CCB National Newsletter December 2017




President’s Message++

As the year winds down and we approach 2018, many chapters are busy planning Holiday celebrations with family and friends while we continue with many of our programs at the Canadian Council of the Blind.

CCB continues to work with CELA in Provinces that are not currently being fully served to enable more persons with print disabilities to receive reading materials. Awareness of the abilities of persons with sight loss is a continuous adventure and the advocacy that goes with it to remove barriers is never ending.




Our Advocacy committee is busy working on ways to improve the access to a safe method of ensuring people with vision loss can get the information on their prescriptions in a readable format. This will lessen the danger of taking a wrong medication. In British Columbia several pharmacies are providing Script Talk. This, or a very similar method needs to be available in every province. (See CCB Newsletter Feb. 2016 for more information).


There is a new treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) and Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO). It is OZURDEX® (dexamethasone intravitreal implant) which is a prescription medicine that is an implant injected into the eye. CCB along with FFB and CNIB have completed a patient submission to hopefully get it on the formulary of approved drugs and technology. Like all drugs, not everyone will be medically able to receive it but it will be very helpful for those who are able to get the implant.

Prevention of vision loss is an important part of our mandate so we continue to work with various organizations to get the right medication to the right person at the right time.


The Council is pleased to have Ryan Van Praet who has commenced a new vision in promoting a healthy life style with the formation of the CCB Health & Fitness Program. Anyone of any age or ability can get in touch with Ryan for advice on a fitness program suited to the individual. This is a great time to think about healthy eating as we head into the holiday season!



As a committee member of the WBU’s Women’s Committee, I encourage the women in our community to complete the Questionnaire: Empowerment of Women who are Blind or Partially Sighted ( which has been sent out in November for a reply by Jan 31st 2018.


I wish all our members a happy holiday season – a time to reflect, a time to enjoy friends and family, and a time to watch some TV so on December 25, 26 and 27th tune in to AMI for special all-day holiday programming. Enjoy the time to get refueled for a busy winter of activities ahead.

Louise Gillis, National President


Important Reminder from the Accountant++

Please remember to send any donations that require tax receipts to the National Office before December 31, 2017 in order for your donors to receive 2017 tax receipts.  Complete donor information should be included along with the donation.  Note that mailing addresses are required for all tax receipts, regardless of if the donor has requested a receipt by email.


Anything received by the National Office after December 31, 2017 will be receipted as a 2018 donation.


If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the National Office at for clarification.




The CCB is pleased to announce the re-branding of one of its nationwide programs. Formerly the Trust Your Buddy Program, you can now find all information and resources regarding health, sport and fitness, through the “CCB Health & Fitness” program. Program Manager, Ryan Van Praet, believes the new name reflects the mission and direction of the program much more clearly.  With the rebranding come many avenues to consume the information and to reach out to Ryan as well as your peers.


You can listen to our podcast, watch our videos, then feel free to email Ryan to set up a coaching call if you require more individual guidance


Please visit us at the following links:

Web page:

Podcast:  “The Canadian Council of the Blind” on iTunes, stitcher, pod bean

Group email chat:

Youtube:  CCB Health & Fitness

Facebook:  CCB Health & Fitness

Twitter:  @ccb_healthfit

Email Ryan:



CCB Health & Fitness

National Program Manager & Coach




The CCB is very excited to announce the launch of a brand new podcast that will feature two main shows, plus a whole lot more.

Simply search for “The Canadian Council of the Blind” on your Apple or Android device and you should find it.  We are also working to ensure it is available on all the platforms that our CCB members prefer.


The podcast will feature “The CCB Health & Fitness Show” hosted by Ryan Van Praet.  This program (formerly known as the Trust Your Buddy” program will cover many topics on accessible health and fitness. You can also hear Kim Kilpatrick from the “Get Together with Technology (GTT)” show, covering all things accessible tech related.


It is our hope to possibly have an audio version of this very newsletter for “on the go” consumption.

If you have any questions or are unable to find the podcast, you can email Ryan Van Praet at



AMI needs the support of CCB members across Canada++

AMI is hoping to enlist the help of the CCB’s membership to support us in our efforts to provide a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal.


The broadcast licenses for AMI-tv, AMI-audio and AMI-télé are up for renewal next August and we need your help.


Part of the renewal process includes reaching out to our community partners and customers for letters of support. These letters are vital in demonstrating and reaffirming to the CRTC that AMI is a media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind or partially sighted, and that our services are essential and should be supported and continued.


Letters of support will be accepted until Friday, December 8th and please contact the CCB National office for sample letters. Letters may be submitted to the CRTC via three convenient methods:


Method 1: CRTC Website

Submit your letter of support via the CRTC website


Method 2: Email AMI

Email your letter to and we will submit on your behalf.

Tips on preparing your letter:

1.In either the first or last paragraph include the statement: I do/do not wish to appear at the public hearing.

  1. Include the application reference numbers; AMI-audio (2017-0585-7), AMI-tv (2017-0588-1) & AMI-télé (2017-0589-9)
  2. Indicate your support for the application
  3. Identify if you are a viewer/listener with a disability and if so, please be specific. Example – I am partially sighted.
  4. How long have you been an AMI viewer or listener?
  5. What specific features of AMI-tv, AMI-audio, AMI-télé do you benefit from the most? What is the benefit?
  6. Would you or have you recommended AMI to your family and friends?


Method 3: Information or Assistance by Phone

If you have further questions or require additional information or assistance, please contact Janis Davidson Pressick (AMI-tv and AMI-audio) at 800-567-6755 Ext. 0971 or Bouba Slim (AMI-tele) at 800-567-6755 Ext. 3610.



Please help us to continue providing more coverage of disability and accessibility issues than any other media outlet in Canada.



ICEB Apostrophe and Single Quotation Mark Survey++

The International Council on English Braille (ICEB) is considering alternatives to the symbols that currently represent the opening and closing single quotation marks.

In print the apostrophe and single quotes are basically the same, resulting in frequent errors in electronic braille translation. This issue was brought to the ICEB Executive Committee by braille users because more and more readers are accessing braille that has been translated without any manual intervention. ICEB recently conducted a survey in order to gather feedback as to how single quotation marks should be represented in braille.

Two options (no change, and using dot 3 to represent both the apostrophe and single quotes) received the most votes in all ICEB member countries. However, there was not a definite preference for one of these two options over the other. In order for ICEB to make an informed decision, member countries felt that more input was needed.

The BLC board has decided to conduct another survey to get additional feedback from all stakeholders, but from braille readers in particular. This survey will focus only on the two options which received the most support from ICEB member countries, including Canada.

Please note that you do not have to be an “expert” to respond to this survey. We are interested in your opinion whether you started learning braille 40 years ago or just last week. Even if you participated in the ICEB survey we would encourage you to respond to this one as well.

For more information, and to complete the very short survey, visit the following page on the BLC web site:

Yours truly,
BLC Board of Directors









Report from the CCB Chatham-Kent Chapter++:

Monthly chapter meetings are held the first Monday of every month, unless it’s a holiday, in which case, they are held on the first Tuesday. We meet in the boardroom of the United Way building, 425 McNaugton Ave. West., in Chatham. Everyone is welcome to attend. Our meetings include an information section, often peer support portions, chapter updates and planning.

We are expanding our social outings. In November, we are holding a fun bowling afternoon for members, their friends and family.  In December, we will be holding our annual Christmas dinner with pot luck dessert. As we continue to grow we will look for more interests to expand our social meetings.


We also offer GTT every second Wednesday of the month, from 1:30 until 3:00 at the United Way building, in the board room.  This great program is hosted by Matt Dierckens, a certified assistive technology specialist and trainer in Macintosh, iOS and Windows. We answer questions from Apple, to android devices. Matt also offers on-to-one support in the morning by appointment.


Information sessions have included speakers and presentations from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Hydro One, Chatham-Kent Police Department, CNIB Vision Loss Rehabilitation and the Canadian Mental Health Association.  We continually share our own ideas and answers to others questions, as well as offering lots of encouragement.



We also try to gather information for our members regarding a number of topics. Such as,


Support –

One of our main goals is support. We offer support in many ways. Our hope is that if any one of our members have any problems dealing with vision or any other matter, that they feel comfortable enough to either share with the group or request to have a one on one with  a peer

Or even if there is just something that they wish to bring up, we are there to help or just listen in any way.


Sports –

The CCB Chatham-Kent chapter developed from the CCB Trust Your Buddy program. We began participating in recreational activities such as organized run/walks, a 50 km bike ride, curling, tandem bike riding, lawn bowling, skating, hockey, golf, stand-up paddle boarding and an introduction day at the YMCA. Many of our members joined the Alley Oops Bowling League and have participated in successful tournaments. All activities included sighted family members, friends and buddies. The purpose was to improve fitness and participate in mainstream recreational activities with only the accommodations we need. As CCB members we continue with lawn bowling, bowling and curling. We are looking forward to wall climbing, horseback riding, canoeing and self-defence.


We have successfully raised funds for our programs with a bowling fundraiser and quarter auction. The Chatham Lions Club and the Chatham-Kent United Way have supported us both financially and with encouragement as we began our new chapter.


We welcome any Chatham-Kent resident, of any age, with vision loss. Family members are also welcome.

For more information on CCB – Chatham Kent  please contact us. We are on Facebook. Just look for CCB Chatham-Kent

Or contact

Markus McCracken, Co Chair

519 784-3416

Dave Maxwell, Co Chair

519 674-0141



Nurse practitioners can now certify applications for the disability tax credit!++

Did you know that nurse practitioners can now fill out and sign Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate? This ensures more options for Canadians who want to apply for the disability tax credit (DTC), making the application process easier and more accessible.


Through Budget 2017, the Government has made a change to recognize nurse practitioners as one of the medical practitioners who can certify Form T2201. With over 4,500 nurse practitioners across Canada who can certify patients for the DTC, this change is going to have a positive impact for Canadians living with a disability.


Individuals who want to apply for the DTC, but live in an area where nurse practitioners are the first point of contact, as for example, in Canada’s North, will benefit from this change.


What is the disability tax credit?

The disability tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting family members reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay.

Applying for the credit is a three step process:

  1. Fill out Part A of Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate
  2. Have your nurse practitioner fill out Part B
  3. Send form T2201 to the CRA


Being eligible for the DTC can open the door to other federal, provincial, or territorial programs designed to support those with disabilities or their families. These include the registered disability savings plan, the working income tax benefit, disability supplement, and the child disability benefit.



Report from CCB Pembroke White Cane Club++

The Pembroke chapter of the CCB are off and running for another year after a restful summer, in spite of all the rain we got here. So to make up for it, we had our first meeting in September on a glorious sunny day outside under the trees in Darrell Furgoch’s back yard as if on a picnic. Preliminary plans for the upcoming year were discussed. The rest of our meetings have return to the indoors at Supples Landing.


Our bowling team is back on the lanes in Deep River every Monday night. Our coach Kelly gets a little frustrated with us when we do not listen to her advice, but generally all the bowlers are keeping up their average!  Gary, our totally blind bowler, is hoping to brake 100. He came very close in one game with a 99. A few of the fellows were able to out score the coach on a few occasions, not an easy task. We have to recognize the help we get from George and Susann Martin from the Deep River bowling congress for their support coming out every Monday night to help keep score and encourage the bowlers. Our clubs blind runner, Darrell Furgoch, finished off his running season, doing his 3rd half marathon of the year. With Maryam and Monica, his sighted guide runners, he finished the STWM in 2:01:56. What a fantastic event! The support of other runners and from cheer stations along the way was great!


Three of our members (Bob Austen, Orville Wilkie and Ricky Crigger) headed south in mid October to attend the VIP (VISIALLY In pared Persons) fishing tournament off the outer banks, North Carolina. They reported that the fishing was not so good this year. But other than a very cold first day of fishing they had a great time as always. The hospitality was exceptional, with over 300 plus volunteers taking care of 500 plus fishermen.  Thanks to Barb for driving all that way. A special thanks to the local Lions Club for their financial support for this trip.


Our Christmas dinner get together will be held on Saturday December 9th at the Zion Evangelical United Church hall put on by the fine ladies of the church. We will enjoy the great turkey dinner with all the trimmings followed by some entertainment by local talent. We even try to join in the singing with modest results.

Plans are in the works for the White Cane week in February. This year we will focus on bringing the message to the senior residents in Renfrew County with static displays and presentations by our members where ever requested.


Some of our members are participating in the Pembroke GTT group which is meeting at the Library once a month whenever possible. Thanks has to go out to Kathleen Forestel   from the Ottawa CNIB office for acting as our facilitator.

Submitted by Gerry Frketich on behalf of the CCB Pembroke White Cane Club



Congratulations to Gaston Bédard!

We did it, we ran and completed the 2017 New York City Marathon with 51,000 other runners on Sunday, November 5th!


I am a 65 year old deaf blind runner from Aylmer Qc. I participated in the NYC Marathon as a member of Achilles International based in New York.

This was my 2nd NYC Marathon, my first was in 2016, at age 64.


My guides Christopher, Christos and Hank did a great job guiding me the whole 42.2 kilometers from the start on Staten Island to the finish line in Central Park in Manhatten.



I gave my son Marc 3 big hugs along the NYC Marathon course at 11 km, 22 km and the 34 km mark.

Oh jeez, it felt so good meeting up with Marc at those check points.


We finished with big smiles, the 4 of us, holding hands, arms held up high at the finish line, just like we did in 2016.

We collected our NYC Marathon medals, got our team photos taken in front of the race wall banner.

Then we met up with Marc at the Achilles family reunion tent, just outside Central Park.


It seems like there were more Achilles International athletes and guides this year than in 2016, as there were Achilles athletes and guides from all over the world.


I also had 2 nice chats with Dick Traum, once at the pasta dinner, the 2nd at the Cornell Club on Saturday.

Dick Traum is the founder and president of Achilles International based in New York City.

He is the first amputee to complete the NYC Marathon which he did in 1976. Dick inspired Terry Fox to run his Marathon of Hope across Canada in 1980.


It was an exciting weekend!


GTT Victoria Meeting Invitation, Google Home Demo, December 6, 2017++

You’re Invited!

Get Together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind, in Partnership with the Greater Victoria Public Library.

Time: 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Where: Community Room, GVPL, Main Branch 735 Broughton St

First Hour:

Albert will demonstrate the Google Home device as it pertains to making free phone calls throughout North America, accessing recipes, music, radio programs, sports scores, podcasts, the news and much more.


2nd Hour:

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


We hope to see you there……For more info contact Albert Ruel at 250-240-2343, or email us at


Curling News++:

This report comes to us from Bill Malcolmson, who is a member of the CCB Hamilton Blind Curlers Chapter.  He will be a guide on Team Ontario at the CVICC this year.


Recently, the women’s curling club ran a bonspiel with any profits going to help cover the cost of Team Ontario heading to the CVICC in February. A women’s team was put together for this event, with half of the women being visually impaired.


The team members were Laurie Gunderman, Sharonn Ladd, Joy Mayor, Darlene Woods, Mary Malcomson, and Donna Hawkins.  Mary Malcomson is a coach on Team Ontario and Donna Hawkins is the Skip for Team Ontario.


The theme of the bonspiel was “Canada, the True North, strong and Free.” They had a great time and won a game! Their team wore t-shirts depicting the six flags of Ontario through the years on the front and “Granite Blind Curlers” in braille on the back.

Thanks for your support!



2018 Edie Mourre Scholarship++

Braille Literacy Canada Launches the 2018 Edie Mourre Scholarship


Thanks to a very generous donation from Betty Nobel, BLC is once again able to offer financial assistance to those pursuing braille courses and certification.


Edie Mourre was an employee with the CNIB starting in September 1977. She worked for the Library in the Winnipeg office as the head of the recording studio and braille production and in the last few years she also worked as a transcriber. She served as treasurer of the Canadian Braille Authority and was passionate about braille and about life in general.


Braille Literacy Canada has established an annual scholarship in her name. This scholarship will go to a person wishing to study Unified English Braille, Music Braille, or other Braille systems.


We will be accepting applications until January 31st, 2018. For more information or to download an application go to the following link:


If you need an accessible version of the application please send an email to


Assistive Technology

Blindfold Games Gets a Second Life!++

The developer of over 80 Blindfold Games, was recently contacted by an Apple representative giving the game maker some great news. Marty Schultz received a call from Apple and according to Schultz, Apple said the review team had a chance to look at the Blindfold Games again, and understood why they are separate apps, and that the games can continue. Apple mentioned the games address a need that’s not normally considered by most app designers, and acknowledged how the games are focused on the needs of the visually impaired community.


Shultz said, “New updates will be processed, and new games will be reviewed as before.”

“I want to thank everyone for contacting Apple and spreading the word about the games. I have heard from so many people – far more than I had hoped – telling me how much the games mean to them, and how they appreciate my efforts. It has meant a lot to me, and I truly thank you,” Marty Schultz said in a blog.

Spotlight on Blindfold RS Games: RS Games Is Now Available on Your iOS Device.


Blindfold Games features more than 45 popular iOS audio games such as; Blindfold Racer, Blindfold Road Trip, Blindfold Bingo, and many others.

By Nelson Régo



5 secret features hiding inside your iPhone++

Simply put, there is no way to remember everything the iPhone can do, but here are some features we would like to highlight:


Custom Vibration Alerts: I personally rely on this one so much that I’m not sure how I could live without it. Open the Settings app and go to Sounds >Ringtone/Text Tone/Etc > Vibration. At the bottom of the list, choose Create New Vibration. This will let you tap out a new vibrate pattern that you can then use for all calls or texts, or just for a specific person in your contact list.


Text Shortcuts: Do you type the word Triskaidekaphobia all the time while you’re texting? Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement and tap the plus symbol. Then input Triskaidekaphobia in the Phrase field and something like tdp in the Shortcut field. Now, every time you type “tdp” your iPhone will auto-correct it to “Triskaidekaphobia.”


Head Control: Apple’s iOS platform has the most robust set of accessibility features available. While they’re aimed at users with special needs, many of them are also handy for others. Try this: go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Switch Control. Turn it on, tap Switches, and then add Camera as a new Switch. Once you do that, you’ll be able to configure specific actions that will take place when you move your head to the right or the left while looking at the iPhone’s display.

Hide Unwanted Apple Apps: This is a feature that tons of users wish for. Little do they know… it’s already there. Go to Settings >General> Restrictions and enable them by entering your PIN or passcode. Then slide toggles to off next to any Apple apps that you want to hide from your home screens. Never want to look at that awful News icon again?



Blinking Message Alerts: This is another example of a feature that many people request despite the fact that it’s already there. Open Settings and go to General > Accessibility, then slide the toggle next to LED Flash for Alerts to on. Now your camera flash will blink whenever new messages arrive.


by Zach Epstein







Dolphin Easy Reader now available for Android Devices++

We are happy to announce that the Dolphin EasyReader app is now available to be used on Android devices! You can download this free app through the Google Store. To get started read through CELA’s Easy Reader Quick User’s Guide. If you have any questions email us at or give us a call at 1-855-655-2273.


Library event recognizes resident for years of service helping blind and disabled++:

An evening honouring Geraldine Braak, a longtime advocate for the blind and disabled, took place at Powell River Public Library on Thursday, November 30.


The library will rename its audiobook collection in honour of Braak and a plaque was unveiled, commemorating her years of service as an advocate and voice for blind and disabled people locally and across Canada.  “She’s a great person to honour; she really did work for accessibility,” said assistant chief librarian Rebecca Burbank. “I hope it inspires other people in Powell River to do great things.”


Among her roles, Braak served as Canadian Council of the Blind national president for eight years and held executive positions for the World Blind Union, a United Nations-based organization representing 180 countries and millions of blind and partially sighted people.  She also served on Transport Canada’s Advisory Committee on Accessible Transportation, advocating for accessibility on modes of public transport such as buses and trains.  Braak’s many local achievements include bringing handyDART, a transportation service for disabled people, to Powell River. It is that accomplishment she is most proud of.  “It was very important and it took a lot of work and a Royal Commission hearing to establish it,” said Braak.

Locally, Braak was also instrumental in establishing low-income housing for the disabled, traffic lights for the blind, curbs accommodating people with disabilities and a better selection of talking books at the library. She has been an executive director of Powell River Model Community Project and started a White Cane Club in Powell River, which coincides with White Cane Week each February and raises awareness of visual impairment.  Event organizer Donna Rekve said she believes it is important to recognize Braak.  “She’s done so much for this community; it’s just unbelievable,” said Rekve. “She has accomplished so much in her life.”


Braak was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 1997. She also received an honourary Doctor of Law degree from Malaspina University-College in 2000 and was appointed to the Order of Canada that same year.


Former City of Powell River mayor Stewart Alsgard remembers working alongside Braak on many issues during his time as mayor.  “She certainly is an outstanding member of our community,” said Alsgard, “an example of what can be done when one puts in a great effort for the best aspects of the community and society at large.”


This year, to commemorate Canada 150, a book entitled They Desire a Better Country: The Order of Canada in 50 Stories was released and Braak’s story was chosen alongside other well-known Canadians, including astronaut Chris Hadfield and musicians Oscar Peterson and Celine Dion.  “It’s still a total shock to me,” said Braak.  Currently, Braak is working on national programs with the Canadian Council of the Blind.


“My hope for the future is the recognition that people with disabilities do know what is going on in life,” said Braak. “They are equally intelligent and just have a different way of doing things. That recognition should be there. Not just locally, but everywhere.” Braak said she is proud of her community’s support of her goals. “Powell River is an outstanding, united community and everybody is always ready to help,” she said.


By Sara Donnelly, Powell River Peak