Category: Uncategorized

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)


Toronto Speaker Series (Oct 4)


Montreal Speaker Series (Oct 10)


Calgary Conference (Oct 21)


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

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.

Atlantic Sport and Recreation Weekend

Jul 04 2017

CCB Bathurst Chapter hosted the Atlantic Sport and Recreation Weekend, which was held between May 19th and 21st, 2017. At the same time they celebrated their 40th anniversary. Many members won ribbons and medals, 8 members from Bathurst took part in the events. 5 of those members placed in events, including first place in darts and third place in bowling. Chapters came from PEI, Nova Scotia, St-Jean Terre-Neuve, and New Brunswick. In the picture with the cake we have Nancy Roy, Anita Boudreau, François Boudreau, Chantale Doucet, Denis Roy, Thomas Boucher, and Hazel Boucher. 2 volunteers received 2 certificates. Thank you to all the organizations that donated to this event. In the picures with the medals, left to right, Thomas Boucher, Nancy Roy, Denis Roy, Anita Boudreau, François Boudreau (missing from the picure Pierre Boudreau, Murielle Roy, Chantale Doucet, Roseline Legacy). Denis Roy won awards for highest average, first place in darts and gong show third place.
Submitted by Anita Boudreau.

A hand drawn welcome sign with CCB logos. The words read Bienvenus(es) au 40ième anniversaire du CCA Welcome to the 40th CCA anniversary.

Welcome sign

Nancy Roy, Anita Boudreau, François Boudreau, Chantale Doucet, Denis Roy, Thomas Boucher, and Hazel Boucher gather around a square cake decorated in blue and yellow

Nancy Roy, Anita Boudreau, François Boudreau, Chantale Doucet, Denis Roy, Thomas Boucher, Hazel Boucher

Thomas Boucher, Nancy Roy, Denis Roy, Anita Boudreau, and François Boudreau stand for a picture wearing their medals.

Thomas Boucher, Nancy Roy, Denis Roy, Anita Boudreau, François Boudreau (Missing Pierre Boudreau, Murielle Roy, Chantale Doucet, Roseline Legacy)