Category: CCB Newsletters

CCB National Newsletter December 2017

Dec 06 2017




President’s Message++

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

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




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


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

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


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



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


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

Louise Gillis, National President


Important Reminder from the Accountant++

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


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


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




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


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


Please visit us at the following links:

Web page:

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

Group email chat:

Youtube:  CCB Health & Fitness

Facebook:  CCB Health & Fitness

Twitter:  @ccb_healthfit

Email Ryan:



CCB Health & Fitness

National Program Manager & Coach




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

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


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


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

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



AMI needs the support of CCB members across Canada++

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


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


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


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


Method 1: CRTC Website

Submit your letter of support via the CRTC website


Method 2: Email AMI

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

Tips on preparing your letter:

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

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


Method 3: Information or Assistance by Phone

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



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



ICEB Apostrophe and Single Quotation Mark Survey++

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours truly,
BLC Board of Directors









Report from the CCB Chatham-Kent Chapter++:

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

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


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


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



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


Support –

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

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


Sports –

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


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


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

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

Or contact

Markus McCracken, Co Chair

519 784-3416

Dave Maxwell, Co Chair

519 674-0141



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

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


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


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


What is the disability tax credit?

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

Applying for the credit is a three step process:

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


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



Report from CCB Pembroke White Cane Club++

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


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


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


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

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


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

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



Congratulations to Gaston Bédard!

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


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

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


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



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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


It was an exciting weekend!


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

You’re Invited!

Get Together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

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

Time: 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

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

First Hour:

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


2nd Hour:

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


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


Curling News++:

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


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


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


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

Thanks for your support!



2018 Edie Mourre Scholarship++

Braille Literacy Canada Launches the 2018 Edie Mourre Scholarship


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


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


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


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


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


Assistive Technology

Blindfold Games Gets a Second Life!++

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


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

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

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


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

By Nelson Régo



5 secret features hiding inside your iPhone++

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


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


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


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

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



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


by Zach Epstein







Dolphin Easy Reader now available for Android Devices++

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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


By Sara Donnelly, Powell River Peak













CCB National Newsletter November 2017

Nov 08 2017




President’s Message++


As we are all aware November is a very important month for Canadians. It is the month that contains Remembrance Day for all the veterans who gave their lives for us. This is where our organization started and therefore it is important to keep that in mind.


I hope that those of us who are able to will attend Remembrance services, that we wear a poppy, and lay a wreath in recognition and thanks for what was given up by these men and women so that Canadians as a whole can live in peace.


I know members are busily working at events and activities in their respective areas as the fall progresses. Our Advocacy Committee is pleased with the results of the work done by all parties so that Nova Scotians’ with print disabilities now have access to CELA. The committee will continue to work along with CELA and others towards the same results in provinces that do not have complete coverage.


I hope you find the articles in this newsletter informative and interesting.


Louise Gillis, National President.




Early Bird Draw Winners++


We would like to congratulate CCB Penticton Chapter and CCB Peterborough Chapter for winning the Early Bird Membership Draw.  These two lucky chapters will receive all of their currently paid membership dues back.  Don’t forget to get your chapters membership in before December 4th to take advantage of the rebate and receive half of your dues back.






Important Reminder from the Accountant++

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


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


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


AMI needs your help!++

*Please Support AMI’s Broadcast Licenses Renewal*


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


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


The deadline to submit letters of support is November 16.


*CRTC website*

If you are comfortable using a screen reader click on the link below to submit your letter of support via the CRTC website.


*Contact us directly*

You can also send your letter directly to * or call 1 800 567 6755. Follow the link below for further instructions.


We welcome your feedback and suggestions.


Please *email* <> us or call 1 866 509 4545.

Thank you for your continued support!



Congratulations! CCB member receives prestigious Magill Award++

One of our very own has received a prestigious award! On Saturday, October 21, Dorothy Macnaughton, an accessibility advocate and volunteer for 30 years, was presented with the Arthur Napier Magill Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her outstanding efforts to enhance the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. As a person with low vision, Dorothy understands how living with a disability impacts daily life and she has worked tirelessly to ensure others with sight loss have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life.


Jim Tokos, CCB National 1st Vice-President, personally called Dorothy to congratulate her on this achievement.


At the event Dorothy received letters of congratulations from Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Honorary Patron of CNIB, and Ron Kruzeniski, Chair, CNIB National Board of Directors.


About the Arthur Napier Magill Distinguished Service Award

In 1976, CNIB established the Arthur Napier Magill Distinguished Service Award as a tribute to Arthur Magill, who dedicated his long and distinguished career to improving the lives of Canadians who are deafblind or living with vision loss. The award represents the organization’s highest public recognition for volunteer services and is given to an individual who is deemed to have made a contribution significantly above and beyond that which is normally seen. It consists of an appropriate memento for display purposes, and a framed citation in a format accessible to the recipient. The award is given to only one deserving recipient annually.


Mike Potvin, Editor of the CCB Newsletter, had a chance to catch up with Dorothy after receiving the award:


“It feels amazing and quite an honour to receive such a prestigious award!”, Dorothy told me when I asked about her experience.


She clearly displayed her class and modesty, however, when she elaborated, telling me:

“That being said, I always felt like I was just doing the work that needed to be done. If I saw that there was a need, and people could benefit from the work I can do, then I would simply do it.”


Dorothy started her involvement with the blind community on a local level, in Sault Ste. Marie, over 30 years ago, where she began advocating for library services for people with print disabilities.


“That’s the work I’m most proud of,” she explained. “Library services and advocacy are my big passions, and I encourage others to get involved.”


Dorothy has been involved with CCB for over 20 years in Sault Ste. Marie, where they have a small chapter, but a very active one. Recently, she has been very active with the GTT program.


“I’m a big champion of the CCB’s GTT program,” explained Dorothy. “Technology is a great way to connect people.”


(I’m very happy to report that Dorothy first learned about the GTT program through the CCB newsletter!)


Wanting to get herself and others more involved with GTT, she came up with the idea for the Northern Ontario conference call.


After setting things up with GTT Coordinator Kim Kilpatrick, the GTT Northern Ontario group has generated great interest and has managed to form new CCB groups, such as the one in North Bay, ON.


Dorothy says that she enjoys the grassroots aspect of CCB, and that she would love to see more blind folks involved with technology and training in the future.


Congratulations to Dorothy and we thank you for all your work over the years!



Trust Your Buddy (TYP) Email Group Conversations-  SUBSCRIBE++


Click on the email link below to subscribe to the new Trust Your Buddy email group chat list!!!



A great and easy way to:

1) Start/Join/Comment on conversations for all things TYB

2) Stay up to date on new events or topics for TYB

3) SUBSCRIBE to the “new very soon” PODCAST feed





Great for those who love quick and easy info through email instead of the Face book and Twitter route.


SUBSCRIBE!!! and you can choose how you receive the emails, get as little or as much info as you want!!!


I’m new to this group format, so be patient please as I learn the software, but this is a safe and secure way to interact!


Welcome!!! And please SHARE this email… all your friends and family can subscribe to stay up to date






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



The CCB Toronto Visionaries visits the Stratford Festival!++


On Friday October 6, the CCB Toronto Visionaries climbed aboard a Great Canadian Coach Lines bus for our annual bus trip; this year, to the Stratford Festival’s production of ‘HMS Pinafore’!


We were greeted at the beautiful Avon theatre, on Stratford Ontario’s historic Downie Street, by Heather Martin, head of group bookings at the Festival.  Heather and her team immediately welcomed us and got us settled in for our delicious ‘picnic’ lunch, orienting us to the theatre, the second floor lounge space where lunch was served and where a ‘Touch Tour’ of costumes and props from the HMS Pinafore production was set up.  We then met Sarah, our live describer for the show, who provided an overview of the production design and a short synopsis of the story.


The Touch Tour was a fantastic opportunity for us to acquaint ourselves with the costumes actually being worn on stage, and to handle some of the props, including bolt-action rifles, wigs and beards (some made from yak’s hair!), hats, boots made especially for the dancers, and much more!  Being able to gain a tactile experience of some of the full costumes, the delicate laces and ornate brocades, the hairstyles and props allowed us to really conjure a rich, full image of what the actors on stage would look like, and the overall style of the production; much of which is not usually accessible to those living with vision loss.  Stratford also produced house programs in Braille for those who required them.


Then it was time to join the regular audience and enjoy the show!  And here again, our experience was enhanced by Sarah’s rich and eloquent live description of the action on stage, delivered via wireless headset, which painted a rich portrait of the sets, design, costumes and action so vital to understanding Gilbert & Sullivan’s hilarious look at love across class divides. The singing was magnificent, the characters memorable, and the story concludes with a hilarious twist and everyone happily married!  Best of all was Stratford Festival’s work to make this great production accessible to all audiences.


Throughout the trip, we were accompanied by Anthony McLachlan and Ted Cooper, the host and producer/videographer from Accessible Media’s ‘AMI This Week’ program, who profiled the Stratford Festival’s work to make the theatre experience more accessible to a wider audience.  The segment will include interviews with several of our members and is set to air on ‘AMI This Week’ (weekend edition) Friday November 10 at 7:30pm.


As we departed, CCB members and their friends were happily humming tunes from the show, remembering the costumes and props from the Touch Tour, and the efforts made by Stratford’s team to make our Chapter feel welcome and included in one of Canada’s cultural institutions.  All together, a great trip full of good food, excellent and inclusive theatre, and another terrific bus trip for the CCB Toronto Visionaries!


Check out what fun and interesting activities are coming up next on the CCB Toronto Visionaries ‘Events & Activities’ page at


Age and low vision are no deterrents to this gentleman++


On March 17th 2017 members of the CCB Sydney chapter gathered with family and friends of Rory Mac Rae to help him celebrate his 90th birthday.


A valued member of the Sydney chapter, Rory was presented with two certificates from the national office by Board member Christina Lewis–One congratulating him on his 90th birthday and the other a certificate of appreciation for his 35 plus years of dedication to the CCB.



Each May he attends the Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend competing in all sports including the races, and yes, he usually wins first or second place!


At the early age of 16, not knowing he had Starlet’s Disease, thinking only that he was clumsy, Rory joined the Merchant Navy and served his country.


A veteran and a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Ashby Branch in Sydney, he leads the Poppy Campaign each year. After the Poppy Campaign, he volunteers with the Salvation Army for their Red Kettle Christmas Campaign.


He is also an active member of the Sydney lions Club. Rory is always first to volunteer for fund raising, public presentations and peer mentoring.


Congratulations again Rory.



Advocacy: Announcement of the next Tele Town Hall Meeting++


Advocacy without Borders, November 18, 2017

On November 18 2017, the Tele Town Hall organizing committee will continue its series of teleconference meetings as it hosts the fourth gathering, and the second of a series of 3 international presentations.


To capture the international focus of these upcoming Tele Town Hall gatherings we have titled the Series, “Advocacy without Borders”.


In November our international focus will be on the United States.


Date and start times across Canada

Date: November 18th, 2017

Times: 10:00 am Pacific, 11:00 am Mountain, noon Central, 1:00 pm Eastern, 2:00 pm Atlantic, 2:30 in Newfoundland.


This meeting will last no longer than two hours.


Moderator: Jane Blaine.


Guest Speakers:

Mitchell Pomerantz

From February 1975, through December 2008, Mitchell Pomerantz was employed by the City of Los Angeles in a variety of human resource and disability-related positions including discrimination complaint investigator, executive recruiter, and training manager. He was the first blind person to be hired in a professional capacity by the City.


Mr. Pomerantz now works as an independent ADA consultant and trainer specializing in programmatic accessibility, Titles I, II and III of the ADA, successful strategies for providing reasonable accommodations, and “real-world” disability awareness.


John panarese

John is the Director of Mac for the Blind. He provides long distance or in person training on all Apple products, including Mac computers, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple Watch. Besides being contracted to work with several state agencies in the United States, he also works with colleges and universities as well, and several private clients.


John brings a bit of a different perspective to our discussion in that he will be representing the opinion of a consumer who is often required to interact and communicate with various State Agencies across the United States both as someone advocating for himself as well as on behalf of others.

He will share with us what it is like to navigate a much bigger system when it comes to a comparison between Canada and the United States.


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:

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 the U.S.A. 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 November 12 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 November 16.


We will be posting additional announcements in the coming days.

We look forward to hearing from you.



Announcing 455 Books from BC Publishers Added to NNELS++


It’s Canadian Library Month! To celebrate, and with the help of the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia (ABPBC), we’ve just released 455 titles in EPUB format.


Our goal with this project is to create reading options and choice for readers who need accessible formats. Most public libraries already offer access to digital content but it is often inaccessible to readers with print disabilities due to problems with the lending platform, digital rights management (DRM), or with the formats and technology themselves.


We wanted to purchase books specifically in EPUB format because they are more accessible than other digital book formats, and because we typically have to do less work to convert them to other formats for readers who request them. Furthermore, the absence of DRM means NNELS users are more likely to have a straightforward reading experience.


We first approached the ABPBC in the spring of 2017 to find out if they would be willing to help us work with BC publishers and coordinate purchasing a batch of eBooks. We are so glad they agreed to help!


With the project complete, we asked Heidi Waechtler, Executive Director at the ABPBC, about her experience with working with us:


It was eye-opening for me personally to learn that less than 5% of published works are available in accessible formats. The Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia is proud to have worked with the BC Libraries Cooperative to help make an additional 455 BC-published titles available to NNELS users. We wanted to do our part to ensure that BC books were better represented in the NNELS collection, so that all readers have easy access to books that reflect their local perspectives and experiences. What’s more, many of our publishers are now highly motivated to examine their print and ebook production processes to take readers with print disabilities into account, and to begin exploring audiobook production. As an association, we’ll hope to support our publishers in exploring best practices through professional development workshops.


These BC eBooks are for children, teens, and adults, and include fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. There are books for deepening our understanding of reality, and books for escaping from it. They join collections from Atlantic Canadian publishers, as well as titles from Alberta publishers. Adding these 455 books to NNELS moves us closer to our goal of Canadians with print disabilities borrowing Canadian books from their local public library, just like everyone else.



Dinner and Auction in PEI++


CCB Prince County Chapter members held their 4th annual dinner and auction, on October 28th in Summerside, PEI. There was a wonderful turn out at this event.   Everyone enjoyed a turkey dinner with all the trimmings and cake for dessert.  We had a large number of items from the community to auction off and it was a great success.  We would like to thank all our fantastic volunteers for pulling this all together.

Submitted by Sandra Poirier





In the News

Program helps blind woman get life on track. Blind People in Charge program receives $20,000 award++


When Heidi Propp was young, she always thought she lived a normal life.


Blind since birth after her optic nerves never formed, Propp relied heavily on her parents for most things. Her parents cooked, did her laundry and drove her around, or she used HandyDart to get from one place to another.


In grade school it never seemed odd, but it wasn’t until she graduated from high school and enrolled at the University of Victoria that Propp slowly began to realize she wasn’t like her peers.


“I did not feel good about it [relying on her parents] at all. I wanted to have a normal life just like everybody else.  That was a really difficult struggle,” said Propp, who grew up in Langford and lived there for more than 20 years.


“Though it wasn’t my parents’ fault, I felt like my dependence on them held me back socially and professionally.”


In an effort to gain back her independence, Propp was of the first participants to enroll in the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind’s blind people in charge program in 2014, which recently won an award. The only one of its kind in Western Canada, the program has served more than 40 blind, deaf-blind and low-vision adults through a non-traditional model of instruction where blind people are the teachers, planners, directors and administrators.


As part of the two-year program, Propp learned skills such as how to cook, travel, do laundry, take B.C. Transit and picked up financial skills that taught her how to take care of herself.


Now, the 39-year-old has moved out on her own for the first time with a roommate who also went through the program – which was an experience she called “the best day of her life.” She takes transit daily and has become passionate about food, cooking everything from soups and salads to desserts and chilis to pastas and focaccia bread.


Propp also works as a web accessibility consultant where she helps businesses and non-profits make their websites easy to use for blind people and people with disabilities such as hearing and motor-impairments. “[The program] was definitely a life-changer. I didn’t really feel like an equal person until I gained those skills,” Propp said. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without the program.”


The centre was recently honoured with a top award called the Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award from ABC Life Literacy Canada. As part of the award, the centre will receive $20,000 for its blind people in charge program. “I was just stunned,” said Elizabeth Lalonde, executive director and founder of the centre on Fort Street. “It just means a lot to us because we worked pretty hard over the last four years getting the centre up and running and slowly growing. [The award] has given us recognition in the community. “Lalonde added the funding will be used to focus on the braille literacy part of the program.

By Kendra Wong


Accessible Technology

About Google Home++


It’s never been easier to enjoy your favourite tunes, podcasts, news, and radio.

Get hands-free help from your Google Assistant. Just start with saying to your smart device, such as your phone,

“Ok Google”


This allows you to do things such as:

– Play dinner party music

– Get the latest news from NPR

– Play the latest episode of ‘This American Life’

– Play CBC Radio One on TuneIn

– Play some boss nova

– Turn it up!

– Give me a beat


Google Home also responds to “Hey Google”. Give it a try.


Bring harmony to your home


Go to your Google Home app to link music services then pick a favourite as your default.


– Spotify

– Google Play Music

– TuneIn


Your Google Home comes with 3 months of Google Play Music for free when you subscribe ($9.99/mo after trial ends). Millions of songs. Ad-free.

Note from the Editor:

Do you enjoy the newsletter? Do you find the articles informative? We’re always looking for interesting stories from your community! Please pass them along to



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.