Category: Uncategorized

A HISTORICAL SUMMER

Sep 12 2017

A Reminder to Always be Prepared

The summer of 2017 will never be forgotten in British Columbia.

In some ways, it all seems so long ago … like a dream … yet at the same time, it seems so very real and vivid as fires continue to burn in many areas while in other locations, individuals and communities begin to pick up the pieces, repair the damages and move forward with a strong sense of gratitude and a stronger sense of community than ever before.

 

It was such a short time ago that many of us were participating in celebrations for Canada 150, July 1st,2017. Within just a few days of these festivities, the British Columbia Wildfires began the ravaging of our lands; first, leaving behind destruction from the Elephant Hill fire in the Ashcroft and Cache Creek areas while fiercely continuing on throughout the Cariboo-Chilcotin corridor.

 

Despite my extreme vision impairment, I saw the first plume of smoke of the Gustafsen Lake fire from my deck; it was July 6th. It started about 5 miles west of 100 Mile House and within 24 hours, evacuation alerts and orders were underway while the new Premiere of BC immediately declared a State of Emergency. Within 48 hours, the surrounding areas and the town of 100 Mile House were evacuated followed by Williams Lake, Clinton and several other rural communities over the next few and recent weeks.

 

I am so grateful to report that I was one of the many who were least affected by the fires resulting in minimal loss not worth mentioning. Although being evacuated from your home is no easy task for anyone, I was fortunate to move to safer ground; to an environment that provided a most comfortable stay under the circumstances all the while making plans for the next safe haven. My new location was on evacuation alert  as well and people, dogs, cats, chickens and horses were on standby; watching, waiting and wondering which area would be next while hearing continuous aircraft and sirens; smelling and breathing the smoke ; enduring the emotional and psychological impacts of such a disaster; continuously  seeking information from media outlets and local governments while communicating with family and friends near and far, knowing that  it was not just the fire hazards to be concerned about, but the lack of road access in and out of any particular area as well as access to supplies. If you didn’t have anxieties before the disaster, you certainly developed a few during this time!

 

As many new fires continue to ignite all around the province and new individuals are in the process of evacuating, the Cariboo has begun its return to normalcy. The knowledge that fire season is still not over keeps us on guard; packed and ready to go again should need be. Such a disaster could affect any one of you at any time so I would like to take this opportunity to remind members how valuable it is to have an Emergency Preparedness Kit ready to go at all times and encourage you to be sure this is in place. In the moment of a disaster is not the time to ponder what essentials and valuables you need to take. Things such as medications, passports/birth certificate, jewelry, photos,  cash if possible and other priorities such as your white cane, guide dog supplies  and/or assistive devices to name a few.  I speak from experience and say that I was very glad I had my emergency pack on standby as I do year round and even before the evacuation alert was announced, I had my bag topped up with other personal needs so when the evacuation order was announced, it truly was just a matter of “grab & go.”

It is so very gratifying to know that no human tragedies have taken place to date as a result of the fires and I can tell you that as you are walking out the door with only a backpack or two not knowing what you will return to; that all you really care about in the moment is your life!  You are reminded just how much stuff you can really live without and that no amount of worry will prevent Mother Nature from doing what she sets out to do so you have to dig deep to find your inner calm the best you can. It is with eternal gratitude that I salute the emergency personnel and volunteers who so bravely and successfully fought the battle on our behalf. Despite the overall success, our hearts go out to those that did end up losing their homes, livestock and more. Many individuals, communities along with private and government organizations will continue to provide on -going support to those in need.  For example, visit: http://www.bcwildfiretshirts.com/  .This is a great story of how a couple of individuals created a BC Wildfire T-shirt campaign with all proceeds going to the cause and the support has been fantastic; beyond their expectations. Please share the link.

 

Although you may not have been evacuated, all residents of BC have been affected by the wildfires in some way. Many of our CCB communities were affected with being evacuated like 100 Mile House and Williams Lake while others such as Kamloops and Prince George accommodated thousands of evacuees.  Currently, Kelowna is being impacted by a new roaring fire which we hope is soon distinguished.

 

There are so many stories to tell about the summer of 2017 in British Columbia and I am confident in saying that someone will end up writing a book about it so I will spare you of any other details for now.

 

In closing, I would like to thank those individuals who reached out to us all here in 100 Mile House during the crisis and to my evacuee hosts who took in a few of us evacuees while they also were on alert having to be ready to go at any minute. Should you ever have to be evacuated I highly recommend reserving a room at the home of Judy Macdonald and Glen Strand … thanks so very much Judy & Glen – your hospitality and kindness will never be forgotten nor will the squirrel hunts, the evening toad watching rituals or the flower thieving deer as well as the humour and corny country song writing lyrics – To Buddy, Smokey, Sulley, Nip & tuck along with Maya, Callie, Ali and Ebony … thanks for the critter fun distractions –  to the chickens for those fresh eggs and to our fellow evacuees – thanks for the gourmet desserts and additional support!  Collectively, we were very fortunate to have been able to make the best of a very serious situation.

Submitted by Lori Fry

 

Assistive Technology and Living with Retinal Disorders

Sep 12 2017

Written and submitted by Gerry Chevalier.

Living with vision loss caused by retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration can make everyday tasks seem daunting. How do we continue to enjoy reading books, magazines, and newspapers? How do we confidently walk about the neighbourhood without the fear of becoming lost? How do we read our mail or know whether we’re about to open a can of soup or a can of dog food?

Assistive technology that helps mitigate these challenges is widely available, allowing low-sighted people to live at a level of independence that was not possible even ten years ago. There’s a vast array of technologies on the market, including electronic magnifiers, computers with screen magnification, and talking screen readers. In fact, there are far too many to cover in this short article—instead, I’ll focus on two of my favourites.

The first is the Victor Reader Stream from HumanWare, a Montreal company that manufactures assistive technology. The second is Apple’s iPhone.

The Victor Reader Stream is a handheld Internet enabled digital media player. While its main function is to play audio books, it can also play music, tune into radio stations around the world, find and play podcasts, play text documents, and record voice notes.

I listen to at least one audio book a week on the Stream. Most of my audio books are downloaded from CELA, a free talking book service for people unable to read print, which you can register for at your local public library. I use my computer to search from among CELA’s several hundred thousand talking books. When I find a desired book, I just activate CELA’s Direct to Player option and a few minutes later the book is downloaded and ready to listen to on my Stream.

Even if I didn’t use a computer, friends or relatives could use their computer to order CELA books for me, or I could request CELA customer service to automatically send books to my Stream based on my reading interests. All I need is an internet connection in my home. Not only is my Stream a companion throughout the day, it also puts me to sleep every night when I set its sleep timer to play 15 minutes of my talking book. I can’t imagine a day without the device.

But neither can I imagine life without my iPhone. Apple has made the iPhone accessible to both low vision and blind people. As a blind person, I use an iPhone talking screen reader called VoiceOver that speaks text and icons on the screen. I use scanning apps that speak text on paper as well as labels and barcodes on food packages.

I also use iPhone’s voice assistant, Siri: by simply voicing a question or command I can search for information on the web, check the weather, read breaking news, get sports scores, stock listings, do simple calculations, make appointments, create reminders, dictate emails, dictate text messages, and oh yes, even make phone calls! Indeed, because my iPhone contains all my contacts, I simply phone people by saying “call my wife,” “call John Smith,” and so on. I am informed of my location while walking or riding in a bus or car. I can pay bills online, do my banking, shop online, play games, and stay connected with Facebook and Twitter.

The Victor Reader Stream and iPhone make my life much more enjoyable, and I’m more independent than would otherwise be possible if I could not read, relate to daily news and events, and communicate using email, text messaging, and social media. Living with blindness comes with any number of hurdles. Thankfully, overcoming those hurdles is made easier with assistive technologies that are available today.

 

Vision Quest 2017

Aug 14 2017

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

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

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

Toronto Lunch & Learn (Sep 19)

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/2017-vision-health-lunch-learn-toronto-registration-35079874850

 

Toronto Speaker Series (Oct 4)

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/2017-vision-quest-speaker-series-toronto-registration-35087943985

 

Montreal Speaker Series (Oct 10)

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/2017-vision-quest-speaker-series-montreal-registration-35089933937

 

Calgary Conference (Oct 21)

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/2017-vision-quest-conference-calgary-registration-35173593164

 

Vancouver Lunch & Learn (Nov 20)

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Passing of Barbara LeGay

Jul 17 2017

On a bit of a sad note I send condolences to the family and friends of Barbara LeGay from the CCB Access & Awareness Chapter in Halifax. Barb has done a great deal for the blind community and was instrumental in work on the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act. Barb also worked with her husband Barry Abbott in starting GTT in Halifax. I was able to attend her visitation on behalf of CCB National. She well be greatly missed. LeGAY, Barbara Ann – 62, Halifax, passed away peacefully on June 27, 2017 in the Halifax Infirmary, QEII. Barbara was born in Halifax, September 26, 1954 the daughter of the late Rodney and Beatrice (Lawrence) LeGay. A link to her obituary follows.

Louise Gillis

http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Barbara-LeGay&lc=3004&pid=185973595&mid=7469151

BC Wildfires

Jul 14 2017

Designated contacts of CCB B.C chapters,

Please forward the following information on to your chapter members.

From the National Office, we are watching the events unfold in your province and we are hoping that everyone in the affected areas are safe. If you are in immediate danger or are at risk, please vacate the area to your nearest evacuation site, emergency services centre or the nearest hospital.

We are concerned for everyone’s safety, and if you need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will do our best to put you in contact with the local emergency services where you are to ensure that you reach safety.

We will be compiling a list of emergency services contact numbers for those who may need help with getting from point A to point B, and we will have contact info for the local RCMP, police/fire/ambulance detachments in the evacuation zones, as well as Red Cross or evacuation center contact info. This info will be available on our social media sites, as well it will be emailed to the chapter contacts.

We will also expand that contact list as things progress to ensure we have the information that you may need during this crisis.

The CCB email account will be monitored by myself after hours, as is procedure for times such as these, so that we have an open line of communication with our members should they need information.

Please be safe. Keep in touch with one another. Check in on your fellow chapter members. And give us a shout. We will do our best to be of assistance.