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Save the date!

Oct 04 2016

On October 29 2016, a group of advocates from the blind and visually

impaired community in collaboration with some organizations of the blind

will be holding a tele town hall titled “let’s get it out there.”

A title that was derived through the creative imagination of one of our very

own; Irene Lambert of Montreal.

Time: 1:00 pm Eastern

10:00 am Pacific

11:00 am Mountain

Noon Central

2:00 pm Atlantic

2:30 in Newfoundland

This town hall meeting is being jointly sponsored by the following:

Individuals – Richard Marion, Robin East, Anthony Tibbs, Donna Jodhan.

Organizations –

Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB),

Citizens with Disabilities of Ontario (CWDO),

Getting together with technology (GTT).

The objective of this tele town hall is to give participants an opportunity

to voice their opinions and suggestions in a meaningful and constructive way

on how we as a community can become a stronger voice for consumer advocacy.

What can we do in order to move forward in a positive way.

This tele town hall is not meant to be used as any sort of decision making

mechanism but rather as an open forum for constructive discussion.

Meet our panelists!

Richard Marion, Anthony Tibbs, Melanie Marsden, Albert Ruel, Paul Edwards.

Our moderator is Jane Blaine.

You can read more about our team in the section following this one.

We have prepared a short list of questions which you can use to help you to

spark and formulate your ideas and this is pasted at the end of this email.

If you wish to participate then you may send an email to us at

You will receive a confirmation of receipt.

During the week of Oct 24 you will receive an email with details of the call

in info along with the rules of engagement.

Registration will close at noon Eastern on Oct 26.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Richard Marion

Anthony Tibbs

Robin East

Donna Jodhan


Introducing our team!

Meet Richard Marion! (co-sponsor and panelist)

Currently Richard Marion is living in Vancouver British Columbia.

Richard has been involved in advocacy for most of his adult life so far.

He first expressed interest in working on issues concerning people with

disabilities as a student in college when he got involved with the

provincial affiliate of National Educational Association of Disabled

Students. From this point he was hooked and continued working on issues

concerning people with disabilities until now. Over the years, he has

taken a more specific interest in the blind consumer movement in Canada

and has been an active member of Alliance for Equality of Blind

Canadians and served as the organization’s president in 1998 when it was

still known as NFB:AE. Over the years Richard has also been involved in

a number of advisory processes including sitting on CNIB advisory

committees and currently chairing the TransLINK Access Transit User’s

Advisory Committee.

Meet Robin East! (co-sponsor)

Robin East has a Bachelor Degree in Social Work, a Certificate In

Rehabilitation Personal Development, and Professional International

certificates in Adaptive Technologies and Accessibility Guidelines. He has

worked as a Teacher Associate, a Behavioural Therapist, and finally, an

Officer with the Federal Public Service. Add to this volunteer work with

the Community, the Union, the Province of Saskatchewan, a number of national

charitable advocacy organizations, as well as local accessibility and

advocacy organizations.”An advocate is like a catalyst that mixes with an

ally and inspires empowerment” is a coined phrase of Robin’s. He believes

in working with ally’s to overcome barriers and address common issues. He

has been involved in advocacy since the early 80’s and continues to be a

strong leader in which ever role he takes on.

Meet Anthony Tibbs! (co-sponsor and panelist)

Anthony Tibbs has more than six years of experience on the national

board of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians as treasurer and

then president, and has served on a number of other boards over the year

as well (including Guide Dog Users of Canada). With a business and law

background, Mr. Tibbs’ day to day job is as a litigation lawyer (civil,

class action, human rights, administrative law), but he continues to

support the charitable and not-for-profit organizations that play such

an important role to the community.

Meet Donna Jodhan! (co-sponsor and coordinator)

Donna is a past president and second vice president of the Alliance for

Equality of Blind Canadians. She is also a past communications director of

Canadian Blind Sports Association and she is the founder of Barrier Free

Canada – Canada sans Barrières.

Donna is an entrepreneur, blogger, author, audio mystery writer, ongoing

advocate, and law student. She firmly believes that whatever we do today

will affect our kids of the future and that they are the ones that we need

to protect, assist, and nurture.

Meet Albert A. Ruel! (panelist)

Albert has found his passion in the field of access technology for people

who are blind or partially sighted. He has enjoyed a 22 year career in the

not-for-profit rehabilitation, technology training and advocacy sectors for

people with vision impairments. He holds a Social Service Worker

Certificate and is passionate about helping people connect with their needs.

Most importantly, Albert is solution-focused, flexible, has a positive

attitude and has a great sense of humour.

Meet Melanie Marsden! (panelist)

Melanie Marsden has been an advocate for over 30 plus years.

Part of this journey started while working on her social work degree at

Carleton University in 1989 While rasing two boys she completed her degree

in 1998.

Personally and professionally Melanie advocates for safe effective


Any events that are planned are planned from a best practices cross

disability antiopression framework.

“When we all work together ecknowledging each person has a voice we

accomplish more.”

Melanie enjoys assisting others whenever she can and connecting folks to

one another when appropriate.

Meet Paul Edwards! (panelist)

And in his own words:

I was born in San Francisco California and was one of the early users of an

incubator after being very premature. I was left with a little light

perception which soon went away. At the age of seven I moved to Calgary

Alberta Canada and went to school in Vancouver, British Columbia. At

thirteen, my mother decided we were moving to Jamaica and I stayed there

till I was 21. I graduated from high school sort of and completed my

Bachelor’s SPECIAL Honors degree in History at the Mona Jamaica campus of

the University of the West Indies. I was the first blind student to go there

and ended up in Trinidad because I wanted to do a graduate degree in

international relations which I successfully completed.

I met my first wife there and married during my degree and so was faced with

the need to find a way to support her and my first daughter who was pretty

quickly on the way after our marriage. I taught at a small school in the

rural area of Trinidad partly because there was no other job and partly

because I was not sure if I could really teach. I really enjoyed that first

year because all the girls I taught really wanted to learn. Yes, it was a

girls’ school. I was not making disparaging remarks about boys!

After one year I became the senior history master at Trinity College, the

leading Anglican School for Boys in Trinidad and Tobago. Near the end of my

teaching career, I got a graduate degree in Education from the University of

the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad.

When I left Trinidad ten years later I had three children: two girls and a

boy. I moved to Florida where I went to work for the Division of Blind

Services as a rehabilitation teacher. In this job, I went to people’s homes

and taught them skills that would enable them to adjust to visual

impairment. After three years of this, I became a Rehabilitation Counselor

and worked mostly with high school and college students. In 1983, I moved to

Jacksonville to take over as Executive Director of an agency serving blind

people there. In 1986, I moved to Miami as Director of Services to Students

with Disabilities on the North Campus of Miami Dade College, the largest two

year college in the United States. On my campus we served over seven hundred

disabled students a year. I retired from that job in May of 2012.

While I certainly regard my working life as rich and varied, I have derived

much more pleasure from the work I have done as a volunteer and advocate. I

have worked at the local level, at the state level and at the national level

to try to make things better for people who are blind. I currently serve on

the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind, the National Accreditation

Council Board and hold several positions within the American Council and its

Florida Affiliate. I have worked particularly on library issues, promoting

braille and changing laws.

I absolutely believe that I have been given as much by the people I have

tried to help as I have given them. Until I became associated with ACB, I

saw myself as an inferior creature desperately trying to compete in a world

where I could never do quite enough to be accepted. What the blindness

movement taught me is that the only person I have to satisfy is me. That may

sound arrogant and overbearing but that is not how it is intended. I set

high standards for myself and if I can meet them I am likely to meet the

standards of others. I no longer worry about being accepted by society. I

have rights and I will fight to see they are protected. Society does not

need to accept me but they do need to include me. I am proud to be a person

who is blind. I am proud of what I accomplish every day in spite of the

barriers that are there. More than that, I am proud of what every blind

person everywhere accomplishes every day. It isn’t easy to be blind and

anybody who says it is or who suggests that it’s a walk in the park does not

live in the same world I do!

I enjoy modern folk music, fantasy and science fiction and hope that, in

due course, I will find some time to write. The one thing you can be sure I

will not write is an autobiography. My three children are now grown up and I

have ten grandchildren which is quite enough to keep me occupied and young.

I still have a lot to do and many places where I think I can help. I have

had a good life and only wish I had not been quite so busy. When you don’t

make time to smell the roses, they have often faded before you can enjoy


Meet Jane Blaine! (moderator)

Jane has been involved in programming and administration of blind sport and

para sport for over 30 years. Professionally she is the Executive Director

of BC Blind Sports and Recreation Association and also acts as the CEO of

Canadian Blind Sports. Current interests of Jane’s include the development

of a long term athlete/participant pathway showing how individuals who are

blind or visually impaired enter physical activity and become physically

literate, and move through the stages of long term athlete and participant

development, as well as supporting the research into development of sport

specific classification systems for athletes who are blind. Jane is also

interested in the progress on development of a Canadians with a Disability


Jane facilitated a previous session for AEBC and looks forward to

facilitating this upcoming session.


Questions for consideration

1. In order to ensure that people who are blind, Partially Sighted or

deaf/blind continue to have a strong voice in Canada,

What do you think the national consumer movement should look like in the


2. Canada is a small country in population. However, it is geographically quite large. would it be better in Canada to ensure that on a national level there is 1 organization of the blind working on projects and advocacy to help strengthen community activities provincially and locally?

3. National, Provincial and local organizations have tried working in coalitions. Are you aware of any activities that these coalitions have done?

Would you support a more formal working relationship between the existing

national organizations of the blind?

4. “Why do you think the blindness community is so fragmented in its

approach to advocacy and community activities?”

The Glenvale Players Theatre Group Presents The Velvet Moon Band

Sep 29 2016

The Glenvale Players Theatre Group Presents The Velvet Moon Band Featuring– Murray Powell, Kevin Bell, Darwin Bruce and Ron Hacket

at Hugh’s Room – Thursday, October 20, 2016


Download the-velvet-moon-band-poster

Canada Post Review

Sep 19 2016

Dear Ms. Gillis,


In May, the Government launched an independent, evidence-based review of Canada Post to ensure Canadians receive quality and sustainable postal services at a reasonable cost.


This letter is to inform you that the first phase of the review process is complete. Today, I received the discussion paper prepared by the independent Task Force I established to undertake Phase 1 of the Canada Post review.


During this first phase, the Task Force undertook an analysis of Canada Post’s services and current financial situation, conducted public opinion research, met with key stakeholders, and examined international best practices for postal delivery.


It is clear that postal services are highly important to Canadians. Canada Post is an institution that is relevant and valuable to Canadians, and part of our fabric as a nation.


A copy of the discussion paper can be found on the Department’s Canada Post Review website.


The discussion paper will help inform the second phase of the review, which is being led by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The committee is carrying out national public consultations with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, beginning in Ottawa on September 20th. For more information on the consultations and how you can participate, please visit the committee’s website.


Based on its findings, the parliamentary committee will make recommendations to the Government on the future of Canada Post by December 2016.


This is only the beginning. A great deal of work has been done and more still needs to occur before the Government makes any decisions with respect to the future of Canada Post.


As always, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts on the review that will help ensure Canadians receive the postal services they value and need.





Judy M. Foote, PC, MP

Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Madame Gillis,


En mai, le gouvernement a entamé un examen indépendant fondé sur des données probantes de Postes Canada dans le but de s’assurer que la population canadienne reçoit des services postaux de qualité et durables à un coût raisonnable.


Je tiens à vous informer que la première étape du processus d’examen est terminée. J’ai reçu aujourd’hui le document de travail préparé par le groupe de travail indépendant que j’ai mis sur pied pour entreprendre la première étape de l’examen de Postes Canada.


Durant la première étape, le groupe de travail a analysé les services et la situation financière actuelle de Postes Canada, en effectuant des recherches sur l’opinion publique, en rencontrant les principaux intervenants concernés et en étudiant des pratiques exemplaires relatives à la distribution postale adoptées à l’échelle internationale.


Il est clair que les services postaux sont d’une grande importance pour la population canadienne. Postes Canada demeure une institution pertinente qui fait partie intégrante du tissu social de notre nation et qui tient à cœur à la population canadienne.


Le document de travail peut être consulté sur le site Web du Ministère portant sur l’examen de Postes Canada.


Le document de travail permettra d’étayer la seconde étape de l’examen, que dirige le Comité permanent des opérations gouvernementales et des prévisions budgétaires de la Chambre des communes. Le Comité mènera des consultations publiques nationales auprès de Canadiens de partout au pays, la première d’entre elles étant prévue le 20 septembre à Ottawa. Pour obtenir de plus amples renseignements sur les consultations et la façon d’y participer, visitez le site Web du Comité.


En se fondant sur ses conclusions, le comité parlementaire soumettra au gouvernement d’ici décembre 2016 des recommandations quant à l’avenir de Postes Canada.


Il ne s’agit là que du commencement. Un travail considérable a été réalisé et continuera de l’être avant que le gouvernement ne prenne une décision quelconque à l’égard de l’avenir de Postes Canada.


Comme à l’habitude, n’hésitez pas à nous faire part de vos commentaires sur l’examen mené en vue de garantir que la population canadienne reçoit les services postaux dont elle a besoin et qui lui tiennent à cœur.



Je vous prie d’agréer, Madame, mes salutations les meilleures.




Judy M. Foote, C.P., députée

Ministre des Services publics et de l’Approvisionnement

Press Release – International Literacy Day 2016

Aug 30 2016

The Marrakesh Treaty and the Future of Literacy for the Blind and Print Disabled: International Literacy Day 2016

September 8th, 2016

Toronto, Canada: Fifty years ago, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrated the first International Literacy Day on September 8th, 1966. In honour of the anniversary, this year’s theme is “Reading the Past, Writing the Future.” For the World Blind Union (WBU), the future of literacy for the blind and partially sighted is with the ratification and effective implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty.

Currently, over 90% of published materials are not available to the nearly 300 million people that are blind or have a print disability. Access is especially low in developing and low-income countries where less than 1% of materials are accessible. This has resulted in a global “book famine” and the World Blind Union (WBU) has campaigned for years for a Treaty that would help overcome the book famine.

The result of our efforts and the efforts of our partners and other stakeholders is the Marrakesh Treaty, which was adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) member states in 2013. The Treaty needed twenty countries to ratify in order for it to enter into force and that momentous goal was achieved earlier this year on June 30th when Canada became the twentieth ratifying country. The Treaty will officially enter into force this month, on September 30th, 2016.

The President of the WBU, Arnt Holte celebrated upon the news of the 20th ratification, remarking that “the fact that the Marrakesh Treaty is coming into force might be the most positive development for blind and partially sighted persons and their right to read since Louis Braille developed the Braille alphabet. Accessible books being shared across borders will change the world for all people with print disabilities.”

The Treaty directly addresses the book famine in two important ways;
First, it will enable “authorized entities,” such as blind persons’ organizations and libraries, to more easily reproduce works into accessible formats for non-profit distribution. Second, the Treaty will permit the same authorized entities to share accessible books and other printed materials across borders with other authorized entities, helping to end the needless and inefficient duplication of efforts.

Now that the treaty is about to enter into force, its implementation has become an important focus for the WBU and its members from all over the world. WBU’s Immediate Past President and our Right to Read Chair, Maryanne Diamond, commented on this importance: “Literacy for all is fundamental to getting an education, work and participating in the community. The Marrakesh treaty must be properly implemented to make it possible for people who are blind or have a print disability to have the same experiences as persons without print disabilities.”

Our hope is that every country will ratify the Marrakesh Treaty and then effectively implement its provisions in line with the treaty’s overarching goal of furthering the human rights of persons with print disabilities by promoting their access to literature and information. The WBU and its members will continue to work with countries that have ratified the Marrakesh Treaty to ensure that it achieves its goal.

To learn more about the Marrakesh Treaty, our Right to Read Campaign and what you can do to encourage your government to ratify the treaty, visit our Campaign Page.

The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 285 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at
– 30 –

For further information, please contact:
Caitlin Reid, Communications Officer, World Blind Union

How accessibility is driving innovation in Canada

Aug 28 2016

In-person consultations to inform the development of planned accessibility legislation announced

August 23, 2016 Whitby, Ontario Employment and Social Development Canada

Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, visited the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ontario, and hosted a panel with three young Canadian innovators to discuss how accessibility drives innovation. The Minister toured the centre, noting the accessibility measures in place there, which serve as an example for other communities across Canada. Minister Qualtrough also announced the schedule of the in-person consultations organized to inform planned accessibility legislation.

Minister Qualtrough participated in a dynamic discussion with the three young Canadian innovators:

Maayan Ziv, the creator of an online platform that uses crowdsourcing to pinpoint the accessibility status of locations on an interactive map;
Micah Rakoff Bellman, the designer of Lift, a height-adjustable and movable table with integrated storage that provides home cooks a comfortable and flexible work surface in the kitchen; and
Quayce Thomas, an architecture student who has developed Timsle, a Fitbit-type app that promotes healthy, active living using social networks.
Many more thought-provoking discussions such as these will happen in the next few months, as the Minister travels across the country to engage and consult with Canadians about what an Accessible Canada could look like. In-person public sessions will be held in 18 cities from September to December. Canadians are encouraged to visit to find an in-person consultation session in their area. These sessions will provide all Canadians with an opportunity to share their ideas on how to improve accessibility and inclusion across Canada.

Canadians can also participate in the consultation exercise online at, and can follow @AccessibleGC and the hashtag #AccessibleCanada on Twitter and Accessible Canada on Facebook. The consultation process will run until February 2017.

Minister Qualtrough also encouraged young people from across Canada to apply to participate in the National Youth Forum on Accessibility, which will take place on November 1st. This event will provide Canadian youth who have experience and expertise in disabilities and accessibility with an opportunity to engage in the policy discussion. More information is available at


“Today we are taking another exciting step in our discussion on accessibility. Increasing accessibility is not only the right thing to do, but it also has social and economic benefits for all Canadians. Canada is well positioned to become a global leader in innovative service delivery, technology and universal design. Together, we will reshape the landscape for Canadians with disabilities.”

– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

Further Information

News Release: What does an accessible Canada mean to you?

Planned Accessibility Legislation


– 30 –


Ashley Michnowski
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
819-934-1122 / TTY: 1-866-702-6967

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Facebook


Abilities Centre

The Abilities Centre is an internationally renowned, innovative community hub where people of all ages and abilities enrich their lives by engaging in social, health and cultural programs. The centre delivers sports, health and fitness, arts and culture, leading-edge research, education and life skills programming in a welcoming, positive, energetic environment. The Abilities Centre is a not-for-profit corporation and a registered charity operating in Whitby, Ontario. The centre is a 2016 winner of the Ontario David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility.

Consultation to inform the development of accessibility legislation

Minister Qualtrough, Canada’s first Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, was mandated by the Prime Minister to lead an engagement process with stakeholders—including Canadians with disabilities, provinces, territories and municipalities—that would inform planned legislation to transform how the Government of Canada addresses accessibility.

The consultation process is now open, until February 2017.

Starting in September, Canadians across Canada will be able to participate in the in-person consultation engagement process. In-person public consultations are planned to take place in the following cities:

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador / November 3, 2016
Halifax, Nova Scotia / December 9, 2016
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island / December 8, 2016
Moncton, New Brunswick / October 20, 2016
Québec, Quebec / November 10, 2016
Montréal, Quebec / November 16, 2016
Ottawa, Ontario / November 30, 2016
Toronto, Ontario / February 8, 2017
Thunder Bay, Ontario / October 12, 2016
Winnipeg, Manitoba / October 3, 2016
Regina, Saskatchewan / September 28, 2016
Calgary, Alberta / October 13, 2016
Edmonton, Alberta / October 7, 2016
Vancouver, British Columbia / November 26, 2016
Victoria, British Columbia / November 7, 2016
Iqaluit, Nunavut / September 24, 2016
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories / September 26, 2016
Whitehorse, Yukon / September 22, 2016.
For the most up-to-date information on in-person venues and dates, and to participate online, please visit

Minister Qualtrough will also participate in roundtable discussions, as well as a National Youth Forum that will engage Canadian youth with disabilities in the policy discussion.

National Youth Forum

Minister Qualtrough, as part of her mandate to consult with Canadians on the development of new accessibility legislation, will host a one-day National Youth Forum in Ottawa on November 1st 2016. The Forum will provide an opportunity for Canadian youth with disabilities to discuss what accessibility means to them, share ideas for the new legislation, connect with peers and celebrate youth leadership in building a more accessible Canada.

Applicants must:

– be between 15 and 30 years old in November, 2016;

– be residents of Canada;

– have a disability or have life, academic or work experience related to disability and accessibility; and

– demonstrate their leadership or involvement in an area related to disability and accessibility in their community, region or nationally.

The deadline to submit an application is September 15, 2016. Successful applicants will be contacted by The Office for Disability Issues in the fall.

For more information about how to submit an application to participate in the National Youth Forum please visit:

Innovator Bios

Maayan Ziv – Founder and CEO of AccessNow

Mayaan has a passion for creating a more accessible world for people who use a wheelchair. Mayaan created the AccessNow mobile app, which uses crowd sourcing to collect and share accessibility information all around the world.

Micah Rakoff Bellman – Winner of the 2016 annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA)

Micah is a student at Carleton University’s Industrial Design program. Micah has developed an invention called Lift, which is a height-adjustable, movable table which integrates storage that provides home cooks with a comfortable and flexible surface in the kitchen. The device strives to give more freedom to older individuals and people with disabilities.

Quayce Thomas, Winner of the 2015 annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA)

Quayce is an entrepreneur and architecture student at Carleton University, has seen his app taking the top prize in the IDeA competition in 2015. Timsle is an app that promotes healthy active living by checking in to make sure users are meeting the goals they’ve shared with their social network. This “accountability network” helps meeting academic or other goals and preventing depression.


Starting in September, Canadians across Canada will be able to participate in the in-person consultation engagement process. In-person public consultations are planned to take place in the following cities:

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador / November 3, 2016
Halifax, Nova Scotia / December 9, 2016
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island / December 8, 2016
Moncton, New Brunswick / October 20, 2016
Québec, Quebec / November 10, 2016
Montréal, Quebec / November 16, 2016
Ottawa, Ontario / November 30, 2016
Toronto, Ontario / February 8, 2017
Thunder Bay, Ontario / October 12, 2016
Winnipeg, Manitoba / October 3, 2016
Regina, Saskatchewan / September 28, 2016
Calgary, Alberta / October 13, 2016
Edmonton, Alberta / October 7, 2016
Vancouver, British Columbia / November 26, 2016
Victoria, British Columbia / November 7, 2016
Iqaluit, Nunavut / September 24, 2016
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories / September 26, 2016
Whitehorse, Yukon / September 22, 2016.
For the most up-to-date information on in-person venues and dates, and to participate online, please visit