC Website

Submit your letter of support via the CRTC website


Method 2: Email AMI

Email your letter to and we will submit on your behalf.

Tips on preparing your letter:

1.In either the first or last paragraph include the statement: I do/do not wish to appear at the public hearing.

  1. Include the application reference numbers; AMI-audio (2017-0585-7), AMI-tv (2017-0588-1) & AMI-télé (2017-0589-9)
  2. Indicate your support for the application
  3. Identify if you are a viewer/listener with a disability and if so, please be specific. Example – I am partially sighted.
  4. How long have you been an AMI viewer or listener?
  5. What specific features of AMI-tv, AMI-audio, AMI-télé do you benefit from the most? What is the benefit?
  6. Would you or have you recommended AMI to your family and friends?


Method 3: Information or Assistance by Phone

If you have further questions or require additional information or assistance, please contact Janis Davidson Pressick (AMI-tv and AMI-audio) at 800-567-6755 Ext. 0971 or Bouba Slim (AMI-tele) at 800-567-6755 Ext. 3610.



Please help us to continue providing more coverage of disability and accessibility issues than any other media outlet in Canada.



ICEB Apostrophe and Single Quotation Mark Survey++

The International Council on English Braille (ICEB) is considering alternatives to the symbols that currently represent the opening and closing single quotation marks.

In print the apostrophe and single quotes are basically the same, resulting in frequent errors in electronic braille translation. This issue was brought to the ICEB Executive Committee by braille users because more and more readers are accessing braille that has been translated without any manual intervention. ICEB recently conducted a survey in order to gather feedback as to how single quotation marks should be represented in braille.

Two options (no change, and using dot 3 to represent both the apostrophe and single quotes) received the most votes in all ICEB member countries. However, there was not a definite preference for one of these two options over the other. In order for ICEB to make an informed decision, member countries felt that more input was needed.

The BLC board has decided to conduct another survey to get additional feedback from all stakeholders, but from braille readers in particular. This survey will focus only on the two options which received the most support from ICEB member countries, including Canada.

Please note that you do not have to be an “expert” to respond to this survey. We are interested in your opinion whether you started learning braille 40 years ago or just last week. Even if you participated in the ICEB survey we would encourage you to respond to this one as well.

For more information, and to complete the very short survey, visit the following page on the BLC web site:

Yours truly,
BLC Board of Directors









Report from the CCB Chatham-Kent Chapter++:

Monthly chapter meetings are held the first Monday of every month, unless it’s a holiday, in which case, they are held on the first Tuesday. We meet in the boardroom of the United Way building, 425 McNaugton Ave. West., in Chatham. Everyone is welcome to attend. Our meetings include an information section, often peer support portions, chapter updates and planning.

We are expanding our social outings. In November, we are holding a fun bowling afternoon for members, their friends and family.  In December, we will be holding our annual Christmas dinner with pot luck dessert. As we continue to grow we will look for more interests to expand our social meetings.


We also offer GTT every second Wednesday of the month, from 1:30 until 3:00 at the United Way building, in the board room.  This great program is hosted by Matt Dierckens, a certified assistive technology specialist and trainer in Macintosh, iOS and Windows. We answer questions from Apple, to android devices. Matt also offers on-to-one support in the morning by appointment.


Information sessions have included speakers and presentations from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Hydro One, Chatham-Kent Police Department, CNIB Vision Loss Rehabilitation and the Canadian Mental Health Association.  We continually share our own ideas and answers to others questions, as well as offering lots of encouragement.



We also try to gather information for our members regarding a number of topics. Such as,


Support –

One of our main goals is support. We offer support in many ways. Our hope is that if any one of our members have any problems dealing with vision or any other matter, that they feel comfortable enough to either share with the group or request to have a one on one with  a peer

Or even if there is just something that they wish to bring up, we are there to help or just listen in any way.


Sports –

The CCB Chatham-Kent chapter developed from the CCB Trust Your Buddy program. We began participating in recreational activities such as organized run/walks, a 50 km bike ride, curling, tandem bike riding, lawn bowling, skating, hockey, golf, stand-up paddle boarding and an introduction day at the YMCA. Many of our members joined the Alley Oops Bowling League and have participated in successful tournaments. All activities included sighted family members, friends and buddies. The purpose was to improve fitness and participate in mainstream recreational activities with only the accommodations we need. As CCB members we continue with lawn bowling, bowling and curling. We are looking forward to wall climbing, horseback riding, canoeing and self-defence.


We have successfully raised funds for our programs with a bowling fundraiser and quarter auction. The Chatham Lions Club and the Chatham-Kent United Way have supported us both financially and with encouragement as we began our new chapter.


We welcome any Chatham-Kent resident, of any age, with vision loss. Family members are also welcome.

For more information on CCB – Chatham Kent  please contact us. We are on Facebook. Just look for CCB Chatham-Kent

Or contact

Markus McCracken, Co Chair

519 784-3416

Dave Maxwell, Co Chair

519 674-0141



Nurse practitioners can now certify applications for the disability tax credit!++

Did you know that nurse practitioners can now fill out and sign Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate? This ensures more options for Canadians who want to apply for the disability tax credit (DTC), making the application process easier and more accessible.


Through Budget 2017, the Government has made a change to recognize nurse practitioners as one of the medical practitioners who can certify Form T2201. With over 4,500 nurse practitioners across Canada who can certify patients for the DTC, this change is going to have a positive impact for Canadians living with a disability.


Individuals who want to apply for the DTC, but live in an area where nurse practitioners are the first point of contact, as for example, in Canada’s North, will benefit from this change.


What is the disability tax credit?

The disability tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting family members reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay.

Applying for the credit is a three step process:

  1. Fill out Part A of Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate
  2. Have your nurse practitioner fill out Part B
  3. Send form T2201 to the CRA


Being eligible for the DTC can open the door to other federal, provincial, or territorial programs designed to support those with disabilities or their families. These include the registered disability savings plan, the working income tax benefit, disability supplement, and the child disability benefit.



Report from CCB Pembroke White Cane Club++

The Pembroke chapter of the CCB are off and running for another year after a restful summer, in spite of all the rain we got here. So to make up for it, we had our first meeting in September on a glorious sunny day outside under the trees in Darrell Furgoch’s back yard as if on a picnic. Preliminary plans for the upcoming year were discussed. The rest of our meetings have return to the indoors at Supples Landing.


Our bowling team is back on the lanes in Deep River every Monday night. Our coach Kelly gets a little frustrated with us when we do not listen to her advice, but generally all the bowlers are keeping up their average!  Gary, our totally blind bowler, is hoping to brake 100. He came very close in one game with a 99. A few of the fellows were able to out score the coach on a few occasions, not an easy task. We have to recognize the help we get from George and Susann Martin from the Deep River bowling congress for their support coming out every Monday night to help keep score and encourage the bowlers. Our clubs blind runner, Darrell Furgoch, finished off his running season, doing his 3rd half marathon of the year. With Maryam and Monica, his sighted guide runners, he finished the STWM in 2:01:56. What a fantastic event! The support of other runners and from cheer stations along the way was great!


Three of our members (Bob Austen, Orville Wilkie and Ricky Crigger) headed south in mid October to attend the VIP (VISIALLY In pared Persons) fishing tournament off the outer banks, North Carolina. They reported that the fishing was not so good this year. But other than a very cold first day of fishing they had a great time as always. The hospitality was exceptional, with over 300 plus volunteers taking care of 500 plus fishermen.  Thanks to Barb for driving all that way. A special thanks to the local Lions Club for their financial support for this trip.


Our Christmas dinner get together will be held on Saturday December 9th at the Zion Evangelical United Church hall put on by the fine ladies of the church. We will enjoy the great turkey dinner with all the trimmings followed by some entertainment by local talent. We even try to join in the singing with modest results.

Plans are in the works for the White Cane week in February. This year we will focus on bringing the message to the senior residents in Renfrew County with static displays and presentations by our members where ever requested.


Some of our members are participating in the Pembroke GTT group which is meeting at the Library once a month whenever possible. Thanks has to go out to Kathleen Forestel   from the Ottawa CNIB office for acting as our facilitator.

Submitted by Gerry Frketich on behalf of the CCB Pembroke White Cane Club



Congratulations to Gaston Bédard!

We did it, we ran and completed the 2017 New York City Marathon with 51,000 other runners on Sunday, November 5th!


I am a 65 year old deaf blind runner from Aylmer Qc. I participated in the NYC Marathon as a member of Achilles International based in New York.

This was my 2nd NYC Marathon, my first was in 2016, at age 64.


My guides Christopher, Christos and Hank did a great job guiding me the whole 42.2 kilometers from the start on Staten Island to the finish line in Central Park in Manhatten.



I gave my son Marc 3 big hugs along the NYC Marathon course at 11 km, 22 km and the 34 km mark.

Oh jeez, it felt so good meeting up with Marc at those check points.


We finished with big smiles, the 4 of us, holding hands, arms held up high at the finish line, just like we did in 2016.

We collected our NYC Marathon medals, got our team photos taken in front of the race wall banner.

Then we met up with Marc at the Achilles family reunion tent, just outside Central Park.


It seems like there were more Achilles International athletes and guides this year than in 2016, as there were Achilles athletes and guides from all over the world.


I also had 2 nice chats with Dick Traum, once at the pasta dinner, the 2nd at the Cornell Club on Saturday.

Dick Traum is the founder and president of Achilles International based in New York City.

He is the first amputee to complete the NYC Marathon which he did in 1976. Dick inspired Terry Fox to run his Marathon of Hope across Canada in 1980.


It was an exciting weekend!


GTT Victoria Meeting Invitation, Google Home Demo, December 6, 2017++

You’re Invited!

Get Together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind, in Partnership with the Greater Victoria Public Library.

Time: 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Where: Community Room, GVPL, Main Branch 735 Broughton St

First Hour:

Albert will demonstrate the Google Home device as it pertains to making free phone calls throughout North America, accessing recipes, music, radio programs, sports scores, podcasts, the news and much more.


2nd Hour:

Bring your gadgets, questions and gems to share with the group.


We hope to see you there……For more info contact Albert Ruel at 250-240-2343, or email us at


Curling News++:

This report comes to us from Bill Malcolmson, who is a member of the CCB Hamilton Blind Curlers Chapter.  He will be a guide on Team Ontario at the CVICC this year.


Recently, the women’s curling club ran a bonspiel with any profits going to help cover the cost of Team Ontario heading to the CVICC in February. A women’s team was put together for this event, with half of the women being visually impaired.


The team members were Laurie Gunderman, Sharonn Ladd, Joy Mayor, Darlene Woods, Mary Malcomson, and Donna Hawkins.  Mary Malcomson is a coach on Team Ontario and Donna Hawkins is the Skip for Team Ontario.


The theme of the bonspiel was “Canada, the True North, strong and Free.” They had a great time and won a game! Their team wore t-shirts depicting the six flags of Ontario through the years on the front and “Granite Blind Curlers” in braille on the back.

Thanks for your support!



2018 Edie Mourre Scholarship++

Braille Literacy Canada Launches the 2018 Edie Mourre Scholarship


Thanks to a very generous donation from Betty Nobel, BLC is once again able to offer financial assistance to those pursuing braille courses and certification.


Edie Mourre was an employee with the CNIB starting in September 1977. She worked for the Library in the Winnipeg office as the head of the recording studio and braille production and in the last few years she also worked as a transcriber. She served as treasurer of the Canadian Braille Authority and was passionate about braille and about life in general.


Braille Literacy Canada has established an annual scholarship in her name. This scholarship will go to a person wishing to study Unified English Braille, Music Braille, or other Braille systems.


We will be accepting applications until January 31st, 2018. For more information or to download an application go to the following link:


If you need an accessible version of the application please send an email to


Assistive Technology

Blindfold Games Gets a Second Life!++

The developer of over 80 Blindfold Games, was recently contacted by an Apple representative giving the game maker some great news. Marty Schultz received a call from Apple and according to Schultz, Apple said the review team had a chance to look at the Blindfold Games again, and understood why they are separate apps, and that the games can continue. Apple mentioned the games address a need that’s not normally considered by most app designers, and acknowledged how the games are focused on the needs of the visually impaired community.


Shultz said, “New updates will be processed, and new games will be reviewed as before.”

“I want to thank everyone for contacting Apple and spreading the word about the games. I have heard from so many people – far more than I had hoped – telling me how much the games mean to them, and how they appreciate my efforts. It has meant a lot to me, and I truly thank you,” Marty Schultz said in a blog.

Spotlight on Blindfold RS Games: RS Games Is Now Available on Your iOS Device.


Blindfold Games features more than 45 popular iOS audio games such as; Blindfold Racer, Blindfold Road Trip, Blindfold Bingo, and many others.

By Nelson Régo



5 secret features hiding inside your iPhone++

Simply put, there is no way to remember everything the iPhone can do, but here are some features we would like to highlight:


Custom Vibration Alerts: I personally rely on this one so much that I’m not sure how I could live without it. Open the Settings app and go to Sounds >Ringtone/Text Tone/Etc > Vibration. At the bottom of the list, choose Create New Vibration. This will let you tap out a new vibrate pattern that you can then use for all calls or texts, or just for a specific person in your contact list.


Text Shortcuts: Do you type the word Triskaidekaphobia all the time while you’re texting? Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement and tap the plus symbol. Then input Triskaidekaphobia in the Phrase field and something like tdp in the Shortcut field. Now, every time you type “tdp” your iPhone will auto-correct it to “Triskaidekaphobia.”


Head Control: Apple’s iOS platform has the most robust set of accessibility features available. While they’re aimed at users with special needs, many of them are also handy for others. Try this: go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Switch Control. Turn it on, tap Switches, and then add Camera as a new Switch. Once you do that, you’ll be able to configure specific actions that will take place when you move your head to the right or the left while looking at the iPhone’s display.

Hide Unwanted Apple Apps: This is a feature that tons of users wish for. Little do they know… it’s already there. Go to Settings >General> Restrictions and enable them by entering your PIN or passcode. Then slide toggles to off next to any Apple apps that you want to hide from your home screens. Never want to look at that awful News icon again?



Blinking Message Alerts: This is another example of a feature that many people request despite the fact that it’s already there. Open Settings and go to General > Accessibility, then slide the toggle next to LED Flash for Alerts to on. Now your camera flash will blink whenever new messages arrive.


by Zach Epstein







Dolphin Easy Reader now available for Android Devices++

We are happy to announce that the Dolphin EasyReader app is now available to be used on Android devices! You can download this free app through the Google Store. To get started read through CELA’s Easy Reader Quick User’s Guide. If you have any questions email us at or give us a call at 1-855-655-2273.


Library event recognizes resident for years of service helping blind and disabled++:

An evening honouring Geraldine Braak, a longtime advocate for the blind and disabled, took place at Powell River Public Library on Thursday, November 30.


The library will rename its audiobook collection in honour of Braak and a plaque was unveiled, commemorating her years of service as an advocate and voice for blind and disabled people locally and across Canada.  “She’s a great person to honour; she really did work for accessibility,” said assistant chief librarian Rebecca Burbank. “I hope it inspires other people in Powell River to do great things.”


Among her roles, Braak served as Canadian Council of the Blind national president for eight years and held executive positions for the World Blind Union, a United Nations-based organization representing 180 countries and millions of blind and partially sighted people.  She also served on Transport Canada’s Advisory Committee on Accessible Transportation, advocating for accessibility on modes of public transport such as buses and trains.  Braak’s many local achievements include bringing handyDART, a transportation service for disabled people, to Powell River. It is that accomplishment she is most proud of.  “It was very important and it took a lot of work and a Royal Commission hearing to establish it,” said Braak.

Locally, Braak was also instrumental in establishing low-income housing for the disabled, traffic lights for the blind, curbs accommodating people with disabilities and a better selection of talking books at the library. She has been an executive director of Powell River Model Community Project and started a White Cane Club in Powell River, which coincides with White Cane Week each February and raises awareness of visual impairment.  Event organizer Donna Rekve said she believes it is important to recognize Braak.  “She’s done so much for this community; it’s just unbelievable,” said Rekve. “She has accomplished so much in her life.”


Braak was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 1997. She also received an honourary Doctor of Law degree from Malaspina University-College in 2000 and was appointed to the Order of Canada that same year.


Former City of Powell River mayor Stewart Alsgard remembers working alongside Braak on many issues during his time as mayor.  “She certainly is an outstanding member of our community,” said Alsgard, “an example of what can be done when one puts in a great effort for the best aspects of the community and society at large.”


This year, to commemorate Canada 150, a book entitled They Desire a Better Country: The Order of Canada in 50 Stories was released and Braak’s story was chosen alongside other well-known Canadians, including astronaut Chris Hadfield and musicians Oscar Peterson and Celine Dion.  “It’s still a total shock to me,” said Braak.  Currently, Braak is working on national programs with the Canadian Council of the Blind.


“My hope for the future is the recognition that people with disabilities do know what is going on in life,” said Braak. “They are equally intelligent and just have a different way of doing things. That recognition should be there. Not just locally, but everywhere.” Braak said she is proud of her community’s support of her goals. “Powell River is an outstanding, united community and everybody is always ready to help,” she said.


By Sara Donnelly, Powell River Peak