CCB National Newsletter November 2017




President’s Message++


As we are all aware November is a very important month for Canadians. It is the month that contains Remembrance Day for all the veterans who gave their lives for us. This is where our organization started and therefore it is important to keep that in mind.


I hope that those of us who are able to will attend Remembrance services, that we wear a poppy, and lay a wreath in recognition and thanks for what was given up by these men and women so that Canadians as a whole can live in peace.


I know members are busily working at events and activities in their respective areas as the fall progresses. Our Advocacy Committee is pleased with the results of the work done by all parties so that Nova Scotians’ with print disabilities now have access to CELA. The committee will continue to work along with CELA and others towards the same results in provinces that do not have complete coverage.


I hope you find the articles in this newsletter informative and interesting.


Louise Gillis, National President.




Early Bird Draw Winners++


We would like to congratulate CCB Penticton Chapter and CCB Peterborough Chapter for winning the Early Bird Membership Draw.  These two lucky chapters will receive all of their currently paid membership dues back.  Don’t forget to get your chapters membership in before December 4th to take advantage of the rebate and receive half of your dues back.






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.


AMI needs your help!++

*Please Support AMI’s Broadcast Licenses Renewal*


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.


The deadline to submit letters of support is November 16.


*CRTC website*

If you are comfortable using a screen reader click on the link below to submit your letter of support via the CRTC website.


*Contact us directly*

You can also send your letter directly to * or call 1 800 567 6755. Follow the link below for further instructions.


We welcome your feedback and suggestions.


Please *email* <> us or call 1 866 509 4545.

Thank you for your continued support!



Congratulations! CCB member receives prestigious Magill Award++

One of our very own has received a prestigious award! On Saturday, October 21, Dorothy Macnaughton, an accessibility advocate and volunteer for 30 years, was presented with the Arthur Napier Magill Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her outstanding efforts to enhance the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. As a person with low vision, Dorothy understands how living with a disability impacts daily life and she has worked tirelessly to ensure others with sight loss have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life.


Jim Tokos, CCB National 1st Vice-President, personally called Dorothy to congratulate her on this achievement.


At the event Dorothy received letters of congratulations from Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Honorary Patron of CNIB, and Ron Kruzeniski, Chair, CNIB National Board of Directors.


About the Arthur Napier Magill Distinguished Service Award

In 1976, CNIB established the Arthur Napier Magill Distinguished Service Award as a tribute to Arthur Magill, who dedicated his long and distinguished career to improving the lives of Canadians who are deafblind or living with vision loss. The award represents the organization’s highest public recognition for volunteer services and is given to an individual who is deemed to have made a contribution significantly above and beyond that which is normally seen. It consists of an appropriate memento for display purposes, and a framed citation in a format accessible to the recipient. The award is given to only one deserving recipient annually.


Mike Potvin, Editor of the CCB Newsletter, had a chance to catch up with Dorothy after receiving the award:


“It feels amazing and quite an honour to receive such a prestigious award!”, Dorothy told me when I asked about her experience.


She clearly displayed her class and modesty, however, when she elaborated, telling me:

“That being said, I always felt like I was just doing the work that needed to be done. If I saw that there was a need, and people could benefit from the work I can do, then I would simply do it.”


Dorothy started her involvement with the blind community on a local level, in Sault Ste. Marie, over 30 years ago, where she began advocating for library services for people with print disabilities.


“That’s the work I’m most proud of,” she explained. “Library services and advocacy are my big passions, and I encourage others to get involved.”


Dorothy has been involved with CCB for over 20 years in Sault Ste. Marie, where they have a small chapter, but a very active one. Recently, she has been very active with the GTT program.


“I’m a big champion of the CCB’s GTT program,” explained Dorothy. “Technology is a great way to connect people.”


(I’m very happy to report that Dorothy first learned about the GTT program through the CCB newsletter!)


Wanting to get herself and others more involved with GTT, she came up with the idea for the Northern Ontario conference call.


After setting things up with GTT Coordinator Kim Kilpatrick, the GTT Northern Ontario group has generated great interest and has managed to form new CCB groups, such as the one in North Bay, ON.


Dorothy says that she enjoys the grassroots aspect of CCB, and that she would love to see more blind folks involved with technology and training in the future.


Congratulations to Dorothy and we thank you for all your work over the years!



Trust Your Buddy (TYP) Email Group Conversations-  SUBSCRIBE++


Click on the email link below to subscribe to the new Trust Your Buddy email group chat list!!!



A great and easy way to:

1) Start/Join/Comment on conversations for all things TYB

2) Stay up to date on new events or topics for TYB

3) SUBSCRIBE to the “new very soon” PODCAST feed





Great for those who love quick and easy info through email instead of the Face book and Twitter route.


SUBSCRIBE!!! and you can choose how you receive the emails, get as little or as much info as you want!!!


I’m new to this group format, so be patient please as I learn the software, but this is a safe and secure way to interact!


Welcome!!! And please SHARE this email… all your friends and family can subscribe to stay up to date






Ryan Van Praet (Reg. Kinesiologist)

Program Manager


Accessible Sport & Health Education

Canadian Council of the Blind



Search us on Social Media:

Facebook & Youtube:

“CCB Trust Your Buddy”

Twitter:  @TYB_CCB



The CCB Toronto Visionaries visits the Stratford Festival!++


On Friday October 6, the CCB Toronto Visionaries climbed aboard a Great Canadian Coach Lines bus for our annual bus trip; this year, to the Stratford Festival’s production of ‘HMS Pinafore’!


We were greeted at the beautiful Avon theatre, on Stratford Ontario’s historic Downie Street, by Heather Martin, head of group bookings at the Festival.  Heather and her team immediately welcomed us and got us settled in for our delicious ‘picnic’ lunch, orienting us to the theatre, the second floor lounge space where lunch was served and where a ‘Touch Tour’ of costumes and props from the HMS Pinafore production was set up.  We then met Sarah, our live describer for the show, who provided an overview of the production design and a short synopsis of the story.


The Touch Tour was a fantastic opportunity for us to acquaint ourselves with the costumes actually being worn on stage, and to handle some of the props, including bolt-action rifles, wigs and beards (some made from yak’s hair!), hats, boots made especially for the dancers, and much more!  Being able to gain a tactile experience of some of the full costumes, the delicate laces and ornate brocades, the hairstyles and props allowed us to really conjure a rich, full image of what the actors on stage would look like, and the overall style of the production; much of which is not usually accessible to those living with vision loss.  Stratford also produced house programs in Braille for those who required them.


Then it was time to join the regular audience and enjoy the show!  And here again, our experience was enhanced by Sarah’s rich and eloquent live description of the action on stage, delivered via wireless headset, which painted a rich portrait of the sets, design, costumes and action so vital to understanding Gilbert & Sullivan’s hilarious look at love across class divides. The singing was magnificent, the characters memorable, and the story concludes with a hilarious twist and everyone happily married!  Best of all was Stratford Festival’s work to make this great production accessible to all audiences.


Throughout the trip, we were accompanied by Anthony McLachlan and Ted Cooper, the host and producer/videographer from Accessible Media’s ‘AMI This Week’ program, who profiled the Stratford Festival’s work to make the theatre experience more accessible to a wider audience.  The segment will include interviews with several of our members and is set to air on ‘AMI This Week’ (weekend edition) Friday November 10 at 7:30pm.


As we departed, CCB members and their friends were happily humming tunes from the show, remembering the costumes and props from the Touch Tour, and the efforts made by Stratford’s team to make our Chapter feel welcome and included in one of Canada’s cultural institutions.  All together, a great trip full of good food, excellent and inclusive theatre, and another terrific bus trip for the CCB Toronto Visionaries!


Check out what fun and interesting activities are coming up next on the CCB Toronto Visionaries ‘Events & Activities’ page at


Age and low vision are no deterrents to this gentleman++


On March 17th 2017 members of the CCB Sydney chapter gathered with family and friends of Rory Mac Rae to help him celebrate his 90th birthday.


A valued member of the Sydney chapter, Rory was presented with two certificates from the national office by Board member Christina Lewis–One congratulating him on his 90th birthday and the other a certificate of appreciation for his 35 plus years of dedication to the CCB.



Each May he attends the Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend competing in all sports including the races, and yes, he usually wins first or second place!


At the early age of 16, not knowing he had Starlet’s Disease, thinking only that he was clumsy, Rory joined the Merchant Navy and served his country.


A veteran and a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Ashby Branch in Sydney, he leads the Poppy Campaign each year. After the Poppy Campaign, he volunteers with the Salvation Army for their Red Kettle Christmas Campaign.


He is also an active member of the Sydney lions Club. Rory is always first to volunteer for fund raising, public presentations and peer mentoring.


Congratulations again Rory.



Advocacy: Announcement of the next Tele Town Hall Meeting++


Advocacy without Borders, November 18, 2017

On November 18 2017, the Tele Town Hall organizing committee will continue its series of teleconference meetings as it hosts the fourth gathering, and the second of a series of 3 international presentations.


To capture the international focus of these upcoming Tele Town Hall gatherings we have titled the Series, “Advocacy without Borders”.


In November our international focus will be on the United States.


Date and start times across Canada

Date: November 18th, 2017

Times: 10:00 am Pacific, 11:00 am Mountain, noon Central, 1:00 pm Eastern, 2:00 pm Atlantic, 2:30 in Newfoundland.


This meeting will last no longer than two hours.


Moderator: Jane Blaine.


Guest Speakers:

Mitchell Pomerantz

From February 1975, through December 2008, Mitchell Pomerantz was employed by the City of Los Angeles in a variety of human resource and disability-related positions including discrimination complaint investigator, executive recruiter, and training manager. He was the first blind person to be hired in a professional capacity by the City.


Mr. Pomerantz now works as an independent ADA consultant and trainer specializing in programmatic accessibility, Titles I, II and III of the ADA, successful strategies for providing reasonable accommodations, and “real-world” disability awareness.


John panarese

John is the Director of Mac for the Blind. He provides long distance or in person training on all Apple products, including Mac computers, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple Watch. Besides being contracted to work with several state agencies in the United States, he also works with colleges and universities as well, and several private clients.


John brings a bit of a different perspective to our discussion in that he will be representing the opinion of a consumer who is often required to interact and communicate with various State Agencies across the United States both as someone advocating for himself as well as on behalf of others.

He will share with us what it is like to navigate a much bigger system when it comes to a comparison between Canada and the United States.


This Tele Town Hall meeting is being jointly sponsored by the following:


The Tele Town Hall organizing committee (Donna Jodhan, Robin East, Anthony Tibbs, Albert Ruel, Pat Seed, Louise Gillis, Paul Edwards, Jane Blaine, Melanie Marsden, Kim Kilpatrick, and Leo Bissonnette).


Organizations –

Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)/Get together with technology (GTT), Citizens with Disabilities of Ontario (CWDO).


The Objective:

The objective of this Tele Town Hall meeting is to give participants an opportunity to hear how consumer advocacy and rehabilitation services are carried out in the U.S.A. and to give them a chance to ask questions of our guest speakers.  Subsequent Tele Town Hall meetings will be similar in format to this one.


It is our hope that participants will be able to use the information presented to consider a possible platform for the development of our own made in Canada advocacy initiative.


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.


If you wish to participate, please send an email to the committee at:

You will receive an email confirming your registration immediately, then during the week of November 12 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 November 16.


We will be posting additional announcements in the coming days.

We look forward to hearing from you.



Announcing 455 Books from BC Publishers Added to NNELS++


It’s Canadian Library Month! To celebrate, and with the help of the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia (ABPBC), we’ve just released 455 titles in EPUB format.


Our goal with this project is to create reading options and choice for readers who need accessible formats. Most public libraries already offer access to digital content but it is often inaccessible to readers with print disabilities due to problems with the lending platform, digital rights management (DRM), or with the formats and technology themselves.


We wanted to purchase books specifically in EPUB format because they are more accessible than other digital book formats, and because we typically have to do less work to convert them to other formats for readers who request them. Furthermore, the absence of DRM means NNELS users are more likely to have a straightforward reading experience.


We first approached the ABPBC in the spring of 2017 to find out if they would be willing to help us work with BC publishers and coordinate purchasing a batch of eBooks. We are so glad they agreed to help!


With the project complete, we asked Heidi Waechtler, Executive Director at the ABPBC, about her experience with working with us:


It was eye-opening for me personally to learn that less than 5% of published works are available in accessible formats. The Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia is proud to have worked with the BC Libraries Cooperative to help make an additional 455 BC-published titles available to NNELS users. We wanted to do our part to ensure that BC books were better represented in the NNELS collection, so that all readers have easy access to books that reflect their local perspectives and experiences. What’s more, many of our publishers are now highly motivated to examine their print and ebook production processes to take readers with print disabilities into account, and to begin exploring audiobook production. As an association, we’ll hope to support our publishers in exploring best practices through professional development workshops.


These BC eBooks are for children, teens, and adults, and include fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. There are books for deepening our understanding of reality, and books for escaping from it. They join collections from Atlantic Canadian publishers, as well as titles from Alberta publishers. Adding these 455 books to NNELS moves us closer to our goal of Canadians with print disabilities borrowing Canadian books from their local public library, just like everyone else.



Dinner and Auction in PEI++


CCB Prince County Chapter members held their 4th annual dinner and auction, on October 28th in Summerside, PEI. There was a wonderful turn out at this event.   Everyone enjoyed a turkey dinner with all the trimmings and cake for dessert.  We had a large number of items from the community to auction off and it was a great success.  We would like to thank all our fantastic volunteers for pulling this all together.

Submitted by Sandra Poirier





In the News

Program helps blind woman get life on track. Blind People in Charge program receives $20,000 award++


When Heidi Propp was young, she always thought she lived a normal life.


Blind since birth after her optic nerves never formed, Propp relied heavily on her parents for most things. Her parents cooked, did her laundry and drove her around, or she used HandyDart to get from one place to another.


In grade school it never seemed odd, but it wasn’t until she graduated from high school and enrolled at the University of Victoria that Propp slowly began to realize she wasn’t like her peers.


“I did not feel good about it [relying on her parents] at all. I wanted to have a normal life just like everybody else.  That was a really difficult struggle,” said Propp, who grew up in Langford and lived there for more than 20 years.


“Though it wasn’t my parents’ fault, I felt like my dependence on them held me back socially and professionally.”


In an effort to gain back her independence, Propp was of the first participants to enroll in the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind’s blind people in charge program in 2014, which recently won an award. The only one of its kind in Western Canada, the program has served more than 40 blind, deaf-blind and low-vision adults through a non-traditional model of instruction where blind people are the teachers, planners, directors and administrators.


As part of the two-year program, Propp learned skills such as how to cook, travel, do laundry, take B.C. Transit and picked up financial skills that taught her how to take care of herself.


Now, the 39-year-old has moved out on her own for the first time with a roommate who also went through the program – which was an experience she called “the best day of her life.” She takes transit daily and has become passionate about food, cooking everything from soups and salads to desserts and chilis to pastas and focaccia bread.


Propp also works as a web accessibility consultant where she helps businesses and non-profits make their websites easy to use for blind people and people with disabilities such as hearing and motor-impairments. “[The program] was definitely a life-changer. I didn’t really feel like an equal person until I gained those skills,” Propp said. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without the program.”


The centre was recently honoured with a top award called the Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award from ABC Life Literacy Canada. As part of the award, the centre will receive $20,000 for its blind people in charge program. “I was just stunned,” said Elizabeth Lalonde, executive director and founder of the centre on Fort Street. “It just means a lot to us because we worked pretty hard over the last four years getting the centre up and running and slowly growing. [The award] has given us recognition in the community. “Lalonde added the funding will be used to focus on the braille literacy part of the program.

By Kendra Wong


Accessible Technology

About Google Home++


It’s never been easier to enjoy your favourite tunes, podcasts, news, and radio.

Get hands-free help from your Google Assistant. Just start with saying to your smart device, such as your phone,

“Ok Google”


This allows you to do things such as:

– Play dinner party music

– Get the latest news from NPR

– Play the latest episode of ‘This American Life’

– Play CBC Radio One on TuneIn

– Play some boss nova

– Turn it up!

– Give me a beat


Google Home also responds to “Hey Google”. Give it a try.


Bring harmony to your home


Go to your Google Home app to link music services then pick a favourite as your default.


– Spotify

– Google Play Music

– TuneIn


Your Google Home comes with 3 months of Google Play Music for free when you subscribe ($9.99/mo after trial ends). Millions of songs. Ad-free.

Note from the Editor:

Do you enjoy the newsletter? Do you find the articles informative? We’re always looking for interesting stories from your community! Please pass them along to