Category: CCB Newsletters

National Newsletter June 2016

Jun 02 2016


CCB National Newsletter

June 2016


++CCB Atlantic Sports Weekend: The 39th Annual Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend was held in the Halifax area during the weekend of May 20-22, 2016.


The Friday night Idol Show had some fabulous performers. The Saturday track and field events all went very well. We had beautiful weather for all these outdoor activities. Although we had some rain on Sunday, all the events planned for Sunday were indoors.


There were approximately 55 participants along with family, friends and volunteers from around the Atlantic Provinces. A huge thank you goes out to all those volunteers who helped make this event a success.


We are all looking forward to attending the 40th Annual Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend next year in Bathurst, New Brunswick.


See you there!

Brenda Green,

Sports & Recreation Chapter


++Congratulations!:  Shane Wheeler, Chairperson of the CCB Lewisporte & Area chapter, would like to pass my congratulations along to the organizers of the CCB Atlantic Sports Weekend in Dartmouth. It was very well organized!


There were 11 participants from NL, and congratulations to all of the participants in the Atlantic games. Congratulations to all winners and congratulations to all people that participated. Congratulations to third-place winner of ring toss and table pulling ribbons from the CCB Lewisporte & Area CCB Chapter, Lisa Cakes.


++CCB Update: A quick note to update our readers on the positive progress CCB has made recently. With a boost in membership over the last year, we are now up to 80 chapters!


With our Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC) pilot going strong in the Ottawa region, we are out visiting schools and seniors’ residences and protecting people’s sight.


We are very excited to hire some summer students this year, not only to benefit from some new ideas, but to give blind and vision impaired youth some work experience.


These are just a few of the positive impacts CCB is making in our community as we continue to grow and support those living with vision loss. Stay tuned for more to come!


++GTT Nanaimo Meeting Invitation:

Aroga Technologies Demo, NuEyes Visual Prosthetic Device, June 2, 2016

You’re Invited


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

When:  Thursday, June 2, 2016

Time:  1:00 until 3:00 PM



  1. Steve Barcley, COO of Aroga Technologies will present all that is new in blindness and low vision assistive technology.  He will focus on the latest device to make its way into Canada, the NuEyes Visual Prosthetic Device, then he’ll move into demonstration and discussion of other recent developments to benefit GTT members.  
  2. *Important discussion lead by Donna Hudon: GTT wants to open the topic of adding peer mentoring into our meetings that could cover issues like skills of independence at home, at work or while being active participants in recreational pursuits.
  3. General discussion on the devices you are having trouble with and the devices you’ve just discovered that you want to share with others.

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


To RSVP, please call Albert Ruel at 1-877-304-0968 Ext. 550 email at or Donna Hudon at 250-618-0010 email at


++Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers: Teams of blind golfers, and their coaches, from across Canada and the United States will come together from August 12 to 14 to compete at the 2016 Ontario Open Blind Golf Championships at Chippewa Creek Golf and Country Club. This event, recognised by the Golf Association of Ontario, is hosted by Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers (OVIG).


OVIG successfully hosted the 2008 Canadian Open Blind Golf Championships in Cambridge Ontario.  It is seeking approval to host the 2017 Canadian Open Championships, also in Hamilton. For now, however, it is focusing its efforts on a great season of golf for its members and a fantastic championship event in August.


If you would like information about competing in this Ontario Open Championships event, please contact:

Lois Babcock, OVIG, Events Coordinator

Tel: 905-731-1114



If you would like to support the 2016 Ontario Open Blind Golf Championships as a sponsor, or volunteer, please contact:

David Burnett, OVIG, Fund Raising Team Chair

Tel: 1-905-415-2012



For more information about blind golf in general, and OVIG in particular, please visit OVIG’s website:


++BLIND GOLF INSTRUCTION: Develop or renew a love for golf despite your visual impairment. The Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers will be playing at the Fanshawe Golf Club on Saturday, June 11.  They will host a concurrent golf clinic for people who are blind or visually impaired that may be interested in learning, or resuming, the game of golf.


Cost: $25 (free for first-time participants)

Location: Fanshawe Parkside 9

Corner of Clarke Rd and Fanshawe Rd in London

When? June 11, 2016 at 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Maximum:  8 participants

Optional 9 holes after the lesson



Call (905) 731-1114 or email



The Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers will be playing at the Cambridge Golf Club on Sunday, July 10.  They will host a concurrent golf clinic for people who are blind or visually impaired that may be interested in learning, or resuming, the game of golf.


Cost: $20 (free for first-time participants)

Location: Cambridge Golf Club, 1346 Clyde Road, Cambridge

Date and Time: July 10 at 11:30

Optional 9 holes after the lesson



Call (905) 731-1114 or email


++More Blind Golf!: Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers (OVIG) has golf events planned for June 5, 11 and 26, as well as events for July, August and September.  For details, please check OVIG’s event schedule at:


++Ottawa Dragon Boating



The Ottawa Dragon Masters is a dragon boat team that is making their dragon boat available, free of charge, to people with low vision for a paddling activity on the Rideau River.  The paddling sessions are offered in a non-competitive atmosphere and are held every Thursday evening at the Rideau Canoe Club (RCC), from 6 to 7 pm.  The RCC is located at 804 Hog’s Back Road, Ottawa, K2C 0B1.  The club is also accessible by OC Transpo bus route #111 that will drop you off near the corner of Prince of Wales and Meadowlands.  From the bus stop, it is a 5-minute walk on Meadowlands towards the Hog’s Back Bridge to get to the RCC.


Guide dogs can be tied to the rail on the covered deck facing the water at the clubhouse and there is an overhang so dogs will be protected from the rain.  The clubhouse also has change rooms with washrooms.  Please note that there is limited parking onsite – that is, only two handicap spaces and another 15 spaces.  Since the club is very busy in the evening, parking can be an issue.  There is additional parking at Hog’s Back after crossing the bridge heading East or at the northwest corner of Meadowlands and Prince of Wales to the left (West) of the government building.


Since this paddling activity involves upper body movements such as twisting and pulling, as well as some cardiovascular stamina, it is recommended that you consult with your family doctor before participating in this activity. 


For more information on location, directions, paddling, parking, etc., please contact Mr. Jeff Boucher by email at or by phone at 613-884-3637.


++Invitation to Participate in Study:

The School of Kinesiology and Health Science at York University is conducting a study to understand the role of parents in supporting physical activity among children and youth with disabilities.


This study involves completing online questionnaires and participants will receive a $10 gift card as a token of appreciation.


Eligible participants must have a child (age 5-21 years) with a disability (e.g. physical, sensory, psychological, development disability)


Parents who wish to participate in this study, please visit:


++Invitation to Participate in Study: The Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education at the University of Toronto is conducting a study to understand current trends in physical activity among

Canadian youth with physical disabilities.


Participants will be asked to: (1) complete two telephone interviews; recalling what activities they did the day before, (2) answer a few questions about parental support and motivation to be physically active, and (3) wear an accelerometer for one week.


Participants can receive up to $35 in gift cards as a token of appreciation, and can count hours spent participating toward volunteer/community service hours.


Eligible participants must be 14 – 21 years old, with a mobility impairment.


To participate in this study, please visit:


++CNIB CAREER OPPORTUNITY – Executive Director – Ontario East:

CNIB are currently recruiting for a new position of Executive Director, Ontario East. This full time position located in Eastern Ontario provides an exciting opportunity to assist with the development of the organization’s charitable arm and ensure people who are blind or partially sighted have timely access to high quality and sustainable services and programs.  Reporting to the Regional Vice President (RVP), Ontario Division, the Executive Director – Ontario East is a member of the Divisional Senior Management Team and assists the RVP, Ontario Division with the leadership of the charity.  The Executive Director serves as a spokesperson and representative for the charitable entity of the organization, its staff, volunteers, programs expansion and execution of its mission.


Closing date for applications is June 17, 2016.  For more information on this position, please visit:


Accessible Technology

++First ever lightweight, wireless, head worn, voice activated device for the visually impaired: Wearable technology is the future, and NuEyes brings the future to you in a lightweight, wearable solution for people with macular degeneration and other vision related diseases. NuEyes finally makes it possible for those with visual impairments to connect with loved ones and others without always having to use a big clunky machine.


This removable visual prosthetic helps the visually impaired see again by allowing for 1x – 12x magnification through an HD camera mounted in the center of a custom headset. The image is then delivered to a pair of frame mounted displays, resulting in a seamless experience for the user — wherever and whatever they look at is magnified.


The unit itself is not much bigger than a regular set of eyeglasses and supports voice control — the user has the option of controlling the magnification through a series of simple voice commands as well as through a Bluetooth wireless controller or even through physical buttons on the glasses themselves. NuEyes has been designed to be simple to use and effortless to control.


Whether you have macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, or other visual conditions NuEyes can help!


Read and Write using NuEyes

Watch TV and Movies

See the faces of loved ones

Continue to enjoy hobbies such as reading music and playing cards Regain Visual independence Variable Magnification from 1 x to 12x Various contrast and color changes Voice activated Wireless Lightweight design Easy to use


Call today at 1-800-561-6222

To learn more about this state of the art removable visual prosthetic and see how it can change you or a loved one’s life visit and order yours today.


++Low-cost refreshable Braille display set to revolutionize the market: A device that could become ‘the world’s most affordable refreshable Braille display’ – costing around 80-90% less than current systems – has been unveiled, and should be available for purchase later this year.


The Orbit Reader 20 was announced at the Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference – known as CSUN – in the United States, by the Chair of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Kevin Carey, in his role as president of the Transforming Braille Group (TBG).


TBG was conceived to realise and produce an affordable refreshable Braille display, partly as a way to give people in developing countries greater access to refreshable Braille. Current devices are prohibitively expensive, often running into thousands of US Dollars or British Pounds. TBG set about raising 1.25 million US Dollars for the Orbit Reader 20 to be produced by assistive technology company Orbit Research.


Refreshable Braille displays allow blind or visually impaired users to read text from a computer screen via a system of small rods in Braille cells.These rods are electronically raised and lowered, creating readable Braille that constantly changes, or ‘refreshes’, as the user scrolls or moves across the screen.


The Orbit Reader 20 features 20 Braille cells and can be connected to a computer or mobile phone via USB or Bluetooth. There is also an SD card slot to enable loading and reading of books and other files.


Speaking to e-Access Bulletin, Carey explained that the aim is for the Orbit Reader 20 to be sold for $320 per unit, but this is dependant on Orbit Research receiving enough pre-orders for the device: “Orbit needs an order of 200,000 to make the optimum price of $320 a unit, so what they’re doing is collecting wholesale orders. If it’s below 200,000, the price goes up,”

Carey said.


On its website, Orbit Research claims that the Orbit Reader 20 will be the “world’s most affordable refreshable Braille display”.


User-testing of the Orbit Reader took place in January on 27 prototype machines, in North America and Europe, by testers both with and without experience of refreshable Braille systems. Carey will be supervising further testing in India and Kenya. Speaking about the results of this testing in his CSUN speech, Carey said that the refreshable Braille on the Orbit Reader was “the best that experienced users have ever seen”.


The refresh rate on the device was found to be suitable for “poor-to-average” Braille-users, but not effective enough for “experienced users”. However, as Carey then pointed out: “Those who have reported dissatisfaction with the refresh rate are very experienced users of high-end refreshable Braille note-takers or Braille bars attached to generic devices- But it is important to note that these are precisely the Braille readers for whom the Orbit Reader was not designed.”


Carey told e-Access Bulletin that the device could be revolutionary for visually impaired Braille-users due to its low cost. “Whichever way you look at it, the [price] is just way below anything anybody else is offering,” he said. Carey also pointed out that the timing of when the Orbit Reader will be available, “is simply to do with how fast the orders come in [to Orbit Research].”


Find out more about the Orbit Reader 20 at the link below:

Orbit Research website:


++Accessible Laundry Detergent!

Dizolve laundry detergent is made in Canada, environmentally friendly and happens to be very convenient for blind and vision impaired folks!


Have you ever had issues with measuring out your laundry detergent? Well now you can say goodbye to measuring cups, bulky bottles and messy spills. Introducing Dizolve Laundry detergent! 1 strip equals 1 load!


For more information on Dizolve laundry detergent strips, please visit:


++Deque University Scholarships for People with Disabilities: If you have a disability, you qualify for a scholarship to access to Deque’s in-depth web accessibility curriculum for a full year (normally $315) at no cost.


Why is Deque offering this scholarship? Here are a few of our reasons:

  • Job Opportunities:
  • The demand for accessibility professionals is growing. People with disabilities have a lot to offer in this field. You live the experience, so in many ways you’re already experts! You still have to learn the technical skills though, and that’s where the Deque University classes can help.
  • We recognize that employment for people with disabilities is often difficult, with discrimination during the hiring process and barriers to employment all along the way, including barriers to acquiring the skills necessary for employment.


  • Reduce Financial Barriers: Having a disability can often be expensive, both in terms of actual expenses and the cost of lost opportunities due to discrimination.


  • Digital Equality: Deque’s mission is to achieve digital equality for people with disabilities. This is an important step in that direction.


The Courses

If you have a disability, you’ll have access to the following courses:

  • Web Accessibility Fundamentals
  • HTML & CSS Accessibility
  • ARIA & JavaScript Accessibility
  • Mobile Web Accessibility
  • IAAP CPACC Certification Preparation Course • Web Accessibility Testing Techniques • Testing with Screen Readers • MS Word Accessibility • MS PowerPoint Accessibility • PDF Accessibility • InDesign Accessibility • EPUB Accessibility


What are the Terms and Conditions?

  • You must have a disability to qualify for this offer.
  • You will have access for one full year.
  • You cannot share your account with anyone else.


For more information, please visit:


In the News

++Eye Health Tips: Getting regular exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy as you age, and having a drink here or there appears to be good for your heart.

But bet you didn’t see this coming: Research suggests both may help preserve your eyesight as you get older.


Researchers at the University of Wisconsin poured over two decades of health data from nearly 5,000 people to see how lifestyle choices might affect aging vision. Two things seemed to make a difference: staying active and moderate alcohol use.


The study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, found that people who got exercise at least three times per week were 58% less likely to develop visual impairment — that is, vision loss that can’t be corrected with glasses or contacts — compared to couch potatoes.


And when non-drinkers were compared to folks who enjoyed an occasional tipple (defined as less than one serving in an average week), the drinkers were 49% less likely to face eye trouble. Heavy drinkers, on the other hand, were more likely to have issues with eye health. (So were smokers.)


Most declines in vision tend to be age-related, and for the most part, outside of your control. But this study suggests that lifestyle choices can also play a role. How? Researchers aren’t sure. And, of course, studies like these can’t prove cause-and-effect; it could be that people who exercise and have an occasional drink are healthier in other ways.


In another study, smokers who gave up tobacco lowered their risk of developing cataracts, a build-up of protein on your lenses that can reduce vision. Quitting helps you avoid glaucoma, macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome, too.


If you have diabetes, make sure to get regular eye check-ups. Diabetic Retinopathy is the number one cause of vision loss for American adults, but if caught early it can be controlled.


++How One Blind Marathon Runner Is Using Technology to Run Solo: By collaborating with IBM, Simon Wheatcroft wants to give blind runners the tools to run independently.


Of the 27,487 runners who traversed the city of Boston this year for the marathon, 39 were visually impaired.


Running a marathon blind can be terrifying: Hordes of runners are bolting toward you, crowds scream from the sidelines, and you have no idea if you’re about to crash into someone ahead of you.  But for 31-year-old Simon Wheatcroft, a blind Englishman who completed the marathon on Monday, there is nothing more exhilarating.


“I want to take it all in,” he tells Fast Company. “I want to enjoy the sounds of the other runners and the people cheering.”


Marathon organizers pair blind runners with guides who run at the same pace, sometimes even connected by a rope. While Wheatcroft ran with two guides on Monday, eventually he would like to be able to run a marathon independently.


“The idea of running solo has always been in the back of my mind,” he says. “I’ve been dreaming about it for four years. It took me some time to become mentally comfortable with the concept.


He believes that technology is the key to making this happen. He points out that there are already many different tools on the market-like sophisticated GPS navigation and motion sensors-that could help visually impaired runners. It’s just a matter of putting them together into a customized tool.


Over the last month, Wheatcroft has been collaborating with IBM to develop an iPhone app allowing him to navigate a marathon course without help. He tested it out for the first time at Monday’s marathon. Little signals alerted him whenever he veered too far to the right or left, so he didn’t worry about going off course.


“I could enjoy the race. I could listen to the crowd,” Wheatcroft says. “The app only alerted me if I went wrong. The rest of the time, it was completely silent.”


At the age of 13, Wheatcroft discovered he had a degenerative eye disease and by 17, he had lost his vision completely.


Before he tried running, he tried climbing. He had the romantic notion of asking his girlfriend to marry him from the top of a mountain in California. But as he began the journey, he realized the ascent would be far more difficult than he had anticipated.  There were too many dangerous cliffs and crevices to circumvent; too many ways to get hurt. In the end, he was forced to propose halfway up the mountain, and although she said yes, he still felt defeated.


“It was just too hard,” Wheatcroft says. “But then I had to live with the fact that I had to quit climbing. It plagued me.”


When the couple returned to England, Wheatcroft decided he would never again abandon a challenge because of his blindness.  Running seemed insurmountably difficult to him at the time. But while many blind people avoid running altogether because it is just too complicated, Wheatcroft was determined not only to become a runner, but to run on his own, without having to depend on a guide.


“When I started, I ran into lampposts and traffic lights and trees,” he recalls. When you’re charging forward at a high velocity, anything you crash into can cause pain. Cars may not see you in time to stop. Dog walkers and parents with strollers are unable to get out of the way quickly enough.  Early on, he remembers feeling an occasional rush of horror that something might happen to him.


“The biggest challenge is mental: You can’t be fearful,” Wheatcroft says.  “You have to just absolutely convince yourself that this is possible.”


Wheatcroft initially kept to safe spaces, like the distance between goal posts on a football pitch, but he eventually got bored of this.

When he ran on the street, he discovered that people don’t generally get out of the way, expecting runners to dodge them.  So contrary to widely accepted notions of safe running, he decided to run on the side of the freeway, where there is a wide berth away from the cars and no human traffic.


Over the last six years, Wheatcroft has evolved into a serious long-distance runner. In 2014, he ran from Boston to New York, then completed the New York Marathon, covering a total of 240 miles in nine days. On May 1, he will begin a seven-day run in the Namibian desert for a 160-mile ultra-marathon.


Technology Solutions

There are currently no apps specifically designed for the blind running community. When Wheatcroft began running in 2010, he relied on apps designed for sighted runners. He started using Runkeeper several years ago, which allows him to map out a route, track his speed, and receive audio signals that inform him when he needs to turn left or right. When Google Glass came out, he immediately saw its potential for blind runners. But none of these technologies are perfectly suited to his needs.


Wheatcroft is determined to create his own app. While training for the Boston Marathon, Wheatcroft began searching for a technology partner to help him on his quest. He decided to reach out to IBM, knowing that the Runkeeper app runs on the IBM Cloud. IBM invited him to London to visit the Bluemix Garage, its developer space, where he pitched the engineers there an idea for an app for visually impaired runners. IBM quickly came on board, agreeing to create an app for him pro bono.


As Wheatcroft describes his ideal app, he points out that he doesn’t want the navigation to be too noisy. The GPS systems he’s used so far have had elaborate directions communicated in complete sentences; he’d prefer a series of little sounds.


“We thought subtle beeps were far more immediate than hearing ‘left’ and ‘right’,” he says. “I don’t want to be taken out of the social experience of the race.”


Wheatcroft also says that the GPS systems built into most consumer devices are only accurate to 10 or 20 meters. “When you’re running on an edge of a cliff, a difference of 10 meters is an issue,” he points out. IBM has outfitted this new app with a more advanced external GPS receiver that gives directions that are accurate to five meters.


Wheatcroft piloted a version of the app at the Boston Marathon on Monday. It was a good testing ground because the course is fairly simple with only two turns. The app allowed him to focus on the race and gave him confidence that he was on the right path. To gather even more feedback about the app, he will bring it with him to Namibia at the end of the month for a seven-day run in the desert, which will be rather more treacherous and require the device to have an extended battery life.


“This is very much an iterative process,” Wheatcroft explains, describing how he’s tweaked the various audio feedback mechanisms to make them clearer. “We wanted to create a minimum viable product in a week and then continue making changes as I take it on the road with me. We test one thing at a time.”


While the app Wheatcroft has built with IBM is an improvement on the generic running apps on the market, he believes there is a lot more it should be able to do. He wants the app to be able to explain what objects are directly in front of him and provide dynamic directions that respond to the immediate environment.  This would require the app to be able to scan his surroundings and then have an artificial intelligence system, such as Watson, that would determine the best course. He’d also like to create a belt that will vibrate so that he won’t need to depend on the beeps from the phone. He’s currently working with developers at IBM to find ways of achieving these goals.


He’s also very keen on Google’s Project Tango, a technology that will give mobile devices spatial vision using sensors, motion tracking, depth perception, and image processing. Google is currently selling developer kits so that it can be tailored to a range of purposes, like helping customers navigate through a store. But Wheatcroft believes that it could be game-changing for blind runners.


Ultimately, he’s hoping to create an app that will be widely and inexpensively available to the entire blind community. While IBM holds the intellectual property surrounding this technology, a company spokesperson says it has no plans to monetize the app because it is such a specialized use case.


“It’s more of an exercise in exploring the limits of human computer interaction,” the spokesperson explains.


Meanwhile, Wheatcroft is very excited about the possibility of putting out an app that will work on any iPhone.


“I don’t particularly like using any device that is specifically made for the visually impaired because it’s usually super expensive and super clunky,” he says. While Wheatcroft is testing the technology on his runs, a user doesn’t have to be a runner to see a benefit from this app.


“We’re creating a core technology that allows you to navigate using beeps and haptic, which can then be applied so broadly to lots of situations,” Wheatcroft says. That means whether you’re running marathons in Namibia or just finding your way around a store, Wheatcroft’s app could vastly improve life for blind people everywhere.

By Elizabeth Segran


National Newsletter May 2016

Apr 27 2016


CCB National Newsletter

May 2016


++GTT Grande Prairie Meeting Invitation, May 6, 2016:

CCB GTT is pleased to be hosting its second meeting in Grande Prairie, Alberta!


Blind and low vision GTT Grande Prairie participants meet bi-monthly to share their experiences using assistive technologies in their everyday lives at school, work, or at home.


Agenda for the May 2016 Grande Prairie GTT Meeting:

Location: CNIB Office, Grande Prairie, 218-9804 100 Ave

Time: Friday, May 6, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Theme: how to use Facebook on your iOS device.


RSVP is a must as the CNIB building is locked after hours, so please contact Bobby Weir if you are attending.

780-539-4719 or



  • Siri and Facebook
  • How to use Siri to post a new status on Facebook
  • How to use dictation to type status updates on Facebook
  • How to access and configure Notifications.
  • How to Like, Comment and Share the posts of others.
  • How to find friends and how to categorize them into family, friends or acquaintance lists.

How to find, join and participate in groups on Facebook


Who Should Attend?

  • Any blind or low vision person, regardless of age, who is interested in learning about the accessibility features of their computer, smart phone or other blindness related technology.
  • Existing users of assistive technology who have questions or want to share your experience.
  • Anyone interested in contributing to the future of the Grande Prairie GTT group by sharing ideas for future meetings to discuss other blind or low vision assistive devices.


For more information contact Nikita Phillips:

Email: Phone: 1-780-832-3535


++GTT Halifax Invitation, May 3, 2016:

The Halifax based Access & Awareness NS Chapter of the CCB will be holding its’ third GTT session on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria annex at the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA), 5944 South St., Halifax. This session will again involve exchanging knowledge, tips, general information and ideas regarding any technologies used by us in our daily lives. In particular, this session will focus on the iPad, used by those who are blind or who have low vision. Bring your device(s) with you and be prepared to learn and to help others learn by exchanging our knowledge and information including information about new and upcoming apps.


All are welcome. This session is free! So that we will know the number of attendees expected, please register by emailing Pat Gates at or leave a phone message at 902-422-7758. See you there!


++New Graduate studies Master’s program in English at University of Montreal:

We are pleased to announce a new option in the Master of Science program. This option, offered in English by the School of Optometry at the University of Montreal, is called Visual Impairment & Rehabilitation.


This program produces professionals who provide rehabilitation services to people of all ages who are blind or who have low vision. There are three concentrations (or tracks) in the program, enabling one to specialize in Low Vision, Orientation & Mobility, or Vision Rehabilitation Therapy.


The first English cohort will begin the program in September, 2016. Given the very recent approval of the program, we will work with potential candidates to accelerate the admission process. Anyone who is interested in applying should contact the University as soon as possible.


++Tournaments Updated

Canadian Council of the Blind is pleased to announce that the CCB Mail-o-Gram Bowling Tournament and the CCB Mail-o-Gram Cribbage Tournament have both been renamed to bring these tournaments into the current age of technology.

Therefore, effective immediately, the bowling tournament will now be called the CCB Email Bowling Tournament and the cribbage tournament will be known as the CCB Email Cribbage Tournament going into the future.

++2016 CCB Email Cribbage Tournament:


The 2016 Email Cribbage Tournament is about to begin!


Your Chapter must be registered on or before Sunday, May 1, 2016. The closing date for the tournament is Friday, May 27, 2016.


To register and receive the necessary forms please contact:

Bill Rizzo, Chair, National Tournaments

Phone: 613-549-6196         E-mail :


Information packages will be sent out to you immediately, following your request.

++2016 CCB Email Bowling Tournaments to take place in October


The 2016 Email Bowling Tournaments have been postponed until October 2016. Watch for exact dates and additional information in upcoming coming newsletters.


Assistive Technology


++A Lot More Needs to Be Done to Help Blind People Use the Internet:


Facebook’s new blind-friendly feature puts a small dent in a big problem.


For the blind, navigating the digital world can be as tricky as moving through the physical one.

Some companies have tried to make their sites easier for the world’s 39 million blind people to use. Facebook, for instance, just introduced a new image-recognition feature that lets blind users “see” photos on the site.

But blind advocates say fixes like Facebook’s don’t solve the biggest obstacles blind people face online.

“We think it’s pretty cool,” Mark Riccobono, the president of the National Federation of the Blind, told The Huffington Post. “But we get concerned about flashy technology.”

“For the average blind person, it’s not whether they know something is in a photo or not that determines whether they can do online banking, pay their bills or buy groceries,” said Riccobono, who is blind.

Even as the Internet becomes an increasingly necessary feature of modern life, much of the web is difficult for blind people to use effectively.

A range of technologies exist to help blind people navigate the web. Braille keyboards and text-to-speech programs convert text to audio, which allows blind people to consume information on the web aurally. The devices can also transform speech into text, which allows blind people to “type.” These devices often work well with thoughtfully designed websites. But they hit snags when sites have elements that aren’t clearly labelled or are incompatible with keyboard shortcuts, which blind people rely on.

“Websites that have been designed from the beginning with accessibility in mind are easy for blind people to use – they’re easy to navigate, you can jump around pretty effectively and get information as effectively as a sighted person,” Riccobono said. But, he said, many sites still have “artificial barriers” that make performing basic online tasks difficult for blind users.

One of the biggest barriers is unclear labelling. In order to describe what’s on a given webpage, text-to-speech programs comb through the source code for labels that describe the page’s elements. They then say those labels aloud.

If elements aren’t clearly labelled in the source code – if a checkout button, say, is just labelled “image” – it can make navigating the page very frustrating for users who rely on spoken descriptions to move around the site.

“If I go on an e-commerce website and put stuff in my cart, but get to the payment screen and have trouble because the checkout button’s not labelled – that’s a high degree of frustration,” Riccobono said.

Web developers can use accessibility guidelines for blind users when designing their websites. But even when they refer to those guidelines, web companies don’t always do a good job implementing them, Riccobono said.

“If you don’t test [your code] for accessibility, and a problem arises and it’s not dealt with, then the code gets launched anyway,” he said. Once finalized, it can be difficult to retrofit websites to improve accessibility.

Blind advocates have urged the Obama administration to update the Americans with Disabilities Act to include explicit standards for web accessibility for blind users. While President Barack Obama initially seemed amenable to the standards – in 2010, he named them among “the most important updates to the ADA since its original enactment” – last year his administration quietly postponed consideration of new web accessibility standards until 2018.

For Riccobono, updating the ADA is a necessary step toward equal access for the blind.

“We need to do in the digital world the same thing we’ve done in the physical world,” he said. “The lack of standards makes it very difficult for businesses to understand when they’ve met a high standard of accessibility.”

By Casey Williams, The Huffington Post


In the News

++Boston memories:

Deaf and blind runner Gaston Bédard conquers marathon:

On April 20, 2015, Aylmer, QC resident Gaston Bédard completed what many runners consider the world’s most famous race, the Boston Marathon. Bédard, 63, is blind and deaf and ran the race with his two guides, Christopher Yule and Melany Gauvin, and had his son Marc cheer him on from the sidelines.


The 63-year-old (62 at the time of the race) ran the race with Team with a Vision, which raises funds for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Bédard completed the race in 5:26:58.


To keep him on course, Bédard’s guides run with him on opposite sides while holding a tether, a plastic tube with foam gripping. Before the race, the 63-year-old has to remove his two hearing aids to prevent moisture from reaching his hearing devices which leaves him completely deaf.

Usher syndrome with retinitis pigmentosa led to Bedard’s hearing and sight loss.


Bédard says it took him nearly nine minutes to cross the storied start line in Hopkinton, Mass. before running 42.2K to the finish line on Boylston Street in downtown Boston.


Conditions were wet and cold during last year’s event, which didn’t deter Bédard and his team. Knowing that his son Marc would be waiting for him at the finish line helped Bédard push through the final 10K of the race.


The whole experience was a special father-son experience as the two got to experience Boston during one of its finest events of the year. Runners from around the world converge on the east coast city each year to race, which requires athletes to attain certain qualifying times, based on age and sex, to be eligible to run.


In 2014, the event’s 40th anniversary, Bédard ran the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon with his two guides. He achieved his goal of qualifying for Boston with a sub-five-hour marathon.


His motto is: “If you have good people around you, it’s amazing what you can do.”


The retired elementary school teacher has been a runner for much of his life. In 1981 he qualified for the Boston Marathon with a 2:51 at the Ottawa Marathon. Between 1981 and 1983, he ran sub-3:05 on five occasions including his 2:51 performance though he never raced Boston because he was a “local runner and didn’t have it on my radar.”


He took a decade off running before getting back into the sport in 2008.

Training led to racing four years later.


“I made my comeback as a deaf blind runner in May 2012, and since then I have run some 30 road races, including 2 full marathons, with sighted guides,” says Bédard.


The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.), the organization that hosts the Boston Marathon, could not confirm whether Bédard was the first-ever deaf and blind athlete to complete the storied race.

By Tim Huebsch, Canadian Running Magazine


++Netflix Agrees to Offer Audio Description Tracks for the Blind on More Titles:

Many folks might take Netflix for granted: you fire up the site or the app, or grab a disc from your mailbox (yes, people still do that) and boom, you’re enjoying a movie. It’s not always so easy for blind people, however, as many popular movies and TV shows don’t come with audio description tracks. That’s about to change under the terms of a new settlement between advocacy groups for the blind and Netflix.


In a settlement between Netflix and the American Council of the Blind (ACB), as well as the Massachusetts-based Bay State Council of the Blind (BSCB) and a blind individual, the company has agreed to make many more movies and videos offered through Netflix’s streaming and DVD rental subscriptions accessible to people who are blind by adding audio description tracks.


Audio description tracks are exactly what they sound like — explanations of what is appearing on screen, from physical actions to facial expressions, whether someone is wearing a chicken suit or a pin-striped suit, changes in the setting or scene and anything else that needs describing.


Going forward, Netflix will request audio description assets in all its new contracts with streaming content providers. For third-party content that’s already in the Netflix streaming library, the company “shall make reasonable efforts to obtain existing audio description assets” for those videos.


As for its original content, Netflix will provide audio description for scripted streaming content for TV and movies branded as “Netflix Original,” and for which it has the necessary rights for creating audio descriptions. If Netflix doesn’t control the audio description rights, it will “make commercially reasonable efforts to secure and offer audio description.”


If there’s an original title that offers audio description already, Netflix will have within 30 days of the launch date of that title to offer audio description, though it will “strive” to offer those tracks at the launch of the title.


Netflix will make these changes across the Netflix streaming website for browsers that use HTML5 video, applications for all Applicable Devices, and “any other Netflix platform that supports audio description.”


For DVD subscribers, Netflix “shall make commercially reasonable efforts” to offer discs that are equipped with audio descriptions on videos from third-parties, “whenever such videos are available.”


It’s not just the titles themselves that will be more convenient for blind customers, either: Netflix has agreed to add audio description search, and will also make its website and mobile applications accessible to individuals who are blind and use screen-reading software to navigate websites and apps.


“We applaud Netflix for working with us to enhance access to its services for people who are blind,” Kim Charlson, President of the American Council of the Blind, said in a statement.”Movies and television are a central pillar of American culture. As television and movies are increasingly delivered through streaming and home delivery services, ensuring that the blind community receives access to this content is critical to ensure that people who are blind are integrated into modern society.”


Last year, Netflix agreed to include audio description tracks on one of its most popular original shows, Daredevil — which features a blind main character — after customers complained. At that time, Netflix said it would work with “studios and other content owners to increase the amount of audio description across a range of devices including smart TVs, tablets and smartphones.”

By Mary Beth Quirk


++Canadian Copyright Bill for the Blind in Need of Fine Tuning:

As the political world was focused on the Liberal government’s inaugural budget last month, Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, introduced his first bill as minister by quietly moving ahead with plans to reform Canadian copyright law to allow for the ratification of an international treaty devoted to increasing access to copyrighted works for the blind.


The World Intellectual Property Organization’s Marrakesh Treaty expands access for the blind by facilitating the creation and export of works in accessible formats to the more than 300 million blind and visually impaired people around the world. Moreover, the treaty restricts the use of digital locks that can impede access, by permitting the removal of technological restrictions on electronic books for the benefit of the blind and visually impaired.


The Canadian decision to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty is long overdue. The Conservatives announced plans to do so in last year’s budget but waited to table legislation days before the summer break and the election call. With that bill now dead, the Liberals have rightly moved quickly to revive the issue.


The treaty (and the Canadian bill) addresses three key issues. First, the bill establishes a new rule that permits non-profit organizations acting on behalf of persons with a print disability to reproduce copyright works in accessible formats without the need for permission from the copyright holder. This ensures that more accessible works will be created and distributed in Canada.


Second, once an accessible version of the work is created, the bill also allows the non-profit organization to make it available upon request to persons with print disabilities in other countries that are part of the treaty. With many countries signing on, this approach offers the potential to significantly increase the availability of accessible works with exchanges across borders.


Third, the bill amends the overly restrictive digital lock rules enacted in the 2012 copyright reforms. The Conservative government claimed that an exception for the blind addressed concerns that the law could create significant access restrictions, but the reforms represent a tacit admission that the exception is ineffective.

Interestingly, the same restrictive language is used in an exception designed to address privacy concerns, suggesting that further copyright reforms are needed.


While the introduction of the bill represents an excellent first step, upcoming committee hearings offer the opportunity to fine tune the Canadian approach, which is more restrictive than required by the treaty. For example, the Canadian bill envisions the possibility of establishing additional fees payable by the non-profit organization to copyright collectives. The Marrakesh Treaty does not require adding royalty payments and many countries (including the United States) do not have such a provision.


The Canadian approach to exporting accessible works to other countries is also unnecessarily complex. The export exception does not apply to works that are “commercially available” “within a reasonable time and for a reasonable price” in the other country.


The limitation seems likely to create uncertainty and legal risks for those using the exception, creating the danger that some organizations may be reticent about exporting works for fear of running afoul of the law. The limitation is not found in proposed implementing legislation developed by international groups representing libraries and those with print disabilities.


Despite its shortcomings, the decision to focus on the world’s first user rights treaty sends a strong signal that the government recognizes the importance of ensuring that the law does not unduly restrict access to copyright works. With the Marrakesh Treaty nearly reaching the 20 ratifications necessary to take effect, the government must move quickly if it wants Canada to stand as one of the original group of ratifying countries.

By Michael Geist.


++The Blind Leading the Blind: How Berkeley Alums Are Designing an Inclusive World:


Joshua Miele has been blind ever since a violent acid attack took away his vision before his 5th birthday. But he says he no longer spends time wishing he could see. Instead, from his office at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco, he dreams up new technologies for the blind, and helps turn those visions into reality: maps that can talk, YouTube videos that can speak, electronic gloves that can text.


As is true for many blind people, his iPhone has become as vital to navigation as his cane. These days, anyone with an iPhone can use VoiceOver to read texts on a touch-screen out loud or use voice commands to ask Siri, a personal assistant program, to send messages or get directions to the nearest sushi bar. An app is capable of telling visually impaired people what color pants they’re wearing; another tells then how much money is in their wallets.


Yet despite the fact that the blind and visually impaired can now navigate more efficiently than ever before, their unemployment rate is still at 62 percent, according to the National Federation for the Blind. In other words, among all adults actively looking for work, only about 2 out of 5 have jobs.


A community of blind technologists around the Bay Area are out to improve not only those employment numbers, but also the quality of life for people who share their situation. Many, like Miele, passed through UC Berkeley and—during their time at the first university in the country to offer a student-led program for disabled students, in a city that helped pioneer the Disability Rights Movement—they gained a new sense of inspiration and empowerment, and the technical skills to help enhance the lives of other people with sight challenges.


When he applied to Cal in 1987, however, that wasn’t Miele’s plan. He wasn’t even aware of Berkeley’s storied history. He just wanted to get away from suburban New York and study physics.


“I wanted to spread my little blind wings,” Miele recalls. “I didn’t know anything about the social dynamics of Berkeley. All I knew was that it was a huge campus and it had an element named after it.”


Back then, blind and visually impaired students would spend hours working in a windowless underground room in Moffett Library nicknamed “the Cave.” They would typically study with their “readers”—people who would read books aloud to them while they took meticulous notes in Braille. It was there that Miele had his blind awakening.


“I met awesome blind people who were just kicking ass,” he says. “They were cool about being blind. They were having interesting conversations about it.”


After 18 years of trying to keep low-key about his blindness, he started to embrace it as a cool component of himself. Or, as he puts it, “I basically went to college and got Blind Pride.”


One semester short of finishing his physics degree, he took time off to work for Berkeley Systems, a startup that made the Macintosh computer accessible to blind people. “I realized that I might never be a brilliant physicist, but I would make a much bigger contribution by getting involved in the accessibility world,” Miele says. “I had something to contribute there, and I was smart enough to help guide things in the right direction.

It was cool, it was fun, and it was very important to me.”


He later returned to UC Berkeley to wrap up his physics degree and earn a Ph.D. in psychoacoustics. His goal: to study hearing and garner inspiration for designing better audio features for computers.


Now, much of his work at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute involves making gadgets and programs talk. Take YouTube, for instance. Of the hundreds of millions of hours of YouTube videos out there, few include audio descriptions. Miele came up with YouDescribe: Now people who sign on to YouDescribe can find the video they want, pause the video, and record their own descriptions of it. Blind people can now find and listen to this growing collection of YouDescribe-enhanced videos in which recorded voices tell them what they can’t see. Among the selections: videos depicting how to make green tea and chocolate waffles, how to explain Donald Trump to kids, and how to interpret guinea pig noises.


“Well, yes, I want blind people to build goofy robots. But I want blind kids to have the same opportunities for science—the same opportunities for learning—as sighted kids.”


Miele, who has black curly hair and skin that still bears the scars left by the acid, lights up when he talks about his Blind Arduino Project. “You know how the maker movement is a big thing now? You know how every 2-year-old is making robots now?” he asks. “So, there’s a lot of ways to make robots, but one of the most popular ways is with a platform called Arduino.”


Arduino is a tiny programmable computer, about the size of a deck of cards, that uses software that allows users to write code that can interact with the world through electronic sensors, lights, and motors. Tinkerers and hackers have used Arduino to make LEDs blink, program robots to move around, and Tweet at coffee pots to get them to make a fresh brew. The operating principle: Through Arduino, blind people gain an affordable tool to make even more accessible technology for themselves.


“So I started this thing called the Blind Arduino Blog, a project for documenting and disseminating ways blind people can work with Arduino independently, and for documenting the types of things blind people might want to build that they can’t find,” Miele explains. He believes that if more blind kids felt included in the maker movement, there would be more blind kids dreaming of being physicists. “I don’t just want blind people to be able to build goofy robots,” Miele says. “Well, yes, I want blind people to build goofy robots. But I want blind kids to have the same opportunities for science—the same opportunities for learning—as sighted kids.”


He’s also concerned with the everyday challenges blind people face just getting around. That’s why he collaborated with the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco to create accessible maps of every BART transit station.


“It’s this kind of accessibility that I get excited about,” Miele says. “It seems basic, and it is. But that’s why it’s exciting, because we don’t have the kind of ready access to basic information we want.”


He discovered that making an accessible map—complete with Braille, large print, and audio—is also really complicated. For the audio element, Miele adapted a LiveScribe smartpen, a pen designed to record audio and notes. He uses it to read off information on the map. When he taps the pen on the map, the pen reads out information, like ticket fares and which buses come to which stop.


Next he designed an accessible periodic table, the kind he never got to see when he studied chemistry in high school. He taps on the square, and the pen reads off the name of an element. He taps again, and this time it’s atomic weight. The more he taps, the more information pours sonically out of the pen. From there, he just kept going—making an accessible sudoku, an accessible eyeball, an accessible nerve.


These days, Lighthouse, the San Francisco nonprofit Miele partnered with to make his maps, has turned into something of a tactile-map-making factory.


The Lighthouse produces accessible floor plans for dormitories, and maps of parks, transit systems, and campuses including UC Berkeley.


But Lighthouse CEO Bryan Bashin cautions that although these sophisticated technological breakthroughs are vital, employment prospects for the blind and visually impaired remain grim.


“What I’ve learned is that there are a lot of blind people with a mountain of technology at home [who] go nowhere because it’s necessary but not sufficient,” he says. “What we need as blind people is a sense of the possible. The challenge is to find ways to motivate blind people, beyond putting hunks of iron on their table. How do we install the improbable belief that, yeah, you can go to work, you can support your family, you can be a source of giving to the community as well as receiving?”


That’s why Lighthouse does more than make innovative gadgets. Lighthouse also gives skills training and counseling services, and it’s a place where blind people can meet other blind people.

By Holly J. McDede

Happy May!


National Newsletter April 2016

Apr 04 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you there!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Submitted by: Steve Sleigh
Senior Projects Officer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Newsletter March 2016

Mar 03 2016



++White Cane Week 2016:

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The 2016 All Star Team is:

Lead:        Bill Royle   (NL)

Second:    Jennifer Morland   (MB)

Third:        Fraser Hiltz   (SK)

Skip:                  Maurice Colbert   (NL)

Sweeper: Rob Camozzi   (BC)

Guide:       Gloria Anderson   (NS)

Coach:      Mary Malcolmson   (CAN)


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


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


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


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


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


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


Louise Gillis, Skip, Team NS

National President


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

The number for the conference call is

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


++Get Together With Technology (GTT):

GTT is coming to Grande Prairie, Alberta!

Agenda for the First Grande Prairie GTT Meeting:

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

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

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



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


Who Should Attend?

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


For more information contact Nikita Phillips:


Phone: 1-780-832-3535


++Vancouver GTT is expanding to Saturdays!:

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


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

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


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


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

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


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


You can expect to learn:

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


Who Should Attend?

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


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


For more information contact:

Shawn Marsolais                      Albert Ruel

604-434-7243                           250-240-2343

++A Warm Welcome to the Newest CCB Chapters!

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


CCB Dragon Boat Toronto Chapter, ON

CCB Lewisporte & Area Chapter, NL

CCB Lower Mainland Chapter, BC

CCB Thunder Bay & District Chapter, ON

CCB Trust Your Buddy Chapter, ON


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


++The OrCam—Unraveled:

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

–Submitted by Jerome  Kuntz

CCB National Board Member, Saskatchewan


++In Memory:

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


++In Memory:

Gordon Frederick Kellock Hope, 1954 – 2016

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

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

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


++It’s a Brand New Day at Hadley

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

–Contact: Sheryl Bass, Hadley Media & Marketing Specialist


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


Sincerely, Taku Kawai & Andrea Smith

In the News

++Blind artists share their vision:

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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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


The exhibit opens in March and runs until September 18.

By Alexandra De Pape


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


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


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

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


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

-The Chronicle Herald


++How Do Stem Cells Become Eye Cells?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


–The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada

National Newsletter February 2016

Feb 03 2016



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


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

In Memory



1944 – 2016


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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

Harold will not be forgotten.


By Louise Gillis

CCB National President


++Get Together with Technology (GTT):

GTT Nanaimo Meeting Invitation, February 4, 2016


You’re Invited!

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

When: Thursday, February 4, 2016

Time: 1:00 until 3:00 PM


Agenda for the first hour:

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

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


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


To RSVP, please call Albert Ruel at

1-877-304-0968 Ext. 550

email at, or Donna Hudon at



GTT Victoria Meeting Invitation, February 3, 2016

You’re Invited

1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Community Room, GVPL, Central Branch

735 Broughton Street



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

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


To RSVP, please call Tom Dekker at,


Or by email at,



GTT Vancouver Meeting Invitation, February 10, 2016

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


Who Should Attend?

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

*Applications are available at *


For more information please contact Anna Jacobs,,

(902) 460-6888.


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


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


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


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

SUBMITED BY: Bill Mah, Kelowna blind curlers


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


The objective is to create a Priority Assistive Products List.


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


The survey can be completed through this online portal:


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

Jahan Taganova

Communications Assistant, International Disability Alliance

205 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


Ashesh Desai Bsc. Phm |

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

243 Consumers Road, Toronto ON M2J 4W8

Tel. 416-490-2769

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



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


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

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


Submitted by

Chris Stark



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


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


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

AMI Channel Guide


Submitted by

Louise Gillis, National President

The Canadian Council of the Blind


Assistive Technology

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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