Category: CCB Newsletters

National Newsletter April 2016

Apr 04 2016


CCB National Newsletter
April 2016
++CCB Atlantic Sports Weekend: The 39th Annual Atlantic Sports Weekend will be held from May 20 till May 22, 2016 and is based at the Ramada Inn, 240 Brownlow Ave., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

This is an excellent opportunity to renew old friendships and make new ones while participating in friendly competitions and social events.

The activities include a talent show, meet-and-greet, bowling, track and field, swimming, a dance, table bowling, darts, cribbage, and more. The weekend concludes with an Awards Banquet costing only $20.00 per person.

For further information, please contact Brenda Green at 902-406-6874, or e-mail

++CNIB Lake Joseph Centre Young Adult Week – July 24th through July 30th, 2016: This program is intended for young adults who would like to meet, mix and mingle with their peers. It is geared towards youth who are transitioning from youth and family programs to adult programs. Guests experience a combination of structured and elective programming.
For further information please contact:
Jacqueline Harrison, Manager
CNIB Lake Joseph Centre
705 375 2630 x 5505
1 877 748 4028 x 5505
705 375 2323

++Ontario Vision Impaired Golfers Invite
OVIG is hosting a three day invitational golf tournament in conjunction with its annual provincial.

This event called Ontario Open Blind Golf Championships which we are hosting in August on the 12th to the 14th, 2016 is looking for vision impaired golfers to join us.

If interested please check out our website,, then join the golfers at Hamilton’s Chippewa Golf Course.

All information is on the site or you can contact David Burnett at

++Get Together with Technology (GTT):
The Halifax based Access & Awareness NS Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind will be holding its second “Get Together With Technology (GTT)” session on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria annex at the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA), 5944 South St., Halifax. This session will again involve exchanging knowledge, tips, general information and ideas regarding any technologies used by us in our daily lives. In particular, this session will focus on the iPhone 6. Bring your device(s) with you and be prepared to learn and to help others learn by exchanging our knowledge and information including information about new and upcoming apps. All are welcome. This session is free!

So that we will know the number of attendees expected, please register by emailing or leave a phone message at 902-422-7758.

See you there!

++Congratulations! On behalf of His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, the CCB Bc-Yukon Division is pleased to inform you that Lori Fry, CCB National 1st Vice-President, has been awarded the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in recognition of her 25 years of service to the Canadian Council of the Blind and her community.

The Presentation of Canadian Honours was held on March 4, 2016 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and was presented by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.

When the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc became Governor General of Canada, he was determined to thank the thousands of caring people who give so much to their fellow citizens—the unsung heroes who volunteer their time, their efforts and a great deal of their lives to helping others, and who ask for nothing in return. In 1995, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award was created.

The award recognizes individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to build a smarter and more caring nation. The award also highlights the fine example set by these volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are so much a part of our Canadian character.

The award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad.

The award’s emblem represents Canadians who selflessly give of their time and energy to others.

The maple leaf symbolizes the people of Canada and their spirit; the heart depicts the open-heartedness of volunteers; and the outstretched hand portrays boundless generosity. The blue and gold colours, which appear on the viceregal flag, indicate the award’s connection with the governor general.

The Caring Canadian Award consists of a certificate and a lapel pin presented to recipients by the governor general or by lieutenant governors, territorial commissioners, mayors or partner organizations.
++New Chapter Welcome!
A warm welcome to our newest chapter: CCB Glenvale Players Theatre Group. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, this chapter of fifteen members is a, “Theatrical group comprising blind, vision impaired, sighted members as well as persons with other disabilities, who share an interest in theater arts.”

++Feedback Request: We are delighted to share with you a new Discussion Paper on what the Canadians with Disabilities Act, promised to Canadians by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, should include. This Discussion Paper draws on experience with accessibility laws in Ontario and Manitoba, and elsewhere around the world. It is built on the 14 principles for the Canadians with Disabilities Act which Barrier-Free Canada has put forward, on Canada’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and any feedback from our supporters.

Below, we set out a summary of this 48-page Discussion Paper. You can download the new Discussion Paper on What the Canadians with Disabilities Act Should Include, in an accessible MS Word document, by visiting:

This Discussion Paper was written by Barrier-Free Canada co-chair David Lepofsky, to help Barrier-Free Canada and others across Canada come up with ideas on what the Canadians with Disabilities Act should include.
We encourage you to:
* Send us your feedback on this Discussion Paper. Do you agree with the ingredients for the Canadians with Disabilities Act that it proposes? Are there other things you think should be included in the Canadians with Disabilities Act?
Send your feedback to us at

Please try to get us your feedback by the end of May 2016. We will use your feedback as Barrier-Free Canada formulates its full brief on what the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act should include, that we will send to all political parties.

* Please widely circulate this Discussion Paper. Send it to friends, family, community organizations, and religious communities in which you are involved. Encourage as many people as possible to send us feedback and ideas. Use it to help build support in the community for a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act.

* Send this Discussion Paper to your Member of Parliament. Talk to your MP about what you would like a strong Canadians with Disabilities Act to include.

Summary of the March 15, 2016 Discussion Paper on What the Canadians with Disabilities Act should Include
By Barrier-Free Canada co-chair David Lepofsky

a) The purpose of the Canadians with Disabilities Act should be to ensure that, as far as Parliament can achieve this, the Federal Government should lead Canada to become fully accessible to people with disabilities by a deadline that the law will set. It should effectively implement the equality rights which the Charter of Rights and the Canada Human Rights Act guarantee to people with disabilities, without their having to battle accessibility barriers one at a time, and one organization at a time, by filing individual human rights complaints or Charter claims.

b) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should ensure that all federally-regulated organizations provide accessible goods, services, facilities and employment.

c) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should put the Government of Canada in charge of leading Canada to full accessibility.

d) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should create an independent Canada Accessibility Commissioner, reporting directly to Parliament, that will lead the Act’s implementation and enforcement.

e) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should establish a clear, broad, inclusive definition of “disability.”

f) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should require the Federal Government to create the mandatory, enforceable accessibility standards that will lead Canada to full accessibility.

g) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should ensure a prompt, effective and open process for developing and reviewing Federal accessibility standards.

h) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should ensure the effective enforcement of the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

i) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should ensure strong centralized action on disability accessibility among Federal Regulatory Agencies.

j) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should ensure that the strongest accessibility law always prevails.

k) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should ensure that public money is never used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate accessibility barriers.

l) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should ensure that no Federal laws authorize or require disability barriers.

m) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should ensure that Federal elections become fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities.

n) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should ensure a fully accessible Federal Government.

o) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should ensure full accessibility of all courts within federal authority.

p) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should mandate a national strategy for expanding international trade in Canadian accessible goods, services and facilities.

q) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should establish initial and interim measures to promote accessibility pending development of Federal accessibility standards.

r) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should ensure that efforts at educating the public on accessibility under the Canadians with Disabilities Act don’t stall or delay needed implementation and enforcement action.

s) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should mandate the Federal Government to assist and encourage Provincial and Territorial Governments to enact comprehensive, detailed accessibility legislation.

t) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should mandate the Federal Government to create national model Accessibility Standards which provinces, territories and other organizations across Canada can use.

u) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should set time lines for Federal Government action on implementing the Canadians with Disabilities Act.

v) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should require periodic Independent Reviews of progress under the Act.

w) The Canadians with Disabilities Act should be meaningful, have teeth, and not be mere window-dressing.

++Books Without Ink: Special Touch Event for Blind and Low-Vision People in Manitoba: On Saturday April 9, please come and learn about the early history of books made by and for blind people. In this special after-hours opening of Books Without Ink, visitors can examine rare and fragile raised-print books from the early Victorian period as well as other artefacts, including a kleidograph and tactile maps. Co-curator Vanessa Warne, a professor at the University of Manitoba, will host this event and discuss artifacts with visitors; an audio guide and braille guide will be available. Artefacts usually exhibited behind glass will be taken out of their cases for visitors to examine by touch.

There is no admission charge. All are welcome. The event will take place in Archives & Special Collections, on the third-floor of the Elizabeth Dafoe library at the University of Manitoba campus. The Archives are accessible by elevator; an accessible washroom is located in the Archives Space. The Archives will open for this event on Saturday April 9 at noon and close again at 3pm. Please stop by to touch and learn more about the history of raised print. No RSVP is needed.

Please note: this interesting exhibit will close permanently at the end of April and loaned artifacts will be returned to schools and museums across North America. If you have any questions, please email Vanessa at or call 204-474-8144 to leave a phone message. Special accommodations can be made for larger groups interested in visiting together.
++World Book and Copyright Day:
Toronto, April 23, 2016: Millions of people, including children and students, are being denied access to books and other printed materials. Less than 10% of published works are made into accessible formats in developed countries. Blind and partially sighted people, especially students, in wealthy countries like the U.S. and in Europe still face unequal barriers when accessing published works. These barriers cause many students to have to wait unacceptably long periods of time for their textbooks, assuming they are able to get the book in an accessible format at all. In developing countries, the situation is even worse as less than 1% of books are ever made into accessible formats. Many students are unable to receive a full education in large part due to the lack of accessible materials. In places like India, the country with the highest number of people who are blind or partially sighted, over half of all children with a visual disability are out of school.

This global lack of accessible published materials is known as the “book famine.” The World Blind Union has worked alongside multiple stakeholders for years to overcome this book famine. These efforts have resulted in an international treaty, the Marrakesh Treaty, which will directly address the book famine in two important ways. Firstly, it will enable “authorized entities,” such as blind persons’ organizations and libraries, to more easily reproduce works into accessible formats (Braille, DAISY, audio, large print, e-books, etc.), for non-profit distribution. Secondly, the Treaty will permit authorized entities to share accessible books and other printed materials across borders with other authorized entities.

The current international system does not allow for cross-border sharing, leading to the needless duplication of books, which uses up already limited resources. However, once the Marrakesh Treaty comes into force, cross-border sharing will be legal, which will help to avoid the duplication of reproduction efforts in different countries. The Treaty will also enable countries with large collections of accessible books to share them with blind and print disabled people in countries with fewer resources. Cross-border sharing is essential for combating the book famine as blind and partially sighted people are among the poorest of the poor, and organizations for the blind often do not have the resources needed to produce enough materials in accessible formats.

Blind and print disabled people want to be able to go to a bookstore or library and pick up and read the new bestseller like everyone else. Blind and partially sighted children want to be able to go to school and to become literate just as much as their sighted peers do. It has been well documented that education is the key to unlocking the future potential of children, enabling them to become gainfully employed as adults and participate effectively as students, parents, coworkers, and citizens in their communities and their families.

Literacy, education, and full participation in society no longer need to be denied to the world’s blind and print disabled, but the Marrakesh Treaty can only start helping end the book famine once it is ratified and implemented. The Treaty and its benefits will only apply to countries that have ratified it, and it will only come into force once it has been ratified by 20 countries. Currently, the Treaty has been ratified by 15 countries, making it possible for the treaty to come into force in 2016, allowing its promise of access to information and literature for all to turn into a reality. The WBU calls for every government to stop denying their blind and print disabled citizens their right to read by ratifying and then effectively implementing the Marrakesh Treaty, ensuring that its original spirit of human rights and equality for all is maintained throughout its implementation.

You can learn more about our Marrakesh Treaty Ratification and Implementation Campaign, what governments can do to help end the book famine, and download a letter that you can use to encourage your government to ratify the Treaty on our Campaign page:

++A Useful resource about filing income taxes: We have been provided some useful information about filing your taxes more independently. Steve Sleigh is the person at Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) working on this, and at the bottom of this posting will be Steve’s contact info. He encourages everyone to contact him to help make filing taxes accessible for people who are blind or have low vision.

What’s new for the 2016 tax-filing season?
Did you know?
There are changes and enhancements to existing services, credits, and amounts for individual taxpayers for the 2016 tax-filing season!

Important facts
• Updated notice of assessment – The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has improved the notice of assessment! The new, simpler format provides the most important information about your assessment on the first page. This is part of the CRA’s effort to improve its correspondence with individuals. Online tax records are as official as a paper record.
• Auto-fill my return – The Auto-fill my return service is now available through some certified tax software. This service allows you to automatically fill in certain parts of your income tax and benefit return. To use the Auto-fill my return service, you must be fully registered for My Account.
• Online mail – Online mail is the fast, easy and secure way to manage your tax correspondence. Get statements such as your notice of assessment online in My Account, instead of in the mail. To register, provide us with an email address on your income tax and benefit return or register directly online at New correspondence, such as benefits statements (summer 2016), will be added this year!
• Disability Tax Credit – This year, Canadians claiming the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) will be able to file their T1 return online regardless of whether or not their Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate has been submitted to the CRA for that tax year.
• MyCRA mobile app – Get your tax information anytime, anywhere, on your mobile device! In October 2015, new features were added to the MyCRA mobile app such as personalized benefit payment information, enhanced tax return status, and Canada child tax benefit application status. Starting February 2016, you will also be able to update your address, manage your online mail with the CRA, and sign up for direct deposit.

The CRA’s online services make filing and managing your taxes easier. The CRA’s online services are fast, easy, and secure. You can use them to help file your income tax and benefit return, make a payment, track the status of your return, register for online mail, apply for child benefits, and more. Access the CRA’s full suite of self-service options—register for My Account at today, and start managing your tax matters online!

Here is the information directly from Steve. Below is an introduction for the newsletter. Below the introduction are instructions for using Auto-fill my return.

An important objective of the Electronic Filing Services Section
(EFSS) is to ensure that Canadians who use assistive technologies have options to file their returns using 3rd party software and CRA’s Net file service. To meet this objective we have been consulting regularly with companies who share their Netfile tax software links on CRA’s web-site as well as organizations dedicated to helping Canadians who are visually impaired or blind. In doing so, we have developed a communication strategy to inform and educate software developers of the needs of persons that use assistive technology, and how they can implement best practices to help meet those needs. We expect that our partners in the software development industry will continue their support on this important initiative.

EFSS continues to reach out and communicate with various organizations such as the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and Alliance for Equality for Blind Canadians (AEBC) to collaborate on communications to persons that use assistive technologies, highlighting the options and features available to them. Additionally, we have provided presentations to these groups with details on the use of Assistive Technology and NETFILE software.

Here are the instructions for Auto-fill my return:
To use Auto-fill my return, you need to:
· Fully be registered for My Account
· Select a use NETFILE-certified software that offers Auto-fill
my return You will be prompted to enter your My Account user ID and password to use the Auto-fill my return service.
· Follow the steps laid out in the software. Once Auto-fill my
return has populated your information, make sure that all the proper fields on the return are filled in and that the information provided is true and accurate.
· File your return as directed.

Submitted by: Steve Sleigh
Senior Projects Officer

In the News
++Toyota Introduces Wearable Device For The Blind: Toyota is exploring its catchphrase, “Let’s Go Places,” from an unexpected angle.

The Japanese automaker has developed a wearable device aimed at assisting the blind and visually impaired. It’s a gadget worn around the shoulders that will help people navigate their surroundings, filling “the gaps left by canes, dogs and basic GPS devices.”

Toyota announced the new initiative, “Project BLAID,” on its blog. According to, the company will begin beta testing the device soon.

“We want to extend the freedom of mobility for all, no matter their circumstance, location or ability,” Toyota North America’s chief administrative officer Simon Nagata said in a statement.

The device will be equipped with cameras to detect the user’s surroundings, as well as speakers and vibration motors that willl relay information.

“It will help users better navigate indoor spaces, such as office buildings and shopping malls, by helping them identify everyday features, including bathrooms, escalators, stairs and doors,” said the blog post.

In a video introducing the device, Toyota said it hopes to eventually add other features, like mapping, facial recognition and object identification to BLAID.

“This has the ability to transform and change people’s lives,” said project engineer Rajiv Daval in the clip.

As Tech Times noted, Toyota wasn’t the first company to announce an initiative of this kind. In November, Microsoft, in collaboration with the British charity Guide Dogs, revealed a souped-up smart headset geared toward helping visually-impaired people navigate their way around cities.
By Dominique Mosbergen, Senior Writer, The Huffington Post

++A Blind Man’s Quest to Backpack the World: From the inception of the human race on planet Earth, intrepid men and women followed their ‘adventure inclinations’ to explore the continents, oceans and outer space.

Some raft, some swim, some climb and some fly. And some sling a heavy backpack onto their shoulders for the ultimate personal quest. Whatever drives each of us, that ‘Spirit of Adventure’ tugs at our heartstrings and plays upon our minds.

Individual human beings create their own quests in the natural world in order to give their lives meaning. But what if you’re totally blind? What do you do? How do you do it?

The fabled Colorado trail winds 486 miles from the mouth of Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango, Colorado. It peaks at 13,271 feet while most of the trail runs above 10,000 feet. The trail encompasses 89,000 feet of vertical climbing.

Blind raconteur, Trevor Thomas, 46, became the first sightless backpacker to complete the arduous trek along the Colorado Trail along with his guide dog, Tennille in 2015. Whether you look at Amelia Earhart or Charles Lindbergh, someone must gather the courage to go “Where no one has gone before.” Once that person breaks through the “impossible” quest, others gain courage to lift themselves toward their highest and best.
Thomas, of Charlotte, N.C, said, “Hiking started off as a way for me to get my own life back. But it has turned into a crusade for independence for blind people.”

As a writer who has packed the Colorado Trail, I can tell you it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s rugged, wild and can be dangerous.
Yet Thomas prepared to succeed. As a blind backpacker, he fell many times.
He failed in 2011 to complete the trek. Later, armed with a GPS system, which monitored his journey, he sent messages to friends and family. He carried a satellite phone for emergencies. His expedition leader created a mile-by-mile instruction guidebook for Thomas to follow with his talking iPhone.

The system warned him about cliffs, lakes, streams and other obstacles.
Along with his high-tech equipment, his guide dog Tennille carried him through countless dangers. Thomas said, “When you take vision away, you have to rely on every other sense—touch, smell, hearing—so in a sense I think I get a more robust, multi-dimensional experience.”

In 2002, Thomas became the first sightless backpacker to complete the 2,175-mile Appalachia Trail. It’s known as the “tunnel of green” because trees dominate the entire trail while leaving trekkers in the woods the whole journey. Later, Thomas finished the 2,654-mile Pacific Coast Trail from Mexico to Canada. To add icing to the cake, he completed the 211-mile John Muir Trail from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney.
Ironically, as he began descending into blindness, his friends gave him a litany of reasons for not doing anything. “Everyone told me about all the things I couldn’t do,” he said.

One of his friends, the first blind man to summit Mt. Everest along with the tallest mountains on all seven continents said, “Thomas pushed the envelope more than anyone else in the category of backpacking.” Not a bad compliment from a man who pushed every category into the “no limits for blind people.”
The Power of Adventure: When coyotes howl outside your tent, that may be adventure. While you’re sweating like a horse in a climb over a 12,000-foot pass, that’s adventure. When howling headwinds press your lips against your teeth, you face a mighty adventure. While pushing through a raging rainstorm, adventure drenches you. But that’s not what makes an adventure.

It is your willingness to struggle through it, to present yourself at the doorstep of Nature. Can any greater joy come from life than living inside the ‘moment’ of an adventure? It may be a fleeting ‘high’, a stranger that changes your life, an animal that delights you or frightens you, a struggle where you triumphed, or even failed, yet you braved the challenge. Those moments present you uncommon experiences that give your life eternal expectation. That’s adventure!” With that in mind, Thomas said, “The reality is, blindness is not the life-ending injury or illness people think it is. I hike to give people hope.”
Thomas does more than that! He offers every person the opportunity to examine his or her life and choose to take that quest higher-along the magnificent Colorado Trail.
Reach Trevor Thomas:
By Frosty Wooldridge

National Newsletter March 2016

Mar 03 2016



++White Cane Week 2016:

The 2016 AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship proved to be a very interesting and competitive event. With seven teams entered this year each team had a bye to take time for team building, pursuing individual interests or just relaxing.


Competition was strong with everyone playing to the best of their ability. Again Ontario teams came out on top but many teams gave them a good run of defence to keep them on their toes. This year the addition of a Consolation Event kept all teams playing longer and more people at the rink to cheer everyone on.


The final results found Team Ontario (Skip Norm Green) winning Gold and becoming the new Team Canada. Congratulations, Team Canada!


Silver was awarded to the previous Team Canada (Skip Bill Watson) and Bronze went to Team Saskatchewan (Skip Natasha Achter).


Natasha, who first came to this event 10 years ago at the tender age of 13, also received the Most Improved Player Award.


All these games were nail biters right down to the last rock, as was the Consolation Event game between NL and NS with Newfoundland/Labrador winning in the last end.


Over the past nine years I have seen all teams improving their games so much that any curler can take on many top sighted curlers and really do well – watch out Scotties and Brier curlers!


This year the officials choose the All Star Team through the round robin portion of the event on the individual’s performance.


The 2016 All Star Team is:

Lead:        Bill Royle   (NL)

Second:    Jennifer Morland   (MB)

Third:        Fraser Hiltz   (SK)

Skip:                  Maurice Colbert   (NL)

Sweeper: Rob Camozzi   (BC)

Guide:       Gloria Anderson   (NS)

Coach:      Mary Malcolmson   (CAN)


Also this year a new award was presented in memory of Rose Barber (last year’s Team Alberta) known as the Rose Barber Memorial Award for most inspirational lead. The winner was Joyce Wells who is indeed an inspiration to Team Nova Scotia and all the other curlers. She is always giving us encouragement to make our shot, hold and pass our gear, and to call us to sweep by listening to the sound of the rock to determine speed.


The Michael Hayes Sportsmanship Award was received by Jennifer Morland from Team Manitoba. Jenn made a point of spending time with each team to learn their names and ways to remember them.


Special mention should be made of these individuals who stepped up and filled in on multiple teams for other players who were sick or injured: Rob Camozzi, BC (for Team MB); Bernard Bessette, NS for (Team SK); Norm Green, ON (for SK); Carrie Speers, ON (for SK); and Michael Hunsley (Ottawa) who filled in for Team CAN, MB and multiple times for SK. These people truly embody the meaning of “Good Sports” and a special award was created for them.


The 2016 President’s Award was received by Dalal Abou-Eid on behalf of the Ottawa Curling Club for their great support over the past 12 years. The staff and volunteers of OCC have never really looked at our disability, they saw only our ability and helped us to expand that through the great sport of curling.


Most importantly I wish to thank our sponsors and donors for their ongoing support. With this support we are able to compete at both the grassroots level as well as the national level.


Last, but definitely not least, I cannot say enough about the care, teaching, support, time and everything else that all of our guides and coaches provide year round. They are highly respected, loved, and admired for their true dedication to bringing us to this level. Please accept a big hug and thank you from all our teams. We could not survive without you.


Louise Gillis, Skip, Team NS

National President


++Conference Call for Ontario Division: The Ontario Division of CCB is inviting all its chapters to have a representative join an informative conference call on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 7:30pm.

The number for the conference call is

1-866-351-5099 and the conference code is 414.


++Get Together With Technology (GTT):

GTT is coming to Grande Prairie, Alberta!

Agenda for the First Grande Prairie GTT Meeting:

Location: CNIB Office, Grande Prairie, 229-9804 100 Ave

Time: Friday, March 4, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Theme: Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod – can blind and low vision people benefit from these amazing touch screen devices and dictation apps?



  • How to use Siri to open apps.
  • How to use Siri for making phone calls, texting and emailing.
  • Learn how to dictate or issue voice commands with Siri.
  • Other useful apps, accessories, and resources for blind and partially sighted.


Who Should Attend?

  • Any blind or low vision person, regardless of age, who is interested in learning about the features built-in to Apple iPhone, iPod, or IPad.
  • Existing users of Apple devices who have questions or want to share your experience.
  • Anyone interested in contributing to the future of the Grande Prairie GTT group by sharing ideas for future meetings to discuss other blind or low vision assistive devices.


For more information contact Nikita Phillips:


Phone: 1-780-832-3535


++Vancouver GTT is expanding to Saturdays!:

Sponsored by the Canadian Council of the Blind in partnership with Blind Beginnings.


The Vancouver GTT program has been running successfully on the 3rd Wednesday of the month since August 2015 and will continue to do so.

The next daytime meeting is scheduled for Wednesday March 16 from 10:00 am to noon and the topic is Windows 10.


Based on requests from several individuals, we are launching a 2nd GTT Vancouver group to be held the first Saturday of the month from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. The first Saturday meeting will take place on March 5 and the topic will be the IPhone/IPad/IPod.


Both meetings will take place at the Blind Beginnings office in New Westminster – 227 6th St.

Transit Directions: Catch the 106 from New Westminster Skytrain Station and get off at 3rd Ave. and 6th St. If you would like to be met at the bus stop for the short walk into the office, call 604-434-7243.


Theme for Saturday March 5: Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod – how people with low vision benefit from these amazing touch screen devices?


You can expect to learn:

  • How to use the touch screen to read information and navigate apps.
  • Basic tasks such as making phone calls, texting, emailing.
  • How to type on the screen or issue voice commands.
  • Useful apps, accessories, and resources for people who are blind and partially sighted.


Who Should Attend?

  • Anybody who is interested in learning about the accessibility features built-in to Apple iPhone, iPod, or IPad.
  • Existing users of Apple devices who have questions or want to share your experience.
  • Anyone interested in contributing to the future of the Vancouver GTT group by sharing ideas for future meetings to discuss other blind or low vision assistive devices.


Important Reminder: Please bring your technology with you to the meeting so you can get hands on help with your tech questions.


For more information contact:

Shawn Marsolais                      Albert Ruel

604-434-7243                           250-240-2343

++A Warm Welcome to the Newest CCB Chapters!

CCB is very pleased to welcome five new chapters this month:


CCB Dragon Boat Toronto Chapter, ON

CCB Lewisporte & Area Chapter, NL

CCB Lower Mainland Chapter, BC

CCB Thunder Bay & District Chapter, ON

CCB Trust Your Buddy Chapter, ON


++CCB Toronto’s White Cane Week Recreation & Leisure Expo an enormous success!

On Saturday, February 6, 2016, the CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter, in collaboration with CNIB Toronto Region, hosted the 2016 WCW Recreation & Leisure Expo, an exposition of the clubs and organizations offering access to sport, recreation and leisure activities to the vision loss community in Toronto. With more than 21 exhibitors, representing a huge variety of activities – from Glenvale Players theatre group to Curling, from sculpture classes to Dragon Boating – the Expo drew over 200 people, their families and friends, from across the vision loss community.

Many attendees expressed surprise at the number and diversity of recreational options available to them, and exhibitors had the opportunity to answer questions, encouraging attendees to come out and try something new. Equally important was the opportunity for Exhibitors to share information and feel the enthusiasm in the room, seeing their passion reflected in the faces of those who attended the Expo.


CCB’s National President, Louise Gillis was on hand to officially open the Expo, and meet the exhibitors. Louise even spent some time staffing the CCB table, personally greeting many of the Expo’s attendees.


Immediately following the Expo, the CCB Toronto Visionaries hosted a ‘Community Social’, a chance to celebrate our passion and diversity as a community. Plenty of food and a cash bar were enjoyed by all, and over $1000 in donated door prizes were awarded.


During the Social, Len Baker, CNIB’s Regional Vice-President and Executive Director, Ontario, offered a brief speech on what he sees as the mutually supportive relationship between the CCB and the CNIB, expressing a desire to strengthen and encourage this relationship.


Our thanks to Accessible Media Inc for sponsorship support, AMI and CNIB for helping us promote the event, and to the CNIB for use of the CNIB Centre’s conference facilities. A huge vote of thanks, as well, to the many volunteers who helped with everything from planning and organization, food preparation and delivery, staffing the floor as greeters, guides, front of house, coat check, etc. And of course, an enormous thank you to the CCB Toronto Visionaries Executive for their hard work to make the 2016 WCW Recreation & Leisure Expo such a huge success!


Coming up in April, our Chapter will be hosting an evening of music featuring the Jack Geldblum Quartet in a show called “Growing Up Television”, a showcase of themes from television shows and commercials. And in June, we’ll be hosting our 3rd annual fundraising 5km Walk-a-thon along the beautiful Beaches Boardwalk, followed by a BBQ. So come out and join us!


++The OrCam—Unraveled:

From time to time an item would catch my fancy in a newspaper or magazine, or in later years some remote website dealing with an item that in some way is meant to help the blind and/or visually impaired.      It is only on closer inspection that one discovers that the device currently in question is one under development-­ in other words, a work in progress. It is always interesting, therefore, to follow the progress of such things and indeed see just what does develop. The latest item of this sort that I have come across is now the ‘new kid on the block’ so to speak, the OrCam.


This device, developed in Israel and now manufactured in the United States, actually derived in part from some further research related to the coming phenomenon of ‘driverless cars’. For some years now we have had access to various methods of reading print: through the use of a scanner with translating software, and with one method or another using a camera to present us with the print format. All of these assistive devices began in rather primitive fashion, for instance, synthetic speech improved from its monotonal beginnings to its near human-like sounds of today; OCR software that once made thirty or more mistakes in translating a page of print now often goes through a few pages flawlessly. Much of this improvement can be traced to controlled lighting conditions.


Many of the mistakes that some of the devices we are now using make are the result of lighting conditions not always controllable by the user. This is where the OrCam comes in. The breakthrough here is that it will work under varying light conditions. It is said to be able to ‘learn’ from the user something of the lighting conditions under which it must work.

The OrCam even claims to be capable of facial recognition, a feature that may well prove to be a boon to some users.


Alas, as a totally blind person, I could not obtain training in the use of an OrCam. This is because the user must have enough eyesight to point to an object and in effect ask the OrCam, What does that sign say?    Its camera would then take the picture of the sign, and then read its text to you in its clear synthetic voice, almost instantaneously. Since I could not obtain training in the use of the device, I asked my friend Blaine Ratzlaff, a proud owner of the OrCam, to give me a little help. Blaine was kind enough to show me the device, and to explain some of its workings.


The OrCam consists of a small size camera unit that includes its output speaker. The whole thing mounts easily on the arm of a pair of glasses and has a thin cord connecting it to its specialized processing unit concealed in the user’s pocket. The processing unit has but three controls: a power switch that puts it into a stand-by mode, a volume control for the output speaker and, of course, a button that allows the camera to operate. In addition, there is a standard 3-mm socket to accept an earphone plug, a receptacle for its battery’s charging cord, and a USB port to connect to a computer. After just a few hours of training the user can learn and adapt for him or herself to use the device as best suits that user.


A question arose as to just what the unit would do. Would it recognize colour, and could it read house numbers? The answer lies in the OrCam’s operation. It utilizes black-and-white images, and its purpose is to read print.


Therefore, colour does not enter into the picture– its purpose is to read, not to describe. As for house numbers, it will read them, if the numbers are a clear contrast to their background. The OrCam has a menu that will allow for some of its more sophisticated operation, something that is much beyond the scope of this article. As I mentioned earlier, this is a work in progress, and it is a very complex device. As well, there are improvements on the drawing board now, and users are encouraged to check on a regular basis for updates. Further details, along with a video of people using the OrCam, can be found at its website:


This is a development that appears to hold great promise in the near future. Let’s keep an eye on it, and in addition, always be on the look-out for anything else coming to our aid through the wonderful world of high technology. As I often hear said: Stay tuned!

–Submitted by Jerome  Kuntz

CCB National Board Member, Saskatchewan


++In Memory:

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of James Robson, a dedicated fundraiser who worked with the CCB National Office. Before coming to CCB, James was a Warrant Officer in the Canadian military, and also a taxi driver. His friendly demeanour and smile will be missed at the office.


++In Memory:

Gordon Frederick Kellock Hope, 1954 – 2016

Surrounded by family and friends, Gord died peacefully at St. Mary’s Hospital, Kitchener, on Saturday, February 20, 2016 due to complications arising from his fight with cancer in his 62nd year.

A man with a heart larger than life, he uniquely touched the lives of everyone he met in his multitude of passions and endeavours.

He will be sadly missed by his loving partner, Lynda Dawkins, his daughters Michelle, Kathleen and Christina and their mother, Erin, Lynda’s daughter Sarah, his cherished granddaughter Makayla; his brother Bill (Linda), his sister-in-law, Deborah, brother Michael (Mary), brother Dave and an abundance of cousins, nieces and nephews. Predeceased by brother Steve and parents Paul and Claire. Gord worked closely with the CCB for many years and our condolences go out to his family.


++It’s a Brand New Day at Hadley

To better reflect the diversity of students it serves and how it has evolved over the years, The Hadley School for the Blind announces that today, it has changed its name to Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Founded in 1920, Hadley remains the largest provider of distance education for people who are blind and visually impaired worldwide.


“Nearly a century after our founding, Hadley serves a broad spectrum of individuals with vision loss, including those with low vision. Although we will always support people who are blind, there is an ever-growing population of older adults experiencing age-related vision loss who may never become fully blind. As part of our evolution, we are expanding our programs and services to meet their needs,” said Hadley President Chuck Young.


The name change also better informs the public that Hadley’s programs and services are geared to individuals ages 14 and up.


“The word ‘school’ implies a brick and mortar facility for young children, whereas the word ‘institute’ speaks to education, but defies space and place. The term ‘institute’ is broader and more appropriate for a distance education organization serving 10,000 students in more than 100 countries,” said Hadley Board of Trustees Chair, Dewey Crawford.


The term “institute” also provides an umbrella with which to discuss the many programs and services Hadley offers and the many audiences Hadley serves: people who have long been visually impaired and those new to sight loss; families of persons of all ages with varying degrees of vision loss and blindness service providers.


In tandem with the name change, a catchy new tagline, “Educating – for life,” will be used to highlight Hadley’s mission to promote independent living through lifelong learning, as well as its dedication to educating students on life skills and helping them reach their full potential.


“We love the double meaning in this tagline,” adds Young.  “It concisely says what we do and why we do it.”


A more contemporary logo was developed, as well, to illustrate how Hadley has changed, while remaining true to its roots. The graphic represents the braille letter “h,” honoring Hadley’s longstanding commitment to braille excellence. The graphic also is reminiscent of stained glass in prairie architecture, a homage to the North Shore of Chicago, where Hadley’s offices are located.


“As we approach our Centennial in 2020, we want everyone to know just how far we have come,” says Crawford. “It’s indeed a brand new day at Hadley.”


To learn more, visit See updates to Hadley’s website at

–Contact: Sheryl Bass, Hadley Media & Marketing Specialist


++Braille Blast Off: Canada Celebrates World Braille Day:

On January 4th, 2016, Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) recognized World Braille Day by promoting celebrations across Canada. A committee of braille users, transcribers and educators from various organizations was formed to steer these events, based on the theme “Braille Blast Off!” Not only was fervour about braille palpable, but initiatives provided braille enthusiasts everywhere with an opportunity to celebrate the continued relevance of braille, and the significant step forward symbolized by the implementation of Unified English Braille.


Press releases and promotional materials were distributed across Canadian school boards and media outlets. The “Braille Blast Off Rocket contest” provided students with an opportunity to create their own “braille rockets” –We are blown away by the ingenuity of all the contestants: the winners will be announced soon on the BLC website.


Tactile Vision Graphics generously produced special “Braille Blast Off!” braille bookmarks which were distributed during classroom presentations, and users were invited to download the Braille Blast Off logo on the BLC website to create their own t-shirts and merchandize to “wear their love for braille”!


Activity worksheets were developed to teach sighted and blind students alike about braille. In fact, several teachers have invited braille students to talk to current and future classes about braille since then. In BC, sighted students have contacted 3 nearby restaurants and are arranging to have menus brailled.


In Newfoundland and Labrador, promotional material was forwarded to “Voice of the Common Man”, a radio station that serves the entire province. Elizabeth Mayo, a braille user, was invited to give an interview about braille with the radio station’s nightline host, replayed several times throughout the month of January. In Regina, Saskatchewan, Ashley Nemeth was interviewed about the importance of braille, and in British Columbia, 8 year old Maggie Were was interviewed by two television stations about how she uses braille in her daily life. These are but a few examples of the interviews featuring braille users that took place across Canada.


BLC hosted a teleconference which generated enormous interest from over 60 adult braille users, including those learning or who are considering braille in the future. Based on the theme “Braille in the 21st Century”, it consisted of a panel of braille users discussing braille from a number of perspectives. Jennifer Jesso, a TVI, spoke about the use of braille as an individual with low vision. Marilyn Rushton, also a TVI, spoke about the continued relevance of braille in a technological age. Diana Brent, a braille technology expert, provided a fascinating history of braille technology, and Natalie Martiniello, a Vision Rehabilitation Specialist, discussed the exciting future of braille technology – from affordable multiline braille displays to smart braille watches.


We are especially excited about the initiatives that have been established due to the enthusiasm generated by World Braille Day. Blind Beginnings, a Canadian organization for blind children and youth, has since then established a Braille Club where children will have the opportunity to participate in braille related activities. The future of braille is bright. Merci Louis Braille!


++International Women’s Day 2016: Toronto, March 8th, 2016: International Women’s Day encourages us all to reflect on the importance of gender equality, to celebrate the successes of women, and to acknowledge the work that is still left to be done. “With women making up more than 50% of the world’s population and often being the main link for the family and connection to the community, there remains a great deal of work to be done to ensure equal rights in all aspects of life,” says WBU Immediate Past President and Chair of the International Disability Alliance, Maryanne Diamond.


For women who are blind, access to information, health, and reproductive rights, education, employment and participation in all aspects of the community must be supported to achieve equality with other women and with men. For example, blind women’s access to information is a serious issue, especially health and reproductive information. Just as sighted women want access to the latest health and parenting information, so do blind women.


However, unlike sighted women, most blind women do not have access to the array of materials available due to the inaccessibility of printed materials, especially reference materials. Less than 10% of printed materials are made into accessible formats and in developing countries it’s often less than 1%. With the appropriate support and information, blind women are as effective and competent as sighted women are at raising children and caring for their families.


One way we can improve blind women’s access to information is by advocating for the universal ratification and implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty. This treaty will allow for more books and printed materials to be published in accessible formats, and for blindness organizations to share books across borders providing access to a wider variety of printed materials for blind and partially sighted women all over the world.

Blind and partially sighted girls also suffer from a lack of access to information, especially in developing countries, where less than 1% of blind girls receive a full education. Most developing countries’ inclusive educational systems do not have the resources or specialized teachers required to effectively educate blind children, which often means the best option available is a specialized school. Families are often hesitant to send their blind girl child to these schools, even more than a blind boy child. This hesitancy is often grounded in both the fear of sending their blind daughter to a school in the city, especially when she is from a rural area, and also from the perceived low value of a girl’s education. Many families are not aware of opportunities that are available to blind girls and women to become gainfully employed and to be fully active and productive members of their communities. Access to information and education are keys to unlocking these opportunities, so we must work to overcome the multiple barriers to information and education that exist for blind women and girls.


++METRO VANCOUVER: Survey about the lived experiences of adults with blindness:

Taku Kawai & Andrea Smith are inviting residents of the Vancouver and the surrounding area to participate in a research study about the lived experiences of adults with blindness. If you choose to participate in the study, you will be invited to two interviews, lasting approximately 90 minutes, at a time and location that is convenient to you. Before proceeding with the interviews, they will review all the study procedures, answer any questions you may have, and get your formalized consent to participate.


If you are interested in participating in this study or would like further information, please call 778-834-5017 or email


Participation in this study is completely voluntary. Thank you very much for considering this request. They appreciate your time. For further information, please write to them if you wish to view their letter of invitation and receive the consent form.


Sincerely, Taku Kawai & Andrea Smith

In the News

++Blind artists share their vision:

“Don’t touch the artwork” is a common warning seen in museums and art galleries. But a new exhibit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is encouraging art lovers to do the opposite.


The exhibit, “Sight Unseen: International Photography by Blind Artists”, will showcase the work of photographers who are visually impaired. Originally shown at the University of California Riverside, it’s the first time the exhibit is being shown in Canada.


Maureen Fitzhenry, the museum’s media relations manager, said the exhibit will “challenge some of the assumptions that people have about those who are visually impaired.” It will also help mark the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Fitzhenry said the exhibit is a way for the photographers to connect with the sighted world and communicate ideas and realities through their art, while encouraging sighted people to question their own perceptions. The goal is to show sighted individuals how visually impaired photographers work.


“Our vision is a powerful sense that can blind us to other senses,” said Fitzhenry. “We end up only perceiving things through our eyes and ignoring our other senses.”


The exhibit will feature 100 photographs from 13 photographers. Six of the photographs were printed using 3D printing technology by a company called 3DPhotoWorks. The technology gives the images depth and texture, converting them from two-dimensional into three-dimensional tactile art. The visually impaired are able to touch the photographs, enabling them to “see” the artwork.

It’s the first time the 3D printing technology will be used in a museum exhibit. The photographs are embedded with one to four sensors. When touched, the sensors can describe the colour, the background of the artist and the context of the image. John Olson is the co-founder of 3DPhotoWorks, which started seven years ago.


Olson said the process is new for the sighted who aren’t used to looking at length and depth in photography.


“For the blind, it’s the first process that allows them to create a mental image that they see in their mind’s eye… When a blind person can make their own determination about an image — without the help of a docent — that provides them with freedom, independence and equality.”

Bruce Hall, a nature photographer, is one of the photographers featured in Sights Unseen. Legally blind from birth, he uses photography as a way to “see things I don’t see with the naked eye. I get an impression and then later I see detail. For me it’s like seeing things twice.”

Hall’s work in the exhibit revolves around his twin sons who are severely autistic. Hall said photography “opens dialogue, and that’s what you have to do, whatever the human rights issue is.”


The exhibit is meant to be experienced by both the visually impaired and sighted communities. Sighted museum-goers are also able to interact with the exhibit in other ways through interactive stations, film screenings, taking photos without being able to see the subject, and the display of several tactile ink drawings.


The exhibit opens in March and runs until September 18.

By Alexandra De Pape


++Nova Scotia scores double gold in Michigan goalball tournament: Nova Scotia swept the 32nd Annual Midwest Regional Goalball Tournament in Warren, Michigan Feb. 20-21, with both the men’s and women’s teams bringing home gold medals.


For the men’s team, this marks three consecutive gold medals at the tournament. Simon Richard, Oliver Pye, Peter Parsons, Mason Smith and Yvon Clement defeated South Florida in the finals 4-3. They also defeated California 7-3 in the semi-finals. The team was coached by Linda MacRae Triff and Alcide Richard.


The women’s team are celebrating their first ever goalball tournament gold medal. Stephanie Berry, Jennie Bovard, Tarah Sawler and Cassie Orgeles defeated

Quebec 10-6 in the semi-finals and Turnstone (Indiana) in the finals 8-7. The team was coached by Linda MacRae Triff and Cathy Sawler.


Next for each team is the Canadian National Championships in Quebec City beginning April 22, where the men will look to defend their national title.

-The Chronicle Herald


++How Do Stem Cells Become Eye Cells?

Stem cells have the potential to become any kind of cell. This flexibility is what makes them so intriguing to medical scientists who hope to harness this potential to generate new cell therapies. Over the past few decades, scientists have demonstrated that they can coax stem cells to become skin cells, muscle cells, and brain cells – to name just a few. In theory, we have good reasons to believe that stem cells have the capacity to replace any damaged cell in the body. In practice, however, there are two very difficult questions that continue to challenge scientists. First, how do you get stem cells to make the exact cell type that you need, such as a light-sensing photoreceptor? And second, how do you get these new replacement cells to function inside human bodies?  

FFB-funded scientist, Dr. Michel Cayouette, is focused on the first question. For years, he has been trying to figure out how stem cells become photoreceptors, the eye’s light-sensing cells. The loss of photoreceptors leads to blindness in a variety of different eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

Dr. Cayouette’s recent discovery is garnering widespread attention because it was featured on the front cover of the prestigious scientific journal: Developmental Cell. The project was carried out in collaboration with the group of Dr. Stéphane Angers, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. Together, they offered new key insights about how so many different kinds of neural cells, such as photoreceptors, are created during the development of the nervous system.

In order to multiply and generate new tissues, stem cells divide into two daughter cells, which are not necessarily identical: the daughter cells can differentiate to produce various cell types that are essential to proper tissue function. This is called cell diversification. However, the factors that drive daughter cells to be identical or different is poorly understood by scientists. To investigate this phenomenon, Dr. Cayouette’s team at IRCM tested if the orientation of stem cell division impacts cell diversification.


To illustrate why the direction of cell division matters, imagine a pizza that is half cheese and half pepperoni. Now imagine that you are going to cut this pizza in half. Depending on where you make the cut, you could end up with one half that is only cheese and one half that is only pepperoni – or, you could end up with two equal halves, which both have a mix of cheese and pepperoni.

The researchers demonstrated that a gene named SAPCD2 influences cell division orientation. Moreover, they confirmed that the orientation of division controls daughter cell fates in vivo. To do this, they studied mouse retinal stem cells that were genetically engineered to express or not the SAPCD2 gene. When the cells are expressing SAPCD2 they divide into two identical daughter cells (i.e., two equal halves of cheese and pepperoni), but when you take SAPCD2 away, it changes the direction that they are dividing and instead results in two different daughter cells (i.e., one half cheese only and one half pepperoni only). These results demonstrate that SAPCD2 controls stem cell division orientation, which in turn affects cell diversification.

This discovery will help researchers who are working to program stem cells into specific cell types of interest, such as photoreceptors, the light-sensing cells that degenerate in diseases causing blindness. For example, researchers are developing methods to generate large quantities of photoreceptors from stem cells to use in transplantation studies. Perhaps manipulating the SAPCD2 gene will help researchers’ efforts to generate pure populations of photoreceptors.


–The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada

National Newsletter February 2016

Feb 03 2016



++White Cane Week 2016: Get ready for another fun and exciting awareness week from February 7 to 13. Events include our annual AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship and countless local activities. Please visit the CCB website to keep yourself updated on the many exciting events that will be taking place this year across the country. And stay tuned for reports on events in upcoming newsletters!


++2016 AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship: Our annual Blind and Vision Impaired Championship will again be held at the Ottawa Curling Club. We wish all the participants Good Curling!

In Memory



1944 – 2016


It is with great sadness that I write these words to announce the passing of Harold Schnellert, Past President of the Canadian Council of the Blind. Harold has been a friend, a confident, and a mentor for me since I first met him many years ago. He was more than well deserving of his recognition of the 2014 “Person of the Year Award”.

He devoted his entire working life to improving the lives of Canadians with vision loss in one way or another.


Words cannot express how truly grateful I am for Harold guiding me through both the good times and those that were more difficult. He was always there for me. Harold has been dedicated to his work with CCB for over 20 years ensuring that the Council will continue to grow and develop well into the future.


Harold was a great supporter of Canadians with disabilities. As the CCB President, his leadership and efforts helped bring the issues of disability and accessibility more to the forefront of the Canadian social agenda.


As a knowledgeable, caring, diligent and sensitive individual Harold gave to the Council endless years of full time volunteerism. He was a good and loyal friend who was truly devoted to his work and we can only thank Wendie and his family for sharing him with us.


Born and raised near Steinbach, Manitoba, where he attended a one-room country school to grade eight then Harold completed high school at the Ontario School for the Blind in Brantford. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Social Work Degree at the University of Regina, and receive Non-profit and Volunteer Management Certificates in Edmonton.


His work experience included both profit and non-profit management positions as well as working in various group homes for adults with disabilities. He had Alberta CCB Chapter and Division involvement for over twenty years in many positions as well as Director on the National Board. He was National President of the organization from 2004 to 2010.


While President of CCB, Harold was a visionary leader and a hard-working advocate for Canadians who are visually impaired. During his time as President, Harold reinvigorated and motivated the organization, moving it into the 21st century and setting the stage where it thrives today.


Harold worked with the CCB board and members to launch new programs and marketing initiatives, as well as to better support

Canadians who are visually impaired and increase public awareness of both vision-related issues and the CCB.

When considering his achievements in the blind and vision impaired community Harold’s legacy and what he may best want to be remembered for were his efforts and dogged determination in “changing what it means to be blind” in Canada. Efforts that remain mainstream CCB to this day.


The Past President galvanized his vision for CCB as a dynamic and accessible national network of people and agencies providing support and services to Canadians who are visually impaired. Harold made sure people with vision challenges were connected to their communities and the world. He revitalized and placed a new emphasis on White Cane Week at the same time expanding programs such as the education bursary and a computer-training program that was successful in training hundreds of people from across the country who were blind.


As we celebrate the life of Harold Schnellert our sympathies once again go out to his loving wife, Wendie, and his family. Harold’s passing leaves a void in our community that will not be easily filled.


On behalf of all Canadians we thank him for his service to those people who are blind and vision impaired. In Harold we have lost a true statesman. A leader, an advocate, a mentor and thus it can be said that for this, for his many contributions and for his life lived

Harold will not be forgotten.


By Louise Gillis

CCB National President


++Get Together with Technology (GTT):

GTT Nanaimo Meeting Invitation, February 4, 2016


You’re Invited!

Where: The 710 Club, 285 Prideaux Street, Nanaimo BC;

When: Thursday, February 4, 2016

Time: 1:00 until 3:00 PM


Agenda for the first hour:

  1. We will work on recommending ways of accessing audio books from the iPhone, as well as other helpful hints about useful services offered by iDevices generally.
  2. Albert will provide another demo of the new OrCam OCR device,

  1. Hugh and Aedan will demonstrate two types of iPhone/iPad stands that facilitate the use of the K NFB Reader app for scanning text.
  2. Albert will report on the Barrier Free BC/Canada initiative intended to work toward the enactment of a British Columbians with Disabilities and Canadians with Disabilities Acts.


The second hour is for you to bring up technology issues you need answered, so bring along your devices and ask for support and guidance.


To RSVP, please call Albert Ruel at

1-877-304-0968 Ext. 550

email at, or Donna Hudon at



GTT Victoria Meeting Invitation, February 3, 2016

You’re Invited

1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Community Room, GVPL, Central Branch

735 Broughton Street



  1. Games People Play on their smart phones and computers: Eadan Staddon from Nanaimo, and Albert Ruel will attend the meeting to tell us about the very large number of available games ranging from the simple to the complicated.
  2. Music Apps for smart phones and the computer: Tom Dekker will demonstrate how he accesses music from all over the world.
  3. Open Forum

And of course, during the second hour, there will be plenty of opportunity for networking and to find someone that can assist you with any devices you may care to bring along. Hope to see you on Wednesday!


To RSVP, please call Tom Dekker at,


Or by email at,



GTT Vancouver Meeting Invitation, February 10, 2016

People who are blind or partially sighted of all ages are invited to this month’s GTT where we will learn what iCloud is, how to use it and the accessibility features built-in.


Who Should Attend?

– People who have, or plan to have an iPhone, iPad or iPod

– People who want assistance with other assistive technology like Mac and PC computers, talking book machines etc.


Time: Wednesday, February 10, 10AM to 12Noon

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

Transit Directions: Catch the 106 from New Westminster Skytrain Station and get off at 3rd Ave. and 6th St. If you would like to be met at the bus stop for the short walk into the office, call 604-434-7243.


During the first hour we will learn how to use iCloud to back up our iDevices, why it’s important and how it integrates with your PC. The second half of the meeting will include an opportunity to seek tech advice from those with more knowledge. Please bring the device you want assistance with.


If you plan to attend please RSVP no later than Tuesday February 2 by Emailing or call 604-434-7243.


++New Book Announcement: Charles Mossop, great friend and supporter of CCB, is pleased to announce the release of his latest novel The Golden Phoenix. Like his two previous novels, it is historical fiction, moving from seventeenth century India and eighteenth century Siam, China and England to the present. As is his customary style, the historical thread is interwoven with a present day story which draws the plot together at the end. The protagonist, searching for a semi-legendary objet d’art reputedly of enormous value, becomes unwittingly involved in a dangerous, multimillion-dollar, scheme launched by her client, a wealthy Hong Kong business tycoon. If you’re interested in knowing more, or reading the book, please visit Charles’ page at:


CCB is also extremely pleased to present the 2016 Person of the Year Award to Charles Mossop. Congratulations!


++Nova Scotia Health Authority (Central Zone) Diversity Bursary: Deadline February 5, 2016


The Nova Scotia Health Authority (Central Zone) is taking steps to create a more diverse workforce that better represents the communities we serve.


Post-secondary students who identify as African Nova Scotian, Aboriginal, immigrant or a person with a disability are invited to apply for a diversity bursary. Students must be:

  •    Continuing studies in a health profession
  •    Attending a Canadian post-secondary institution that is recognized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
  •    A resident of Halifax Regional Municipality or West Hants with an intention to practice in the area.

*Applications are available at *


For more information please contact Anna Jacobs,,

(902) 460-6888.


Applications will be evaluated by Community Health Boards on a number of factors including: community involvement, financial need, educational goals and field of study in health care.


++KELOWNA BLIND CURLERS HOST ANNUAL BONSPIEL: The Kelowna Blind Curling Chapter of the CCB hosted the annual provincial blind curling bonspiel from January 8-10th, 2016. The welcome mat was rolled out for teams from Vancouver, Prince George, 100 Mile House and the host Kelowna team. Volunteers from the host committee have spent the last several months to insure that all visitors had a good time in Kelowna and the bonspiel ran smoothly. We wish to salute all of those people that gave of their time from our volunteer drivers, people that helped to serve the meals and the officials at the rink that supervised the games. This spiel could not happen without their participation. Of course, we further wish to express thanks to our sponsors: CCB Yukon Division, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Remedies RX, Costco and independent Grocers for their sponsorship of the event.


The opening ceremonies were highlighted by a moment of silence for Jim Harris, a member of the Kelowna Blind Curling Club. Jim was an active member of our group. Learning of his passing the day prior to the start of the spiel was extremely sad and we will miss Jim’s contribution to our Club.


Kelowna won the event and will represent BC at the 2017 AMI Canadian visually impaired championships in Ottawa. The second place team was Vancouver and they will take one of the 2 spots at the Western Blind Bonspiel from February 24-28th, 2016 in Lanigan Saskatchewan. The third place team was 100 Mile House and they passed on the second spot for the Westerns and offered it to Prince George. We wish all of this team the best of luck in their respective bonspiels. Good luck to the 100 Mile House team this coming February at the 2016 AMI Canadian Visually Impaired Championships.

SUBMITED BY: Bill Mah, Kelowna blind curlers


++Outreach project: The International Disability Alliance is launching an outreach survey in partnership with the World Health Organization. The Canadian Council of the Blind, as a member of the World Blind Union, is also part of the International Disability Alliance. Your participation would be invaluable in this project which we see as a critical step towards the universal realization of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).


The objective is to create a Priority Assistive Products List.


Your support will be critical. The aim is to have a large representative sample of users and potential users of assistive products, as well as their family members and organizations, to complete this survey. This data will then be used as an advocacy tool and guide for governments in prioritizing access to assistive products for their populations, contributing to their implementation of the UN CRPD.


The survey can be completed through this online portal:


Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you very much for your time and we look forward to your participation in the survey.

Jahan Taganova

Communications Assistant, International Disability Alliance

205 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017


++New Service to Access Information on Prescription Medication Labels Dispensed by Shoppers Drug Mart in Ontario:


Reading or understanding the contents and instructions of labels on prescription medications is a source of problems and frustration for many people, particularly for persons who are blind and others who have difficulty reading print material. The small print and look-alike packaging of medicine vials can lead to confusion, non-compliance, and mistakes. A solution to this serious issue, the ScripTalk Station prescription reading device, developed by EnVision America, is now available at Shoppers Drug Marts in Ontario.


The ScripTalk works by simply pressing a button on the device and placing the special talking label over the reader, which then speaks all the information printed on the label including drug name, dosage & instructions; warnings and contraindications; pharmacy information; doctor name; prescription number and date; warnings etc. More information on the ScripTalk technology can be found at ScripTalk | En-Vision America – Assistive Technology for the Blind and Low-vision Community. You can also view an overview video of the ScripTalk for Pharmacies on YouTube and an overview video of the ScripTalk system for customers on YouTube.


The first step to obtain a ScripTalk prescription reader is to contact your Shoppers Drug Mart owner/pharmacist who is responsible for initiating the process. Information on the ScripTalk was sent, a while ago, to all Shoppers Drug Mart stores in Ontario. Customers who are blind should discuss their needs with their pharmacist, who can then contact their field support teams with any inquiries regarding available options.


Once you have decided to get the ScripTalk reader, you will be asked to sign a program registration document required by EnVision America, who will then send a reader directly to you. There is no cost to the customer who is blind.


There is, at present, a 48 hour lag time between requesting a medication at your pharmacy, and the pharmacist sending the information to Shoppers Drug Mart Head Office who then prepare the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) lables required by the ScripTalk device. New prescriptions requiring immediate use will be a problem for the customers initially. Hopefully, this lag time issue will soon be resolved, so that customers can access their prescription information at the same time as the print ones are dispensed. For medications that are being refilled on a regular basis, it is a matter of planning for this lag time when renewing your supply.

I have received my free ScripTalk prescription reader. It is very easy to use. An instruction CD is included to help with set up and operation. The ScripTalk labels are on each one of my medications, which enables me to read all the pertinent information for all my medications, for the first time.


If your Shoppers Drug Mart Store is totally unwilling or unresponsive to your drug prescription information needs, tell them to contact Ashesh Desai, who is the senior manager responsible for this service. If that does not work, then contact him directly at the coordinates below. He was very helpful to me.


Ashesh Desai Bsc. Phm |

Senior Vice-President, Pharmacy Operations and Transformation Shoppers Drug Mart HQ

243 Consumers Road, Toronto ON M2J 4W8

Tel. 416-490-2769

Toll free: 1800-746-7737 Open until 8:00 PM and ask for him.



At present, there is no link for information regarding the ScripTalk on the Shoppers Drug Mart website. However, Shoppers Drug Mart’s Accessible Customer Service Practice document for Ontario can be accessed at:


The ScripTalk Mobile app is also available in the Google Play Store. It provides another way to read the ScripTalk labels prescription information on some, but not all, Android devices. ScripTalk is not available at present for iPhones and other Apple devices, because Apple does not allow the use of Near Field Communication (NFC), which is required in order to read the RFID labels being affixed on medication containers for the ScripTalk.

I would like to thank Rob Sleath and Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC) for all their work on this issue in B.C. and for their help and advice to me as I worked with my local Shoppers Drug Mart. More information on ASIC and other drug store chains in B.C. offering the ScripTalk is available at


Submitted by

Chris Stark



++AMI Programming: AMI has recorded a piece on the new Service Dog Park in Halifax. It’s going to be a great story that will reach people all over Canada!


The segment will first air on AMI Friday, February 5th, at 8:30pm on Bell Aliant channel 65 and Eastlink channel 888 (Nova Scotia). It will be part of our White Cane Week episode.


See channel guide for your area. It can be found online at the following link or by calling 1-855-855-1144.:

AMI Channel Guide


Submitted by

Louise Gillis, National President

The Canadian Council of the Blind


Assistive Technology

++new smart watch: This New Watch Lets Blind People Read Real-Time Smartphone Data in Braille


The Dot uses a moveable braille interface made of magnets and pins strapped to the wrist like a watch.

Until now, visually impaired smartphone users have had to rely on Siri and other readers to find their way around the Internet and digital world, but a new device in development in South Korea may change their experience completely by instantly turning text messages and other information into braille.


The Dot, a device that straps around the wrist like a watch, uses magnets and a grid of pins to create four braille characters at a time that change at adjustable speeds, allowing users to read text messages and use apps on any device via Bluetooth.


Eric Ju Yoon Kim, co-founder and CEO of startup Dot, told Tech in Asia he hopes his company’s innovation will free blind people to interact with their devices on their own terms. “Until now, if you got a message on iOS from your girlfriend, for example, you had to listen to Siri read it to you in that voice, which is impersonal,” he said.

“Wouldn’t you rather read it yourself and hear your girlfriend’s voice saying it in your head?”

That kind of technology is not groundbreaking, but transferring it to a mobile device certainly is – just like the price: computers using so-called “active Braille technology” can cost $3,000, while Kim says that when the watch arrives in the U.S. this December it will sell for less than $300.


“Ninety percent of blind people become blind after birth, and there’s nothing for them right now – they lose their access to information so suddenly,” Kim told Tech in Asia. “Dot can be their lifeline, so they can learn Braille and access everyday information through their fingers.”

National Newsletter January 2016

Jan 06 2016


Happy New Year!



++White Cane Week 2016: Get ready for another fun and exciting awareness week from February 7 to 13. Events include our annual AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship and countless local activities. Please visit the CCB website to keep yourself updated on the many exciting events that will be taking place this year across the country. And stay tuned for reports on events in upcoming newsletters!


++2016 AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship: Our annual Blind and Vision Impaired Championship will again be held at the Ottawa Curling Club. We wish all the participants Good Curling!

++Welcome Two New Chapters:

Canadian Council of the Blind is pleased to welcome the following two new chapters:


CCB Hamilton Blind Curlers Chapter, based in Hamilton, Ontario, joins CCB with an initial membership of 13 members. The chapter aims “to promote sport recreational opportunities and social interaction,” and meets every Friday at the local curling club.


CCB GTT Edmonton, based in Edmonton, Alberta, joins CCB with an initial membership of 28 members. This chapter meets monthly “to learn about and share their experiences using assistive technologies in their daily lives at home, school, or at work.”


++Announcing the 2016 WCW (White Cane Week) Recreation & Leisure Expo in Toronto!: As part of the Canadian Council of the Blind’s White Cane Week public awareness campaign, the CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter, in collaboration with CNIB Toronto, is hosting the 2016 WCW Recreation & Leisure Expo:

An exposition of the clubs and organizations offering access to sport, recreation and leisure activities to the vision loss community in Toronto.


When:       Saturday, February 6, 2016 from 10am to 4:30pm

Where:     Rooms 124 & 126, the CNIB Centre,

1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto


Come check out the wide variety of activities on offer! Our exhibitors include: Blind Curling Club of Toronto, Blind Sailing Association of Canada, Connect4Life internet radio, hands of Fire Sculpture Group, Med-Fit Exercise classes, Ontario Blind Sports Association, Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers, Toronto Ice Owls (Blind Hockey), Toronto Public Library, Trailblazers Tandem Cycling! From Square Dancing and Dragon boating To Bingo! And so much more!


Immediately following the Expo, the CCB Toronto Visionaries will be hosting a ‘Community Social’ in the same space from 4:30pm to 8:30pm, with light refreshments, a cash bar & door prizes.


We would like to thank CNIB for generously providing the space for these events.

Admission to both the WCW Recreation & Leisure Expo and the Community Social is free. But if you plan to attend the Community Social, we do require you to RSVP.

RSVP to: Voice Mail Line, 416-760-2163 or



So come out and join us in celebrating the variety of recreational opportunities available in Toronto for those living with vision loss!


Sponsored by Accessible Media Inc.


++GTT Victoria, BC:

January 6, 2016

1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Community Room, GVPL, Central Branch

735 Broughton Street


Topics to be covered:


  1. Windows Ribbons: Mike Gower will attend the meeting to show us how to work with the ribbons in Microsoft programs.


  1. Windows 10 Smart Phone: Tom Dekker will demonstrate how the latest version of the Windows Smart Phone works with screen reading technology like the native app called Narrator, or the 3rd party apps like JAWS or NVDA.


  1. Q-Seek: which is the latest assistive program released by the writers of Chicken Nugget, Q-Cast, Q-Read Etc. Tom Dekker will demonstrate this newly released app.


  1. Open Forum:

And of course, during the second hour, there will be plenty of opportunity for networking and to find someone that can assist you with any devices you may care to bring along. Hope to see you on Wednesday!

Tom Dekker


++Congratulations!: GTT and GTT coordinators have won awards.

Gerry Chevalier who is a leader of GTT Edmonton was recently honoured with an award from CNIB:


Gerry Chevalier Receives Arthur Napier Magill Distinguished Service Award


Edmonton resident recognized for outstanding service to Canadians living with vision loss


CNIB presented Gerry Chevalier with the Arthur Napier Magill Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his outstanding accomplishment in service to Canadians who are blind or partially sighted, at the Chair’s Reception for CNIB Alberta and Northwest Territories.


A CNIB volunteer for almost two decades, Chevalier is a former member of the CNIB National Board of Directors and Chair of the CNIB Library Board of Directors. As a person living with vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa, Chevalier has been a passionate advocate for the access of library services to people who are blind or partially sighted.


“Gerry understands the desire for people with vision loss to lead full, independent lives,” says John McDonald, Executive Director and Regional Vice-President CNIB Alberta and Northwest Territories. “His longstanding involvement with CNIB and professional career has benefited the lives of many people. Gerry has been instrumental in helping make alternate format literature accessible to Canadians with print disabilities.”


Chevalier was one of the earliest champions of the CNIB digital library and DAISY digital talking book player. He contributed his technological expertise to the development team, helping make the CNIB digital library a reality.


Chevalier’s passion for the cause didn’t stop at CNIB; he was also Chair of the Alberta ACCESS Project Team, a committee working to provide access to information for people who are blind and print-disabled.


Chevalier remains an advocate for library services for people who are blind or partially sighted. Now retired, he continues to volunteer his time with CNIB developing web-based tutorials for library users, as well as providing one-on-one guidance in answering technology questions across the country.


Congratulations Gerry and your contributions to GTT are invaluable!


++Congratulations! On December 3 (international day of person’s with disabilities) GTT program in Ottawa was nominated at the Celebration of People awards dinner for the education award.


This is the 15th annual celebration of people awards ceremony, and we are delighted to tell you that GTT won the award!


Kim Kilpatrick and Ellen Goodman (founders of GTT) accepted the award. “I would like to thank everyone who makes GTT great, who makes it a great pleasure for me to work on GTT every day!”, stated Kim. “I am so happy doing what I do and expanding GTT and learning from everyone.”


Thanks to all of our partners for making GTT what it is.


++CCB’s Trust Your Buddy Program Updates: On behalf of the Chatham, Ontario based Trust Your Buddy Program I wanted to say THANK YOU!


Thanks for a great start to the program here in 2015 and I am excited for 2016 and beyond.


What’s on tap?:

With the success of our initial Floor Hockey and Curling outings, we will be:

  1. a) Setting up our first Floor Hockey GAME in early 2016, with the hopes of having a few games before spring time
  2. b) Setting up regular Curling ice time on Thursdays at 6:30 & 8:30pm (alternating each week).
  3. c) Getting out for an Ice Skating day in January
  4. d) Group Fitness (spin class) at the HealthPlex
  5. e) Learn to Run/Walk program aiming for a spring 2016 5km race!


*Please note all activities are in the Chatham, Ontario area.


If you have interest in any of these please let me know!

Also please pass along this info to others you know!


If you have not checked out the website, please do so, as I will be posting updates on it regularly in the new year, as the group grows it will be easier to get the word out.


Go to:


Go under the “Latest News” page and keep up to date!


Also for those on Facebook, check out the “Trust Your Buddy” page and “LIKE” it!!

If you can’t find it, let me know and I will send a friend invite to you.


As always, if there is a sport/recreation activity you’d like to see included, let me know and we will do our best to accommodate.


On behalf of the TYB program, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES!!!


Stay tuned into the website and Facebook early in January to see the details regarding our Hockey and Curling.


All the best!

Ryan Van Praet

TRUST YOUR BUDDY, Accessible Recreation for the Blind



++GTT News: The GTT Edmonton Chapter is the latest to become part of the CCB family. We received our charter in December, with 28 charter members, and more joining every month.


This group was spearheaded by Gerry Chevalier, formerly employed by HumanWare, and the first thing he did was to gain the assistance of several experts in adaptive technology, student needs and employment. We started getting together in April of 2015, and have met the second Monday of each month since then. We’ve covered many aspects of specialized technology, including the use of the Trekker Breeze and the downloading of books from the CNIB/CELA library. Our last meeting was highlighted by a visit from two Aroga Technologies reps with an amazing array of products. There are so many types of CCTV’s now, as well as braille readers/writers, etc. and the quality and versatility have improved tremendously.


We look forward to an interesting and productive 2016, with more members and much more technology.

Submitted by Wendie Schnellert, Secretary


++CCB’s Mobile Eye Clinic: The CCB Mobile Eye Clinic is out in the Ottawa community, helping to identify eye problems in youth and seniors.


Visual impairment is common in older persons and the incidence increases with age. The vast majority of persons over 65 years of age requires refractive correction for optimal vision. Unfortunately, visual impairment can lead to decreased quality of life and social exclusion, and older persons with visual impairment are twice as likely to suffer falls.


Sponsored by the Canadian Council of the Blind, Bruyère Continuing Care and the Lions Club 4A, a mobile eye clinic visited a number of retirement residences and long-term care homes in Ottawa from 2013 – 2015.


602 residents from 27 retirement residences and long-term homes were examined during 52 mobile clinics from May 2013 to October 2015.


Out of the 602 seniors evaluated, 339 (53.5%) Participants were noted to have at least one ocular condition and

Cataracts was the most frequent vision abnormality (33.1%) followed by AMD (9.1%) and glaucoma (5.1%). 4.2% of all participants – representing 17.1 of residents with vision difficulties – had other ocular problems: diabetic retinopathy (14) and retinal scarring or detachment.


The mobile eye clinic also examined youth in the Ottawa area as well.


From May 26, 2013 – December 04, 2015, the Mobile Eye Clinic examined 1430 children at 19 Eastern Ontario Schools.


The results found 241, or 17% of children with one or more vision problems, and 191, or 13% of children who require a follow-up appointment.


These students had their vision corrected, however, if they had not been able to correct the vision with glasses they would have had the same vision acuity as a person who is legally blind.


16 Students were found with high visual acuity out of 1447 students taken in a total of 20 schools visited.


Total Students Examined: 1130 Students from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board 291 Students from the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario 26 Students from Upper Canada District School Board


These are just some of the examples of how CCB is working to prevent vision loss in our communities.


++World Braille Day:

Braille Literacy Canada Affirms January 4th, 2016 as World Braille Day, to be Recognized with Celebrations across Canada.

Follow the link below to learn more and share with others!


++Press Release from the World Blind Union: World Braille Day 2016:


Toronto, January 4th, 2016: Every January 4th, we celebrate World Braille Day to honour Louis Braille, and to recognize the importance of his invention; the Braille system. Louis was born in France in 1809 and lost his sight at age three as a result of an eye injury. However, Louis overcame this disability and went on to be a devoted and high-achieving student. As a student, Louis struggled with the limited modes of reading and writing available to the blind and partially sighted. These limitations to his independence as a scholar encouraged Louis to invent a new system for reading and writing for the blind. He created a simplified yet versatile coded system, using raised dots to represent numbers and letters, that we now call Braille. (To learn more about Louis Braille, click on the following link to the World Braille Foundation website:

The invention of Braille changed how blind people could read, allowing them more independence in their literacy, which has given them increased opportunities to become competent, independent and successful individuals. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) also recognizes the importance of Braille, as it explicitly mentions the need to recognize Braille’s importance in several Articles, including Article 2, 9, 21 and 24. The language in the CRPD stresses the use of Braille as a means of communication for blind persons that can also help to ensure their social inclusion. Braille, however, can only contribute to the improvement of the lives of blind and partially sighted persons if it is widely taught and available.

There is a real concern in the blind community that there is less support for teaching, using and investing in Braille, particularly among educators and governments, due to the belief that technologies such as e-books and screen readers can replace Braille. This issue is a worldwide concern, in developed and developing countries alike. In the UK, for example, only 4% of blind and partially sighted children, aged 5-16 years, can read braille. That is only 850 children out of a possible 25,000+. Braille is also the only non-technological equivalent to reading and writing to print, and those unable to afford new technologies are most likely to suffer from the decrease in Braille education and distribution. It is important to not forget about old but essential systems when new technologies are introduced.

The WBU wants to stress that other accessible formats, including those accessed via technology, and Braille do not compete, but rather supplement one another. Just as recorded books or e-books cannot replace hard copy books for the sighted, similarly,

Braille books cannot be wholly replaced as they are integral components of meaningful education and rehabilitation for blind persons. The importance of Braille is no better described than by former Secretary-General of the WBU, Pedro Zurita, who wrote:

“And you know what, Louis? … I exhibit your invention everywhere.  I read material the way you invented it; standing, lying down, sitting, in any position, … Because your code, Louis, has afforded many, many blind people–myself among them, naturally–dignity, freedom, and many hours of incomparable spiritual enjoyment.” (Click on the following link to download Pedro Zurita’s “A Letter to Louis Braille” from our website:


On World Braille Day 2016, the WBU is calling upon specific actors to do their part to ensure Braille education and investment continues to be prioritized:

  • We urge the United Nations, and related organizations such as UNESCO, to enhance the promotion of braille as provided for in the UN CRPD
  • We call upon all States Parties to submit to their responsibilities according to the UN CRPD and thereby
    • Facilitate easier access to Braille materials
    • promote the education of blind children, youth, and adults, as well as those with partial sight who could benefit from Braille instruction, in reading and writing braille
    • ensure the education of professionals in the teaching of braille as well as the adaptation of materials into braille
  • We ask that all member organizations of the WBU, educators, and professionals supporting the blind, as well as blind people themselves, promote the use of braille in all aspects of political, social, economic, cultural and community life.


The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization representing the estimated 285 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations run by blind people advocating on their own behalf, and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. ​

For further information contact:

World Blind Union

Caitlin Reid

Communications Coordinator​


++Bowling Rails for the Blind:

I was so frustrated. I absolutely could not find a way to keep that ball out of the gutters and traveling down the center of the lane. I knew there had to be a better way to throw the ball than the method I was using. Touching the foul line, feeling the board cracks, and feeling the gutters just did not work.


I had also used the conventional guide rails used in bowling tournaments and by the ABBA (American Blind Bowlers Association). Although they will work, and they are universally accepted, I decided to design a better rail for myself, one that was more portable and less of a problem for sighted bowlers who were using the same or adjacent lane.


In 1989 I designed the rail that I call the “Magic Touch.” It’s created from lightweight plastic PVC pipes that snap together with pressure-fits. There are no wing nuts, no angle irons, no support bars… just four pieces of rail that extend to make a 12 foot length guide raile, three vertical posts, and three wooden feet that support the vertical uprights. The “Magic Touch” needs only three heavy bowling balls (preferably the 16 pounders) to make the rail stable so it will not move with normal use. (On each railing foot, there is space to hold one bowling ball.)

If bowlers who are unfamiliar with this type of bowling guide have a tendency to push the rail or to move it, it can be held in place more permanently by using paper masking tape at each end of the wooden feet.


Unlike the traditional guide rails that stand 36 inches up off the floor, the “Magic Touch” is only 30 inches off the floor and has no curved ends on it. This makes it less noticeable by sighted bowlers who are using the same or nearby lanes. Because the rail is 6 inches lower than traditional rails, it is not only less noticeable, it is also less likely to be toppled over. And, the lower height puts the bowler in a more natural position at the point of delivery at the foul line, making the bowler less likely to drop or slam the ball onto the lane.


Because the handrail breaks down into four sections, the entire device fits comfortably into a carrying bag small ENOUGH TO BE taken on an aircraft and stored in the luggage compartment above the seat when traveling. Each section is 3 feet long with a 5 inch extension bar that joins it to the next section.


So, how reliable is this portable rail? I am totally blind, so I get no help from light or from object perception. In 1989, my bowling average was between 40 and 50. I’ve been using the “Magic Touch” rail since then and have never had any problems with it breaking or malfunctioning during play. I’ve had a high game of 177 and I’ve had an average as high as 120 since bowling with this rail. Hooray!


These rails are not mass produced. Because of the nature of the plastic, each section has to be individually tooled and some of the fittings are not always in stock. Therefore, it may take several weeks to complete an order. The price of the “Magic Touch” bowling rail, with a carrying bag, is $75 plus $10 shipping and packaging, for a total of $85. All units come complete with instructions for assembly and use. The instructions are in both print and cassette tape formats.


Anyone interested in purchasing a “Magic Touch” bowling rail should contact

Harry Cordellos

1021 Second Street, Unit B

Novato, California 94945

Telephone: 415-893-9457



In the News


++Voice-activated email system a saviour for blind Victoria man: It may seem as if there’s no end to the ways we can communicate with each other these days.

We’ve got telephones, email, Skype, text messages, voice-controlled smartphones, social media sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat and Twitter and letters sent through Canada Post.

Even so, some people are shut out of this plethora of options.


That’s what happened to Victoria’s Greg Koyl, 64, who lost most of his vision in August 2014 as a result of glaucoma. He turned off his computer and 600 emails piled up. These were messages he could not read or respond to.


But now he’s using a computer-free system to send and receive emails using only a telephone.


That’s thanks to Peter Young, general manager of Victoria’s Priority 1 Computer Service and Alan Perry of eGurus Technology Tutors.


The duo worked together to offer a service called Talk and Send, based on a Voice on the Go system. Young said he contacted the company, which refined an existing system to suit Koyl’s needs. Priority 1 is the reseller of the product in Victoria.


Koyl is its biggest fan.


“It has made a huge difference in my life,” Koyl said. It is “incredibly simple” to use.


Talk and Send has allowed Koyl, a former B.C. public servant with more than 100 contacts, to communicate with friends and relatives in a way “that really helps me feel like I’m part of society again.”


With just 10 per cent of vision remaining, Koyl can only pick out large shapes. He anticipates losing the rest of his sight.


This is not the only technology for those with restricted vision.

Young, Perry and Koyl believe this system doesn’t only assist those with reading and typing challenges. It could suit those with arthritis.


It’s also inexpensive, costing just $8.99 per month, and a contract is not required. The subscription includes 100 minutes of long distance calls throughout North America, Young said. There’s a $60 initial set-up cost through eGurus.

Only a telephone is needed. Landlines or cellphones can be used. Text messages can be sent as well.


Koyl uses his landline to connect to the system, which operates through voice commands picked up through its speaker. When he states someone’s name, the system confirms that it has the correct person, and Koyl dictates an email. He listens to incoming messages, gets updates from Facebook and could use Twitter if he wished. It also operates in a number of other languages, including Spanish and French.


Emails go out in text form, with Koyl’s voice recording attached to the email. This allows recipients to hear a voice — something that could also be popular for grandparents who get messages from their grandchildren, Young said.


Koyl can vet emails before they are sent and rewrite them if he wishes.


He would be pleased to discuss the service with anyone interested. His email:


The system is easy to use, said Young. It suits people who find technology confusing, he said. He recalled when his own parents found email increasing difficult to use as they aged. “I wanted something simple, especially for people who can’t memorize.”


Perry connected Koyl’s phone to the system in April. By the next day, Koyl had sent out 40 emails.


Working out easier access to technology and to help people remain independent is one of Young’s interests. His business has specially adapted products, such large-button devices. He refurbishes computers to sell them at low prices to seniors so they can send emails and surf the net.


In 2009, Priority 1 donated $7,000 worth of computer equipment to set up a lab for people in Salvation Army facility. The donation included a dozen computers, plus LCD monitors and printers.


Anyone wanting to try out the Talk and Send system can contact Priority 1 at 250-475-7510.

By Carla Wilson / Times Colonist


++Community Funded program helps keep community active: Local clinics in Chatham, Ontario will soon be available to help the blind and visually impaired who not only wish to take part in athletics, but also improve their health and well-being.


The “Trust Your Buddy” program will initially offer blind floor hockey and curling at local venues, in an effort to help who may not have otherwise had the chance to become active.


“Being a visually impaired guy myself, I sort of found that when I played various sports … there weren’t any blind or visually impaired people to play with,” program director Ryan Van Praet told The Daily News.


“You can still play with sighted people, but when I wanted to know mainly how to adapt a sport so that I could play, I really didn’t have any resources.”


The program is free to participants. It is funded by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, as well as the Canadian Council of the Blind.


Van Praet, a kinesiologist, is well-known on the athletic scene, having competed in the world paratriathlon championships, as well as many other sports.


During the clinics, sighted guides will assist the players as they run through the fundamentals and play an adapted version of the sport.


“It’s really about showing that you can be integrated,” Van Praet said. “It’s not blind-only sports and sighted-only sports. It’s sports for all.”


He said more sports could be offered in the future if there is an interest.


“There is no limit to the sports that could be played,” he said, adding that those who wish to pursue competition at a higher level can be directed to the appropriate organizations.


“It’s really just to get them out the door and let them know it’s possible.”


Noting that interest for the program has been trickling in, Van Praet expects it will increase once the word gets out.


He said some may be hesitant to take the first step.


“(The program) is really to help people who have visual impairments, or who are blind, to basically lead an active lifestyle like everybody else should,” he said.


“When the population that I’m part of, the blind community, is sort of left without the resources to live healthy lifestyles, then they are extra susceptible to these chronic diseases.”


To register, contact Van Praet at 226-627-2179 or

By Trevor Terfloth, Chatham Daily News


++Our Condolences: As many of you are aware, AMI has lost a dear friend and colleague. Robert Pearson died suddenly of cardiac arrest on the morning of December 26, 2015.


Robert was a tireless advocate for accessibility and was recognised globally for his passion and support of accessibility issues. He was frequently called upon as an expert speaker at conferences around the globe. He led the development of described video best practices here in Canada and most recently was appointed to the Federal Communications Commission’s Disability Advisory Committee in the US and Chaired the FCC’s Video Description Working Group.

National Newsletter December 2015

Dec 01 2015


CCB National Newsletter December 2015


++Editor’s Note for Screen Reader Users:

The Newsletter is now formatted with Microsoft Word headings. Each main section has a level 1 heading and sub sections have a level 2 heading. Most screen readers support shortcut keys for navigating headings. For example, with JAWS, after opening the document in Word, you can press the JAWS key with the Z key to switch to navigation mode and then you will be able to press the H key to jump from heading to heading. You can also press the JAWS key + F6 to bring up a list of headings in the newsletter. Arrow up and down the list to find the section you are interested in and press Enter to jump to that heading.


The ++tags at the beginning of each main heading have been maintained for those who wish to use the FIND Next search command to jump from heading to heading.



++A Job Well Done!-GTT Ottawa November Meeting Recap: The GTT Ottawa group held their November meeting on the 23rd, and the topic for the meeting was accessible household gadgets. The group talked about accessible household items such as thermostats and scales and discussed tips and tricks on making your inaccessible items such as stoves, microwaves and washers and dryers a little more blind friendly. CCB Vice President Jim Tokos was in attendance for the meeting. Jim gave his thanks on behalf of the Board of Directors to the work of the GTT program, noting how it has expanded across Canada, and thanked Kim Kilpatrick and the participants for their important commitment and input to the great success of this program.


Editor’s note: Personally, I learn something new at every GTT meeting I attend, and at this meeting I learned that Netflix has audio description for many of their TV shows and movies! I had been a Netflix user for several years and had no idea about this feature, so thanks GTT! To learn more about Netflix audio description, please visit:


If you are interested in starting a GTT chapter in your area, please contact Kim Kilpatrick, GTT Coordinator at (613) 567-0311 or at



To hear about all of the latest GTT news, to find resources notes

and articles, subscribe to the GTT blog at


++GTT Kingston: Maryse who coordinates GTT meetings in Kingston Ontario wants you to know about the following upcoming GTT meetings.


The next meeting is December 10th and the topic is using Braille note takers and the Braille pen handson with Aroga


The January14th meeting will feature how to use the 3D printer with access technology (3D printer available at Kingston library) and the February meeting will include power Point with access technology.


The meetings are always the second Thursday of the month at 10:00. To find out more or to RSVP please contact

Maryse Theberge

Independent Living Skills Specialist, CNIB

826 Princess Street

Tel: 613-542-4975 x5088


++CCB congratulates Carla Qualtrough on appointment as new Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities: The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) would like to congratulate Carla Qualtrough on being appointed Canada’s new Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.


CCB looks forward to working with the Hon. Carla Qualtrough on improving the lives of Canadians living with vision loss, as well as promoting their abilities in sport and recreation.


++My trip to the Braille Conference:

For years, I have been dreaming of attending the national braille conference. I first learned braille when I was 6 years old and loved it right away. Now I could read and write for myself. That was, and always has been very important to me.


I was excited to attend and to be able to present about the GTT program with one of its co-coordinators and founders Leona Emberson from the Ottawa CNIB office.


In addition, I was excited to be able to go and learn about new technologies and to meet others with similar interests.


It was wonderful to receive my conference program, workshop preferences and hotel amenities in braille.


This does not happen often enough and was a real treat.

Also, the indoor navigation system with I Beacons and Blind Square made it possible for me to travel around the hotel and conference area independently with my guide dog.


As I moved through the indoor space, the app announced in my ear where I was. I could find the registration table, door to go out to relieve my dog, conference rooms, bathrooms, and more with little or no sighted help.


That was almost as liberating for me as braille was all those years ago.


I enjoyed going through the exhibit area and finding out about new products and catching up with old friends.


The buzz clip is a new product with some promise for letting you know of objects in your path. I enjoyed testing it and finding out more about the OrCam.


The workshops I attended were interesting and informative.

There were so many to choose from that it was not easy to make choices. They cover a wide variety of topics and areas so there is something for everyone.


I also really enjoyed hearing the winners of the braille writing essay contest read their creative winning entries in braille.


I thank CCB for allowing me to attend and hope to attend many more in the future.

Submitted by Kim Kilpatrick

GTT Coordinator


++About Blind Ice Hockey:

The sport of Blind Hockey has been played in Canada since 1972, and has recently expanded into the United States. This sport is played by athletes who are blind or partially sighted, and is immediately recognizable as the exciting game of Ice Hockey with only minimal modifications allowing the athletes to compete. The most notable adaptation is the puck – which makes noise and is both bigger and slower than a traditional puck, which, along with only a few adapted rules, allows for safe, effective, and inclusive gameplay.


At the competitive level, all athletes must meet International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) standards and be classed as either a B3 – approximately 10% vision or less, a B2 – approximately 5% vision or less, or a B1 – who may have light perception but no functional vision for hockey. In order to ensure fair competition, each player is assigned a vision-based point value corresponding to their class (3, 2, or 1) and each team may only have a maximum of 14 points on the ice at any time. This ensures that each team has approximately the same amount of combined vision and that there are roles for all players regardless of level of vision.


The highest vision players (B3) who can typically see the puck tend to play forward, lower vision or players with no vision tend to play defense (B2 or B1), and all goalies must be completely blind (B1). The sport has more than doubled in participants in the last 2 years, and there are now over 100 Blind Ice Hockey players and 4 annual tournaments across North America.



USA Hockey organizes hockey programs for athletes with disabilities including sledge hockey, deaf hockey, standing amputee hockey, and special hockey. Since they were introduced to the sport last season at the first USA Blind Ice Hockey Summit in Newburgh, NY, they are taking the lead in bringing the sport of Blind Hockey to the USA. There are several try-it sessions being organized this 2015 – 16 season including New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington DC, and for the first time ever a Blind Hockey division will be part of the 2016 USA Hockey Disabled Festival taking place in Detroit, Michigan April 9 – 11th. Registration is open for both the try-it sessions as well as the USA Hockey Disabled Festival and all American hockey enthusiast who are blind or partially sighted are encouraged to apply to take part!



The International Blind Ice Hockey Federation (IBIHF) is the newly formed governing body for the sport of Blind Hockey. The IBIHF will lead the development of the sport, maintain member relations with countries that have Blind Ice Hockey programs which currently include Canada and the USA, and will focus on bringing the sport to other nations around the world. The long term goal of the IBIHF is to create a truly global sport with both World Championship competition and ultimately inclusion in the Winter Paralympic Games by 2026. The IBIHF will be focused on growing the sport outside of North America during the 2016 – 17 season and encourages any interested groups or individuals to contact us for more information.


For more information about the sport of Blind Ice Hockey and opportunities to participate please contact:

Matt Morrow,

Sport Director

International Blind Ice Federation

(604) 812-6786


++Universal Children’s Day: Every child deserves the appropriate support and education needed to become an independent adult and active citizen. Unfortunately, many children with low vision and blindness are not given the chance to reach their full potential. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that of the 19 million children that are visually impaired globally, less than 10% of them have access to education (largely due to the lack of accessible reading materials), and they are more likely than sighted children to suffer from malnutrition or starvation, abuse (in all of its forms), a lack of recreation, a lack of health care and infant mortality.


Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) explicitly calls for States Parties to ensure that the “best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”


What is often best for the child is ensuring that their parents or caregiver(s) have all of the information and support they need in order to enable their child’s development into an independent and employed adult, capable of advocating for their own rights.


Many parents of visually impaired have reported feeling poorly prepared for raising a low vision or blind child, often receiving less than adequate support and information from medical professionals, educators and social workers. Parents can be the best, or worst, advocates for their children’s well-being. What parents need is support of their own, and associations of parents of children with visual impairment are an essential way to help parents better know how to raise a visually impaired child. The World Blind Union’s (WBU) Representative to the NGO Committee to UNICEF and Executive Director of the National Association of Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) Susan LaVenture, explains the importance of Parent Associations:


“Parent Associations have made an impact within communities and have affected public policies on the national level for improvement of education and services for families. National Parent Associations of Children with Visual Impairments have emerged around the world and should be recognized by NGOs and governments as part of the solution as being a resource for families and encourage collaboration to provide parental education and support services.”


Parents and caregivers also need to reach out to organizations of the blind in order to connect their children to mentors and possible role models that will further their development into independent adults. Parents cannot always be there for their children, and while it is important to ensure your child is supported, it is also important to know when to let children begin taking care of themselves and advocating for their own rights, and the rights of others in the visually impaired community. Organizations of the blind can help parents navigate this difficult but crucial process.


For families to learn more about the role of parents and mentors in effectively supporting children’s educational and personal development, follow this link to the Friends and Family page on our Project Aspiro website


Aspiro is a comprehensive career planning and employment resources for individuals who are blind or partially sighted. It offers many resources and tips to help low vision and blind people gain employment, live independently and become strong self-advocates.


++International Day for Persons with Disabilities:

2015 has been a seminal year for persons with disabilities, as well as for global civil society and the UN system as a whole. The world’s governments, civil society actors and citizens came together to decide the way forward for the post-2015 development agenda, resulting in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs will direct the work and funding of the global development community for the next 15 years. Persons with disabilities, including the visually impaired, were among the many voices championing for strong and inclusive global goals.


It is fitting that the theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2015 is “Inclusion Matters: Access and Empowerment for People of All Abilities,” as several of the SDGs cover inclusion and accessibility.


The Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (SCRPD) has also identified three key sub-themes that highlight the need “to reduce inequalities and remove barriers to equal participation for persons with disabilities in society.”


Sub-theme #1: Making cities inclusive and accessible for all. The full inclusion of all persons with disabilities, including persons with low vision and blindness, is essential for their education, employment, access to information, and therefore, equality. Universal design is an essential part of building inclusive and accessible cities, environments, and products. Universal design is the “design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design” (Martine Abel-Williamson, WBU Strategic Lead for Access to the Environment). Examples of universal design are Apple products with accessibility features built in, braille on elevators buttons and stop announcements on transit vehicles.


Sub-theme #2: Improving disability data and statistics.

Global and national data on persons with disabilities are sorely lacking. In order to accurately know what barriers and discrimination persons with disabilities face, and how to improve policy and programs to remove these barriers, we need accurate data. Within the SDG framework, there are multiple targets and indicators with responding data requirements for every goal that will measure the progress (or lack thereof) of the development work relevant to that goal. If these targets and indicators do not explicitly call for disaggregated data on essential aspects of persons with disabilities’ lives, namely health, education and employment data, they will be left behind as they have been in the development agendas of the past. These indicators will likely be finalized in March 2016, so it is imperative for all of us to advocate directly to our governments and nationals statistical offices on the importance of disability-specific SDG indicators.

Sub-theme #3: Including persons with invisible disabilities in society and development.

Persons with “invisible disabilities” are often overlooked and misunderstood. The SCRPD argues that it is important “to include the unique characteristics of invisible disabilities when taking measures towards full participation and equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.” Persons with invisible disabilities includes those who have low vision but do not use a cane, guide dog, or other visible assistive device, and they are often elderly. Features for low vision persons, such as good lighting and contrast, are often overlooked when designing spaces and products, even though they are an important of accessibility and inclusivity, and therefore need to be included alongside features for blind persons.


++World Braille Day: Braille Literacy Canada Affirms January 4th, 2016 as World Braille Day, to be Recognized with Celebrations Across Canada.

Follow the link below to learn more and share with others!


++The Braille Superstore: A Treasure Trove of Braille

Based in B.C., the Braille Superstore sells blindness and low vision products, ranging from books, to toys, games, accessible kitchen items, housewares and talking products. Browse the catalogue by visiting

I’ve turned to the Braille Superstore as both a braille enthusiast and teacher of braille. Though, as mentioned above, the Braille Superstore (despite its name) includes items for both braille and non-braille users alike – I’ll focus on some of my favourite braille related products here.


Books: The Braille Superstore carries books in uncontracted and contracted braille, and all titles are available in UEB upon request. A wide selection of books are available for different age groups, ranging from read-aloud and print-braille books, to those for elementary, middle grade, higher grade and adult readers, including touch and trace books (you’re never too old to enjoy those!)


Writing tools: Found under their “houseware” section, this is where you will stumble upon several slates and styli. This is where I found a full-page slate (25 lines, 28 cells) which I still use as a handy alternative for more extensive jotting down.


Games and toys: Several of the items here are popular around our household, but, games can also serve as fun (and sneaky!) ways to spice up a braille lesson. Several of the games here were a huge success during an adult braille group I organized. Uno, Skip-Bo and Bingo are great games to play at home, but also great ways to reinforce braille symbols. If you enjoy board games, there are a variety to choose from, including Scrabble, Monopoly, Chess, Checkers, and a really neat tactile Snakes and Ladders. If you’re more into brain teasers, then you can find a particular favourite of mine: a braille Sudoku set! (I’m still trying to work through mine). Among the puzzles, there is a nifty braille keychain that can form different braille symbols – practical, but also another creative way to practise braille wherever you are. The raised-line drawing boards (found in the toy section) also caught my attention.


Stop by the “braille workshop” centre if you’re searching for braille learning aids or items to use when introducing braille to sighted groups: Braille alphabet buttons, cheat sheets, flash cards, magnets, stickers, bookmarks, name cards, and more.


The “copy centre” is where you can find information about transcription requests for braille business cards, menus, personal letters, textbooks and other documents.


Glance through the greeting cards and the gift shop: You will find braille mugs, wrist bands, keychains, bookmarks, magnets and my favourite: The braille chocolate molds! We used these to make chocolate bars to include in everyone’s stocking last year, and they were a huge hit! Some of the hand-carved braille Christmas ornaments also found a home on our tree.


Searching for a gift but can’t decide? You can also select an amount and purchase a gift certificate.


I’ve barely scratched the surface. The BLC board wishes you happy browsing and happy holidays, whatever you may be celebrating this holiday season.

By Natalie Martiniello


In the News

++CNIB demands more funding for vision rehabilitation programs:

A Nova Scotia woman who is blind says it’s time the province steps up its funding to help people with vision loss transition to their new reality.


Pat Gates says there’s a double standard in health care, where some with disabilities are fully funded, while those who are blind are on their own.


In 2000, Gates lost all sight in one eye, and was left with cloudy vision in the other. At 47 years old, she was legally blind and had no idea what to do.


“I was afraid to go out on my own because of what I might not see on the sidewalk,” she said. “I was very angry.”


She said she entered a “vacuum.” Over the next 10 years, she rarely left her apartment.


“I had no support. I didn’t know anyone who had lost vision so I couldn’t say to them ‘what did you do?'”


Finally, she discovered the services offered by Canadian National Institute for the Blind. A therapist helped her relearn basic skills such as cooking and how to use her computer.


“I was able to learn how to use the white cane, which gave me back my independence,” she says.


But CNIB says it may have to cut some of its six therapists that offer those programs in Nova Scotia.


The charity depends on provincial funding to cover the costs. This year, it received $530,460 from the departments of health and community services.


Some of it – $175,000 – is stable funding, but the rest is determined annually and was recently cut. CNIB says it needs just more than $1 million to operate the rehabilitation programs.


Pam Gow-Boyd, regional vice-president of CNIB, says there’s a double standard.


“When a Nova Scotian requires rehab for reasons other than vision loss – as the result of a stroke or hearing loss or amputation, for example – the rehabilitation services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy and the support of an audiologist or social worker are provided within our health-care system,” she says.


“Our question is, why are blind Nova Scotians treated differently?”


Gates uses stronger language.


“What the government needs to do is to offer a credible explanation to the blind and partially-sighted population in this province as to why they’re discriminating against us,” she says.


“We deserve the same services as everyone else, but for some reason they put us in a different category.”


CNIB recently cut five positions including two public education jobs to save money, but Gow-Boyd says any more cuts will hurt the rehabilitation specialists if funding isn’t increased.


“When we cut a position at this point, we are in a crisis situation,” she says.


Gow-Boyd is offering a solution. She says if a stable funding formula can’t be established, CNIB will gladly hand over control of the therapy programs.


Gates will be joining CNIB Thursday afternoon at a planned rally at Province House to draw attention to the funding issue.

CBC News




Don’t forget – your chapter still has time to get your dues in to receive the 50% rebate. The deadline for the rebate is Monday, December 7, 2015.




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


To avoid shipping delays PLEASE NOTE the deadline for submitting WCW orders is Friday, December 11, 2015 so that orders can be assembled and shipped in plenty of time for WCW February 7 – 13, 2015.


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. To ensure a minimum of 2 weeks for packages to reach you we will not be shipping anything after January 15, 2016.


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


For questions, assistance, or a copy of the form please contact Camilla Simon at or call