Category: CCB Newsletters

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




National Newsletter November 2015

Nov 06 2015


CCB National Newsletter
November 2015

++GTT Invitation: GTT Victoria, BC, invites you to the Belfry Theatre for the described performance of Chelsea Hotel ñ The Songs of Leonard Cohen, November 8 at 2:00†PM

The Belfry Theatre in Victoria will be hosting another VocalEye described performance on Sunday November 8 at 2:00 p.m.

Chelsea Hotel – The Songs of Leonard Cohen stars six immensely talented actor/musicians who play 17 instruments in this glowing piece, featuring many of Cohen’s most loved songs.

For tickets and to reserve your VocalEye headset call (250) 385-6815.
++GTT News: GTT (Get Together with Technology) is growing and thriving and expanding.

As the founder of GTT, I am very excited by this and thank all group leaders, participants, volunteers and community partners for all of your support.

Our newest GTT is a teleconference group for northern Ontario.†
This group met for the first time on October 15 and plans to meet every third Thursday of the month.†

The group’s first topic was adaptations around the house. We touched on everything from labeling cans, marking appliances, bar code readers, apps, talking book players and more.

To find contacts for GTT in your area, see the below list. †If you are interested in starting a GTT where you are, please get in touch.†

Remember that everyone is welcome to join in our national GTT call on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 PM Eastern.
By Kim Kilpatrick

British Columbia
For general inquiries regarding BC:
Albert Rule
(250) 240-2343

Vancouver, BC
Shawn Marsolais at Blind Beginnings
(604) 434-7243
Victoria, BC
Tom Dekker
(250) 661-9799

Edmonton, AB
Gerry Chevalier
(780) 465-7021

Ottawa, ON
Kim Kilpatrick
(613) 567-0311

Toronto, ON

Northern Ontario
Please contact Kim Kilpatrick until an official e-mail is set up.

Kingston, ON
Maryse Theberge at CNIB Kingston
(613) 542-4975 X 5288

Pembroke, ON
Leona Emberson at Ottawa CNIB
(613) 563-4021

Sydney, Nova Scotia
Louise Gillis

National call in info.
The National call is on the second Wednesday of every month at 7 pm Eastern time.
Conference Number 5670311

Follow our blog to get updates on topics and presentations for this call as well as other groups.

If your city is not listed above and you want to get involved, please contact Kim Kilpatrick the CCB National office at or 1-877-304-0968 to learn more about how you might start a local GTT chapter, or receive training and support.

++Vision Quest 2015, Vancouver November†14, 2015
GTT Vancouver has been offered a booth at this event, and Albert Ruel will present a one-hour discussion in the use of assistive technology in daily life for work, play and recreation.

Vendors will also have booths with a wide range of services, technology and supports on offer.

An education session for individuals & families living with vision loss 2015

Hosted by: The Foundation Fighting Blindness
Presented by BAYER INC.

VANCOUVER | November 14, 2015
Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre
515 West Hastings St.

REGISTER TODAY! We sell out fast.

Book now!
Phone: 1.800.461.3331 ext. 263
Social Media: Facebook/FightingBlindnessCanada

Explore how research is restoring hope and sight for people living with vision loss. Meet Canadaís top researchers, learn about the latest in sight-saving research and therapies, and have your questions answered.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD): Today & Tomorrow, Inherited Retinal Disease, Making Sense of Clinical Trials, Assistive Technology, Orientation & Mobility, Parenting and families, and Youth: Building a Better Future
Proudly Sponsored by: BAYER. ALLERGAN, NOVARTIS

++World Braille Day, January 4, 2016: The World Braille Day webpage has now been created on the Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) website, and there is a press release there as well. You can find the webpage by searching for the “World Braille Day” link on the BLC home page

(found right below the heading for News).
Here’s a direct link to the webpage:

Assistive Technology
++IBM Research and Carnegie Mellon Create Open Platform to Help the Blind Navigate Surroundings:
Scientists from IBM Research (NYSE: IBM) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) announced the first of a kind open platform designed to support the creation of smartphone apps that can enable the blind to better navigate their surroundings.

The IBM and CMU researchers used the platform to create a pilot app, called NavCog, that draws on existing sensors and cognitive technologies to inform blind people on the CMU campus about their surroundings by “whispering” into their ears through earbuds or by creating vibrations on smartphones. The app analyzes signals from Bluetooth beacons located along walkways and from smartphone sensors to help enable users to move without human assistance, whether inside campus buildings or outdoors.

Researchers are exploring additional capabilities for future versions of the app to detect who is approaching and what is their mood.

NavCog app will soon be available at no cost on the App Store.

The first set of cognitive assistance tools for developers is now available via the cloud through IBM Bluemix at

The open toolkit consists of an app for navigation, a map editing tool and localization algorithms that can help the blind identify in near real time where they are, which direction they are facing and additional surrounding environmental information. The computer vision navigation application tool turns smartphone images of the surrounding environment into a 3-D space model to help improve localization and navigation for the visually impaired.
“While visually impaired people like myself have become independent online, we are still challenged in the real world. To gain further independence and help improve the quality of life, ubiquitous connectivity across indoor and outdoor environments is necessary,” said IBM Fellow Chieko Asakawa, visiting faculty member at Carnegie Mellon. “I’m excited that this open platform will help accelerate the advancement of cognitive assistance research by giving developers opportunities to build various accessibility applications and test non-traditional technologies such as ultrasonic and advanced inertial sensors to assist navigation.”

The combination of these multiple technologies is known as “cognitive assistance,” an accessibility research field dedicated to helping the blind regain information by augmenting missing or weakened abilities. Researchers plan to add various localization technologies, including sensor fusion, which integrates data from multiple environmental sensors for highly sophisticated cognitive functioning, such as facial recognition in public places. Researchers also are exploring the use of computer vision to characterize the activities of people in the vicinity and ultrasonic technology to help identify locations more accurately.

“From localization information to understanding of objects, we have been creating technologies to make the real-world environment more accessible for everyone,” said Martial Hebert, director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon.
“With our long history of developing technologies for humans and robots that will complement humans’ missing abilities to sense the surrounding world, this open platform will help expand the horizon for global collaboration to open up the new real-world accessibility era for the blind in the near future.”

IBM has been committed to technology innovation and accessibility for people with disabilities for more than 100 years, helping to ensure that employees, customers and citizens have equal access to information they need for work and life.

Some early innovations for the blind include a Braille printer, a talking typewriter, and the first commercially viable screen reader.

++Trust Your Buddy, Free Demo Day!:

Trust Your Buddy is a new CCB program, sponsored by the Ontario provincial government, to increase health/fitness in communities across the province.

It is focused on bringing mainstream sporting/rec opportunities to those who are blind/visually impaired in our communities

It is being coordinated by Ryan Van Praet, elite para-athlete, and a big believer that sport can/should be available for all. He is striving to help blind/VI persons undertake everyday activities so they too can a) live a healthy life and b) participate along with their friends and family.

Trust Your Buddy Free Demo Day details:

Accessible sport & recreation for the BLIND & VISUALLY IMPAIRED.

Sat. Nov 28, 2015 12-3pm
St.Clair College HealthPlex
Grand Ave. West, Chatham ON

Adapting everyday sports to allow for friends and families to participate together including:

Running, Cycling, Curling, TRX and more.
Sighted Guide Demos too!

All ages, abilities & visual impairments welcome!
(Under 18 must be accompanied by parent/guardian)

For more information, pleas contact: Ryan @ 226-627-2179
++Early Bird Draw Winners for 2016 Membership Dues
We are pleased to announce we had many chapters send in their dues by the Early Bird Draw deadline!

The two lucky winning chapters who will receive their entire 2016 dues back are:

CCB Bathurst Chapter, NB
CCB London Chapter, ON


Donít forget ñ 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 chapterís 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 ñ 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 chapterís WCW events.

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

In the News
++Running with a hero:
Hero [heer-oh] (
ï a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities
ï an illustrious warrior
ï one who shows great courage

Every runner goes through tough training days – days when you just donít feel like going for a run. Luckily for me, those days have been few and far between ñ but after The Army Run 2015, in Ottawa, ON, Iím not sure I will ever have one of those days again.

I have been running for quite a few years. Iíve completed a lot of races, from 5k to Ultra Marathon, but the most meaningful races to me have always been those in which I am helping someone else meet their goals. I have brought siblings and friends through finish lines ñ as well as strangers as a Pace Bunny ñ and all of those experiences have been awesome. Getting hugs and selfie requests from people I have only known for a few hours on the road is pretty cool. But at this yearís Army Run Half Marathon, I ran maybe the most meaningful race of my life: with my new running buddy, Gaston.

Gaston Bedard is 63 years old and lives in Aylmer, Quebec. Gaston has been a runner his entire adult life, and has a sub-3-hour personal best marathon time as a sighted runner. (Incredible.) Gaston has had Usher Syndrome since childhood, which gradually over the years has left him deaf blind. He has the use of hearing aids for regular life, but he cannot wear them running: so when he runs, he is both completely blind and completely deaf. In 2014, Gaston completed the Ottawa Marathon with the assistance of 3 guides in under 5 hours, a time that enabled him to qualify for Boston. He ran the Boston Marathon in April 2015 with the assistance of 2 guides.

I had contacted several organizations over the last couple of years expressing my interest in becoming a guide runner. I knew guiding would be much more difficult than being a Pace Bunny, but I also had a feeling it would be even more rewarding. I was up for the challenge.
Gaston and I were brought together by Achilles Canada (
It is very unfortunate we donít live in the same city (I live in Halifax, NS) ñ he could really use someone to train with on a regular basis, and I would love to be able to run with him more often. He does have a few guides in the Ottawa area who run with him, but since he cannot run outside unless one of them runs with him, he can never have too many. Whenever he canít run with one of his guides, he is forced to run on a treadmill at a gym, which most runners only do as a last resort. For Gaston, unfortunately, itís a necessary evil. If no guides are available, itís the only choice he has.

I had many email exchanges, a few phone conversations, and two in-person meetings with Gaston before our first run together at the Army Run on September 20th. We learned a lot about each other and he taught me how to communicate with him during the race using hand signals and touch. I thought a lot about everything I needed to do the few days before the race, going over it again and again in my head to make sure I was as prepared as I could be on race day. I thought I was prepared ñ I was so naÔve. Nothing could have prepared me for how difficult, or how rewarding, the experience would be.

First: the difficult. Running is one of the easiest things you can do. It is a very natural movement and with a reasonable fitness level, just about anyone can do it. Running fast or running far obviously brings more challenge, but just simply running on your own is very easy. Running attached to another human, though, is significantly more difficult. You have to always be aware of the other person, and try as hard as possible to stay in synch and keep the contact comfortable. Running attached to a blind person adds another level of difficulty. As sighted runners we can navigate manhole covers, large cracks in the road, metal bridge reinforcementsÖ a blind runner obviously canít navigate these uneven terrain issues and it is up to their guide to steer them and guide them properly.

After as little as 5k, I was exhausted, mostly mentally I suspect, but I felt it physically. All the pushing and pulling was taxing muscles that I clearly donít work often enough! It took me quite a while to get comfortable, but I think after that first 5k I relaxed a little bit and started doing a better job. Not being able to talk to Gaston was not as difficult as I expected it to be ñ he is very intuitive and knows what to ask me that I can answer with a simple sign. Obviously had I been able to communicate with him verbally it would have been much easier, but I think we did ok with the signing.

Second: the rewarding. I have never heard so much positive reinforcement in my life. After the race, Gaston got his hearing aids from the car and I told him it was such a shame that he couldnít hear all of the comments from the other runners and volunteers on the course. I suspect given this was the Army Run, there was more encouragement than usual, but it was the first time I had ever experienced it, and it was truly amazing. So many people thanked me, thanked him, and told him he was such an inspirationÖ And he really is.
It was a very emotional 2+ hours for me.

Iím not sure I will ever have one of those days where I donít feel like going for a run again. All I will have to do is think back to how grateful Gaston was to get out onto the streets of Ottawa on that beautiful fall day and participate in that wonderful running event with thousands of other people ñ and how much courage he has to do that, despite the significant challenges he faces doing it. The rest of us have it so easy; and we shouldnít take that for granted.

Gaston is a person who is admired for bravery, is an illustrious warrior, and shows great courage. On top of all this, he is just an all-around awesome man. He truly is a hero and I am incredibly honoured to have been able to guide him. Iím so looking forward to our next run together.
By Melinda Lee

++Accessible Tourism ñ Brazil Focuses on Visually Impaired Visitors

Brazil has launched a set of unique projects based on sensory experiences aimed at visually impaired tourists.

What is known as sensory tourism allows people with visual impairments to enjoy attractions through other senses such as touch or smell. This is the type of concept Brazils Tourism Ministry has been working on in several of its most iconic cities.

The Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro, for example, invites visitors to come into contact with orchids as well as basil, rosemary, sage and mint seedlings with all their different textures and smells, especially arranged to stimulate the senses.

Marcelle Silveira, director of Environmental Education at the Brasilia Zoo, said that every two weeks they offer walks for groups of up to 15 people, where visitors are allowed to touch the animals.

According to Viviane Lemes, a travel agency owner, tour itineraries linked to coffee and the taste and aroma of traditional drinks were well received in a recent pilot visit to a farm in Araguari in the State of Minas Gerais.

The agency organized a tour with a visually impaired group, which allowed them to experience the stages of coffee production: harvesting, drying yards, pulped coffee, the bean selection process, the levels of roasting, and even tasting the quality of the drink.

Also along these lines, a gallery in S„o Paulos Pinacoteca Museum allows touching the 12 bronze sculptures that are part of the museumís collection.

Size, shape, texture and aesthetic diversity facilitate understanding and appreciation of these artistic works when felt with hands, hence their selection took into account recommendations by the people with visual disabilities.

In the view of Rosangela Barqueiro, who is part of the Brazilian Association for Assistance of the Visually Impaired, minor adaptations are all that is needed in order to include the visually impaired in tourism.

ìThe training of guides and assistants to deal with this type of visitor can solve most of the problems in this segment,î he said. According to Rosangela, another challenge is to provide audio descriptions and texts in Braille.

Currently, there is also a project underway to facilitate access to beaches in Pernambuco, RÌo de Janeiro, Alagoas, S„o Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul.These sites make provision for equipment such as mechanical belts or amphibious chairs, and also promote activities like sitting volleyball and an adaptation of traditional bowling.

For its part, the Tourism Ministry has created the AcessÌvel Tourism website in collaboration with the Human Rights Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic and the National Council on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CONADE).

On the website you can check the accessibility of tourist sites, hotels, restaurants and various attractions in Brazil. Users can also suggest new facilities or places of interest which will help people with disabilities or reduced mobility to travel around the country with greater independence.
This initiative, which is also available on a Smartphone app, won last yearís National Prize for Web Accessibility.

++Running blind comes easy with a pal or two:
John Tomasino couldn’t see the cheering crowds, the other runners or even the route in front of him at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront half marathon this past weekend. But he didn’t let that stop him from running.

The 53-year-old teacher is legally blind, with only some light perception. He ran with two guides, tethered to one by a short leash.

His seeing eye humans warned of obstacles such as potholes, steered him along the course and gently nudged him to drink enough water.

“It’s really a communication game,” said Tomasino, who was born with a rare genetic eye disease that has caused his vision to deteriorate almost completely.

Tomasino was one of about 30 runners, the majority of them visually impaired, who raced with volunteer guides in Sunday’s marathon and half-marathon.

The tethered groups make for “constant chatting, constant camaraderie,” and Tomasino, making the ordinarily solitary pursuit into something of a mini-team sport.

Many of his fellow teachers at the Toronto District School Board find it hard to believe he could ever run a half-marathon.

“They look at me like I’m some sort of superhuman,” Tomasino said. “It is possible.”

The guides are all volunteers, and the teams train with a group called Achilles Canada, a chapter of a larger international group for runners with disabilities.

Alastair Taylor, one of Tomasino’s guides and a long-time marathon runner, said he wanted to be a guide because his own stepson is visually impaired. The half marathon was his first guiding experience, but he said it won’t be his last.

The teams spend hours together training, talking about everything from their careers to the Blue Jays, said Taylor, who tried running with his eyes closed when he first volunteered to see what it was like.

“It was just terrifying,” he said. “If you don’t have a horizon to get used to, it’s weird.”

Being a guide is much different from running solo, but not overly challenging. “You’re constantly looking out for things that could be a problem,” Taylor said.

Brian McLean started the Canadian chapter of Achilles International in 1999 after he was forced to stop running outside as his own vision deteriorated.

“I was just constantly running in to hydrants, pedestrians or light poles,” he said.

The guide runners are recruited through social media and word of mouth, and group runs are held in the Beaches and midtown twice a week.

Most runners are visually impaired, but some have conditions such as head injuries and just need someone to run alongside them.
Tim Sullivan, from Hamilton, ran the full marathon with a team of three guides last Sunday.

Sullivan, who still has some vision, said he might be able to do marathons without the guides, but it would be much harder.

“It just makes it so much easier for me to have two or four sets of eyes that can help me get from point A to point B,” he said.

For Pamela Thistle, who was running her first half-marathon on Sunday, the guides are the only way she would be able to participate. Born with Usher syndrome, she has both hearing and sight loss and hasn’t been able to work as her condition has worsened in recent years.

The 43-year-old was not a runner when she had more of her sight.

“I don’t know what possesses me to do it, but it keeps me busy and it gives me a goal,” Thistle said. “This is a new journey.”
By May Warren, for the Toronto Star.
++Safety With Style:
Ice Halo, the Canadian owned and manufacturer of the innovative head band protection for sports or pleasure. Check out the new styles that now include Halo Hats at

Donít risk losing ice time in your favourite activity ñ Donít hold back your best because of that nagging fear of a nasty fall. Its lightweight, closed cell construction doesnít make your head hot and the Velcro closures make it adjustable and secure. The choice of material and colour make it easy to find the right one for you. Itís available in team colours, and you can customize with your corporate logo. The Ice Halo is a great way to keep you or your friends and loved ones safer on the ice.

Several styles and many colours to choose from!
Lori Fry continues in her role as representative for the blind in Canada with Ice Halo and is able to provide discounted prices to curlers or others looking for stylish head protection. Many thanks to Barbara Armstrong, President of Ice Halo for her sponsorship of the 100 Mile House Blind Curling Team and such strong support to the vision impaired and blind community of Canada. A small percentage of each sale will be donated to the 100 Mile Blind Curling Team.

In order to receive special reduced pricing on your order, please contact Lori at 250-395-2452 or

20 James Street Suite 100
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0T6
Telephone: (613) 567-0311
Fax: (613) 567-2728
Toll Free: 1-877-304-0968


National Newsletter June 2015

Oct 01 2015

++Blind Bowling: On Saturday May 9th, the “South/West Challenged Bowlers” held their second annual bowling tournament in Chatham, Ontario. This tournament consisted of  blind and visually impaired 5-pin bowlers and the word  “challenged“ opens it up to anyone who is disabled and able to  participate. The tournament consisted of two teams from Chatham, one each from London and Sarnia along with three from Windsor.


The final results were:

Sarnia – first place with gold

London – second place with silver

Windsor – third place with bronze


Congratulations to all participants!


This event is relatively new and will be further enhanced by representation from Hamilton next year.


The Windsor blind bowlers participate at the Playdium Recreation Centre each Wedndsday during the bowling season, and is co-sponsored by the Windsor Downtown Lions Club.


Submitted by

Ken Christie – Chairman

Windsor Blind Bowlers


Get Together with Technology (GTT) – Upcoming Meetings


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


Agenda for the June Edmonton GTT Meeting:

Location: Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 – 83 Street NW, Edmonton. Enter from back door.

Time: Monday June 8, 7pm to 9pm. If you arrive after 7pm the door may be locked. Please ring bell on right side of door.

Theme: Apple iDevices continued plus your technology, your questions.


*As you requested, for the first 45 minutes we will continue our discussion on iPhone and other iDevices. Then we will break into groups to continue other topics.

*Jonathan Sieswerda and Russell Solowoniuk will lead a breakout group to discuss MAC computers.

*Pat Hornell and Bob Logue will lead a discussion on using computers to create music.

*Others – bring your technology and questions and we will match you up with those who have answers!


Who Should Attend?

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


For more information contact Gerry Chevalier: or call 780-465-7021




++GTT Nanaimo Meeting Invitation:

Special Announcement: Nanaimo GTT Meetings will be moving to a new day, the 1st Thursday of each month at the usual time, 1:30 until 3:30 PM.


Please note that our next Nanaimo GTT meeting will take place on Thursday, June 4, 2015, and that this meeting will take place from 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM. It will be held at the same place as always.


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

When: Thursday, June 4, 2015

**Time: 1:00 until 5:00 PM


Featured in the June meeting will be AbleTech Assistive Technology Inc and a Representative from Humanware. They will bring along some of their latest gadgets, as well as some that have been upgraded with features and functions designed to allow blind and low vision people to remain active in their lives and community. To find out more about these two organizations point your browser to;


During this presentation/hands-on session you will have access to low vision, blindness and learning disability related assistive technology, as well as two experts in the field of assistive technology sales, assessment and training.


To RSVP, please call Albert Ruel at 250-240-2343 email at (, or Donna Hudon at 250-618-0010 email at (




++GTT Victoria Meeting Invitation, Wednesday, June 3, 2015

You’re Invited

Where: Fort Tectoria, 777 Fort Street, Victoria BC;

When: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

**Time: 12:30 until 4:30 PM


For more information contact Tom Dekker at 250-661-9799 or (mailto:, or Albert Ruel at

250-240-2343 or (mailto:


Featured in the June meeting will be AbleTech Assistive Technology Inc and a Representative from Humanware. They will bring along some of their latest gadgets, as well as some that have been upgraded with features and functions designed to allow blind and low vision people to remain active in their lives and community. To find out more about these two organizations point your browser to;


During this presentation/hands-on session you will have access to low vision, blindness and learning disability related assistive technology, as well as two experts in the field of assistive technology sales, assessment and training.


To RSVP, please call Tom Dekker at 250-661-9799

Or by email at


In order to get information about upcoming GTT meetings and conference calls as well as meeting notes and resources, please subscribe to the GTT blog. To register please visit the web page below. Look near the bottom of the page for a heading called, “Follow “GTT Program blog and resources” and leave your email address in the edit field below that heading. You will receive an email message asking you to confirm that you wish to be subscribed, and clicking on the “confirmation” link in that message will complete the process.


++Spring Has Sprung in Halifax!

After what seemed like a long and frustrating winter, members of the Advocacy & Awareness Chapter in Halifax, Nova Scotia along with their white canes and guide dogs have emerged from their cocoons and are mobile again!  The winter proved to be a very real challenge for us this year but we did manage to arrive in one piece at our monthly Chapter meetings!


Recently, two of our Chapter members, Milena Khazanavicius and her four legged companion, Louis, and Bernard Bessette spoke to approximately fifty young students at a Frontier College gathering in the City.  They spoke on their experiences and the challenges of living with vision loss and how they are living successful and independent lives.  By all accounts Milena and Bernard were very well received by their young audience who had many questions to ask of them.  We can also be sure that Milena’s furry four-legged friend, Louis, was also well received.


At our May Chapter meeting, we hosted a presenter from a local natural gas provider who wanted to speak with us regarding their company minimizing the safety risk to those with vision loss while the Company is installing pipelines and doing construction around the City.  A lively discussion was held and many suggestions were provided to make work sites safer.  The presenter will return to the September Chapter meeting with something that we hope will provide safer conditions for all.


This winter we also worked with members of the Municipal Parks & Recreation Department to provide input regarding the selection of a new site for a Service Dog Park in the urban core of the City.  A suitable site has been selected and we now await approval from City Council for the work to proceed.  The previous Service Dog Park has to be relocated due to the construction of a roundabout.  Members of our Chapter also had input and helpful suggestions to give City officials on that roundabout once it was decided that it would move forward.


Halifax also has a fabulous new Central Library in the downtown core, the building itself is unique to the country.  Our Chapter was able to assist with some suggestions regarding improvement in accessibility for those of us who are blind and partially sighted and these suggestions are currently being implemented.  It is definitely a library that draws the community together!


Currently, our Chapter is preparing to take part in Nova Scotia’s Access Awareness Week by hosting a White Cane and Guide Dog Walk through Halifax’s historic Public Gardens on Saturday, June 6.  We invite all those who are interested in joining us for a pleasant stroll around the Gardens followed by refreshments. Should Mother Nature bless us with more than a light drizzle, the rain date for the walk will be the following Saturday, June 13. This Awareness Walk will highlight the independence that our white canes and guide dogs provide to us as we travel with confidence throughout our communities.


We have also resumed our quest to have a very busy business/shopping park on the outskirts of the City made more accessible to those with disabilities as well as for the general public.  We were successful in working with the City to have a sidewalk installed in order to allow people to disembark safely from local transit buses and now we are working towards making a huge parking lot accessible for everyone.  We are partnering with the local CNIB office as well as with other organizations to make this happen!  Wish us luck!


Our Chapter has also worked this winter on writing a pamphlet relating to assisting those with vision loss while they are shopping at various locations.  Once the graphics have been completed, the brochure will be produced for local distribution and perhaps, in the future, can be circulated to a wider audience in other provinces.  We are very proud of the work that has been done on the pamphlet and major kudos go to Barry Abbott and Barbara LeGay for their work on this project.


We are also very pleased that very shortly we will be re-launching our Chapter Facebook page and using Twitter to let people know about events that we may be planning.


Although we don’t meet in July and August, members of our 2015 Workshop Planning Committee will continue to meet during those months to plan our next workshop which we hope to hold in the fall of this year.  We are planning to hold “hands on” technology sessions that will assist those of us who may have a variety of questions and or solutions that will help others.


We continue to work on various issues that affect the blind and partially sighted in our community such as independent ATM’s – many have the portals for ear phones but once the ear piece is plugged in, nothing happens!  This is an ongoing issue for us.


The Advocacy & Awareness Chapter in Halifax is looking forward to a summer of warmth, with gentle ocean breezes and lots of fun activities!  We wish all our CCB friends a wonderful summer season and we’ll see you in September!


Submitted by

Patricia (Pat) Gates, Chair

CCB Advocacy & Awareness Chapter, Halifax, Nova Scotia



++Shot in the Dark: Eighth-grader Micah is psyched to have made the BC junior goalball team— even though he gets the news while in the hospital dealing with a flare-up of his degenerative eye condition.


What he’s not happy about is his parents’ decision to get him a guide dog, and the possibility of losing his independence.


When Liam, a new, first-rate player, joins the goalball team, Micah’s frustration with his vision spills onto the court. He is rude to Liam and starts a fight with another teammate, Sebastian, after practice. It’s only with the help of Cam, his Orientation and Mobility Specialist that Micah starts to get a handle on his aggression and trust people enough to communicate how he feels.


But with the team’s big junior tournament in Vancouver quickly approaching, Micah has to reconcile his differences with Liam and Sebastian — both on and off the court — to become a real team player and help his team win the championship.


Shot in the Dark is part of Lorimer’s Sports Stories series for reluctant readers — an action-packed series of books for young sports nuts who will relish reading all about their favorite pastime. Sports Stories reflect the realities of kids’ own lives where there are winners, losers, and lots of players in between.


JANET WHYTE is a former equestrian and the author of five books, including the Lorimer Sports Stories novel Rescue Rider. Janet lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she works as a library technician at Langara College.


++Cribbage E-Mail Tournament – DEADLINE EXTENDED

Please be advised that the CCB National Cribbage E-Mail Tournament deadline date has been extended to June 22, 2015.  Due to computer crashes, the committee felt that it would be fair to all Chapters involved,

in order to gather the correct statistics.

Bill Rizzo

National Tournament Chair


++Audio Described Performances at Stratford, Ontario:

The Stratford Festival offers audio description of the action and atmosphere at selected performances for patrons who are blind or have low vision.  It’s like Descriptive Video at live theatre!


Please join us at the following Described Performances:


The Sound of Music

Sunday, June 21, 2015, 2 p.m.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015, 2 p.m.



Sunday, July 26, 2015 2 p.m.

Saturday, September 5, 2015, 8 p.m.


The Diary of Anne Frank

Saturday, July 11, 2015, 2 p.m.

Friday, August 21, 2015, 2 p.m.



Sunday, July 19, 2015, 2 p.m.

Friday, August 28, 2015, 2 p.m.

The Taming of the Shrew

Sunday, September 13, 2015, 2 p.m.


Additional dates may be arranged for groups of 10 or more. Please inquire at:

Additional Information:

1.     Attendees are encouraged to arrive early for a pre-show description of the set and costumes, which begins 15 minutes before the performance.

2.     People who carry a valid CNIB or Access2Entertainment card can receive one complimentary theatre ticket for an accompanying support person.

3.     For our Toronto and Detroit patrons, the Festival has a direct bus service from the city centre to each of our four theatres. $20 return from Toronto; $40 return from Detroit. Please inquire about exact departure and arrival times and accessibility at the time of booking.

4.     The Festival offers Braille house programs that can be borrowed from the theatre or downloaded onto your personal Braille Note Taker.


Please contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 to book your tickets and reserve your headset.



In the News:

++Ocumetics Bionic Lens could give you vision 3x better than 20/20:


Imagine being able to see three times better than 20/20 vision without wearing glasses or contacts — even at age 100 or more — with the help of bionic lenses implanted in your eyes.


Dr. Garth Webb, an optometrist in British Columbia who invented the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, says patients would have perfect vision and that driving glasses, progressive lenses and contact lenses would become a dim memory as the eye-care industry is transformed.


Webb says people who have the specialized lenses surgically inserted would never get cataracts because their natural lenses, which decay over time, would have been replaced.


Perfect eyesight would result “no matter how crummy your eyes are,” Webb says, adding the Bionic Lens would be an option for someone who depends on corrective lenses and is over about age 25, when the eye structures are fully developed.


“This is vision enhancement that the world has never seen before,” he says, showing a Bionic Lens, which looks like a tiny button.


“If you can just barely see the clock at 10 feet, when you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away,” says Webb, demonstrating how a custom-made lens that folded like a taco in a saline-filled syringe would be placed in an eye, where it would unravel itself within 10 seconds.


He says the painless procedure, identical to cataract surgery, would take about eight minutes and a patient’s sight would be immediately corrected.


Webb, who is the CEO of Ocumetics Technology Corp., has spent the last eight years and about $3 million researching and developing the Bionic Lens, getting international patents and securing a biomedical manufacturing facility in Delta, B.C.


His mission is fuelled by the “obsession” he’s had to free himself and others from corrective lenses since he was in Grade 2, when he was saddled with glasses.


“My heroes were cowboys, and cowboys just did

not wear glasses,” Webb says.


“At age 45 I had to struggle with reading glasses, which like most

people, I found was a great insult. To this day I curse my

progressive glasses. I also wear contact lenses, which I also

curse just about every day.”


Webb’s efforts culminated in his recent presentation of the lens to 14 top ophthalmologists in San Diego the day before an annual gathering of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.


Dr. Vincent DeLuise, an ophthalmologist who teaches at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, says he arranged several meetings on April 17, when experts in various fields learned about the lens.


He says the surgeons, from Canada, the United States, Australia and the Dominican Republic, were impressed with what they heard and some will be involved in clinical trials for Webb’s “very clever” invention.


“There’s a lot of excitement about the Bionic Lens from very experienced surgeons who perhaps had some cynicism about this because they’ve seen things not work in the past. They think that this might actually work and they’re eager enough that they all wish to be on the medical advisory board to help him on his journey,” DeLuise says.


“I think this device is going to bring us closer to the holy grail of excellent vision at all ranges — distant, intermediate and near.”


Pending clinical trials on animals and then blind human eyes, the Bionic Lens could be available in Canada and elsewhere in about two years, depending on regulatory processes in various countries, Webb says.


As for laser surgery, which requires the burning away of healthy corneal tissue and includes potential problems with glare, the need for night-time driving glasses and later cataracts, Webb says the Bionic Lens may make that option obsolete.


Alongside his Bionic Lens venture, Webb has set up a foundation called the Celebration of Sight, which would donate money to organizations providing eye surgery in developing countries to improve people’s quality of life.


“Perfect eyesight should be a human right,” he says.


DeLuise, who has been asked to manage the foundation, says funds would also be funneled to some of the world’s best eye research institutes.


“He has the technology that may make all of this happen,” he says, adding several companies have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to develop a similar lens, though none have come close.

By Camille Bains, The Canadian Press


++Blind photographers break barriers with new exhibition in Toronto: The Mind’s Eye is on at The CNIB Centre in Toronto


How would you take a photograph if you couldn’t see?

That’s the question asked by a new exhibition called The Mind’s Eye, currently on view at the CNIB Centre in Toronto.


The installation, which is part of the city-wide Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, challenges misconceptions about blindness and vision.


“A lot of people have a misconception that people who are blind or partially sighted live in complete darkness all the time,” said CNIB spokesperson Suzanne van den Broek. “In fact that’s completely not true.”


One of the five photographers in the show is Nanaimo, B.C.’s Rose Kamma Sarkany.


As a teenager, she was diagnosed with Usher’s Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which causes deafblindness, a substantial degree of loss in sight and hearing.


Now 50, she has only 10 per cent of her vision remaining and could eventually lose that, but she hasn’t let it slow her down. She’s a marathon runner and painter, as well as a passionate photographer.


“With me, it’s like with the view finder, that limited view through the camera is what I see,” Sarkany told CBC News.


“So in my case it’s a good hobby to have.”


Sarkany admits that people are surprised when they hear she’s a photographer. She credits the advent of digital photography with allowing her to take many pictures to get one good one.


Dylan Johnson was born blind with congenital glaucoma, but thanks to various surgeries he now has partial vision, although he’s still categorized as legally blind.


He took up photography a few years ago as a hobby.


“Photography has always been a way for me to see in the way that I never actually could growing up,” said Johnson, who makes part of his living as a professional portrait photographer in Ottawa.


While his website is clear about his situation, when meeting prospective clients he hopes the quality of the work speaks for itself.


“It’s not the first thing I lead with because I’d probably scare a few people away if I tell them I am a legally blind photographer” he said.

Johnson said that he likely prepares far more than a photographer with normal sight since he knows he must pay greater attention to every detail.


As for the exhibition, both photographers are excited that it will bring their work to a wider audience.


“I hope that people look beyond our disabilities and just see us as photographers,” Sarakany said. “We’re definitely capable of taking pictures and being creative.”


The Mind’s Eye runs through May 22 at the CNIB Centre in downtown Toronto.

By Nigel Hunt, CBC News


++New Patrons of CCB:

The CCB is very pleased to welcome their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D., Governor General of Canada and Mrs. Sharon Johnston, C.C. as our new patrons.


David Johnston began his professional career as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University in 1966, moving to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law in 1968. He became dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario in 1974. In 1979, he was named principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University, and in July 1994, he returned to teaching as a full-time professor in the McGill Faculty of Law. In June 1999, he became the fifth president of the University of Waterloo.


His academic specializations include securities regulation, information technology and corporate law. Mr. Johnston holds an LL.B. from Queen’s University (1966); an LL.B. from the University of Cambridge (1965); and an AB from Harvard University (1963). While at Harvard, he was twice selected for the All-American hockey team and was named to Harvard’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He was the first non-American to chair Harvard’s Board of Overseers.


He is the author or co-author of 24 books including new editions, holds honorary doctorates from over 20 universities and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.


He was born in Sudbury, Ontario, and is married to Sharon Johnston. They have five daughters and 11 grandchildren.


Sworn in on October 1, 2010, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston is the 28th governor general since Confederation.


Sharon Johnston graduated from the University of Toronto in 1966 as a physical and occupational therapist, and subsequently worked in the area of child psychiatry. When the Johnston family moved to Montréal, she completed her master’s and doctorate degrees in rehabilitation science. At the master’s level, she studied a more effective way of clearing the small airways of cystic fibrosis sufferers. Her doctoral thesis examined the coordination of respiratory muscles during normal speech, stuttered speech and singing. Her thesis resulted in the publication of scientific articles on respiratory mechanics.


In 1999, Mr. and Mrs. Johnston moved from Montréal to Waterloo, Ontario. While Mr. Johnston was occupied running the University of Waterloo, Mrs. Johnston began an entirely new life at a hundred-acre farm and small horse-boarding business called Chatterbox Farm, which she managed for 12 years.


Farming and horses were entirely new to her, but suddenly this new adventure became a true passion. From its modest beginnings, Chatterbox Farm was a very successful horse-training centre in classical dressage.


Mrs. Johnston also wrote an autobiographical essay for inclusion in a collection on notable women of Montréal, and will soon be publishing a novel. The novel is a fictional account of life in southwestern Alberta during a colourful, post-Great War era, based on her grandmother’s experiences.


We will be highlighting 2 other new CCB patrons in the next issue of the newsletter.


++Mark your calendars!

Do you enjoy a time away from the city, personal relaxation and being challenged by cagey fish?  If so, mark the last weekend in May on your calendar to attend B.A.I.T. 2016 which is sponsored by the District A4 Lions Clubs.


This tournament started more than 25 years ago with one Pro Angler and one Visually Impaired angler.  Without the Lions Club participants numerous other volunteers and the various sponsors, this event would never take place.  In particular, we must thank Nangor Resorts, whose cooperative staff and gracious hospitality makes everyone feel at ease.


The scenery is beyond description and sounds of birds and wild life makes one feel very peaceful.


Bill Rizzo, Blind Angler


++Canadian Patient Charter for Vision Care


Through hard work and collaboration with the CNIB and other partners Canadian Council of the Blind is pleased to be part of the signing of the Canadian Patient Charter for Vision Care, the first step on the journey to improve the patient experience.  Canada’s leaders in eye health have come together to make a shared commitment to provide optimum patient-centered care – from prevention to diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation.


To view and read the entire charter, please click on the link below or visit our website at×18-ENG.pdf



++ With Our Sympathy


Sympathy is extended to the family & friends on the passing of Laura Lively a long time CCB Halifax member on May 14. 2015. Laura was an avid lawn bowler and played in several international events. She also attended many Atlantic Sports & Recreation weekends, taking part in most events.



++’Don’t Distract Working Guide Dogs’

is new CNIB Campaign Theme:

While they are cute enough to stop and pet, they are guide dogs and more often than not are on the job. A new campaign launched this week stresses the importance of allowing a working guide dog to do its work.

“A lot of our guide dog handlers have been distracted when out on the street with their dogs and they really express the need in the community that there’s not enough awareness out there about the actual safety implications of distraction on the handler,” said Christall Beaudry, CNIB Saskatchewan’s provincial manager.


The goal of the CNIB is to prevent guide dog distractions and make it safer for the animals and their handlers. Consultation sessions helped develop the campaign.


“We had some discussions about various scenarios around distractions, we generated ideas from the group and then our agency went back and really developed those ideas into new scenarios that were presented back to the group for feed back,” said Beaudry.


“We did want to keep it light-hearted. Humour tends to stick with people so we did keep it light-hearted for that reason,” said Beaudry.


Beaudry also acknowledges the seriousness of the message and the fact that distraction of a guide dog can result in a $25,000 fine or two years in jail. This is the first of a number of campaigns the CNIB wants to roll out about guide dog awareness. The campaign also involves social media and online.

By Aaron Streck, Global News



Enjoy your summer!

National Newsletter Sept 2015

Oct 01 2015

CCB National Newsletter

September 2015




++New Get Together with Technology (GTT) in Vancouver, BC:

GTT is coming to Vancouver!  Blind and low vision GTT participants meet monthly to share their experiences using assistive technologies in their everyday lives at school, work, or at home.


Agenda for the First Vancouver GTT Meeting:

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

Time: Wednesday, September 23, 10AM to 12Noon

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



  • How to use the touch screen to read information and navigate apps.
  • Basic tasks such as making phone calls, texting, emailing
  • Learn how to type on the screen or issue voice commands.
  • 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 Vancouver GTT group by sharing ideas for future meetings to discuss other blind or low vision assistive devices.


For more information contact:

Shawn Marsolais: or (604) 434-7243

Albert Ruel: or (250) 240-2343


++New Book Release: August 31, 2015: Charles Mossop, author and great friend and supporter of CCB, is pleased to announce the release of his latest short story, With Different Sight.  It’s a historical time travel fantasy – far from his usual mystery offerings – and the thing that makes it special for him is that it’s the first, and so far the only, story he has written in which sight loss is a central theme. It’s a tale about a young man who is able to meet and talk to three disabled people from the past and thereby come to a different understanding of who he is and of his life with a disability.


If you’d like to read it, you can find it in the format of your choice at most of the usual retailers such as Amazon, etc. or direct from the publisher at:


Thanks everyone, and we hope you enjoy the read!


++Get Set to Vote!  The dates are set, the candidates are ready and it’s time for you to make your decision. But what are your options if it happens that you can’t read that ballot as well as you used to?


Voting is a fundamental right for all Canadians over the age of 18, but for a long time people living with vision loss have experienced barriers when exercising their democratic right. Over time, many barriers have come down, but recent developments at Elections Canada have made the process more accessible than ever.


Previously, many people with vision loss had to vote with the help of a sighted assistant. In 2006, with the help of CCB, CNIB and other groups, Elections Canada produced a new plastic template that will allow people with vision loss to vote in private. The tool includes raised numbers and braille, and a large print list of candidates’ names. The template will be available in all polling stations for the next federal election.


++Onkyo Braille Essay Contest: The Onkyo Corporation is again sponsoring a braille essay contest for people of all ages.  Contest winners receive cash prizes valued from

$500 to $2,000. Essays must be received by September 13. The link for full information and application for the contest is below, but here are the basics.  Please help us spread the word!


The Onkyo Braille essay contest is being administered by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) on behalf of the North America-Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union.


Essays must be written by contest participants, in English or their native language, in Braille on paper, and must be completely original in nature. Participants are also asked to email their essays in electronic format (such as Microsoft Word or something similar).  Entries should be no fewer than 800 words and no more than 1,000 words in length. There will be two groups of competitors-one Junior group, aged 25 and under; and one Senior group, aged 26 and up, and prizes range from $500-$2,000.


Note that this year, the contest is running on a shorter timeline than previous years, so the time to begin writing is now! All essays must be received by September 13, 2015. In the US, they should be sent to the NFB, and in Canada, they should be sent to Braille Literacy Canada; the contacts are listed on the application at the link below.


Essay topics:

  1. How do you acquire knowledge and information through Braille or audio devices? (Illustrate with some interesting personal stories/episodes.)
  2. How can blind persons become independent by learning Braille or music?
  3. Individual concept about world peace from the viewpoint of persons with disabilities.


Visit for more information and an application.


Please use the following contacts if you have questions:

In Canada: Jen Goulden at In the US: Trisha Tatam at


++Young Leaders Summit: The National Young Leaders Summit is an opportunity for young people living with vision loss to learn valuable leadership skills, connect with others and to help imagine and initiate a better future for those with visual impairments.


The Young Leaders Summit is open to Canadians aged 17-29 and will take place in Toronto on October 16th & 17th, 2015, alongside our Vision Quest educational session.


The Summit is free to attend, and we are hoping to establish a scholarship to provide financial assistance. You can find out more about the summit and how to apply at:


Please note that all applications should be completed and forwarded to our Director of Research & Education, Dr. Mary Sunderland, no later than September 4, 2015 at:

Mary Sunderland, PhD

Director of Research and Education

416.360.4200 ext. 238


++Farewell and Thank-you!: After 49 years as Secretary-Treasurer for the CCB Moose Jaw White Cane Club, Geri Roman has decided to resign and move to the Okanagan Valley in BC. it will be a tearful departure as Geri considers the members to be like family.


We would like to welcome Leslie Knelsen, the new Secretary-Treasurer, for the chapter.


++New CCB Chapter coming! I am pleased to introduce CCB members throughout Canada to the new CCB Chapter that is forming. This chapter has no specific home base, we meet monthly on the telephone conference line.


Presently the four Atlantic Provinces are represented, and hopefully other provinces will get on the band wagon and join us.

The name of our group will be CCB Crafts & Hobbies Chapter. During our preliminary meeting in June, we did a lot of brain storming, and came up with endless ideas from knitting to gardening and lots in between. There were many things talked about that we would like to accomplish. This is a great brain wave of Michelle Bartram from Sydney, N.S.


The purpose of this chapter is to promote, encourage and enhance crafts and hobbies for Blind and Visually impaired People.


For persons interested in joining us, the group will meet on the conference line the second Monday of every month, at 6:30 pm Maritime time, and 7 pm NL time starting in September!   Come and join us, we would love to have you!


If you already pay the yearly dues to a specific chapter, you can join this new chapter as an “Auxiliary Member” and will not have to pay dues again join.


Any interested persons please get in touch with Michelle Bartram at 902-567-6871 or


++Accessible Travel Kiosks: The update to section 1.3 (accessible kiosks) of the Communications Code was published this summer and can be found at the links below. The update sets out criteria to be met beginning December 2016.


Implementation Guide Regarding Automated Self-Service Kiosks:


Removing Communication Barriers for Travelers with Disabilities:



++Atlantic Sports Weekend: CCB Miramichi Chapter enjoyed a wonderful weekend in Saint John New Brunswick. Seven members attended the Annual Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend Hosted by the CCB Saint John Chapter.  Participants were there from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.


The Hotel Staff of the Delta Brunswick were terrific accommodating all our requests and were there to assist with everything even down to the janitor who helped when we got lost.   We could not ask for anything better!


After arrival, registration and supper we attended the CCB Idol.  The entertainment was terrific and the numerous door prizes were a real hit with everyone.  It was great to meet old friends as well as make new ones throughout the weekend activities. The bright sunny Saturday morning was spent bowling and after Lunch there were all the track and field events – 60, 100 and 400 meter runs, Javelin, Shot Put, Discus, Horse Shoes and Washer Toss –  with many taking part.  Later that evening a social and dance was enjoyed by all and again lots & lots of door prizes.


After the late night we were up early and off to play Darts and Table Bowling.  The Sunday afternoon found some of us playing cribbage and some participants having a leisurely afternoon.   Sunday evening the crowd enjoyed a delicious Awards Banquet and medals were presented together with participation certificates and ribbons.


The past National Board Member for Newfoundland, Elizabeth Mayo, was presented with a Plaque and a Gift Certificate on behalf of the CCB National Board.


I applaud the CCB Saint John Chapter for all their work and efforts hosting this event especially Gerry Harris, Scott Rinehart and Estelle Middleton.  A Big Thank you to all three of you.  It takes many hours of planning, recruiting volunteers, organizing and a lot of long hours to make this happen and I believe you did a wonderful job.


Also, a big “Thank You” to the Atlantic Sport & Rec. Committee Chairperson, Michelle Bartram and the Sports Director for NB, Ross Needham, for assisting in this process.  Of course, our biggest “Thank You” goes out to Sandra Needham who volunteers and spends most of her weekend doing the stats of all of these events, organizing and presenting the Medals, Ribbons, etc. with the assistance of her husband Ross.  She does a great job and we commend her for her efforts.


On behalf of those attending I want to say that without all of these hard workers, especially the volunteers who were there for all Blind and Vision Impaired participants, we could not have done it without them.


We are already planning and looking forward to next year.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of CCB Miramichi Chapter


In the News

++Boston from my perspective:

I am a deaf, blind runner from Aylmer, Quebec. I ran and completed the Boston Marathon on April 20th, 2015.


It was a super team effort led by Team with a Vision, a group of blind and sighted athletes who run the Boston Marathon every year to raise funds and awareness for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.


Running Boston is everything they say it is. I’m told there were a lot of very fit-looking runners in and around our hotel. You could feel the energy, the excitement in the air everywhere.


At the start in Hopkinton, it took nine minutes just to cross the start line.


It was wet, cold, and windy most of the way. My two guides, Christopher Yule and Melany Gauvin, did a great job and kept me going. I feel we ran quite well through the Newton hills. When things got really tough in the last 12 kilometers, the knowledge that my son Marc would be at the finish line kept me focused. We crossed the finish line as a team, holding hands, with arms raised.


Marc was super helpful the whole weekend. He took photos of us around Boston. This was a special father-son adventure, and we pulled it off really well. I like to say, “When you have good people around you, it is amazing what you can do.”


This was my 16th marathon. I would love to run Boston again. I am now looking for sighted guides to train with and to run the next Boston in 2016.


by Gaston Bedard

Running Room Magazine

July August 2015, page 56.


++British Man Receives World’s First Bionic Eye Transplant, The world’s first bionic eye implant is a success:  Argus II, the bionic eye that restores sight, just successfully completed a clinical trial


The bionic man is extending farther and farther beyond the scope of science fiction and into the realm of reality, especially now that the world’s first bionic eye implant has been successfully performed on an 80-year-old British man suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The operation, which took place at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, corrected the long-ailing vision of Ray Flynn, who previously suffered from central vision loss. This meant that while he still had relative use of his peripheral vision, he was unable to “put the numbers in for [his] card when paying in a shop or at the bank,” or “tell the weeds from the flowers” while gardening.


But now, two weeks after last month’s surgery, Flynn is demonstrating that the replacement of his own retina by a retinal prosthesis called Argus II was a success. In clinical trials conducted this week, he was able to determine whether a series of black and white bars on a computer screen were “patterned vertically, horizontally, and diagonally,” something that would have been impossible to do with AMD.


While previous clinical trials had proven Argus II’s effectiveness, Flynn’s case is the first to show that a human subject has been successfully cured of the degenerative disease. As Dr. Paulo Stanga, the lead surgeon on Flynn’s case, told the BBC, “Mr. Flynn’s progress is truly remarkable, he is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively. I think this could be the beginning of a new era for patients with sight loss.”


The Argus II works by processing visual data that is collected from a tiny camera on glasses a patient wears that is later converted into electrical pulses and sent wirelessly to electrodes found in the retinal prosthetic.


This electric signal then stimulates cells that ultimately send information to the brain about what the patient is “seeing.”


The coolest thing about the implant is that it allows the wearer to “see” with his or her eyes closed – in conducting the experiment with Flynn, doctors ensured that he never opened his eyes so they could guarantee that the visual information he was processing was via the camera on his glasses and the implant, and not his natural eyes. Said Flynn, “It was wonderful to be able to see the bars on the screen with my eyes closed.” While this is by no means a way to restore 20/20 vision, Argus II is allowing patients to reclaim a level of sight that many had previously feared permanently lost.


At the end of the day, says Cathy Yelf, a member of the Macular Society, “This is an exciting result and we are following the progress of these trials with great interest. Macular degeneration can be a devastating condition and very many people are now affected as we live longer. These are early trials but in time this research may lead to a really useful device for people who lose their central vision.”

By Lulu Chang   – July 22, 2015


++Kanata, Ontario-based tech company helping legally blind to see:  eSight founder launches charity for vision-impaired


Take a look

Research and development that took place in Kanata, Ontario has resulted in a set of high-tech specs that can help the legally blind to see.


Now, the founder of the company which produces the glasses has launched a charitable organization aimed at helping those with vision impairments to afford the $15,000 specs as well as technology produced by other companies.


Conrad Lewis, engineer and eSight founder, launched the Lewis Vision Improvement Foundation at the Marshes Golf and Country Club on June 4, where eSight eyewear was demonstrated.


The glasses contain a pair of screens which display high quality video from a camera at the front of the glasses. The battery-powered eyewear can automatically adjust contrast, brightness and other settings to a user’s needs or preferences.

Users can also manually adjust settings and focus, allowing them to zoom or even stream video content from a DVD or other device directly to the eyewear.


The eyewear cannot help those with absolutely no vision, but improves vision for those with sight problems or who are legally blind, said eSight’s vice-president of marketing and outreach, Taylor West.


“Our sort of clinical sweet spot is from a visual acuity of about 20/60 to 20/400,” said West.


Someone with 20/60 vision can see from 20 feet what a person a person with normal vision can see from 60 feet, and someone with 20/400 vision can only see from 20 feet what others can see from 400 feet.


Available since late 2013, more than 300 pairs of eSight eyewear have been sold, said West.


Customer testimonials indicate the eyewear has a powerful impact on users’ lives, allowing some to stay in school, keep their jobs or secure new ones, and in at least one case, allow a brand new mother to see her baby despite being legally blind since childhood.


“I can’t even put it into words,” said Carolyn Bradley, client relations manager with eSight, of the glasses’ impact. “Grown men burst into tears.”


But the technology is both life changing and expensive, said West.

“I don’t think that we have any problem with value, but $15,000 is a lot of money and we want to make it as affordable as possible,” he said.

West said he could not talk about the cost of manufacturing the glasses versus the selling price, but said the technology used in the glasses is cutting-edge and costly, and eSight is continuing to improve the eyewear with software improvements and, in the long term, better hardware.


The company also supports their customers’ fundraising efforts to be able to afford the glasses by connecting them with organizations and putting together fundraising events.


The Lewis Vision Improvement Foundation charity plans to collect donations to help people with low vision or who are legally blind to afford eSight eyewear and other technologies that could help them, as well as provide services.


The foundation, which West noted is separate from eSight, is another result of Lewis’s interest in helping those with vision loss, said West.


“He actually has two sisters that are legally blind with a condition called Stargardt disease,” said West. The genetic disease causes central vision loss in childhood or young adulthood.


According to eSight, their eyewear can help those with Stargardt disease and many others, including diabetic retinopathy, ocular albinism and cone-rod dystrophy.

Kanata Kourier-Standard

By Adam Kveton


++Meet Klinger, the First Certified Running Guide Dog:

A pilot program is exploring how running guide dogs can be a safe option for visually impaired athletes.


This summer, the Guiding Eyes for the Blind school in Yorktown Heights, New York, will hold a graduation ceremony and welcome a new fleet of guide dogs to their homes outside the academy. Among the pack is a special German Shepherd named Klinger, who will graduate as the first-ever certified running guide dog.


Klinger, at 2 years old, is the only dog to have been raised and trained through the school’s Running Guides pilot program. After six months of specialized training and more than 200 miles logged, Klinger will finally get to start living with his new handler, Richard Hunter.


Hunter, 48, was a second lieutenant in the United States Marines when he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 1989. The condition causes a gradual decline in vision and left Hunter legally blind. As Hunter’s sight diminished, he found his life changing in dramatic ways, but it didn’t prevent him from setting goals and continuing to race in endurance events.


“There were a lot of things I couldn’t do anymore,” Hunter told Runner’s World Newswire. “But I knew I had to focus on what I could do, especially as an example to my three daughters. The Marines taught me to love running, and one thing I could do was run.”


Hunter built up a solid record racing. He qualified for his first Boston Marathon in 2008 by running a 3:18 at the 2007 California International Marathon. He’s run four more Bostons, and now does triathlons, finishing the 2011 Florida Ironman in 11 hours and 55 minutes, making him the second visually impaired athlete with a guide to complete an Ironman in less than 12 hours.


But in 2013, two hours into a five-hour bike ride while training for Ironman Lake Tahoe, Hunter and his guide were struck nearly head-on by a vehicle.


“I went all the way through the windshield headfirst and woke up inside the car,” he said. “I had my helmet broken in two. I was helicoptered to the hospital and later sent home in a neck brace with a hospital bed that I had to use for three months.”


Despite suffering two facial fractures and a broken neck, Hunter trained for and ran the 2014 Boston Marathon nine months after the accident. Still, Hunter knew something needed to change.

“My middle daughter, Lindsay, had grown increasingly concerned about my safety after the accident and started asking when I was going to get a guide dog,”


Hunter said. “I told her if a guide program would ever allow me to jog with a dog, I would do it right away because I would be able to train more freely.”


It was at that Boston Marathon where Hunter met Thomas Panek, the CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a nonprofit that provides services for individuals who are visually impaired and have special needs. Panek was also a marathoner who used a human sighted guide for racing, but for day-to-day activities he had his guide dog. The two discussed Hunter’s idea of a more dedicated guide dog running program.


From there, Panek brought the idea to his board and staff members at Guiding Eyes. His team decided to explore the best way to make running with a guide dog safe for both the handler and animal.


“What we realized was that people were running with their guide dogs anyway,” said Ben Cawley, a trainer at Guiding Eyes. “A lot of handlers were taking their dogs running, and we wanted to make this a formal program to increase safety. So we took a really conservative approach as we developed the program.”


Knowing that an increased pace would magnify the challenges the dog faced when navigating busy streets, Cawley and the other trainers decided on a walking pace in areas of high traffic. They also limited the number of routes the dog would learn to two, and they started with a 5K as the goal distance.


The handle was modified in consideration for the ergonomics of the dog and human, and the handle allows the dog’s front legs full range of motion. The school also knew it had to choose the right dog.


Besides his love of running, there were other things that made Klinger an obvious choice. “Klinger has a nice drive to work,” said Jolene Hollister, another trainer who worked closely with the dog. “He wants to have a job and purpose and wants to please his handler. He also has an undying amount of stamina. He loves to play ball, and that was our first step in building up his endurance.”


After lots of games of fetch and retrieve, Hollister started taking Klinger on mile-long runs, gradually getting him going. The team would introduce distractions and things like intersections and street crossings for Klinger to clear. Once he was able to navigate those obstacles, they increased pace.


To ensure total safety for when Hunter would become Klinger’s owner, the trainers ran 25 percent of the runs blindfolded.


Hunter has been running with Klinger for three weeks on the routes near the Guiding Eyes school. After graduation, Cawley will travel with Hunter back to his home outside of Sacramento to help Klinger adjust to two set routes.


“On a busy sidewalk, we go at about a nine-minute pace,” Hunter said. “But on a clear trail, we can get down to eight-minute miles.”


All of Klinger and Hunter’s runs are primarily for training. Because guide dogs do their best work away from large crowds, Klinger will not be Hunter’s eyes in races.


The Guiding Eyes team will be monitoring the new running duo’s progress and looking to see how many years the pair can run together. But even if the exploration phase takes time before they bring more dogs into the running program, Hunter is hopeful that this will change running for the visually impaired.


“One of my greatest passions is helping my fellow visually impaired and blind peers,” he said. “I know blind runners who have trained for races exclusively on treadmills. This could get them outside or get some to lace up sneakers for the first time.”

By Ali Nolan, Friday, August 21, 2015


Assistive Technology

++Blitab: World’s first tactile tablet is ‘iPad for the blind’:

The first-ever braille tablet has been developed, using a new liquid-based technology to create tactile relief outputting braille, graphics and maps for the blind and partially sighted.


Austria-based startup Blitab Technology claims the “revolutionary” technology could be used to open up the digital era to the visually impaired, with plans to develop a braille smartphone.


“We are creating the first tactile tablet for blind and visually impaired people,” Slavi Slavev, chief technology officer and co-founder of Blitab Technology, told IBTimes UK at the Hello Tomorrow Conference in Paris.


“What we are doing is creating a completely new technology which outputs braille in a completely new and innovative way without any mechanical elements.


Other devices currently on the market are mechanical and only allow for one line of braille to be generated at any one time. They also cost about three-times the price of the €2,500 (£1,778, $2,802) Blitab. More recent refreshable braille concepts, such as the Anagraph e-reader, have run out of funds before being able to bring the product to market.


The Blitab tablet uses liquid bubbles to instantly generate braille text or relief images, while the corresponding technology allows text files to be instantly converted into braille from USB sticks, web browsers or NFC tags.


“Currently there are some solutions which are extremely expensive and they represent only one line [of braille],” Slavev said. “These devices were developed 40 years ago and because no one has offered any new innovations since then, that’s still all that’s on the market.”


Blitab is currently in the prototyping stage but if the ongoing investment round is successful the startup is hoping to bring the first product to market by September 2016.




++World’s first braille smartwatch is an ebook reader and more: On the surface, Dot sounds like a fairly standard smartwatch: It resembles a Fitbit and features a messaging system, navigation functions, Bluetooth 4.0, an alarm and, of course, a timepiece. Dot is remarkable because it’s a braille smartwatch — the world’s first braille smartwatch, in fact.


Its face features a series of dull pins that rise and fall at customizable speeds, spelling out words in braille as the user places a finger on top. With this system, Dot allows users to read ebooks without throwing down thousands of dollars for a portable braille reader. The watch should hit the market for less than $300, with pre-orders starting this year. Plus, Dot has an active battery life of 10 hours, according to inhabitat, so get ready for some serious reading time.


However, building a braille smartwatch comes with a catch: The US-based National Federation of the Blind estimates that just 10 percent of visually impaired people actually learn braille, while the UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People reports literacy figures of less than 1 percent. That’s why it’s so handy that Dot also features a braille-learning system.


“90 percent of blind people become blind after birth, and there’s nothing for them right now — they lose their access to information so suddenly,”


Dot co-founder and CEO Eric Ju Yoon Kim tells Tech in Asia. “Dot can be their lifeline, so they can learn Braille and access everyday information through their fingers, which is the goal of Braille literacy.”

By Jessica Conditt