Category: CCB Newsletters

CCB National Newsletter October 2017

Oct 06 2017


Presidents Message++:

Welcome back to the fall program season.  I trust all have had a good summer.  July and August have been a bit more on the quiet side, but still CCB life goes on.


The CCB Office continued in the temporary space until early September.  I personally wish to thank all the staff for working in these cramped quarters and successfully attending to their work assignments.


As some of you are aware, Nova Scotians with vision loss were going to lose the services of CELA.  After a great deal of letter writing to, and meeting with, the MLA’s, talking with the CELA Executive Director, and meeting with the NS Public Libraries, it has been announced that as of October 1st Nova Scotians with vision loss, or print disabilities, will now be eligible for this great service.  Thank you most especially, to Pat Gates and Jennie Bovard for a great presentations, and to the CCB National Advocacy Committee for providing support and direction – this is what the committee is all about – congratulations.



CCB continues to work with AMI, IFA, CNIB, and FFB to make life a little easier and in the prevention of blindness.  The MEC has been doing eye exams for seniors over the summer.  GTT has been active in some areas, while in others did take some time off over the holidays and are now back at it helping others with technology.


I have been active on the WBU’s Women’s Committee through international teleconferencing and email.  Expect to see a questionnaire coming your way soon.  While it’s is meant to  find barriers that prevent women with vision loss from becoming leaders it is open to all genders to answer the survey.  Then the committee will try to see how some of the barriers can be overcome.





Please note that all membership packages were mailed out to each Chapter Contact at the beginning of September.


If you did not receive the membership renewal package for your chapter, please contact Becky immediately at 1-877-304-0968 or


Remember the Early Bird Draw deadline is Friday, October 27, 2017 and is a chance for two chapters to win back all the dues their chapters have paid before the draw.


Regardless of who wins the Early Bird Draw, ALL chapters who get their membership renewals in before Monday, December 4, 2017 will receive the rebate of $5.00 per person plus $1.00 per e-mail that CCB offers every year.

Something New++:

The back of the membership card is changing this year.  There is a place there to put a paid sticker.

There seemed to be some confusion that the membership cards were proof of payment, which they cannot be because they are sent out with your membership packages.


Stickers will be sent to the chapters for all paid members when we receive their cheques.  These stickers should be put on the backs of the membership cards as another method of tracking payment.


Thank you for your help with this little change,

Becky Goodwin

Administrative Assistant – Canadian Council of the Blind




WCW Order Forms were included in the Membership Renewal Packages that were sent to each chapter’s chapter contact person.


To avoid shipping delays PLEASE NOTE the deadline for submitting WCW orders is Friday, December 8, 2017 so that orders can be assembled and shipped in plenty of time for WCW February 4 – 10, 2018.


Please plan carefully and place your entire order at one time to avoid confusion & the extra shipping costs incurred by sending multiple packages to one chapter.


You may also use the same form to request up to $100.00 in WCW funding support of your chapter’s WCW events.




Promotion of CCB Peterborough, ON Chapter++:

In early September, Jim Tokos, CCB 1st National Vice President, participated in the CCB Peterborough Chapters first weekly live radio interview which took place on Tuesday, September 26th. At Trent Radio in Peterborough.  The program is entitled Insight Peterborough, and the CCB Peterborough Chapter has taken the initiative to conduct a weekly 30 minute broadcast on Trent Radio to promote within the Community while getting the word out about activities, increasing membership, and using this truly wonderful tool for Chapter awareness within the Community.



Jim was there representing the National Board, along with Peterborough Chapter Secretary Devon Wilkins, and Chapter President, Shawn Johnson.


Together they promoted to the Community what CCB  was, and what the Council offered in regards to programs at the National level, including some discussion on the involvement of the Council at the International Level,.


They spoke about the GTT program in which Peterborough has been involved, as well as the work the Council continues to do with the Vision Van, and how important early detection in Seniors, and Children are to the Council.

President Shawn Johnson spoke about the support he has received from both CCB and CNIB in establishing the Chapter to the level it has reached, and continues to grow.  He also reached out to all sectors of the Peterborough and district area to learn more about what the Chapter offers through its peer support, recreational activity, Membership outings, and identified some personal barriers he has overcome with much success and support to engage the community.


Secretary Devon Wilkins also thanked the Community at large and was very pleased by the support the CCB and the Community offered to enable the Chapter to grow as it has reached 25 Members in only its second season of operation, and Devon was instrumental in the weekly live broadcasts the Chapter receives on Trent radio.


A special thank you to Leslie Yee, Treasurer and Public Relations person for the Chapter who arranged for Jim to meet with the Chapter executive Monday evening, and went above and beyond to ensure the trip and itinerary were flawless.


Jim Tokos is constantly out in the Ontario community, engaging with the members and helping the Chapters in their efforts to continue to grow, and promote their activities.




Nov.4th, 12noon EST / 9am PST

Come join your fellow blind/VI CCB members and sighted peers for our first ever “Virtual 5km Run/Walk” on Saturday November 4th!


What is a Virtual 5k?

The CCB Trust Your Buddy Program is looking to get you excited to take on a personal fitness challenge this fall.


A Virtual run or walk is designed so that you can complete a 5k event on a route that YOU CHOOSE but on the same day and at the same time as everyone across the country!!

Take to your treadmill, local high school track, local gym or even better, grab some friends and family and map out a 5km safe route within your city.

This eliminates the need to travel to a race venue, wait in line for a smelly porta potty and cram in with the crowd of people.


To participate is simple!  Follow these easy steps and set the personal goal of completing a 5k run or walk, to boost your fitness, self-esteem and community network.


  1. SIGN UP- Go to and search “CCB Trust Your Buddy”, where you will pay the $10 entry fee to officially register
  2. TRAIN TOGETHER VIRTUALLY – Go to Face book and search “CCB Trust Your Buddy”, where you will find tips for training properly, have the ability to ask Ryan (your coach) any questions you have, and cheer on your fellow participants
  3. RUN or WALK – Pick a 5km route of your choosing, then on Saturday, November 4th at 12 noon Ontario time / 9am Vancouver time, or whatever that corresponds to your time zone; start your 5k adventure!
  4. SUBMIT and WIN!- After you have finished your 5k, simply email your finishing time and/or a photo of you completing the event to This will enter you into a draw for a chance to WIN a $50 Sport Chek gift card!!

This is not a “race” but you certainly can challenge yourself to complete 5k as fast as possible.

This is for EVERYONE, blind or sighted, young and old.


CCB Trust Your Buddy is about getting blind/VI and their friends and family, up and active for life.  You have a FREE coach/mentor in Ryan Van Praet….don’t let anything stop you from living a healthy active life!!



Contact Ryan at, 226–627-2179 or on the CCB Trust Your Buddy Facebook page!



Seeking Members for the New CCB Mysteries Chapter++:

If you enjoy participating in mysteries, or you just want to help plan mysteries, then please read on.

We are seeking members who simply want to have fun and help create laughter.  It’s all about expecting the unexpected!  We promise to host evenings that are informal and entertaining.

Want more info? Email or call 416 491 7711.



GTT Schedule of Meetings on the West Coast,

October, November and December 2017++:


The CCB and Get Together with Technology (GTT) will be active in the Lower Mainland area and on Vancouver Island over the coming months.  Come check us out!


For more information on all the dates and locations, please contact your GTT West Coordinator:

Albert Ruel

Toll Free: 1-877-304-0968,550 or Mobile: 250-240-2343


Thanks to CCB!++:

Engage is a PowerPoint add-in that lets users of every skill level create professional PowerPoint decks.  It also lets users create accessible presentation decks for people with a visual impairment that rely on assistive technology such as screen reading software.  These accessibility features were developed with the help of key stakeholders at Treasury Board Secretariat and the Canadian Council of the Blind.


Unique to Engage, users can now add alt text to the entire slide to give the user more context and better understanding.  Engage also allows sighted persons to see in which order the information on their slide would be read out by the screen reader and automates the ordering in a logical manner so that the information on the slide becomes accessible.


The challenge we had was how to ensure that PowerPoint presentations are accessible and the council helped us figure out how best to go about achieving this.

Special thanks to Louise and Lorne from CCB–there’s no way we could have built the accessibility features we did without your help!


You’re Invited!++:

On October 14 2017, the Tele Town Hall organizing committee will continue its series of teleconference meetings as it hosts the third gathering, and the first of a series of 3 international presentations.  For the next three Tele Town Hall meetings we will be introducing speakers to you from such places as New Zealand, Australia, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean. To capture the international focus of these upcoming Tele Town Hall gatherings we have titled the Series, “Advocacy Without Borders”.


Series Name: Advocacy Without Borders

Date: October 14th (CDN) October 15 (Downunder)

Times: 12:00 noon Pacific

1:00 pm Mountain

2:00 pm Central

3:00 pm Eastern

4:00 pm Atlantic

4:30 in Newfoundland

Moderator: Anthony Tibbs.

Guest Speakers:

Ms. Martine Able-Williamson, Treasurer of the World Blind Union lives in New Zealand, and she brings to our townhall discussions a wealth of international experience. Ms. Able-Williamson’s outstanding knowledge of disability advocacy (not just blindness advocacy), is renowned by all those who know, and have worked with her. Martine understands the struggle of blind and disabled people to achieve full inclusion in society throughout the world. She has a significant, diverse network of contacts both in New Zealand and internationally. As one of New Zealand’s two delegates, Martine has worked hard to develop outstanding knowledge of the Asia Pacific Region of World Blind Union, and beyond. As a result, she has learnt so much more about the differences in many different developed, and developing countries.


Frances (Fran) Cutler is a retired CBC journalist and Producer who has lived with low vision all her life due to Stargart’s Disease.  In retirement she lives in Australia for 6 months of their summer and Ottawa for 6 months of Canadian summer, therefore she receives blindness related rehabilitation and support services on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

In 2013 Fran was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.  See more at:


This Tele Town Hall meeting is being jointly sponsored by the following:

The Tele Town Hall organizing committee

(Donna Jodhan, Robin East, Anthony Tibbs, Albert Ruel, Pat Seed, Louise Gillis, Paul Edwards, Jane Blaine, Melanie Marsden, Kim Kilpatrick, and Leo Bissonnette).

Organizations – Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)/Get together with technology (GTT), Citizens with Disabilities of Ontario (CWDO).


The objective of this Tele Town Hall meeting is to give participants an opportunity to hear how consumer advocacy and rehabilitation services are carried out in New Zealand and Austrailia, and to give them a chance to ask questions of our guest speakers.  Subsequent Tele Town Hall meetings will be similar in format to this one.

It is our hope that participants will be able to use the information presented to consider a possible platform for the development of our own made in Canada advocacy initiative.

This Tele Town Hall is not meant to be used as any sort of  decision making mechanism but rather as an open forum for constructive discussion.


If you wish to participate, please send an email to the committee at:

You will receive an email confirming your registration immediately,  then during the week of Oct 09 you will receive an email with details of the call in info along with the rules of engagement.

Registration will close at noon Eastern on Oct 12.

We will be posting additional announcements in the coming days.


We look forward to hearing from you.


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


Assistive Technology

Used Assistive Technology Market Places++:

If you are holding on to previously enjoyed blindness related assistive tech and would like to find a new home for it, here are two opportunities.

For those items you wish to give away, please contact Albert Ruel through the CCB’s GTT program and I will attempt to connect you with someone who needs your generous donation.  I can be reached at

250-240-2343 or


If you want to sell your previously enjoyed assistive tech, Canadian Assistive Technology are offering an opportunity for people who have left-over blindness related assistive tech that you’d like to sell.

People just need to let Steve know how much they want for their stuff and he’ll post it.  For more info contact Steve directly.


Gently Used Equipment Marketplace

Phone: 1-604-367-9480

Toll Free: 1-844-795-8324


Canadian Assistive Technologies, Formerly Aroga Technologies++:


Looking for Aroga Technologies?

New name, new face, same service and support!

After 28 years of providing equipment, software, service and support, it was of heavy heart that due to circumstances beyond our control, Aroga Technologies had to close its doors.


But the good news is that several people from behind the scenes of Aroga Technologies have banded together to create a new, vibrant Assistive Technology company, bringing their years of experience together once again in order to provide amazing service and support to every product we sell.


Once again we offer full lifetime technical support on any product we sell and honor manufacturer and extended warranties on our products.

Our sister Service Company, Chaos Technical Services guarantees quick turn around on the servicing of equipment and offers competitive pricing on repairs that are not covered under warranty.


We continue to carry the very best in Low Vision and Blindness products, including state of the art products from such manufacturers as ENHANCED VISION, HUMANWARE, DUXBURY, DANCING DOTS, and many more. Our product lines are growing every day, and anything we don’t currently carry, we’ll order it special just for you.


We take Assistive Technology very seriously and want to be the one stop solution for you, your clients, or your loved ones, from purchase, to support, to service.

Visit online at

or call 1-844-795-8324


Labour market information through a disability lens++:

On June 5th, 2017 the Ontario Government announced it was launching a new strategy to connect more people with disabilities to rewarding jobs.


The website provides students and jobseekers with extensive labour market information. They can see the latest Ontario employment snapshot and monthly provincial labour markets reports, and search 180 job profiles that can help individuals make important decisions about careers, education, training and employment.


The Ontario Labour Market website can be accessed through this link and includes a survey for user feedback.


Please explore this website and if you have comments you can flag them through the embedded survey.




What’s New in iOS 11 Accessibility for Blind, Low Vision and Deaf-Blind Users++:


iOS 11 has arrived for users of the iPhone 5S and later; the iPad fifth generation and later; and the iPod Touch 6th Generation.

Mainstream changes such as the revamped Control Center, new HomeKit options, the new Files app, and many other enhancements have been added. Other blogs and videos will cover these changes, but as is the case with all major iOS releases dating back to iOS 5, there are many changes specific to accessibility which may not be well documented.


Type It, Don’t Speak It

In iOS 11, not only has Siri earned a spot under Accessibility Settings, but you can now type to Apple’s virtual assistant instead of speaking to it. This makes it possible to perform queries silently.

For Braille display users, you will now be able to fully utilize Siri from a Braille display without interacting with the touchscreen.


Indoor Mapping Comes to iOS

iOS 11 has support for indoor mapping functionality with the Maps application. Note that this will only apply to spaces where beacons exist.



Previews Are Back!

In iOS 10, VoiceOver users had to perform a 3 finger single tap on a message to hear the preview of their email messages. The preview will now be read out loud by VoiceOver without the user having to interact with their touchscreen.


Describe It All To Me! Well… Sort Of.

In iOS 10, Apple introduced the ability to generate alt text for the photos in your photo library and camera roll. With iOS 11, this has expanded to a few third party apps like Facebook. When you find an image you would like to have described, perform a 3 finger single tap when VoiceOver focus is set to that item.


Feel Those Emoji’s

VoiceOver users who use speech have had the ability to listen to whatever emoji they have selected, or to whichever one they encounter.

Prior to iOS 11, this was very limited for Braille users. They often saw a series of symbols that didn’t differ from emoji to emoji. Now, Braille users can tell what emoji they are encountering just like their speech using counterparts.


Low Vision

The new features and enhancements in the below sections show that Apple has done substantial work to improve the low vision experience.

While the below added functions are important, there are a lot of smaller changes to the appearance of the operating system that will make the upgrade potentially a good one. For example, a number of default icons have been visually cleaned up, removing “flair” to create a crisper and clearer presentation. Here are a few noteworthy changes, but not an exhaustive list:


* The paintbrush ends on the App Store have been removed, and the lines across the pencil have been cleaned up to create a crisp overlapping “A” with curved lines.

* The times on the clock have been boldened and clarified.

* The Maps icon has been simplified to become more visually distinct.

* The number of lines on the Notes and Reminders icons have been reduced.

* The Calculator icon has been given a slight overhaul changing it from orange and gray boxes to a black calculator image with orange and white buttons on it.



Apple continues to make changes and enhancements to its mobile operating system for everyone. Their work toward inclusive design continues to keep them ahead of many other platforms in terms of built-in accessibility options. Certainly, the enhancements in iOS 11 prove this trend continues. Just like previous iOS releases, whether you should upgrade or not depends on whether the bugs present in the new release will impact you on a greater level than you can tolerate—and whether you feel the new features are worth the upgrade.


To download the update over the air, go to Settings> General> Software Update, and follow the prompts onscreen. Alternatively, you can update your device through iTunes.

Submitted by Scott Davert


In the News

Deafblind Senior Experienced Rock Gym++:

You don’t know what you can do until you try!

I use cochlear implants to hear, so I have no natural hearing; I have no sight. When I decide I want to try something new in my community, the challenge is to figure out how to get to the site, and how to do the activity. I have the help of intervenors from deafblind services at CNIB in Ottawa. Two weeks ago, I discussed with Marie, the intervenor I see each Thursday, that I was interested in knowing more about rock climbing. I had heard about it, and was very curious to know if this was something I could do.


The only time I have climbed upward is to have climbed a ladder that someone held for me, so that I could feel the top of a large sun-flower. I guess that might have been going up about 8 feet, maybe less.


I have been on water slides that go upward a long way, but that feels much like going up the stairs of a building, not like climbing.


I asked Marie to go with me to the Coyote Rock Gym, to view what it was like. Before I went I called the gym, and spoke to Troy. I asked him if he knew whether a blind person had come to the gym, he said no. He felt it could be possible, and encouraged me to come to an introductory session first.


Since Marie would have to learn how to work the rope, to take up the slack as I climbed, and to bring me down when I wanted to come down, it was important that we worked together as a team, to be honest in whether we both felt comfortable.


I felt the wall, and was shown how to put the harness on and tie the rope. I had no idea whether I would enjoy this, but Marie and I both decided to give it a try.


During the introductory session I climbed twice, once about six feet, the next time about 14 feet. I loved the idea of creeping up the wall, finding my way by touch. I liked that I could decide which way I wanted to go, entirely by touch.


I wanted to go back and get some pictures taken, and to go just a little higher than last time.


The case manager of deafblind services in Ottawa was able and willing to meet us at the gym to take pictures. Jessica was very encouraging and it is thanks to her that I have pictures that show my achievement.


Marie and I got to the gym just as it opened for the afternoon. I registered and paid $20 to rent shoes, helmet and the harness. Marie brought me to the wall, and Troy again was there to assist us. Troy guided me through making the figure 8 knot and the other knot to complete that part of the process. He gave Marie some refresher guidance, while I explored the wall in front of me, to decide where I was going to start and which foot would go on which rock. I had on shoes that were like running shoes, with flat rubber bottoms and Velcro ties. They fit tightly with the toe reaching right to the end, the way they should fit. I wondered why they had no treads on them, but later understood why.


When Marie was finished getting some training, she asked me if I was ready! I said yes, but I would not be going too high, just a little higher than last time.


I took a few steps upward, and on the third step up I couldn’t find a comfortable rock to continue. Troy said “Just put your left foot up a bit, there is a rock there!” I wanted to take a big step upward, but knew this would have to be a baby step up, because nothing else felt quite right. I felt a little disappointed that it had to be such a small step! Well after that tiny step, the rest of the time was pretty large steps up, which I found to be a little hard, but nothing too bad! I tried to go up left and right, and kept going in a zigzag motion, the way it felt best for me. I was concentrating on finding the best hand-holds, and then which foot to move, that I was totally surprised when I heard Troy say, “You are at the top Penny, there is a rock in front of your face!” What! No! Am I really at the top?


I then stood there, in total disbelief. I had planned to go a little further, not to the top!


I told Marie I wanted to come down. So, I waited until I knew she was ready, before I sat on my harness, and took both my feet and hands off the wall. It seemed I waited minutes for Marie to say she was ready! In actual fact, there was a delay, which Marie later explained that she had a moment of panic; there I was, up 24 feet, and now she was responsible to work the rope for me to come down safely! I trusted her absolutely, and I knew Troy was with her. As I sat, I started to move slowly down the wall. As I moved downward, I didn’t have any concept of how high I had climbed. I kept thinking I’d be on the ground in the next second, but I wasn’t. Troy said to me to put the sole of the foot on the wall, not my toes. Now, I said to myself, “Wait a minute, that means I have to lean back, can I do that?”  I tried it, and yes, I found that because these shoes had smooth bottoms, you could slide down the wall easier than keeping your toes on the wall! I wish I had acted faster when Troy told me what to do, but I was having this conversation with myself about what he was asking me to do!


Once I was on the mat again, I stood in shock. I had gone as far as I could, and I had done it without any problems. I had trusted Marie to do what she had to do, and she allowed me to achieve something I had never done before.


Thanks to deafblind services at CNIB, Troy could work with me to give me this experience. He was so accommodating, so calm and encouraging that I can’t wait to go back!

I felt shaky for a while after; I think all the excitement came to me and I was in the shock of disbelief. Marie understood this and we took a tour of the gym to feel all the different rock climbing areas. We walked on mats in front of the walls with areas to climb that you didn’t have a harness on, and areas in kind of tunnel places, all so intriguing.


Excellent team intervention is the key to doing complicated activities. I am sure Troy understood the unique experience we had and how much we appreciated how he worked with us both. Discover what you can do, and grow in the knowledge that most of the time, you exceed your expectations.

By Penny Leclair


New smart beacons open doors for the blind in Toronto neighbourhood++:


If you were blind and walked into a coffee shop, how would you find the counter so you could order?

That’s easy for Susan Vaile at 9 Bars Coffee in Toronto – she just
needs to listen to her smartphone: “Walk forward six metres to carpet. Service counter at 9 o’ clock.”

Sure enough, there it is, and within minutes, Vaile has ordered and received a small coffee with double cream and double sugar.

Similar verbal directions are already available to customers like
Vaile at several other businesses in the Yonge and St. Clair
neighbourhood, thanks to a pilot project called ShopTalk launched by the CNIB.

The project installs and programs palm-sized Apple iBeacons that use Bluetooth wireless signals to connect with nearby users’ phones via an iPhone app called BlindSquare. It provides directions to help them navigate through doors and vestibules, to service counters, washrooms, and other important parts of buildings such as stores and restaurants.

Vaile says the beacons make it possible for customers like herself to find their way independently.

“They don’t need to ask somebody,” she said. “It’s allowing you to
have some autonomy.”

The beacon technology has already been used in other cities around the world, most notably in Wellington, New Zealand.

There, a project called “No Dark Doors” has already installed the
beacons in 200 downtown shops, and plans to expand to the city’s transit system and areas outside the city’s central business district.

Vaile, who just turned 56, lost her sight to complications of Type 1
diabetes and several strokes in her 30s. Being an artist and
photographer, she was devastated.

She recounted the challenges of learning to cross the street or walk up and down steps without the use of her eyes.

“Being outside when you can’t see – it doesn’t matter whether you’re used to it or not – is a scary prospect,” she said.

Now the self-described “technology buff” gives back by volunteering to help test new technologies like the blind beacons.

Vaile lives just a block away from the CNIB’s community hub. She walks down the street confidently with a cane in one hand and a smartphone in the other. As she passes various shops and landmarks, BlindSquare lets her know how far away they are and in what direction.

But until now, the app has only worked outside. The beacons have the potential to help open new doors for people like her.

Local businesses can get the beacons installed for free.
They’re paid for with a $26,000 grant from the Rick Hansen
Foundation’s Access4All Program.

The beacon technology itself isn’t that new – Apple launched its
version, iBeacon, in 2013. It initially used the technology to welcome customers to its own stores and encourage them to update their software. But it soon faced criticism about “potentially creepy” uses by retailers who were using it to track customers and push coupons to their phones.

She hopes the beacons will start a conversation and lead to even more positive change.

“Once the beacon’s in, we want to go back to businesses and say, ‘You’ve got the beacon, what can we do to help you provide accessible customer service?'”
By Emily Chung, CBC News, September 19, 2017.






CCB National Newsletter September 2017

Sep 15 2017



CCB National Newsletter September 2017






Welcome to the beginning of our Fall season.
I would like to start off by addressing the disastrous forest fires
which ravished huge areas of BC this summer. My heart goes out to all those effected by the fires, and my thoughts are especially with our members who were impacted. I am very confident our BC members will quickly get back on their feet, as I know many of them personally, and I can attest to their strength and resiliency.

I commend the brave fire fighters, first responders, families, friends and strangers who offered help, food, shelter, and support as needed. CCB National have also been there to support our members who may have been in need of emergency assistance in any way that we could.

We as CCB members work together to support those who need it by suggesting agencies, safe places for temporary shelter and any other immediate needs until the urgency settles and people can get back on track.

Looking forward, CCB is very much anticipating a productive fall, as we continue to build our programs and reach out to our fellow blind and vision impaired Canadians. This is the time that we begin our activities for 2017-2018, prepare our homes and families for school and work plus much more. Please keep safe as we move into a new season.

Louise Gillis
CCB National President




Please note that all membership packages were mailed out to each Chapter Contact at the end of August.


If you did not receive the membership renewal package for your chapter, please contact Becky immediately at

1-877-304-0968 or


Remember the Early Bird Draw deadline is Friday, October 27, 2017 and is a chance for two chapters to win back all the dues their chapters have paid before the draw.


Regardless of who wins the Early Bird Draw, ALL chapters who get their membership renewals in before Monday, December 4, 2017 will receive the rebate of $5.00 per person plus $1.00 per e-mail that CCB offers every year.

Something New++:

The back of the membership card is changing this year.  There is a place there to put a paid sticker.

There seemed to be some confusion that the membership cards were proof of payment, which they cannot be because they are sent out with your membership packages.


Stickers will be sent to the chapters for all paid members when we receive their cheques.  These stickers should be put on the backs of the membership cards as another method of tracking payment.


Thank you for your help with this little change,

Becky Goodwin

Administrative Assistant – Canadian Council of the Blind




WCW Order Forms were included in the Membership Renewal Packages that were sent to each chapter’s chapter contact person.


To avoid shipping delays PLEASE NOTE the deadline for submitting WCW orders is Friday, December 8, 2017 so that orders can be assembled and shipped in plenty of time for WCW February 4 – 10, 2018.


Please plan carefully and place your entire order at one time to avoid confusion & the extra shipping costs incurred by sending multiple packages to one chapter.


You may also use the same form to request up to $100.00 in WCW funding support of your chapter’s WCW events.








Assistive Technology and Living with Retinal Disorders

Living with vision loss can make everyday tasks seem daunting. Assistive technology helps mitigate these challenges, allowing low-sighted people to live at a level of independence that was not possible even ten years ago. There’s a vast array of technologies on the market—guest author Gerry Chevalier focuses on his two favourites.

To read Gerry’s article please go to or



GTT on Twitter and Facebook++:


GTT is an exciting initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind, founded in 2011 by Kim Kilpatrick and Ellen Goodman.  GTT aims to help people who are blind or have low vision in their exploration of low vision and blindness related access technology.  Through involvement with GTT, participants can learn from and discuss assistive technology with others walking the same path of discovery.


GTT is made up of blindness related assistive technology users, and those who have an interest in using assistive technology designed to help blind and vision impaired people level the playing field.  GTT groups interact through social media, and periodically meet in-person or by teleconference to share their passions for assistive technology and to learn what others can offer from their individual perspectives.


To follow, and join in on the discussions undertaken my members of the Get Together with Technology initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind, please find us on Twitter and Facebook.


GTT Program on Twitter:

To stay in touch with GTT on Twitter please follow the three Twitter Feeds listed below:

@GTTProgram @GTTWest @CCBNational


GTTProgram on Facebook:

To follow GTT on Facebook like and share the following FB pages:

CCBNational GTTProgram


Or join the General and Youth GTTProgram Facebook Groups;

Join the GTTProgram Group for blindness related assistive technology discussions.  This group welcomes participants of all ages.  For more information contact Kim or Albert at or


Join the GTTYouth for lively discussion on matters related to blindness assistive technology.  Canadian Youth aged 18 to 25 are encouraged to join this group.  For more information contact


For more information please contact your GTT Coordinators:


Albert Ruel                   or                Kim Kilpatrick

1-877-304-0968,550                        1-877-304-0968,513




The story so far: At the beginning of March there was a catastrophic flood in the national office.  Three feet of water filled the entire space.  We were very lucky and found temporary space in the same building and climbed stairs all summer.  We worked on folding tables and did our best to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.


The continuation: We have moved back into our renovated space.  The floors have been changed and we have found new office furniture. There are still boxes everywhere as we attempt to refile all of our papers, and sort out the supplies.  All of this, of course, happening at the beginning of fall as we ramp up our membership, get the Mobile Eye Clinic back to the schools, and GTT swings into high gear.


Thank you to everyone for your patience and support as we have worked through this.




A Reminder to Always be Prepared

(This article is an excerpt, please read the full submission on our website at


The summer of 2017 will never be forgotten in British Columbia.
Despite my extreme vision impairment, I saw the first plume of smoke of the Gustafsen Lake fire from my deck; it was July 6th. It started about 5 miles west of 100 Mile House and within 24 hours, evacuation alerts and orders were underway.

As many new fires continue to ignite all around the province and new individuals are in the process of evacuating, the Cariboo has begun its return to normalcy. The knowledge that fire season is still not over keeps us on guard; packed and ready to go again should need be.

It is with eternal gratitude that I salute the emergency personnel and volunteers who so bravely and successfully fought the battle on our behalf. I would like to thank those individuals who reached out to us all here in 100 Mile House during the crisis and to my evacuee hosts who took in a few of us evacuees while they also were on alert having to be ready to go at any minute.

Submitted by Lori Fry


FFB Fall Vision Quest Learning Opportunities++:

At the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB), we are motivated by a singular goal: develop new treatments for blindness and vision loss. This goal fuels all of the research that we fund and everything that we do! Every year, we strive to share the latest breakthroughs in vision science directly with our supporters through our Vision Quest educational programming. In 2017, Vision Quest will take on a variety of formats, from smaller lunch & learn sessions to larger symposiums, hosted in regions across Canada.

It has been an incredible year so far, with Vision Quest having already come to Vancouver (BC), Sudbury (ON), Timmins (ON), and St. John’s (NL).

Upcoming events are listed below. Please register while space is still available!

Please Call 1-800-461-3331 if you would like more information. You can register on their website at

Toronto (Sep 19): Lunch & Learn

12:00PM – 1:30PM ET

The FFB’s education series will come to Toronto with a Lunch & Learn session focused on cutting-edge vision treatments and sight-saving research. Dr. Netan Choudhry will lead a discussion on AMD and other eye diseases, as well as share insights into his vision research.

Registration is $20 and space is limited!

Toronto (Oct 4): Speaker Series

6:30PM – 8:00PM ET

The FFB’s education series will come to Toronto with a Speaker Series focused on cutting-edge vision treatments and sight-saving research. The event will feature Dr. Derek van der Kooy, who discovered stem cells in the eye, and Dr. Robert Devenyi, who brought the bionic eye to Canada and is now collaborating with Dr. van der Kooy to drive the future of stem cell therapies for vision loss.

Registration is $20 and space is limited!

Montreal (Oct 10): Speaker Series

6:30PM – 8:00PM ET

The FFB’s education series will come to Montréal with a Speaker Series focused on cutting-edge vision treatments and sight-saving research. The event will feature Dr. Robert Koenekoop, a leader in emerging therapies for inherited blinding eye diseases, and Stuart Trenholm, an expert in optogenetics focusing on the interactions between light particles and living tissue.

Registration is free and space is limited!


Calgary (Oct 21): Conference

AMD Session: 9:00AM – 11:00AM MT

Lunch: 11:00AM – 12:00PM MT

IRD Session: 12:00PM – 2:00PM MT

The FFB’s education series will come to Calgary with a Conference focused on cutting-edge vision treatments and sight-saving research. The day will be divided in two, with the first session focused on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and the second on inherited retinal diseases (IRDs). The conference will be chaired by Dr. Amin Kherani, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Calgary, as well as a staff physician and surgeon at Alberta Health Services.

Registration is $20 for a single session or $30 for both (including a lunch). Space is limited!


Described Theatre Opportunity ++:


Tarragon Theatre is proud to present:

The World Premiere of Undercover, created by Rebecca Northan and Bruce Horak, the Dora award winning team behind the international sensation Blind Date.


In an effort to make our theatre more accessible to a new audience, Tarragon Theatre is excited to offer a described performance on Sat Oct 14th at 2:30pm


Tickets are $55 for adults or $49 for seniors, and with a valid CNIB card we offer a complimentary ticket for your companion to join you.

To order simply call 416-531-1827 and speak to our box office.  Please mention you would like an earpiece set aside for you when ordering and we’ll have it waiting for you at the theatre when you arrive.


As well, groups of 10 or more can receive 20% off!  Bring your friends and watch as Rebecca and her partners in crime recruit one intrepid audience member for a ride into the criminal mind.


More information about the show can be found here:

We hope you’ll be able to join us at the theatre!


Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship 2018++:


Hello Curlers!

The Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship for 2018 is fast approaching.  As those of you in the Canadian Council of the Blind curling community know, I’m fairly new at running things.


In an effort to not miss a team, any team that wishes to participate is encouraged to contact Becky at  Each team must have a B1 Lead, Skip, Second, Third, Sweeper, a sighted Coach, and a sighted Guide.

Please let me know before September 22, 2017 if you wish to participate.

Team Canada will be represented this year, by last year’s winners Team British Columbia (Kelowna).


I’m looking forward to hearing from you,

Becky Goodwin, Administrative Assistant/CVICC Organizer, 1-877-304-0968

In the News

Toronto Blind Jays hit the road for Beep Baseball World Series++:

With the crack of the bat, an umpire’s call and the hustle and bustle on the base paths, baseball boasts a soundtrack all its own.


At a Toronto Blind Jays practice, the collection of sounds also includes a beeping ball and buzzing bases.


In preparation to represent Canada at the NBBA Beep Baseball World Series in Florida, the Jays went to work at Maryvale Park in Toronto’s east end. Most of the squad is made up of players who are completely blind or have less than 10 per cent vision.


“We’re all just passionate about the sport,” said Canadian general manager Arthur Pressick. “A lot of these people never even tried baseball until beep baseball and they just love it.


“To be able to hit a ball and crank it out into the field, it’s a fantastic thing.”


Beep baseball is similar to the traditional pastime in some ways. The goal is to hit the ball and score runs but the general setup is quite different.


Eye shades are worn to negate any potential vision advantage. Players use their hearing to track the ball, which starts beeping once its pin is pulled as play begins.


Players also rely on audio to determine the location of the bases, represented by two padded four-foot cylinders on opposite sides of the field that start to buzz when a ball is in play.


The pitcher, catcher and spotters are sighted and work with batters — they’re all on the same team — to co-ordinate pitch timing and help guide players in the outfield.


If a ball is hit into fair territory, the race is on as the batter tries to reach base before the fielder locates and picks up the ball. A spotter calls out a number — for example, a two for a shallow ball or a three if it’s deep — to give the fielder an idea of where the beeping ball might be.


“Sometimes it’s really scary because the ball is not always on the ground,” said Cassie Orgeles of Fort Erie, Ont. “It could be going over your shoulder.”


If the batter reaches base before the ball is secured, a run is scored. If the fielder gets to the ball first, it’s an out.


Pressick, a videographer from Meaford, Ont., became interested in the sport after shooting documentaries on beep baseball. He helped put a Canadian squad together for the 2015 tournament in Rochester, N.Y., and while that team later dissolved, a core group of players got together last fall and the 2017 Blind Jays’ roster, which is co-ed, was filled out in the spring.


Most of the players have other athletic pursuits. Orgeles, 27, who competed at the Paralympics in goalball, found the transition to beep baseball was a smooth one.


“We’re all a very active group and we decided we really want to try this,” she said.


Beep baseball bases are in foul territory to avoid player collisions and the ball must clear a line behind the pitcher to be deemed in play. In addition, there are four strikes instead of three, a game lasts six innings, and fielders use their hands instead of baseball gloves.


Even though the Canadian team is in its infancy, camaraderie and team spirit were evident on a sunny afternoon in the city’s east end. A 90-minute practice was the second session for the full squad and the first with new blue and white Toronto uniforms and red Canada hats — a welcome donation from Baseball Canada.


The players already have their celebratory handshake routines down pat. There was even some good-natured chirping among the teammates.


“Keep your eye on the ball, Wayner!” one outfielder shouted in the direction of home plate to chuckles all around.


A sponsor is on board to help with costs and the team has received some donations on its GoFundMe page. To keep accommodation costs down, the 12-player team plans to drive 24 hours straight to Florida with Pressick at the wheel.


“I’m a GM, coach, pitcher, driver, chef, masseuse and waterboy,” he said with a smile. “All in one.”


Orgeles said it can take a little while to get the hang of things on the beep baseball field. Finding a rhythm at the plate is one of the biggest challenges.


Standing about 20 feet away, the pitcher uses a four-beat sequence with a ‘Set, ready, pitch,’ declaration before the batter swings.


“When you click with your pitcher, it’s the greatest feeling to hit (the) ball,” Orgeles said.


Effective communication is critical. And when the team has great spirit and energy, it’s a nice bonus.


“It’s a stronger bond I think with this group than traditional baseball,” Pressick said. “They’ve all gone through stuff in life that have brought them together to this point so right there, they have a lot of things in common just off the beginning.”


Canada finished 18th at the 2015 tournament. Pressick is hoping for bigger things this time around at West Palm Beach’s Village Park.


“I can’t wait to get this team down there and win a World Series,” he said.


The Jays roster also includes Joey Cabral of Toronto, James Kwinecki of St. Catharines, Ont., Wane St. Denis of Toronto, Ben Ho Lung of Aurora, Ont., Meghan Mahon of Timmins, Ont., Aaron Prevost of Cornwall, Ont., Mark DeMontis of Toronto, Paul Kerins of Toronto (coach), Mike Tweddle of Toronto (coach) and John Harding of Toronto (coach).


Assistive Technology


Toronto Project offers vision of accessibility; Stretch of Yonge St. will be equipped with technology to assist vision-impaired people++:


Canada’s most high-profile organization supporting people with vision loss is turning to technology in a bid to create what it calls the country’s most accessible neighbourhood. The CNIB – formerly known as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind – says it’s hoping to transform a small midtown stretch of Yonge St. into an area that blind or low-vision people can navigate easily, and also fully engage with independently.


The organization has partnered with the Rick Hansen Foundation to acquire beacons that will help blind people locate businesses on the street, then find their way around inside with confidence.

The foundation has funded the purchase of 205 of the roughly 14-centimetre beacons that stores and restaurants in the test area can acquire free and program to convey detailed information about the layout of their physical space to a blind person’s mobile phone.


Blind users hail the project as a major innovation, while the CNIB says it’s hoping the initiative convinces businesses that increasing accessibility makes good fiscal sense.

Inclusive design experts also praise the project, but note that true accessibility involves designing for a range of abilities and that more needs to be done if the area is to truly live up to the goal of being the “most accessible” neighbourhood.


The project’s rollout is gradual, with the CNIB persuading businesses in the quarter-kilometer testing range to get on board.

As beacons slowly begin to proliferate on Yonge between St. Clair Ave. and Heath St., at least one blind user said the difference is apparent. Mark DeMontis said the information available to him through the beacons gives him a sense of independence he hasn’t experienced since losing his vision 13 years ago.

By opening a GPS app called BlindSquare on his iPhone and listening to the information relayed by the beacons, DeMontis said he’s able to easily identify business entrances on the sidewalk, then find his way to various features once he gets inside.

The beacons can be customized to the space they’re occupying, he explained.


For instance, a restaurant may choose to communicate the location of tables, washrooms and staircases, while stores may be more interested in making sure visually impaired customers can quickly locate cash registers, retail displays or change rooms.


The project is meant not only to increase accessibility for visually impaired people, but also to send a broader message to corporations and governments.

Angela Bonfanti, the CNIB’s executive director for the Greater Toronto Area, said many businesses are under the erroneous impression that making their premises more accessible is an expensive and arduous undertaking.


“If we can show that an entire neighbourhood can get together and work together to show what accessibility looks like, then you really have some great research,” she said. “And we’ll go to our local governments and say, ‘The legislatures, the chambers, the museums, you name it, you need to do this. You need a beacon in every publicly funded building, because we’re taxpayers, too.'”

By Michelle McQuigge The Canadian Press



 Microsoft’s new iPhone App Narrates the World for Blind People++:


Microsoft has released Seeing AI a smartphone app that uses computer vision to describe the world for the visually impaired. With the app downloaded, the users can point their phone’s camera at a person and it’ll say who they are and how they’re feeling. They can also point it at a product and it’ll tell them what it is. All of this is done using artificial intelligence that runs locally on their phone.


The company showed off a prototype of Seeing AI in March last year at its Build conference, but starting today, the app is available to download for free in the US on iOS. However, there’s no word yet on when it’ll come to Android or other countries.


The app works in a number of scenarios. As well as recognizing people it’s seen before and guessing strangers’ age and emotion, it can identify household products by scanning barcodes. It also reads and scan documents, and recognizes US currency. This last function is a good example of how useful it can be. As all dollar bills are the same size and color regardless of value, spotting the difference can be difficult or even impossible for the visually impaired. An app like Seeing AI helps them find that information.


The app uses neural networks to identify the world around it, the same basic technology that’s being deployed all over Silicon Valley, powering self-driving cars, drones, and more. The app’s most basic functions are carried out directly on the device itself. This means they can be accessed more quickly and in situations where there’s no stable internet connection. However, Seeing AI’s experimental features like describing an entire scene or recognizing handwriting require a connection to the cloud.


Speaking to The Verge at a Microsoft event in London, Saqib Shaikh, the tech lead on Seeing AI, said he most commonly used the app for reading documents like signs and menus. He points out the app doesn’t just perform the basic task of optical character recognition technology, but also directs the user telling them to move the camera left or right to get the target in shot.


Shaikh says that the difference between this and similar apps is the speed of the neural nets: “One of the things we wanted to do was face recognition on device, and we’ve done that so within a few milliseconds you’ll hear the result. It’s all about the speed, and we try to do as much as we can on the device.”

By James Vincent, The Verge



Have a Fantastic Fall!


CCB National Newsletter Special Edition: Summer 2017

Jul 20 2017

Message from the Editor++

Although the dog days of summer have arrived, CCB still remains very active.


Our newsletter usually breaks for the summer months, as do our chapters, but recently there have been so many positive things happening within the Council, that I felt they couldn’t wait until September!


Recent developments include:

  • A new partnership between CCB and the Essilor group
  • CCB’s Trust Your Buddy program going national
  • GTT continuing to thrive across the country


Please read on to discover all the details of the many things CCB has recently been involved with. Enjoy the read, and have a wonderful summer—Mike Potvin, Editor.

Trust Your Buddy takes on Chronic Disease++:

As CCB’s TYB program looks to engage, educate and empower CCB members from across the country, to get up, get active and improve fitness; we are talking “chronic disease prevention”.


Has your doctor told you any of the following?

-You are at risk of heart disease?

-You are at risk of type 2 diabetes?

-Your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol may be too high?

-You are overweight or obese and need to lose body fat to help prevent the onset of various health related issues?



TYB is your resource to help address these concerns.

Ryan is a Certified Kinesiologist, which means he is a health care professional with 10+ years of experience in helping those at risk of various chronic diseases.


Take advantage of this FREE professional resource and help yourself get started or continue on that path to a healthy lifestyle.


Check out the “CCB Trust Your Buddy” page on Facebook or channel on Youtube.

Email Ryan any health and fitness related questions you may have and he can chat with you to help answer them and get you headed in the right direction!


Your body does not care that you are blind or visually impaired, it still requires the proper physical activity and nutrition to keep you healthy and steer you clear of chronic disease.




CCB is proud to offer you this ground breaking resource, in hopes that you can lead a happy and healthy long life!

-Ryan Van Praet (Reg. Kinesiologist)

Program Manager


Accessible Sport & Health Education

Canadian Council of the Blind



Search us on Social Media:

Facebook & Youtube:

“CCB Trust Your Buddy”

Twitter:  @TYB_CCB


GTT Support Email Discussion List++:

GTT is an exciting initiative of the CCB, founded in 2011 by Kim Kilpatrick and Ellen Goodman. GTT aims to help people who are blind or have low vision in their exploration of low vision and blindness related access technology. Through involvement with GTT participants can learn from and discuss assistive technology with others walking the same path of discovery.


GTT is made up of blindness related assistive technology users, and those who have an interest in using assistive technology designed to help blind and vision impaired people level the playing field. GTT groups interact through social media, and periodically meet in-person or by teleconference to share their passions for assistive technology and to learn what others can offer from their individual perspectives.


The CCB’s Get Together with Technology program now offers an email discussion list for blind, deafblind and partially sighted Canadians. This GTT Support email list is a good tool through which members can share their assistive technology discoveries, make comments, and ask questions about assistive technology.


To subscribe send an email to the following address.

  1. Put the word “subscribe” in the subject line and leave the body of the email message empty.
  2. You will get a return email to confirm your subscription. Simply reply to that email to confirm.
  3. You will get a second email returned to you that welcomes you as a list member. It will give instructions on how to post messages to the list.


For questions about the list contact its moderators, Brenda Bush, Kim Kilpatrick or Albert Ruel by sending an email to,


For more information please contact your GTT Coordinators:

Albert Ruel or Kim Kilpatrick

1-877-304-0968 ext 550 or 1-877-304-0968, ext 513





We are happy to announce that Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) has won an FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility. AMI collected their award in Washington DC for their Integrated Described Video Best Practices Guide.


Jim Tokos has represented the CCB in this descriptive video advisory group, providing valuable input on behalf of our members for many years, so we are especially happy for this accomplishment!


A sincere thank you to all the members of the DVBP for your efforts in advancing accessibility and inclusion. AMI were one of four winners, and other recipients included Facebook and Amazon. A truly wonderful accomplishment for our group.


CCB Atlantic Sports Weekend++:

CCB Bathurst Chapter hosted the Atlantic Sports and Recreation weekend, which was held from May 19th to 21st, 2017.  At the same time they celebrated the 40th anniversary of their chapter.  Many members won ribbons and medals, 8 members from Bathurst took part in the events.  5 of these members won first place in darts and also finished third place in bowling.  Chapters attended from PEI, Nova Scotia, St-Jean Terre-Neuve, New Brunswick.  Thank you to all the organizations that donated to this great event.

Submitted by Anita Boudreau


Announcement from the CCB Windsor Essex Low Vision Social & Support Group++:


Congratulations to the Windsor Essex Low Vision Social & Support Group, who just celebrated their 15th Anniversary!


The group commemorated the day with a special Canada Day themed meeting, celebrating our country’s 150th birthday.


Following the luncheon, the program was turned over to the vice president Christine Copeland, who read aloud the names of twenty-seven members who are no longer with us.


Ken  continued  the  program  with  the  presentation  of  gifts  to  Christine  Copeland  and  Jeanie  Krigel,  recognizing  them  as  charter  members,  along  with  Shauna  Bogheen  who  contributed  greatly  to  the  existence  of  our  group  through  the  CNIB. Also  recognized  with  a  gift,  along  with  a  life  time  membership,  was  Ben  Vincent  representing  the  only  member  with  close  to  fifteen years  of  service  to  the  group.


The  meeting  concluded  with closing  words  from  Jim  Tokos  along  with  our  president  Tom  Bannister.


In addition, Emanuel Blaeyoet.  Gave  a  report  on  the  Windsor tandem  bicycle  group,  how  it  first  originated  with  the  help  of  our  group  and  how  well  it  has  done  in  such  a  short time.  Good news to hear!

Respectfully submitted

Ken Christie – secretary


Happenings at Camp Bowen++:

April, May and June were more busy months here at Camp Bowen. We have been working with our local library to improve access to information, launched a survey to help us kickstart our independent living skills training initiative, and continue to plan for adult camp 2017, which has been moved to run from Monday, August 21st. to Friday, August 25th this year due to matters outside of our control (see below for details on changes to this year’s camp).


Working in a community that has supported us with open hearts throughout the past seven years has been rewarding. The generosity of Bowen Islanders is what has allowed us to remain on island as long as we have and to continue to rebuild the Camp Bowen programs. However, we’ve always felt that we should do more to give back to the island community that has given so much to us. The project outlined here marks the first public step in that direction, a step that we hope will be the first of many to come.


Back in February, we approached the Bowen Island Public Library to see if it would be feasible to make the public access computers in the library accessible for blind and partially sighted patrons. The enthusiasm from library staff has been wonderful through the entire time we have worked together on this project.


We’re very pleased to announce today that both of the public computers in the library now run NVDA, an open-source screen reader that reads out the computer screen to blind and partially sighted computer users. Information is so important in this day and age and we recognize that libraries are an important conduit to the world for many people. We at Camp Bowen are glad to have played a part in making some of that information more accessible to Bowen Islanders with disabilities and we would like to take this opportunity to thank Leo and the rest of the team at the Bowen Island Public Library for working with us to make this project a reality. We couldn’t have done it without you.


In the coming weeks we will be providing more information about how to access NVDA at the library and where one can go to find additional resources on this great tool.


In other news, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired is currently undertaking work to help create an independent living skills training centre for blind and partially sighted Canadians. To help build a case demonstrating the need for such a centre, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired is currently running a survey to collect information on the levels of independent living skills training available in Canada. The survey is intended to be completed by blind and partially sighted Canadians who are 18 years of age or older before September 30, 2017.


The survey has both an online and phone in option. If you prefer not to fill out the survey online, you can complete the survey over the phone by calling +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 7 or toll free at +1 (844) MYBOWEN (692-6936) extension 7. To take the survey online, please visit:


For more information on the training centre initiative or to find out how you can help make a Canadian independent living skills training centre a reality, please visit:


For any questions or comments regarding the initiative, please call +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 7 or +1 (844) MYBOWEN (692-6936) extension 7. You can find additional ways to contact us at:


And now for an update on Adult Camp 2017.


The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired regrets that due to safety work that will not be completed at Bowen Island Lodge in time for our retreat this summer, we have had to book an alternate venue on Bowen Island: The Lodge at the Old Dorm. This is a one year stopgap measure and we will be back at the Bowen Island Lodge next summer.


“Purpose built in 1941 by the Union SteamShip Company aka USSC to provide thirteen rooms for staff residences; it was a key part of the old resort. Purchased 25 years ago, and extensively renovated, thanks to Dan’s “hands-on” attention to detail, today, The Lodge at the Old Dorm delivers that old world feel with today’s charm.” (From the website of The Lodge at the Old Dorm)


The dates the Lodge at the Old Dorm has available are August 21-25 – Monday to Friday. We have already booked these dates. This facility is smaller than Bowen island Lodge so has a more limited capacity so we encourage everyone to get their registration in as soon as possible.


Activities we will plan during the time include:

Talent night



Tandem biking

Bus trip to a public beach for swimming

Group walk to the village

Group hike and/or nature walk

A demo day with Canadian Assistive Technologies

Basic and/or advanced sessions on assistive technologies

Water taxi tour (would be a charge per person)

Board games

Basic and/or intermediate self-defence workshop.


Note: The above activities will run if there is sufficient interest. Further, some activities will only run if our partners are available for these dates. We are working on this now.


The costs for camp this year have not changed from our previously advertized 2017 rates. The below costs are based on having all meals at camp. However, we are once again allowing campers to opt-out of meals at camp. Should campers choose to eat at some of the amazing restaurants on Bowen Island instead of having meals at camp, they will receive some money off their camp fees to help with the expense. We would also like to remind campers that there is $200 worth of available funding from the BC Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation for BC residents who receive Persons with Disability (PWD) benefits. The cost of accommodation and all meals will be $450 per person based on double occupancy for the four nights. Cost for single occupancy would be $700.


The menu for the retreat will be posted on the Camp Bowen website as part of the registration form.


We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this change may cause you. We look forward to a number of you joining us. For those of you who can’t make it this year, we look forward to seeing you next year back at the Bowen Island Lodge.


For more information or to register, please visit or call +1 (844) MYBOWEN (692-6936) extension 2.


We look forward to welcoming many new and returning guests for a fun-filled and relaxing getaway this summer.


The Camp Bowen Team

Accessible Canada – Creating new national accessibility legislation: What we learned from Canadians++:

Message from the Minister:


As Canada’s first-ever Minister responsible for persons with disabilities, I had the honour of leading Canada’s largest and most accessible consultation on disability issues ever.


In the summer of 2016, I began asking Canadians all across the country, “What does an accessible Canada mean to you?” What we learned, summarized in this report, will help us create new federal accessibility legislation.


I’m proud to say more than 6,000 Canadians participated in person and online. Throughout the consultation, I held 18 in-person public meetings across the country that were supported by local leaders from the disability community. These meetings were made fully accessible for a range of disabilities and included English and French real-time captioning, American Sign Language and Langue des signes québécoise, and intervenor services for participants who are deaf-blind. In northern Canada, Inuit sign language was also provided.


The online consultation set equally high standards of accessibility.

Consultation questions were available in Braille, large print, e-text, audio and sign language. Participants were also invited to share their ideas by email, phone or TTY or by sending audio or video recordings.


I also worked hand-in-hand with disability organizations and national Indigenous organizations across Canada to ensure that everyone who wanted to participate had the opportunity to do so.


Through the consultations, Canadians from across our country shared their personal stories—their challenges, successes, hopes and aspirations. I heard from youth who wanted equal access to education, I heard from parents with dreams of their children being self-sufficient and I heard from young adults frustrated with their ability to access public services. Yet there was one common theme: They each faced a barrier that limited their ability to be fully included.


I recognize that new federal legislation will not address every barrier that Canadians with disabilities face. In fact, many issues raised were beyond the reach of federal jurisdiction. I do, however, share the same hope and optimism of the thousands of those who participated on how the Government of Canada can be a leader with this new legislation and how this new legislation can bring about real change for Canadians with disabilities.


Moving forward, we’re going to take what we learned through this historic consultation process to develop new federal accessibility legislation that will provide all Canadians a better chance to succeed in their local communities and workplaces. We will also share what we learned with all levels of government and encourage them to join us in our journey to make a more accessible Canada.


This consultation process was a very important step forward towards inclusion, but it is only the beginning of a journey to reach our goal of a truly inclusive Canada. Thank you to all who participated.


Together, we are making history.

– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities


Accessible Devices++:

Philips offers a line of accessible TV and Video Players for blind and low vision users.


The entire line of 2017 Philips brand televisions and video players now offers Enhanced Accessibility to allow blind and visually impaired users to control the devices’ functions. Adding Enhanced Accessibility to products entails the addition of voice guide descriptive menus, easy to read user interface, guide dots on remote controls, easy access to closed captioning/subtitles and secondary audio, easy access to support, and an easy way to identify these products with the help of an Enhanced Accessibility logo.


Remote controls on the affected Philips products feature guide dots so that users can easily control key functions, such as power on/off, volume adjustment and mute, channel selection, playback functions, input selection, and other important functions.


Philips groups these new capabilities under its Enhanced Accessibility feature set, which also includes an easy-to-read and navigate user interface, large format support information, and closed captioning, a long-mandated requirement for assisting the hearing impaired.


The user interface voice guide and other features are new requirements established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as part of the Twenty-First

Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The new rules mandate that certain built-in functions in TVs, Blu-ray players, and DVD players, among other consumer electronics products, be usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The deadline for meeting the new requirements was December 20, 2016.


The new rules mandate that any key functions available only via an on-screen menu must offer user interface voice guides, with the menu options spoken and user selections audibly confirmed.


“The FCC regulations on Enhanced Accessibility allow us to design our products so they can be enjoyed by more consumers,” said Karl Bearnarth, executive

vice president, sales and marketing, PF USA, Inc., the exclusive North American licensee for Philips consumer televisions and home video products.


“We took this initiative very seriously and were determined to ensure that our entire line of TVs and video players, including basic DVD players, met the requirements and that they were as intuitive as possible to use for those who are visually impaired.”




Greetings from the President++:

I would like to wish everyone a happy summer as we spend time relaxing with family and friends and enjoying the wonderful weather. This newsletter contains a lot of exciting news and activities that many chapters are involved with. Thank you to all the volunteers who help us all year who sometimes may get forgotten but who do a tremendous amount of work to help us all reach our goals and improve our lives.


Keep safe, enjoy summer and be alert especially right now in BC during this time of extreme danger due to fire.


Louise Gillis

A Note from the National Office++:

On March 4th, there was a horrible flood in our offices.  A water main leak gushed through our floors, buckling the concrete floors and bending the walls.  Over 3 feet of water filled our office space.  We cleaned and moved as fast as we could into temporary space on the third floor of our building.  All the staff has continued to work very hard, even on folding tables and chairs.  Since then workers have been repairing everything, the floor and most of the walls are now done.  The water main has been fixed and the elevator is almost ready to go.  We have been working hard to replace our furniture, and have received several wonderful in-kind donations, as well as keeping everything running as smoothly as possible.  We are now reaching the point that we can move back into our offices, and expect to be there in the beginning of September.  Everyone is looking forward to getting back into our routines.


CCB National Newsletter June 2017

Jun 06 2017



Presidents Message++:

Now that winter is finely over, the sun is shining most days and temperatures are improving, a lot of chapters will soon be winding down for summer. But the work with the Canadian Council of the Blind continues all year to prevent vision loss and improves the lives of those of us who have lost some or all of our sight but certainly not our vision.

As you will see in this newsletter a lot of exciting and positive things are happening. The organization has been working through some difficult situations due to the recent flood at the office and I want to commend the staff for doing a great job under these conditions. All the positives allow us to continue to build relationships so that we can move forward.

Congratulations to “Trust Your Buddy” for their great videos as you will read about below. It is very important to have someone we can trust to help us move through this journey with eye disease of one type or another. It helps to build confidence, to accept our loss and then work with it to the best of our abilities.

Other great news comes from the Peterborough Chapter, the GTT groups, the Eye See You campaign, receiving the Helen Keller Award from the Lions of District A4 and the partnership with Essilor for example. There’s lots more good news out there so send it in so we can share it with others.

The Atlantic Sports & Recreation weekend was held by CCB Bathurst, NB on the long weekend in May. Although attendance was down everyone had a great time participating in all the variety of sports, dance and banquet. Thank you for a great job Bathurst!

June is AGM month so stay tuned for more information coming out very soon.

Louise Gillis, National President


Canadian Council of the Blind Annual General Meeting++:

Our AGM is fast approaching, on June 21 at 10:00am edt.  For the first time ever the meeting will be available for everyone to listen to and fully paid members will have the ability to vote by phone if they cannot make it to the meeting in person.  This is very exciting.  More detailed information will be sent out shortly.



CCB Trust Your Buddy Goes National!++:

As the 2 year grant which was responsible for the creation of the TYB (Trust Your Buddy) program comes to an end, creator and program Manager Ryan Van Praet looks to broaden horizons.


TYB was created to “provide opportunity for blind/VI to participate in mainstream sports alongside sighted family, friends and peers”.  It was a local program centred in Chatham-Kent Ontario.  By all accounts it was successful, getting more than 15 blind/VI participants and as many guides, out and active.


Now TYB will be looking to turn its focus to providing a national resource for all CCB members and blind/VI persons across the country and beyond.


Ever wanted a personal trainer, fitness coach, health professional, elite athlete to bounce questions off of as you seek to become or maintain your physical fitness?


Ryan Van Praet is a Registered Kinesiologist, elite paratriathlete, with over 20+ years experience in the health, fitness and sports field.  He will be your FREE resource to provide answers to questions you may have, such as “How much should i exercise?” or “How do blind people ride tandem bikes?” or “I am stuck in a rut and I can’t figure out how to get off the couch and get motivated”.


CCB is seeking to revolutionize the way blind people think about physical activity.  Ryan will provide an outlet for you to learn online about sports, health and fitness topics, while interacting through posting or emailing questions of your own.  Watch or listen to the videos, submit questions, comments, topics of your own and learn how you too can become physically active for life despite any barriers you may face.


To subscribe to the YouTube channel or follow the Facebook page, simply type “CCB Trust Your Buddy” in their search fields and you will be linked to the videos.


Also the CCB will have a page dedicated to TYB on it’s website where you can find all the links to Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.


Watch, share and interact by submitting your comments and questions.


For more information, please visit the below links:

Ryan Van Praet (Reg. Kinesiologist)

Program Manager


Accessible Sport & Health Education

Canadian Council of the Blind


Search us on Social Media:

Facebook & Youtube:

“CCB Trust Your Buddy”

Twitter:  @TYB_CCB



New CCB Partnership++:

CCB is very excited to announce an agreement with the Essilor group for working on expanding our mobile eye‎ clinics. Essilor is the world leader in ophthalmic optics with a presence in 100 countries. The Group designs, manufactures and markets an extensive range of vision care solutions that help to correct, protect and prevent risks to the visual health of around one billion people worldwide. It shares a mission with CCB to improve lives by improving sight. This is a great partnership for CCB and will really help to improve the vision health of Canadians.





News from the Peterborough, ON CCB Chapter++:

I would like to share an awesome outing some of our members and volunteers attended this weekend.


Shawn Johnson our chapters President welcomed us to a traditional native Pow Wow at Hiawatha.


It was a super afternoon.  The traditional dress was colourful, textural and made wonderful noises.  The people were very eager to share stories about their dress, dance and culture with us.    With permission we were even able to touch feathers, fur and more.  The music and laughter were joyful.  This is a great family experience and it is an honour to learn the culture and traditions.  Hopefully next year we can make it an even bigger event for CCB.


This was not a usual type of outing but so much more than expected.

Submitted by Debby Haryett



Business awards for accessibility++:

CCB Peterborough, ON had a kick off for national accessibility week at Peterborough square. CPD did a wonderful job putting the event together. I worked with Jessica Taylor of the CNIB and Lynda Todd, volunteer, in helping our dignitaries (city council members) try out simulators, showing them sighted guide while wearing the simulators and then asked them to sign their name and read regular print. It was a good experience for them to try these things with a visual disability.


Also I, on behalf of CCB Peterborough had nominated Bill from Saugeen Shafts for a Peterborough business award. The award is for a business which has gone above and beyond to be accessible. There were 24 submissions and 4 winners. Bill was one of the winners.


Bill had made guiding stands in his archery range for low to no vision archers. He also started to work with 5 counties 20 years ago and has helped many organizations and people with a variety of disabilities enjoy the sport of archery.


Well done Bill


Submitted by Leslie from the CCB Peterborough Chapter



GTT Edmonton Meeting++:

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 June 12, 7pm to 9pm. Note: This is the last meeting before our summer break – no meetings in July or August.
  • Location: Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 – 83 Street NW, Edmonton. Enter from back door. If you arrive late the door may be locked. Please ring the bell to the right of the door.


Theme: Your iPhone and Your Edmonton Public Library

  • Lorne will demonstrate the Hoopla iPhone app which, together with your Edmonton Public Library card, provides access to audio books, eBooks, movies, subscription databases   and more.


Continuing with the public library theme, we will also discuss downloading the CELA audio books to your DAISY players.


  • We will provide individual DAISY player training to those who wish it.
  • General discussion regarding other technology.


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:




Vision Health Month++:

The Eye See You campaign, as part of Vision Health Month, has been a great success, including significant pickup from national media such as AMI – Live from Studio 5 and coverage in the National Post, the Vancouver Sun, and the Ottawa Citizen, amongst many others.  The success of any campaign comes about because of the commitment of others to outreach and mobilise active and inspiring individuals.


The IFA is grateful for the efforts of all who participated in Vision Health Month through the month of May by sharing Twitter posts, creating your own posts, and/or using the hashtags #EyeSeeYou2017.


In particular, we thank the Eye See You campaign partners – including the Canadian Council of the Blind

– for their commitment and support during Vision Health Month and throughout the Eye See You campaign.


The IFA is confident that the ongoing Eye See You campaign will continue to create strong responses that highlight both good practices and the need for further development in the understanding of vision health in Canada.


CCB Mobile Eye Clinic Receives Helen Keller Award++:

Recently, the CCB’s mobile eye clinic (MEC) received the Helen Keller Award from the Lions of District A4.  The prototype clinic was launched in 2014 directed toward eye examinations to children and older people.  Over 3000 children and 1000 older people have been examined.  The MEC visits schools and care facilities and conducts full eye examinations by a registered optometrist. The Lions assist the MEC with pretesting prior to the examination.


Almost 30% of children require a follow-up with 22% receiving some type of remedial intervention (i.e. glasses, referrals to ophthalmologists).  In some cases, children without the intervention, were effectively legally blind unknown to parents and teachers.  Educators and parents are starting to learn that low vision among children is a learning disability that has a huge negative impact on Canada’s social system.  It is estimated that only 14% of children under six years old in Canada receive professional eye treatment.


Similarly, vision loss among older people leads to a higher incidence of slips and falls, with 56% of older people requiring a follow-up and/or receiving some type of remedial intervention (i.e. glasses, referrals to ophthalmologists), which can pose a burden to the health care system.


The MEC is endorsed by the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) and free glasses are supplied to children 10 years or under regardless of income, and for others, based on family income.  The examinations are available to anyone who has not had an eye examination within the last 12 months.


The MEC raises the awareness of the importance of vision loss where 75% is treatable or preventable.  It also addresses the mobility problem especially among older people with transportation is sometimes a barrier.

The CCB is now preparing to expand the project to other parts of Canada.


For more information about the MEC program, visit




Key Information For The Blind And Partially-Sighted Community Regarding The Canada 150 Commemorative Bank Note ++:


On 7 April, the Bank of Canada unveiled the design of the commemorative $10 bank note that will begin circulating 1 June 2017 to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation.



  • This commemorative note will have the same suite of accessibility features as current polymer notes—with an enhancement.
  • The $10 denomination of the Canada 150 note will be recognized by touch (tactile feature), sight (large numerals) or electronic signal (bank note reader).
  • An enhancement has been made to optimize the colour contrast of the large numeral to help partially-sighted individuals determine the denomination of the note with confidence.






  • Blind and partially-sighted Canadians who use the latest model of the bank note reader (the model distributed by the CNIB since 2014) will need to install a software adaptation for the device to recognize the Canada 150 note.
  • As soon as this adaptation becomes available, information on how to download it will be broadly communicated.
  • The previous model of the bank note reader is still in use and will determine the denomination of the commemorative note. No adaptation is required.





Information and described videos on the Canada 150 note are available on the Bank of Canada’s website:



Important Information for the Users of Window Eyes screen reader++:

Thank you for being a valued member of the GW Micro and Window-Eyes family. We regret to announce that sales of Window-Eyes have ended in the United States and Canada. Users outside of the United States and Canada should contact their local distributor for options. We are committed to our customers and will honor existing product purchases and software maintenance agreements, and we will continue to provide technical support to end users that have purchased Window-Eyes or a support package.


All users who are currently using Window-Eyes can continue to use the software indefinitely; however, as the Windows® operating system and/or applications change over time, Window-Eyes may not function adequately for your needs.


We understand how important a screen reader is to you and are offering JAWS for Windows 18 as a replacement. We are committed to providing a smooth transition and will honor existing Window-Eyes product purchases and software maintenance agreements (SMA), as follows.

– End users that paid for and are current with Window-Eyes 9.x will be converted to JAWS 18 at no charge.

– If you are using an earlier version of Window-Eyes, you can purchase an upgrade to JAWS 18.

– If you are using the free version of Window-Eyes you can continue to use it. While there is not an upgrade path from the free version, if you are interested in purchasing JAWS, please contact our sales team at 800-444-4443.

– Existing Window-Eyes SMAs will be rolled into the JAWS SMA program for end users that migrate to JAWS.


Learn more about the migration options and pricing by visiting


To make this process as easy as possible, we ask you to complete a simple web form that will go directly to our sales team, who will then contact you with an authorization code for JAWS 18, or request additional information if necessary.


Requests for upgrades must be submitted at

or by phone at 800-444-4443 by July 31, 2017.


Note the free Window-Eyes Offer for Users of Microsoft Office version is not part of the conversion program.


If you have any questions please call us at 800-444-4443 or email us at


Accessibility Initiatives at Toronto’s Luminato Festival++:

June 14-25


Luminato is committed to being a festival that is accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. Among our new accessibility initiatives this year we are offering three specialized performances.


En avant, marche!

Bluma Appel Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts

June 24 8pm

Alain Platel, one of Europe’s most influential theatre-makers, reunites with director Frank Van Laecke and composer Steven Prengels for this inspired and quirky take on amateur musical groups. They are joined by Toronto’s Weston Silver Band for a work of poignant theatre, riotous slapstick, and exuberant music.

Audio Described Performance for patrons who are blind or have vision loss. Audio devices for Audio Description must be reserved in advance to ensure availability.


To book accessible seats, to reserve a device for Audio Description, or for questions on group bookings, please contact Stephen Barber at or 416 368 3100 x254

For more information on each show, visit

Pacific Training Centre for the Blind accepting out-of-town students++:

The Pacific Training Centre for the Blind (PTCB) is expanding its Blind People in Charge Adult program to include students from outside of Victoria.


Staff at the centre will work with an out-of-town student to find appropriate and viable housing options for these students such as billeting, homestay or other affordable accommodation while they are training.


PTCB will be accepting new students to start in the fall.

Students will be expected to attend the training centre three-days-a-week. A firm commitment to training is expected.


If practical, and the student doesn’t live too far away, students can also travel to Victoria each week for training and return home later in the week.


Through its Blind People in Charge Program, the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind teaches blindness / independence skills including Braille, travel with the long white cane, talking and Braille adaptive technology, cooking, cleaning, sewing, job readiness, organizational skills, financial management and other life skills.


The PTCB uses a positive and empowering method of teaching that encourages students to problem solve and take charge of their own lives. All instructors and mentors at the centre are blind.


If you wish to learn more, or register for the fall, please contact us.

Elizabeth Lalonde, Executive Director

Pacific Training Centre for the Blind

Phone: 250-580-4910

817a Fort St

Victoria, BC,

V8W 1H6

Blind people empowering blind people to be employed, independent and free.



Promote accessibility every day, everywhere in Canada++:

As Canada’s Minister responsible for Persons with Disabilities, I believe that our country’s diversity is our strength—and when we include people with disabilities, we create a stronger Canada for everyone.


It is my pleasure to announce that launching this spring, for the first time in many years, an annual national week devoted to inclusion and accessibility.


From May 28 to June 3, 2017, National AccessAbility Week will celebrate, highlight and promote inclusion and accessibility in our communities and workplaces across the country.


We’ve made great strides in promoting inclusion for Canadians with disabilities, but there is still much work to do.


To create a truly inclusive society, we need to change the way we think, talk and act about barriers to participation and accessibility—and we need to do it right from the start, not as an afterthought. An inclusive Canada is one where all Canadians can participate and have an equal opportunity to succeed.


National AccessAbility Week will aim to bring this perspective to the forefront for Canadians, and highlight some of the important initiatives this government and its partners are undertaking to bring about this change.


Please join us in celebrating National AccessAbility Week.  I invite you to host events in your own local communities, and participate on social media. More information will be available in the coming weeks on, and I encourage you to follow @AccessibleGC

on Twitter, Accessible Canada

on Facebook and follow the hashtag #AccessibleCanada and #AccessAbility for the latest information.


Together, let’s continue working towards an Accessible Canada.

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities






The World Blind Union (WBU) is an international not-for-profit, charitable organization representing the estimated 285 million people who are blind or have low vision worldwide.  The WBU is recognized as the international voice of blind and partially sighted persons speaking on their behalf at the United Nations, UN Agencies and other international organizations.


The Position

The World Blind Union is seeking a Chief Executive Officer who will replace the incumbent CEO upon her retirement.  The position is based at WBU’s international headquarters located in Toronto, Ontario Canada


Reporting directly to the President of the World Blind Union, the CEO will have the following responsibilities and requirements:



Applicants should include a detailed curriculum vitae; the names and contact details of three (3) referees (which will only be contacted if the applicant is being considered for an interview and he/she will be notified of this in advance). We also request a letter of candidature indicating interest in and suitability for the position. All applications must be submitted in English and must be submitted electronically in MS Word format only.  Applications that have inaccessible attachments will be rejected.


People living with blindness or partial sight are strongly encouraged to apply.


Applications should be directed to;

Dr. Fredric K Schroeder

President, World Blind Union


Application Deadline: August 1, 2017


Note: A detailed position description can be requested by interested candidates from the CEO of WBU at


In the News

Visually impaired voters in B.C. given option to phone it in++:

For Reed Poynter, not being able to see has made voting difficult.


Plastic templates that help visually impaired voters cast their ballots can slip, meaning the only way he could ensure he checked off the right candidate is to ask for help – and give up his privacy.


In the last federal election, staff at his polling station told him they didn’t have any braille ballots; he was later told some officials just didn’t know where they were.


In contrast, Mr. Poynter, who has been blind since he was a child, was able to vote in advance of Tuesday’s B.C. election simply by picking up the phone as part of an Elections BC pilot program that allows people with disabilities to vote from home.


“I thought that the experience was quite good.

Their staff was polite, professional, very well done,” said Mr. Poynter, a 67-year-old who livesin Langley, B.C., southeast of Vancouver.


“It beats the hell out of going to the polling station. Over the phone is more secure.”


The 2017 election is the first in the province to allow telephone voting. The service launched in mid-April and, in the first 11 days, 555 voters used it, said Andrew Watson of Elections BC.


When someone calls in, operators verify their voter registration and ask if they have a disability as defined under the BC Elections Act. The type of disability doesn’t need to be disclosed.


Voters are then assigned a number for privacy and then transferred to two voting operators – one administers the vote and the second acts as scrutineer.


Elections BC says it doesn’t know if the program will be used in future elections, but so far the agency has only received positive responses.


Before phone voting, partially sighted or blind  voters could use large-sized poster ballots, braille ballots, plastic guides with braille and  tactile markers down the sides, or bring someone along to assist.


While all advance polling stations are guaranteed to be physically accessible, some general election voting locations are not; for those, voters with disabilities can cast their ballots at the curb or parking lot.


Rob Sleath from Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers said there are several issues with these options. He says they might allow voters to mark independently and privately, but there was no way to verify it was marked correctly. After every election, he gets multiple phone calls about physical accessibility.


“That is one of the current downfalls in the current system,” Mr. Sleath said. “People want to vote the same as you or anybody else, they don’t want to be treated in a special way.”


Greg Koyl, a 66-year-old retiree in Victoria, lost his sight in the past three years because of glaucoma. This is his first provincial election to vote while legally blind. In the federal election, he waited in line for more than 45 minutes and had to bring someone along to help him vote, while phone voting took only five minutes.


“I was quite pleased with how it unfolded,” Mr.  Koyl says. “People were very helpful and the service quality was in spades. It was a nice relief to think I could do it that way rather than have someone come along to help me get my ballot.”

By Emily Mccarty



New Treatment Improves Vision Health For Canadians With Glaucoma++:


Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, affecting more than 64 million people, including approximately 400,000 Canadians.


The Silent Thief of Sight

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve. It develops slowly over time, often has no symptoms, and can go undiagnosed without proper checkups. If left untreated, glaucoma causes impaired vision and even blindness. It has been predicted that the number of people affected by glaucoma worldwide could grow to more than 76 million by the year 2020.


“Glaucoma is sometimes called ‘the silent blinder’ as patients normally don’t feel any difference during the early stages of the disease,” warns Dr. Hady Saheb, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of Resident Research at McGill University. “But eye care professionals are able to detect early changes brought on by glaucoma and either prevent them from happening or from getting worse.”


“Because eye diseases like glaucoma are chronic and asymptomatic I can’t stress enough the importance of proper screening and monitoring,” agrees Dr. Ike Ahmed, a Lasik surgeon at TLC Laser Eye Canada renowned for his ground-breaking work in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of highly complex eye diseases. “While there may be no symptoms and no pain, the damage being done can be irreversible.”


Although damage caused by glaucoma can’t be reversed and even the development of the disease is not completely understood, we do know a major risk factor for developing glaucoma is increased eye pressure. This occurs when fluid in the eye – used to transport important nutrients to the lens and cornea – accumulates and cannot drain naturally, limiting a person’s vision and field of view


Recent advancements in glaucoma treatment have focused on relieving increased eye pressure using stents to drain excess fluids. A new treatment category, known as minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS), has been developed with a view to expanding access to treatment and reducing the complications associated with standard glaucoma therapies and surgeries.


“Although MIGS is a relatively new procedure and more study is necessary, it has already demonstrated its value,” says Dr. Ahmed.  “There is a very significant percentage of the Canadian population that can benefit from MIGS.”


While standard glaucoma surgeries are often effective at lowering eye pressure and preventing progression of the disease, they are major surgeries with a long list of potential complications. Ophthalmologists are hesitant to recommend them except in the most serious of cases. The only other option previously available for more moderate cases was a combination of medications and daily eye drops.


“MIGS fills a gap between medication and more aggressive surgery,” say Dr. Saheb. “It fits nicely into the space where patients haven’t been treated adequately because eye drops are not quite doing the job, but surgery is too risky.”


Safer Surgeries with Fewer Complications


Before the MIGS group of operations, Canadians with glaucoma experienced reduced quality of life not just due to visual field loss, which can be associated with falls and accidents, but also because of the complications inherent to onerous medication protocols and invasive surgeries.


“The introduction of MIGS has allowed us to offer safer surgeries, earlier,” says Dr. Saheb. “We are now able to provide low-risk treatments to the majority of glaucoma patients, those in the more moderate portion of the disease spectrum, while reserving more invasive surgeries only for the most advanced patients.”


There are currently five MIGS procedures available, all of which work by using microscopic-sized equipment and tiny incisions to reduce pressure on the eye. Not only are the results impressive, the micro-invasive nature of the surgery reduces complications and allows for a rapid recovery. In one recent study, 72 percent of patients receiving treatment using microscopic stents no longer needed to take glaucoma medication after 12 months.


“Every doctor will have specific preferences for when patients can go back to regular activities,” notes Dr. Saheb, “but on average, the recovery time for MIGS is approximately 10 to 15 percent of that associated with more invasive procedures.”


MIGS is already improving the lives of Canadians, but it is not yet an option for every Canadian suffering with glaucoma. In fact, the rollout of this new technology has been somewhat uneven, with local availability often depending on a number of factors beyond the patient’s control.


“While MIGS is available in most provinces across the country it is mostly limited to glaucoma specialists and the biggest challenge to access remains the budgets allocated by individual hospitals,” says Dr. Saheb. “The scientific backing for the technology is there absolutely, but public funding to support the purchase and operation of the devices is lagging behind.”


As the scientific literature in support of MIGS continues to grow, there is hope that with increased awareness, and ultimately funding, MIGS can be used not only to improve the vision of tens of thousands of Canadians suffering with glaucoma, but also to reduce pressures on multiple aspects of our healthcare system.



National Newsletter May 2017

May 02 2017



CCB Receives Helen Keller Fellowship Award++:


The CCB is humbled to have receive the Helen Keller Fellowship Award, presented by the Lions, for the hard work, dedication and progress CCB has made in improving the quality of life and vision care for Canadians.


The award states that “The CCB, who through untiring service, have given light in the darkness, warmth in the cold, compassion in the hurt, and humanity in the suffering to their fellow beings. They live their creed “service to others”


“The only lightless dark is the night of darkness in ignorance and insensibility.”-Helen Keller


Unveiling of Commemorative Bank Note Marking the 150th Anniversary of Canada++:


On April 7th, the Bank of Canada unveiled the design of the commemorative $10.00 bank note that will begin circulating June 1st, 2017 to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation. I was honoured to be one of the few Canadians to attend the event and I was proud that CCB had the opportunity to provide input on the accessibility features. CNIB was also represented.


The Canada 150 bank note celebrates Confederation with a unique design depicting our history, land and culture.


Accessibility: This commemorative note will have the same suite of accessibility features as current polymer notes – with enhancements. It will be recognized by touch (tactile features), sight (large numerals) or electronic signal (bank note reader). There also is a new bank note reader available; therefore, interested persons should contact CNIB to order one. An enhancement has been made to optimize the colour contrast of the large numeral to help partially sighted individuals determine the denomination of the note with confidence.


Blind and partially sighted Canadians who use the latest model of the bank note reader (since 2014) will need to install a software adaption for the device to recognize the Canada 150 note. As soon as this adaption becomes available, information on how to download it will be broadly communicated. The previous model reader is still in use and will determine the denomination of the commemorative note. No adaption is required.


For Canadians who are blind or with low vision, there will be another discernible difference in the touch of the current and the commemorative $10. Notes. On the commemorative note, raised ink can be felt on both sides of the note. Current polymer series notes have raised ink only on the portrait side of the notes.


Information and described videos on the Canada 150 note are available on the Bank of Canada’s website:


At this event I was able to meet with Governor Stephen Poloz of the Bank of Canada who thanked our organization for the input for the accessibility features. Also, I was honoured to have the opportunity to speak with the daughter of James Gladstone. Akay-na-muka (his Blackfoot name) became the first senator of First Nations origin in 1958. We talked about the newest Senator – Dan Christmas who comes from a First Nation community nearby my home.


At the reception I was able to meet with an artist, a designer and many of the staff involved with the note. All were very interested in our work as part of the blind community on the accessibility features.


Watch for the $10 note after June 1st. It is a limited edition. The next replacement will come out in fall of 2018 with Viola Desmond on it.

Submitted by Louise Gillis, CCB National President




BC-Yukon Division President Ann McNabb has been awarded the 2017 BC Community Achievement Award for her generosity, dedication and commitment to the CCB for the past 23 years and the 52 years with the Girl Guides of Canada.

The following is an excerpt from the March 31st government press release:


“The Girl Guides of Canada have been at the core of Ann McNabb’s life since she first began her 52-year journey with them at eight years old. Her commitment embodies the organization’s goal to make a positive difference in the life of every girl and woman so she can contribute responsibly to her community. Moving through its ranks as both a Brownie and Guide leader, Ann now serves as the District Commissioner for Chilliwack District Girl Guides with 150 girl and adult members under her guidance. In addition to this commitment to the Girl Guides, Ann is engaged in the executive of the Canadian Council of the Blind’s Chilliwack chapter, along with two advocacy roles with other organizations for vision impaired and blind persons.”


The ceremony for this award is scheduled for the same day as the Division AGM and as a result of her deep dedication to the CCB, Ann has postponed the acceptance of this award.


As you are aware, Canada is having a big celebration for its 150th birthday and since the Order of Canada also is celebrating its 50th year, the Governor General of Canada decided that a distinct recognition celebration was in order. His Excellency appointed a committee to select 50 of the over six thousand former Order of Canada recipients that they felt were suitable for this commemorative edition.


Geraldine Braak, BC-Yukon Division 1st Vice-President, is one of those chosen few to be entered into this book and will receive a copy in a specially designed clam shell box. This prestigious gift will also be given to dignitaries’, royals and other visitors to Canada from around the world.


Congratulations to Ann & Gerry!



Accessible Voting During Upcoming BC Provincial Election on May 9, 2017++:


Braille Candidate Lists at Polling Stations:

If you are a braille user and would like to vote independently during the BC Provincial Election to be held on May 9, 2017, there will be a list of candidates at your polling station in uncontracted braille. Each candidate on the list has a number. When you have chosen the number of the candidate you wish to vote for, ensure that your ballot is placed correctly in the accessible template. When you find the number on the template corresponding to your choice, find the circle beside the number. This is where you will mark your x with the pencil provided. Press firmly with the pencil and make two diagonal lines from top left of the circle to bottom right and from top right to bottom left. This will make an x.


Once you have finished voting, remove your ballot from the template, fold it and place it in the ballot box. Using the Braille Candidates lists allows you to vote completely independently. Sometimes the workers at the polling stations do not remember or know that the list is available, so insist that they find it and don’t acquiesce and let someone read it to you. I believe that there are large print lists as well. You can vote at the advanced polls or on Election Day.

Happy voting.

By Albert Ruel, Coordinator, GGT West



Accessibility Act to Make Province More Accessible++:


Nova Scotia has set a goal to be accessible by 2030 under the Accessibility Act, passed April 27.


Nova Scotia is only the third province in Canada to pass accessibility legislation. The passage of Bill 59 will start the process of removing barriers for persons with disabilities.


“We are proud to have worked with people with disabilities and business to take this historic step toward an accessible Nova Scotia,” said Justice Minister Diana Whalen. “This act commits us to a timeline to make the province an accessible place to live, work, learn and play.”


Under the act, government will work with persons with disabilities, and the public and private sectors to create six standards for an accessible Nova Scotia. The standards will be in the areas of goods and services, information and communication, public transportation and transportation infrastructure, employment, education, and the built environment which includes buildings, rights-of-way and outdoor spaces.


The legislation puts in place a new Accessibility Advisory Board. The majority of the board’s members will be persons with disabilities. A new accessibility directorate will be responsible for supporting accessibility initiatives and advancing broader disability-related issues.


While public awareness and support will be essential in encouraging compliance with the standards the act allows for penalties and, for the most serious cases, fines up to $250,000.


“We’re very pleased with the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act and commend the government for its leadership,” said Gerry Post, from the Bill 59 Alliance. “The collaborative approach taken in drafting the act has established a wonderful climate for communal partnerships, including the business community, to implement the legislation. We also thank the opposition parties for giving the government the space to engage key stakeholders and for supporting this act.”


Bill 59 was amended after witnesses appeared at the law amendments committee and staff consulted with representatives of persons with disabilities.


Government also invested $1.8 million in the 2017-18 budget to increase provincial ACCESS-Ability grants for community buildings and to launch a new grant program for small businesses to become more accessible.


A copy of the Accessibility Act can be found at

Accessible versions of government information related to disability in Nova Scotia are available at



Walk On!++:


CCB London, Ontario members Len Fluhrer and Tayler McBride are attempting 3 fundraising walks this year, totaling near 15 K in all, 3 separate 5 K walks. The Alzheimer’s walk is in memory of my Grandmother Edna Fluhrer and Tayler’s “Oma” Johanna Van Lierop. Tayler’s going to try and do all three completely on her own with her white cane. The second one will be the Independent Living Centre Walk in Greenway Park and finally, later in the season the Kidney Foundation Walk at Gibbon’s Park.

If you are interested in supporting them, please see their contact info below:

Leonard G. Fluhrer:

Tayler McBride:

Submitted by Len Fluhrer, CCB London Chapter


In the News

OC Transpo takes bus announcements outside++:


Ottawa-On April 23rd, OC Transpo launched improvements to its next stop announcement system. Exterior bus announcements, which audibly announce the route and destination of the arriving bus, can now be heard by customers waiting at all bus stops and transit stations.


Some customers are unable to see or read the visual destination sign of an approaching bus – particularly, customers who are blind or who have vision loss. This affects their ability to identify the bus, and to use transit independently and safely. Exterior bus announcements will assist all customers in confirming they are boarding the correct vehicle, especially at stops and platforms served by multiple routes.


Generated from a speaker located outside the front door of the bus, this technology will automatically announce, in both official languages, the same information that can be seen on the exterior destination sign of the bus. When the operator opens the door, the bus will make the announcement – for example, “Route 95 Baseline, Circuit 95 Baseline.”


Announcement volumes have been set to be only a few decibels above the ambient or surrounding street-level noise at the stops. They are intended to be heard by those waiting at the stop. The volume of the exterior bus announcements will also vary depending on the time of day – getting quieter from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.


The implementation of OC Transpo’s new exterior bus announcements has been guided by feedback from an eight-member community working group, composed of residents and stakeholders with an interest in the provision of a more accessible transit service. This group helped to initiate the project, provided OC Transpo staff with an enhanced understanding of the unique challenges faced by some customers, and assisted in the development of the announcement content and sounds. The community working group included representatives of the City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians, and Women’s Initiatives for Safer Environments.



Class action over alleged abuse at Ontario school for the blind ends in $8-million settlement++:


A class-action lawsuit involving allegations of physical, emotional and sexual abuse at an Ontario boarding school for the blind has been settled out of court.


Lawyers representing the plaintiffs say the $8-million settlement with the province – reached one day before the case was to go to trial earlier this week – must still be approved by courts. A hearing date is tentatively set for June.


The class action included former students of the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind in Brantford, Ont. The defendant was not the school itself or any individual staff members, but rather the government of Ontario, which was responsible for overseeing the school.


Allegations contained in the statement of claim contended students attending the school from the early 1950s to the late 2000s were subjected to psychological degradation, physical violence and sexual abuse.


The suit also alleged some staff were improperly trained for their jobs and the school failed to conduct regular criminal or reference checks on employees.


A former student who became the lead plaintiff in the class-action suit said he welcomed the settlement and hoped it would bring an end to a painful chapter for all concerned.


“I’m pleased that we didn’t have to go to trial on this one,” said Robert Seed, who attended the school from 1954 to 1965. “I think all parties concerned, they were pretty level-headed about it and wanted to make sure that the people that are in the lawsuit were taken care of.”


Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General issued a statement outlining the general terms of the settlement, but declined further comment as the deal is still subject to court approval.


  1. Ross Macdonald referred all questions to the Ministry of Education, which did not respond to a request for comment.


The class-action suit, which was certified by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2012, covered students who attended W. Ross Macdonald between Jan 1, 1951 and May 4, 2012. A family class also covered close relatives of students who went to the school from March 31, 1978 to May 4, 2012.


The statement of claim in the case contained allegations of widespread physical, emotional and sexual abuse spanning at least six decades. It alleged the Ontario government, as ultimate overseer of the school, failed to protect a particularly vulnerable population from harm.


“Throughout the class period, the residence counsellors, teachers and administrators at Ross MacDonald treated the students with contempt, prejudice and indifference,” the statement of claim alleged. “They engaged in abusive conduct, often taking advantage of the visual disabilities of students.”


Students were routinely punished for minor matters such as feeling homesick, struggling with their reading skills or using too much toilet paper, the statement of claim alleged.


The suit claimed staff members from teachers to school aids often resorted to violence, such as forcing students to drink from urinals and jumping on the backs of those as young as six years old.


The statement of claim also alleged staff played upon the visual impairments of students, sneaking up on them during private conversations and spinning students around to deliberately disorient them.


Seed, for his part, alleged he was the target of unwanted sexual advances by a residence counsellor working at the school some time during his 11-year tenure.


He also alleged witnessing another teacher striking students, throwing objects at them and making belittling remarks that eroded their confidence.


Tom Dekker, a former student who had been scheduled to testify at the trial that was averted by the settlement, said he believes W. Ross Macdonald has undergone significant reforms in recent years and offers a valuable resource to blind students from across the country.


He said he views the settlement as an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and welcomes it on those terms.


“I think I’d be a lot better off in life if certain things hadn’t happened to me at that place,” he said from Victoria, B.C. “So this is just kind of compensation to give me some kind of resources to catch up on things I missed out on.”


Seed agreed, saying the suit was not meant to tarnish the school’s reputation, but rather to seek justice for people who continue to feel the effects of their time there to this day.


He likened their situation to other more high-profile instances of alleged abuse in residential school facilities.

“In a lot of cases we were measured up against the residential school abuse that the indigenous people suffered,” he said. “I attended the hearings in Thunder Bay, Ont., and the stories that I heard were much the same as W. Ross Macdonald.”

By Michelle Mcquigge. The Canadian Press, April 8, 2017.


To Become a Better Cook, Sharpen Your Senses!++:


Kate McDermott describes it as “the sizzle-whump.”

It’s the sound a pie makes when it’s perfectly baked, said Ms. McDermott, the author of “Art of the Pie.”

The “sizzle” is the sound of hot butter cooking the flour in the crust, melding it into a crisp, golden lid. The “whump” is the sound of the thickened filling bumping against the top crust as it bubbles at a steady pace.

“I call it the heartbeat of the pie,” she said.


Ms. McDermott, who is 63 and lives in Port Angeles, Washington, US, leads intensive baking seminars across the United States. But before she became a pie coach, she was a professional musician. “I experience the world primarily through sound,” she said. “I’ve been listening to pies since I started baking them.”


Any experienced cook knows that there is much more to cooking than just taste. There is touch (tapping the top of a pie to make sure it is completely firm), smell (inhaling the changing scents of the crust as it bakes), sound (listening to its heartbeat) and sight (watching for the juices to turn thick).

Learn to use all five senses in the kitchen and you’ll become a better cook- especially if you sharpen the ones that are less associated with cooking: hearing, touch and smell.


Cooks with visual impairments, who cannot see the golden brown of a pie crust or the shine of perfectly scrambled eggs, know this better than anyone. The cook and writer Christine Ha, 37, said that touch has become her primary guide in the kitchen since she began losing her sight soon after starting college.

“It’s like my fingertips have become my eyes,” she said. “I can learn so much more by touch than I would have thought.”


Ms. Ha, who lives in Houston, learned to cook only after she could no longer see. Like about 90 percent of visually impaired people, she is not completely blind: She can see some light and color, and describes her view of the world as “like looking into a steamy mirror.” All the more impressive, then, that in 2012 she won the third season of the frenetic television cooking competition “MasterChef.”

She started cooking with her late mother’s deep-fried spring rolls, reverse-engineering them through touch and hearing as well as taste and smell. Her fingers test the pliability of the wrappers; she listens for the sound the bubbling oil makes when she throws in a bit of filling to test its heat; she taps the frying rolls with tongs to test whether the shells are crisp and blistered.


David Linden, a neurobiologist at Johns Hopkins University and the author of the book “Touch,” confirmed that the fingertips become more sensitive in people who are blind from birth and in those who learn to read Braille.

“Hearing and touch become more acute in the absence of sight,” he said. The part of the brain dedicated to gathering information from the eyes actually shrinks in size, while the parts that receive signals from the ears and touch-sensitive nerve endings grow larger.


Dr. Linden said, however, there is no comparable adaptation for people who lose their ability to taste and smell, a condition called anosmia. “People who become anosmic are much more likely to stop cooking and eating than people who become deaf or blind,” he said; anosmics are also at much greater risk for depression and suicide. “The shared experience of food seems to be one of the things that makes us human.”


Kate Crohan, who teaches cooking at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass., said that culinary education for the blind often relies on heating prepared foods in microwaves – a safe and practical option, but one that eliminates much of the sensory experience. Ms. Crohan, 68, has been blind since birth, but she took over the family kitchen when she was 11, after her mother’s death, cooking for her father and five siblings. She has been cooking without sight for so long that she is entirely comfortable around sharp knives, boiling water and raw ingredients.


“An organized kitchen is more than half the battle,” said Ms. Crohan, who has memorized the location and shape of key ingredients like baking soda, flour and onions. “I don’t waste a lot of time finding things.”


These workarounds can be useful to any cook. Many of the important cues in any kitchen have nothing to do with sight or taste: distinguishing the sound of a boil versus a simmer; knowing the feel of a rare steak versus a medium-well one; biting into pasta as it cooks to catch the brief, perfect moment between chewy and soft.


For most of human history, children learned those cues simply by being near the stove. But today, unless they spend a lot of time in a kitchen, their sensory cooking skills may be limited to listening for the moment when the microwave popcorn stops popping. Those children grow up to be cooks who focus on reading and rereading recipes, often at the expense of paying attention to the stove.


But recipes are inherently limited when it comes to sensory information. An instruction like “simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, until thickened” can produce endlessly different results. The recipe doesn’t know what your stove considers “low” heat. It doesn’t know what your pan is made of. It doesn’t know what “thickened” looks like to you.

That’s why the best cooks learn to work not just with their minds and their taste buds, but also with all their senses.


The cooking teacher James Peterson uses a chicken breast to teach students how to feel for doneness, because it has thick and thin areas. “As it cooks in the skillet, keep your fingers moving from the thin part to the thick,” he said. “You’ll be able to feel how the heat gradually moves through the meat.”

Edna Lewis, the doyenne of American Southern cooking, taught that listening to a cake is the best way to know when it’s done. A cake that is still baking makes little bubbling and ticking sounds, but a finished cake goes quiet.

The chef Justin Smillie of Upland in Manhattan built the short rib dish that made him famous by seeking not a certain flavor, but a certain mouthfeel. “I knew how to get the flavor where I wanted it,” he said. “But the texture was the challenge.”

Like any chef, he knew how to braise a collagen-rich cut of meat to make it meltingly tender and umami-rich. But he wanted more: the crust of a steak and, for good measure, the juiciness of prime rib. Eventually, by steaming the meat in big pieces and applying a coat of cracked peppercorns, he reached his goal. (According to Dr. Linden, this quest makes sense: The most universally liked mouthfeel across human cultures is a crispy crust around a soft interior, like Middle Eastern falafel, Japanese tempura, Italian arancini, Indian samosas and French fries.)


In Mr. Smillie’s thrice-roasted chicken recipe (cooked first on the stovetop, then in the oven, then back to the stove to be basted in butter), all three steps move the dish toward a particular mouthfeel as well as flavor. Well before the cooking begins, the chicken is brined (for juicy flesh), then air-dried in the refrigerator (for crisp skin). All along the way, Mr. Smillie is touching, listening, sniffing, prodding: paying attention to all the cues that make the dish transcend the category of “roast chicken.”


“Sensory cooking is the opposite of technique,” Mr. Smillie said. “The formulas you learn in culinary school won’t make you a chef, but cooking with all your senses will.”


A multisensory approach to food is not only practical, but also all the rage. Ever since the chef Heston Blumenthal put headphones on his guests so they could listen to his dish Sound of the Sea while they ate it, and Grant Achatz served a deep breath of lavender-scented air at Alinea (it arrived at the table trapped in a pillow), chefs have been trying to create dishes that challenge our assumptions about how we experience food.


The most recent multisensory development is the connection between food and autonomous sensory meridian response, or A.S.M.R. A newly defined sensory state, A.S.M.R. is a kind of pleasurable shivering or tingling that spreads along the scalp, upper back and shoulders in response to soothing repetitive sounds. Originally, these included soft whispering, pages turning or having one’s hair brushed.

Now, A.S.M.R. devotees have discovered food. Video series like Silently Cooking and Peaceful Cuisine have no talking, no music, nothing to distract from the sounds of cooking: the rasp of a knife shaving chocolate, the rhythmic scrape of a whisk whipping egg whites, the glug-glug of olive oil pouring into a pan. Even eating sounds have A.S.M.R. devotees, especially if it involves chewing candy and whispering at the same time.


A.S.M.R. may provide a pleasurable new way for Ms. McDermott to experience pie. She learned that she had celiac disease in 2006 and can no longer eat most of the pies she teaches others to make (though she has devised a gluten-free crust recipe). When a particularly beautiful specimen comes out of the oven, she said she appreciated it nonetheless.

“It doesn’t matter if I can’t eat this pie,” she said. “I can see it, I can smell it, I can touch it. The only sense I can’t have for it is taste.”


Blind Windsor woman denied help filling out passport documentation++:


An Ontario woman says the federal government is letting down residents with disabilities by forbidding staff at Passport Canada from helping applicants fill out their forms.


Rebecca Blaevoet of Windsor, Ont., says she learned of the policy last month when she went to have her passport renewed.


Blaevoet, who is completely blind, asked Passport Canada staff to fill out her form according to the responses she provided, but they refused, saying that would violate official guidelines.


Staff offered her a braille form, which would only have allowed her to read the application rather than complete it. Passport Canada quickly had to retract the offer upon realizing they did not have any braille forms in stock.


Another staff member asked Blaevoet’s husband if he could fill out the forms for her, but that question offended her even further.


“That’s a reasonable question, but it’s really wrong on several levels,” she said about the principle of not having the services available for blind citizens who might not be fortunate enough to have someone there with them.

“It was my issue, I had to handle it. My husband might not have even been there.”


In the end, Blaevoet says she was asked to handwrite the form as a staff member placed a writing guide – an aid to show her where to write – on each individual line. Blaevoet said this option would not be helpful for people whose disabilities prevented them from holding a pen or writing in print.


Passport Canada says the rule barring staff from filling in forms on behalf of others is applied across the country. There is no exemption in place for Canadians with disabilities.


Blaevoet, who has filed an official complaint about her experience with Passport Canada, said the policy represents a complete failure to accommodate those with disabilities.


“There is no excuse for such ethical laxity in providing decent services for all Canadians, regardless of disability, race, ethnic origin, whatever,” she said in an interview. “I just think it’s reprehensible that they have such a gap.”


The incident occurred March 22 when Blaevoet and her husband went to renew their passports. Unaware of the existing policy, Blaevoet said she thought having a Passport Canada employee complete the one-page, double-sided form would be the most efficient way of processing her application.


Upon arrival, however, a clerk informed her he could not fulfill her request, saying doing so was “not his job,” Blaevoet recalled.


She then asked to speak to a supervisor, who said Passport Canada staff could not complete the form for fear of “leading the applicant” to provide inaccurate answers. When Blaevoet offered to sign a document authorizing staff to assist her, she said no such accommodation could be granted.


Blaevoet was offered a braille form, which would have allowed her to read the application, but would not provide a means of filling in answers. Staff then discovered they had no braille forms in stock.


Blaevoet was ultimately told she could handwrite the form, an option she said she accepted to illustrate what she called the absurdity of the policy.


“I said, ‘fine. I’m going to stand here and handwrite it, it’s going to take me a long time, and good luck to anybody who can read my handwriting. This is outrageous,”‘ she said, adding the majority of visually impaired people do not have sufficient handwriting skills to make use of that option. The same would hold true for those with physical disabilities limiting their movements.


Blaevoet said a staff member placed a handwriting guide on each line of the form to ensure the proper fields were being filled out. To Blaevoet’s surprise, however, the staff member volunteered to take over once they reached the “references” section of the form, willingly filling in fields and even offering to look up addresses online.


During this time, Blaevoet said staff approached her husband asking if he would complete the application on her behalf. He declined on principle, saying it was not appropriate for staff to assume a person accompanying a disabled applicant could be trusted to complete the task.


“He could have been a taxi driver who just helped me find the office and I just paid to wait for me. Or he might have been my husband, but completely dyslexic.”


The government said staff is barred from helping applicants fill out forms as a security measure to protect against forgery.


“Generally, any addition, modification or deletion of information on an application form must be completed by the applicant and initialed,” reads a statement from Service Canada, the agency that oversees the administration of passports.


“Although the policy in place speaks to amendments to the application form and does not reference providing assistance to visually impaired applicants, it is understood that any annotations on the application form should be completed by the applicant themselves, when possible.”


The statement said visually impaired Canadians can designate a friend or family member to complete the form for them.


The Passport Canada site also offers an accessible online form that can be completed in advance. Service Canada said, however, that there are no accessible terminals for those with disabilities at passport offices – meaning those without an Internet connection or appropriate technology would have issues.

Blaevoet noted that in her case, staff at the Passport Canada office did not point her to an online form.


Michael Prince, professor of social policy and disability studies at the University of Victoria, said the proposed solutions are typical of too many customer service experiences across Canada that limit a person’s ability to take independent action on their own affairs.


He said Blaevoet’s case exemplifies the need for federal legislation to ensure accessible customer service standards across all services provided by government, adding the ideal scenario would result in universal access in everything from banks to stores to voting booths.


“Many people with disabilities will find the existing limited set of options demeaning and insulting,” Prince said. “As a country committed to equality and to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we can do much better.”

CBC News