Category: CCB Newsletters

VISIONS June 2018

Jun 11 2018

Visions June 2018 DIGITAL PDF | Visions June 2018 TEXT DOCX


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Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

June 2018


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


President’s Message++


Now that spring will soon be changing into summer many chapters will be slowing down their activities and events. One big event that did take place in May was the annual Atlantic Sports & Recreation Weekend (ASRW).

This year the ASRW was sponsored by the CCB Sydney Chapter as everyone knows a lot of planning many months in advance has to take place with a group of individuals who work independently on varying items and then come together on a regular basis to see how it is unfolding then continue on that path or work out alternate plans. We had that process here even including “Mother Nature” to work with us and on Saturday for the outdoor events we had fantastic weather so all went very well.

We had 45 individuals with vision loss of one sort or another who took part along with their drivers, support persons and some family members. What really helps in an event like this is to have sufficient volunteers, accessible venues and persons who are properly trained in how they can help people with vision loss find their way and get to where they need to be so all events run smoothly without long wait times. I personally, along with our chapter, would like to thank all who helped make this a successful weekend. Lots of medals and ribbons were won. These are very special to each person and just the fact of being able to participate is very important whether you win or lose. Participants don’t need experience in the events just a desire to be part of all the excitement. See you all in Summerside PEI next May.

To see/hear an interview on with Laura Bain talking about her experience on the weekend in Sydney go to:

The last week of May was a very busy week as well. Braille Literacy Canada held their AGM. Also some workshops on Braille technology –what is best for the individual needs, cost, access, and how best to use the newest refreshable braille note-takers. Check out their website.

The World Braille Council also met in Ottawa. As most of us know Braille is used by blind and partially sighted people to read the same books, and periodicals as those printed in a visual font. It is used for all European-based languages and has also been adapted to present Arabic, and Asian languages as well. Learning to read and write in braille allows a child to be fully literate and they can excel in learning from any books published in braille form.

One of the important notes of this meeting was the shortage teachers of Braille in all countries including Canada. Another issue is teaching Braille to students with multiple disabilities and in many cases the blind student sits in the class without any education being received. The technology sector collaborated to develop universal standard for braille displays during the event.

The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization representing the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members are organizations of and for the blind in 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. ​The WBU Executive Committee had their meeting in Ottawa as well this week. Below are a few bits of information from that event.

{While I understand many may not be able to connect to the links below I think it is important to include them for those who can and also for others with computers to go to the websites to see more information to share with their members}. You can check out a video of WBU North America/Caribbean Regional President, Mr. Charles Mossop, welcoming members of the Executive committee, representatives from regions and international organizations to the WBU Executive Committee at

Dr. M.N.G. Mani, CEO of International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) emphasizes the strong collaboration between ICEVI and WBU during the WBU Executive Committee meeting.

Ms. Donatilla Kanimba the WBU Second Vice President appeals for access and use of technologies to the benefit of people with visual disabilities. Dr. Aubrey Webson, UN Ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda urges WBU to continue working within the UN system especially on SustainableDevelopmentGoals building on the promise of “leaving no one behind”.

“My first impressions here is how everyone comes from different continents to discuss issues we share together to improve the quality of lives of blind people” Ms. Nantanoot Suwannawut (Apple) from Thailand,

Each year, 37% of tourists with disabilities decide not to travel because of limited accessibility. With a strong EU AccessibilityAct that includes tourism the sector can generate revenues of almost € 90bn.

I, as President and our Executive Director, Jim Prowse accepted the Century of Change Award from the CNIB on behalf of CCB at Library and Archives Canada, in Ottawa. It was presented by CNIB President and Directors at a dinner in celebrating a 100 years of changing lives CNIB.

This last several months the WBU has carried out several surveys – Barriers for Women – Empowerment and Leadership, Survey for persons with low vision, and one for Elderly Persons with results currently being compiled. These surveys have been sent out in previous Newsletters for members to complete.

In the upcoming month CCB will be preparing and providing further information on our upcoming AGM on June 27th for members.

Louise Gillis, National President




CCB Toronto Visionaries to hold 5th Annual 5km Fund-raising Walk-a-thon & Beach BBQ! ++


On Wednesday, June 20th, the CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter will host its 5th annual 5km ‘Walk-a-thon & Beach BBQ’ along the Woodbine Beach Boardwalk in Toronto.  Funds raised at this event will help support the Visionaries’ Chapter operations for the coming year.


The site of the Walk was selected for its accessibility, with good access to public transit, accessible washrooms, and a path that is tactile and easy to follow.  The Woodbine Beach Boardwalk is a 3km long wood plank walkway with sand on either side, following the shoreline of Lake Ontario in Toronto’s East End.  The Walk takes us from our picnic site, to the west end of the Boardwalk, where we turn and retrace about 2.5km and then return to the picnic area for a celebratory BBQ.  Hot dogs, hamburgers, all the trimmings, salads, potato chips and soft drinks will be served to all Walkers and sighted guides, free of charge, as all of the food is being donated by local merchants!  And since the only cost to our Chapter is the Parks permit, almost every dollar donated goes directly to our operating expenses.


In addition, the CCB Toronto Visionaries has invited other CCB Chapters active in the Toronto area and other blindness-related organizations to join us, making this a vision loss community event!  This year, the Visionaries will be joined by the Hands of Fire Blind Sculpture Group, the CCB Mysteries Chapter, and the Toronto Chapter of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, each group raising funds for its own organization.  And the CNIB has not only lent us their BBQ, but will be transporting it to and from the picnic site!


But it’s more than just a blind community event.  We’ve partnered with so many other groups and organizations from the sighted community as well.  We’ve been working with City of Toronto Parks Recreation & Forestry, Toronto Public Health, and Boardwalk Place to secure the Special Event Permit.  We’ve partnered with local businesses, Bloor Meat Market, Cobs Bloor West Bakery & Nicholson’s No Frills, who are generously donating all the food for the Walk.  Our dedicated group of sighted volunteers will team up with any walker who’d appreciate an extra hand.  We’re even talking to Accessible Media Inc about the possibility of covering the Walk on AMI This Week, as part of our partnership-building strategy.  And if successful, we’ll have another tool in our communications toolkit, one that demonstrates the determination of the blind community to overcome barriers and exceed expectations.


The goals of this event are equally split between raising funds, bringing community partners together and encouraging member involvement.  While it is vital for us to raise money to fund our activities and events throughout the year, it is just as important to build a sense of community and encourage our members to come out, join in the fun, and set and exceed their own personal goals.  Not everyone can walk 5km and many don’t feel comfortable asking family or friends for charitable donations.  But to encourage as many people as possible to participate, we’ve made this a ‘Walk-what-you-can’ event, with members securing donations for whatever distance they think they can travel.  If you think you can walk 2km, then set your own goal and conquer it!  If walking 100meters is what you can do, secure donations to support that goal and come out and join us!


And if walking is not your thing, it’s perfectly okay to raise donations to participate as the cheering section!  If a CCB member, who thought their blindness meant they couldn’t possibly participate in, or contribute to, the success of our Chapter, comes out to the Walk, bringing a single donation of a few dollars, or even just coming out to cheer on the other walkers and be part of this event, then we’ve accomplished a big part of our mandate.  Its also great to know that so many of our members are out talking to their families, friends, co-workers and colleagues about the CCB and what it means to them.


In addition to all the community support we’ve received, our National Office in Ottawa has been enormously encouraging.  Being able to offer tax creditable receipts for donations makes a huge difference to our efforts.  Working with Mary Ellen Durkee, National’s Accountant, and the administrative team at the National Office, we’ve even been able to have donors direct funds to us through the donation link on National’s website, making online donations possible for any chapter without its own website or Pay-pal account.


At this year’s Walk, we’re targeting to raise a substantial portion of our annual budget to help fund the activities and programs so vital to our members throughout the year, and we’re hoping to increase the number of Walkers from last year who will come out to share our vision.  Walking with our peers, we’ll have encouraged our members to reach a little farther, strengthened the bonds between the CCB and its community partners, and we’ll have reached out to the broader sighted community for their support and to show them what we can accomplish.  We’ll be celebrating all this and more down on the Boardwalk, sharing a great BBQ on the Beach with friends on June 20th!


The CCB Toronto Visionaries


Tele Town Hall Update++

As promised, at the end of our last tele meeting in March we committed to producing a report based on input from you over the course of our 5 tele town halls.  We are hoping to circulate these reports sometime in the summer; mid to late summer.

In the meantime, we wish you a super summer.


The tele town hall organizing committee


GTT Vancouver and New Westminster Meetings Agenda, The Accessible iOS Calendar App++

Get Together With Technology (GTT) New Westminster/Vancouver!

Sponsored by the Canadian Council of the Blind in partnership with Blind Beginnings and Vancouver Community College


People who are blind or partially sighted of all ages are invited to “Save the Dates” for these two sessions of the GTT Vancouver and New Westminster meetings where the Calendar App on iPhones/iPad/iPods will be demonstrated and thoroughly discussed.


June 2018 Theme: iOS Calendar App


Participants have expressed a desire to find accessible tools aimed at better organizing their busy leisure, work and volunteer lives, and one of those tools could be the great Calendar App found on the smart phones and tablets we now carry with us.  So, the upcoming GTT New Westminster and Vancouver meetings will work through the insertion of a calendar entry, how to set notifications, how to create a monthly recurring event, how to invite others to an event, and how to edit the date/time of an existing appointment.

Who Should Attend?


– People who would like to know what is possible to do with the iOS Calendar App;

– People who want to know how to set reminders for appointments;

– People who want to know how to invite others to their events/activities/appointments;

– People who want to know how to set recurring events like monthly meetings, birthdates etc;

– People interested in determining what other accessible Calendar Apps that are usable and accessible;

– People who want peer assistance with other assistive technology.


GTT New Westminster:

Date & Time: Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Where: Blind Beginnings Office, 227 6th Street, New Westminster


For more information contact either Shawn Marsolais or Albert Ruel: or 604-434-7243. or 250-240-2343


CCB Health & Fitness++:




On June 1st we were pleased to have 13 people from coast to coast…and actually across the pond in Europe, participate in our event.  The walk/run is to help folks aim for a fitness goal and then tackle it alongside their friends.  We are still waiting on updates from the west coast but in Chatham Ontario, we had a big group on a beautiful day!


Congrats to Brenda from the West coast for winning our draw prize!

We will be airing to set up some more challenges and events as the year unfolds, so keep active, send us any ideas you have in terms of a goal and stay tuned to our social media for updates



Just a reminder that our podcast is pumping out great content regularly and the episodes are generally 20-30mins so nothing too long but just long enough to provide some great health and fitness topics.

Everything from blood pressure, to axe throwing, we cover lots of random and useful things.  If you have a topic you’d love to learn more about, we encourage you to suggest them!!!

Simply search “The Canadian Council of the Blind” on your Apple podcast search app or anywhere you find your podcasts


As always, if you have questions, want to chat 1 on 1 with Ryan for some fitness advice, or any feedback at all, just drop us an email.


Have an awesome day!!



CCB Health & Fitness

National Program Manager & Coach



Go to our page:

To find links to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Podcast & Email Chat List


Chapter News++

News Updates from the Peterborough Chapter


Hello everyone,

We have been busy here in Peterborough and would like to share some of our successes with you.


Our very own chapter member Devon Wilkins organizes and host a weekly radio show on Trent Radio 92.7. Devon, along with co-host Simon Treviranous of The BIG IDeA, presents this one-hour talk show to showcase all things accessible in Peterborough. The program’s goal is to bring awareness to the general public about disabilities and the barriers that result, as well as other organizations in our community assisting those with disabilities.


Devon and Simon are focusing on abilities, highlighting the positive stories of people with disabilities of all kinds. Congratulations to Deon and Simon for making this a success.


Another project of the CCB Peterborough Chapter is a program called “From the Blind for the Blind”. We are collecting any gently used visual aids that people are no longer using and then redistributing them to other folks within our community who can use the items. Often someone just needs to try out an item for a while before purchasing one. Or sometimes an item cannot be purchased because of affordability.


We would like to collect as much as possible so we are able to share the items with those who can use them. Our chapter member Debbie Haryett and chapter volunteer Aileen Hill have been putting a lot of work into starting this project up. They are also working with The Lions Club, which has offered storage space for us to use. In addition many of our local optometrists and doctors’ office are giving their support. A huge thank you to both ladies for doing this.


We also have a wonderful summer planned with picnics, local outings, boat rides on Little Lake, and much more. We just finished a tour of our newly rebuilt Peterborough Library, where we were shown the many accessible features in this lovely building, along with information about audio books and other accessible reading materials.


Bringing awareness of CCB to the general community is an important goal. That’s why we will be participating in Peterborough Pulse 2018 on July 21st. For this summer festival, Peterborough’s main street will be closed down for the day and community groups, clubs, businesses and other organizations will line the streets to share their stories with the public.  We, of course, will be there to talk about CCB Peterborough. It’s a fun-filled day of music, friends and laughter.


Later in the year, the Senior Summit will be held gain in the fall. We are looking forward to having an awareness table there to showcase CCB Peterborough.


We are proud here in Peterborough to be an active chapter. And soon – through our very own website – we will be able to share stories and pictures, and showcase the partnerships we have developed within our community.


Peterborough chapter members are happy to be active, and we believe in our Abilities not Disabilities.


Now Listen to Eyes On Success Podcasts on Smart Home Devices++

We recently added a new way for listeners to keep up to date with the latest episodes of Eyes On Success.


Now you can listen to Eyes on Success on your Alexa or google smart home devices.  Simply ask Alexa or Google to “play Eyes on Success podcast” and you won’t miss a thing!


We hope listeners enjoy this new capability and pass the word along to their friends.


The Hosts: Peter Torpey and Nancy Goodman Torpey

Check out Eyes on Success (formerly ViewPoints)

A weekly, half hour audio program for people living with vision loss.


Find out more about the show and get links to past episodes at:

Find the podcast on iTunes or use the URL:

Find us on social media at:



Meet the talking timer++

Hi there!  It’s Donna and as mentioned previously, I would like to concentrate on the lower levels of technology and today I’d like you to meet the talking timer.


Ah yes!  The talking timer and over the years this precious commodity has both shrunk in size and cost.  There was a time when the talking timer was not very portable and it was also extremely clumsy and clunky in shape.  Today however, the talking timer has shrunk in both size and cost and it is even now possible for you to stuff one in your pocket or purse.


The cost of a talking timer has also dropped dramatically and you can now buy one for less than $20.  The nice thing about the talking timer is that there is a variety of styles and sizes for you to choose from.

Some talking timers come with a talking clock add on while others do not.  I have both.

You can get a talking timer for your kitchen or have one that clips on to your belt.  I have a talking timer/clock that gives me the option of choosing different sounds for when the timer goes off and I also have one that does not give me the option.  They are both very portable and I can clip them onto my belt.


You’ll have to find the one that best suits you.  Just make sure that the one you want is the one you end up with.  The talking timer is a very nifty little gadget to have.  Use it to time your cooking and baking.  Use it when you wish to time yourself while you are pedaling away on your exercising equipment or use it for anything else.  The ones that I have work with AAA batteries.


Of course, the talking timer is now competing with other types of talking timers that can be found on your smart devices, and on your appliances.


Here are a few places for you to contact if you are interested to learn more.


CNIB – toll free = 1800 563 2642

Frontier Computing – toll free = 1-888-480-0000

Or visit

You can also call them at 1-800-987-1231


So have fun now with your talking timer and see you next week.


Spotlight on CELA++

The Centre for Equitable Library Access, CELA, is Canada’s most comprehensive accessible reading service, providing books and other materials to Canadians with print disabilities in the formats of their choice. A national not-for-profit organization, CELA serves 90% of the estimated 3 million Canadians with print disabilities in partnership with member public libraries. CELA provides access to more than 500,000 professionally produced titles to provide people with print disabilities with a quality library experience.


Our collection includes award winners, best sellers, fiction and non-fiction with a special emphasis on Canadian authors and stories, and favourites for kids and teens.

Patrons have access to close to 50 newspapers and 150 DAISY magazines which are available on the same day they are published.


CELA Services

In addition to our collection, CELA supports libraries by offering marketing materials, training and staff development opportunities. The CELA website includes a variety of tutorials and training videos to assist libraries, educators and patrons in learning and troubleshooting the technology and apps needed to access our collection. In addition, patrons can call our dedicated Contact Centre for assistance and support.


We provide a level of service unattainable if each individual library were responsible for providing the service within their existing capacity.


What’s New at CELA?

150 New DAISY Magazines Available!


  • Enjoy 150 of today’s most popular magazines as soon as they are published.
  • See the complete list of titles

On our new Magazines page, search the catalogue or browse by category to find your favourites.

  • Read the full text, including images, using popular DAISY apps for iOS and Android.
  • Tutorials are available on our website.


Books by “Big Five” audio publishers now available

Just in time for summer reading, CELA is thrilled to announce access to audiobooks by the big five publishers. Thanks to our agreement with Recorded Books, we are now able to add more popular titles, New York Times bestsellers and favourites our patrons have been requesting. New titles have already been added to our collection, including one of our most requested books, All The Light We Cannot See, current New York Times bestsellers, Little Fires Everywhere, and the High Tide Club, and the shocking memoirs by James Comey and Hilary Clinton.


More titles will be added in the coming weeks and months.  Look to our communications for highlights as they become available.


For more information or to become a CELA member contact: or 1-855-655-2273



Assistive Technology

Great news! The world’s best print-reading app for the blind and print-disabled is now even better, KNFB Reader Version 3.0, from the National Federation of the Blind and Sensotec NV++


KNFB Reader 3.0 represents the continued evolution of over forty years of text recognition technology. It now has more features for a wider variety of users than ever.


Since its first release in 2014, KNFB Reader has been allowing users all over the world to get access to print anytime and anywhere. The latest version of this award-winning app sports a new look and feel to help you work better and faster. Navigation within the app is easier, with tabs at the bottom of the home screen to access key functions quickly and easily. The enhanced cloud support for Dropbox, GoogleDrive and OneDrive allows easy access to all your documents when and where you need them.


KNFB Reader 3.0 now reads ebooks and documents in the increasingly popular ePub format, as well as PDFs (image or text, tagged or untagged). This makes it ideal for students and professionals who must read content in multiple formats from multiple sources. The app is also customizable, so that people with different reading needs can tailor its settings to meet those needs. Now able to recognize and read documents in over thirty languages, KNFB Reader 3.0 is a comprehensive reading solution for people who are blind or who have low vision, dyslexia, or other reading differences.


KNFB Reader 3.0 is a free update for existing customers. For new customers, the app is now available for USD $99.


To learn more about KNFB Reader 3.0, visit


If you already have the app and love it, help us spread the word to others. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation about KNFB Reader 3.0.


Foundation Fighting Blindness RESEARCH NEWS++

RNA Therapies for Inherited Retinal Diseases (IRDs)

Dr. Mary Sunderland recently participated in a tremendously inspiring meeting, hosted by ProQR, a company that is creating new sight-saving treatments and planning a new clinical trial for people living with Usher Syndrome.


Read more at:

In the News


Ford Develops Smart Window Prototype For

Blind Passengers — Feel the View!++


Ford has developed a prototype smart window, allowing blind passengers to feel the passing landscape outside.


The ‘Feel the View’ technology was created by an Italian startup, Aedo in collaboration with Ford. The prototype uses vibrations to give a blind or partially-sighted passenger a sense of the scenery outside.


The technology takes pictures of the passing scenery from the outer side of the window. The images captured are then converted into high-contrast black and white pictures. These monochrome images are then reproduced on the glass using special LEDs. On touching the images, the various shades of grey vibrate at different intensities up to the range of 255. These vibrations allow the blind passengers to touch the scene and rebuild the landscape in their mind.


As the finger moves over the different parts of the image, different intensities of vibrations provide haptic feedback to the person using the technology.


The smart window technology also has an AI voice assistant, which uses the car’s audio system to give the passengers a context of what they are feeling.


A Ford spokesperson stated, “We seek to make people’s lives better and this was a fantastic opportunity to help blind passengers experience a great aspect of driving. The technology is advanced, but the concept is simple – and could turn mundane journeys into truly memorable ones.”  This technology of the Smart Windows is part of Ford’s Advanced Research. The company has no plans of introducing it in the market anytime soon. This might be part of Ford’s autonomous vehicle program to research how a vehicle will interact with its passengers when travelling.

By Rahul Nagaraj


Virgin Atlantic Launches In-Flight Entertainment for Passengers Who Are Blind++

Virgin Atlantic has recently begun offering specially adapted iPads which provide audio descriptions for films and programming. For example, the recorded narration will explain what is happening during gaps in a film’s dialogue.


The technology was designed by the tech firm Bluebox and was tested by Guide Dogs for the Blind. Passengers can specially request the iPad from the flight crew prior to takeoff. The service is available on all aircraft providing travel to various destinations, including North America.



VISIONS April 2018

Apr 05 2018

Click here to download the PDF of Visions April 2018 DIGITAL


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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