CCB National Newsletter October 2017


Presidents Message++:

Welcome back to the fall program season.  I trust all have had a good summer.  July and August have been a bit more on the quiet side, but still CCB life goes on.


The CCB Office continued in the temporary space until early September.  I personally wish to thank all the staff for working in these cramped quarters and successfully attending to their work assignments.


As some of you are aware, Nova Scotians with vision loss were going to lose the services of CELA.  After a great deal of letter writing to, and meeting with, the MLA’s, talking with the CELA Executive Director, and meeting with the NS Public Libraries, it has been announced that as of October 1st Nova Scotians with vision loss, or print disabilities, will now be eligible for this great service.  Thank you most especially, to Pat Gates and Jennie Bovard for a great presentations, and to the CCB National Advocacy Committee for providing support and direction – this is what the committee is all about – congratulations.



CCB continues to work with AMI, IFA, CNIB, and FFB to make life a little easier and in the prevention of blindness.  The MEC has been doing eye exams for seniors over the summer.  GTT has been active in some areas, while in others did take some time off over the holidays and are now back at it helping others with technology.


I have been active on the WBU’s Women’s Committee through international teleconferencing and email.  Expect to see a questionnaire coming your way soon.  While it’s is meant to  find barriers that prevent women with vision loss from becoming leaders it is open to all genders to answer the survey.  Then the committee will try to see how some of the barriers can be overcome.





Please note that all membership packages were mailed out to each Chapter Contact at the beginning of September.


If you did not receive the membership renewal package for your chapter, please contact Becky immediately at 1-877-304-0968 or


Remember the Early Bird Draw deadline is Friday, October 27, 2017 and is a chance for two chapters to win back all the dues their chapters have paid before the draw.


Regardless of who wins the Early Bird Draw, ALL chapters who get their membership renewals in before Monday, December 4, 2017 will receive the rebate of $5.00 per person plus $1.00 per e-mail that CCB offers every year.

Something New++:

The back of the membership card is changing this year.  There is a place there to put a paid sticker.

There seemed to be some confusion that the membership cards were proof of payment, which they cannot be because they are sent out with your membership packages.


Stickers will be sent to the chapters for all paid members when we receive their cheques.  These stickers should be put on the backs of the membership cards as another method of tracking payment.


Thank you for your help with this little change,

Becky Goodwin

Administrative Assistant – Canadian Council of the Blind




WCW Order Forms were included in the Membership Renewal Packages that were sent to each chapter’s chapter contact person.


To avoid shipping delays PLEASE NOTE the deadline for submitting WCW orders is Friday, December 8, 2017 so that orders can be assembled and shipped in plenty of time for WCW February 4 – 10, 2018.


Please plan carefully and place your entire order at one time to avoid confusion & the extra shipping costs incurred by sending multiple packages to one chapter.


You may also use the same form to request up to $100.00 in WCW funding support of your chapter’s WCW events.




Promotion of CCB Peterborough, ON Chapter++:

In early September, Jim Tokos, CCB 1st National Vice President, participated in the CCB Peterborough Chapters first weekly live radio interview which took place on Tuesday, September 26th. At Trent Radio in Peterborough.  The program is entitled Insight Peterborough, and the CCB Peterborough Chapter has taken the initiative to conduct a weekly 30 minute broadcast on Trent Radio to promote within the Community while getting the word out about activities, increasing membership, and using this truly wonderful tool for Chapter awareness within the Community.



Jim was there representing the National Board, along with Peterborough Chapter Secretary Devon Wilkins, and Chapter President, Shawn Johnson.


Together they promoted to the Community what CCB  was, and what the Council offered in regards to programs at the National level, including some discussion on the involvement of the Council at the International Level,.


They spoke about the GTT program in which Peterborough has been involved, as well as the work the Council continues to do with the Vision Van, and how important early detection in Seniors, and Children are to the Council.

President Shawn Johnson spoke about the support he has received from both CCB and CNIB in establishing the Chapter to the level it has reached, and continues to grow.  He also reached out to all sectors of the Peterborough and district area to learn more about what the Chapter offers through its peer support, recreational activity, Membership outings, and identified some personal barriers he has overcome with much success and support to engage the community.


Secretary Devon Wilkins also thanked the Community at large and was very pleased by the support the CCB and the Community offered to enable the Chapter to grow as it has reached 25 Members in only its second season of operation, and Devon was instrumental in the weekly live broadcasts the Chapter receives on Trent radio.


A special thank you to Leslie Yee, Treasurer and Public Relations person for the Chapter who arranged for Jim to meet with the Chapter executive Monday evening, and went above and beyond to ensure the trip and itinerary were flawless.


Jim Tokos is constantly out in the Ontario community, engaging with the members and helping the Chapters in their efforts to continue to grow, and promote their activities.




Nov.4th, 12noon EST / 9am PST

Come join your fellow blind/VI CCB members and sighted peers for our first ever “Virtual 5km Run/Walk” on Saturday November 4th!


What is a Virtual 5k?

The CCB Trust Your Buddy Program is looking to get you excited to take on a personal fitness challenge this fall.


A Virtual run or walk is designed so that you can complete a 5k event on a route that YOU CHOOSE but on the same day and at the same time as everyone across the country!!

Take to your treadmill, local high school track, local gym or even better, grab some friends and family and map out a 5km safe route within your city.

This eliminates the need to travel to a race venue, wait in line for a smelly porta potty and cram in with the crowd of people.


To participate is simple!  Follow these easy steps and set the personal goal of completing a 5k run or walk, to boost your fitness, self-esteem and community network.


  1. SIGN UP- Go to and search “CCB Trust Your Buddy”, where you will pay the $10 entry fee to officially register
  2. TRAIN TOGETHER VIRTUALLY – Go to Face book and search “CCB Trust Your Buddy”, where you will find tips for training properly, have the ability to ask Ryan (your coach) any questions you have, and cheer on your fellow participants
  3. RUN or WALK – Pick a 5km route of your choosing, then on Saturday, November 4th at 12 noon Ontario time / 9am Vancouver time, or whatever that corresponds to your time zone; start your 5k adventure!
  4. SUBMIT and WIN!- After you have finished your 5k, simply email your finishing time and/or a photo of you completing the event to This will enter you into a draw for a chance to WIN a $50 Sport Chek gift card!!

This is not a “race” but you certainly can challenge yourself to complete 5k as fast as possible.

This is for EVERYONE, blind or sighted, young and old.


CCB Trust Your Buddy is about getting blind/VI and their friends and family, up and active for life.  You have a FREE coach/mentor in Ryan Van Praet….don’t let anything stop you from living a healthy active life!!



Contact Ryan at, 226–627-2179 or on the CCB Trust Your Buddy Facebook page!



Seeking Members for the New CCB Mysteries Chapter++:

If you enjoy participating in mysteries, or you just want to help plan mysteries, then please read on.

We are seeking members who simply want to have fun and help create laughter.  It’s all about expecting the unexpected!  We promise to host evenings that are informal and entertaining.

Want more info? Email or call 416 491 7711.



GTT Schedule of Meetings on the West Coast,

October, November and December 2017++:


The CCB and Get Together with Technology (GTT) will be active in the Lower Mainland area and on Vancouver Island over the coming months.  Come check us out!


For more information on all the dates and locations, please contact your GTT West Coordinator:

Albert Ruel

Toll Free: 1-877-304-0968,550 or Mobile: 250-240-2343


Thanks to CCB!++:

Engage is a PowerPoint add-in that lets users of every skill level create professional PowerPoint decks.  It also lets users create accessible presentation decks for people with a visual impairment that rely on assistive technology such as screen reading software.  These accessibility features were developed with the help of key stakeholders at Treasury Board Secretariat and the Canadian Council of the Blind.


Unique to Engage, users can now add alt text to the entire slide to give the user more context and better understanding.  Engage also allows sighted persons to see in which order the information on their slide would be read out by the screen reader and automates the ordering in a logical manner so that the information on the slide becomes accessible.


The challenge we had was how to ensure that PowerPoint presentations are accessible and the council helped us figure out how best to go about achieving this.

Special thanks to Louise and Lorne from CCB–there’s no way we could have built the accessibility features we did without your help!


You’re Invited!++:

On October 14 2017, the Tele Town Hall organizing committee will continue its series of teleconference meetings as it hosts the third gathering, and the first of a series of 3 international presentations.  For the next three Tele Town Hall meetings we will be introducing speakers to you from such places as New Zealand, Australia, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean. To capture the international focus of these upcoming Tele Town Hall gatherings we have titled the Series, “Advocacy Without Borders”.


Series Name: Advocacy Without Borders

Date: October 14th (CDN) October 15 (Downunder)

Times: 12:00 noon Pacific

1:00 pm Mountain

2:00 pm Central

3:00 pm Eastern

4:00 pm Atlantic

4:30 in Newfoundland

Moderator: Anthony Tibbs.

Guest Speakers:

Ms. Martine Able-Williamson, Treasurer of the World Blind Union lives in New Zealand, and she brings to our townhall discussions a wealth of international experience. Ms. Able-Williamson’s outstanding knowledge of disability advocacy (not just blindness advocacy), is renowned by all those who know, and have worked with her. Martine understands the struggle of blind and disabled people to achieve full inclusion in society throughout the world. She has a significant, diverse network of contacts both in New Zealand and internationally. As one of New Zealand’s two delegates, Martine has worked hard to develop outstanding knowledge of the Asia Pacific Region of World Blind Union, and beyond. As a result, she has learnt so much more about the differences in many different developed, and developing countries.


Frances (Fran) Cutler is a retired CBC journalist and Producer who has lived with low vision all her life due to Stargart’s Disease.  In retirement she lives in Australia for 6 months of their summer and Ottawa for 6 months of Canadian summer, therefore she receives blindness related rehabilitation and support services on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

In 2013 Fran was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.  See more at:


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 of this Tele Town Hall meeting is to give participants an opportunity to hear how consumer advocacy and rehabilitation services are carried out in New Zealand and Austrailia, 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 Oct 09 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 12.

We will be posting additional announcements in the coming days.


We look forward to hearing from you.


Donna Jodhan, Robin East, Anthony Tibbs, Albert Ruel, Pat Seed, Louise Gillis, Paul Edwards, Jane Blaine, Melanie Marsden, Kim Kilpatrick, and Leo Bissonnette


Assistive Technology

Used Assistive Technology Market Places++:

If you are holding on to previously enjoyed blindness related assistive tech and would like to find a new home for it, here are two opportunities.

For those items you wish to give away, please contact Albert Ruel through the CCB’s GTT program and I will attempt to connect you with someone who needs your generous donation.  I can be reached at

250-240-2343 or


If you want to sell your previously enjoyed assistive tech, Canadian Assistive Technology are offering an opportunity for people who have left-over blindness related assistive tech that you’d like to sell.

People just need to let Steve know how much they want for their stuff and he’ll post it.  For more info contact Steve directly.


Gently Used Equipment Marketplace

Phone: 1-604-367-9480

Toll Free: 1-844-795-8324


Canadian Assistive Technologies, Formerly Aroga Technologies++:


Looking for Aroga Technologies?

New name, new face, same service and support!

After 28 years of providing equipment, software, service and support, it was of heavy heart that due to circumstances beyond our control, Aroga Technologies had to close its doors.


But the good news is that several people from behind the scenes of Aroga Technologies have banded together to create a new, vibrant Assistive Technology company, bringing their years of experience together once again in order to provide amazing service and support to every product we sell.


Once again we offer full lifetime technical support on any product we sell and honor manufacturer and extended warranties on our products.

Our sister Service Company, Chaos Technical Services guarantees quick turn around on the servicing of equipment and offers competitive pricing on repairs that are not covered under warranty.


We continue to carry the very best in Low Vision and Blindness products, including state of the art products from such manufacturers as ENHANCED VISION, HUMANWARE, DUXBURY, DANCING DOTS, and many more. Our product lines are growing every day, and anything we don’t currently carry, we’ll order it special just for you.


We take Assistive Technology very seriously and want to be the one stop solution for you, your clients, or your loved ones, from purchase, to support, to service.

Visit online at

or call 1-844-795-8324


Labour market information through a disability lens++:

On June 5th, 2017 the Ontario Government announced it was launching a new strategy to connect more people with disabilities to rewarding jobs.


The website provides students and jobseekers with extensive labour market information. They can see the latest Ontario employment snapshot and monthly provincial labour markets reports, and search 180 job profiles that can help individuals make important decisions about careers, education, training and employment.


The Ontario Labour Market website can be accessed through this link and includes a survey for user feedback.


Please explore this website and if you have comments you can flag them through the embedded survey.




What’s New in iOS 11 Accessibility for Blind, Low Vision and Deaf-Blind Users++:


iOS 11 has arrived for users of the iPhone 5S and later; the iPad fifth generation and later; and the iPod Touch 6th Generation.

Mainstream changes such as the revamped Control Center, new HomeKit options, the new Files app, and many other enhancements have been added. Other blogs and videos will cover these changes, but as is the case with all major iOS releases dating back to iOS 5, there are many changes specific to accessibility which may not be well documented.


Type It, Don’t Speak It

In iOS 11, not only has Siri earned a spot under Accessibility Settings, but you can now type to Apple’s virtual assistant instead of speaking to it. This makes it possible to perform queries silently.

For Braille display users, you will now be able to fully utilize Siri from a Braille display without interacting with the touchscreen.


Indoor Mapping Comes to iOS

iOS 11 has support for indoor mapping functionality with the Maps application. Note that this will only apply to spaces where beacons exist.



Previews Are Back!

In iOS 10, VoiceOver users had to perform a 3 finger single tap on a message to hear the preview of their email messages. The preview will now be read out loud by VoiceOver without the user having to interact with their touchscreen.


Describe It All To Me! Well… Sort Of.

In iOS 10, Apple introduced the ability to generate alt text for the photos in your photo library and camera roll. With iOS 11, this has expanded to a few third party apps like Facebook. When you find an image you would like to have described, perform a 3 finger single tap when VoiceOver focus is set to that item.


Feel Those Emoji’s

VoiceOver users who use speech have had the ability to listen to whatever emoji they have selected, or to whichever one they encounter.

Prior to iOS 11, this was very limited for Braille users. They often saw a series of symbols that didn’t differ from emoji to emoji. Now, Braille users can tell what emoji they are encountering just like their speech using counterparts.


Low Vision

The new features and enhancements in the below sections show that Apple has done substantial work to improve the low vision experience.

While the below added functions are important, there are a lot of smaller changes to the appearance of the operating system that will make the upgrade potentially a good one. For example, a number of default icons have been visually cleaned up, removing “flair” to create a crisper and clearer presentation. Here are a few noteworthy changes, but not an exhaustive list:


* The paintbrush ends on the App Store have been removed, and the lines across the pencil have been cleaned up to create a crisp overlapping “A” with curved lines.

* The times on the clock have been boldened and clarified.

* The Maps icon has been simplified to become more visually distinct.

* The number of lines on the Notes and Reminders icons have been reduced.

* The Calculator icon has been given a slight overhaul changing it from orange and gray boxes to a black calculator image with orange and white buttons on it.



Apple continues to make changes and enhancements to its mobile operating system for everyone. Their work toward inclusive design continues to keep them ahead of many other platforms in terms of built-in accessibility options. Certainly, the enhancements in iOS 11 prove this trend continues. Just like previous iOS releases, whether you should upgrade or not depends on whether the bugs present in the new release will impact you on a greater level than you can tolerate—and whether you feel the new features are worth the upgrade.


To download the update over the air, go to Settings> General> Software Update, and follow the prompts onscreen. Alternatively, you can update your device through iTunes.

Submitted by Scott Davert


In the News

Deafblind Senior Experienced Rock Gym++:

You don’t know what you can do until you try!

I use cochlear implants to hear, so I have no natural hearing; I have no sight. When I decide I want to try something new in my community, the challenge is to figure out how to get to the site, and how to do the activity. I have the help of intervenors from deafblind services at CNIB in Ottawa. Two weeks ago, I discussed with Marie, the intervenor I see each Thursday, that I was interested in knowing more about rock climbing. I had heard about it, and was very curious to know if this was something I could do.


The only time I have climbed upward is to have climbed a ladder that someone held for me, so that I could feel the top of a large sun-flower. I guess that might have been going up about 8 feet, maybe less.


I have been on water slides that go upward a long way, but that feels much like going up the stairs of a building, not like climbing.


I asked Marie to go with me to the Coyote Rock Gym, to view what it was like. Before I went I called the gym, and spoke to Troy. I asked him if he knew whether a blind person had come to the gym, he said no. He felt it could be possible, and encouraged me to come to an introductory session first.


Since Marie would have to learn how to work the rope, to take up the slack as I climbed, and to bring me down when I wanted to come down, it was important that we worked together as a team, to be honest in whether we both felt comfortable.


I felt the wall, and was shown how to put the harness on and tie the rope. I had no idea whether I would enjoy this, but Marie and I both decided to give it a try.


During the introductory session I climbed twice, once about six feet, the next time about 14 feet. I loved the idea of creeping up the wall, finding my way by touch. I liked that I could decide which way I wanted to go, entirely by touch.


I wanted to go back and get some pictures taken, and to go just a little higher than last time.


The case manager of deafblind services in Ottawa was able and willing to meet us at the gym to take pictures. Jessica was very encouraging and it is thanks to her that I have pictures that show my achievement.


Marie and I got to the gym just as it opened for the afternoon. I registered and paid $20 to rent shoes, helmet and the harness. Marie brought me to the wall, and Troy again was there to assist us. Troy guided me through making the figure 8 knot and the other knot to complete that part of the process. He gave Marie some refresher guidance, while I explored the wall in front of me, to decide where I was going to start and which foot would go on which rock. I had on shoes that were like running shoes, with flat rubber bottoms and Velcro ties. They fit tightly with the toe reaching right to the end, the way they should fit. I wondered why they had no treads on them, but later understood why.


When Marie was finished getting some training, she asked me if I was ready! I said yes, but I would not be going too high, just a little higher than last time.


I took a few steps upward, and on the third step up I couldn’t find a comfortable rock to continue. Troy said “Just put your left foot up a bit, there is a rock there!” I wanted to take a big step upward, but knew this would have to be a baby step up, because nothing else felt quite right. I felt a little disappointed that it had to be such a small step! Well after that tiny step, the rest of the time was pretty large steps up, which I found to be a little hard, but nothing too bad! I tried to go up left and right, and kept going in a zigzag motion, the way it felt best for me. I was concentrating on finding the best hand-holds, and then which foot to move, that I was totally surprised when I heard Troy say, “You are at the top Penny, there is a rock in front of your face!” What! No! Am I really at the top?


I then stood there, in total disbelief. I had planned to go a little further, not to the top!


I told Marie I wanted to come down. So, I waited until I knew she was ready, before I sat on my harness, and took both my feet and hands off the wall. It seemed I waited minutes for Marie to say she was ready! In actual fact, there was a delay, which Marie later explained that she had a moment of panic; there I was, up 24 feet, and now she was responsible to work the rope for me to come down safely! I trusted her absolutely, and I knew Troy was with her. As I sat, I started to move slowly down the wall. As I moved downward, I didn’t have any concept of how high I had climbed. I kept thinking I’d be on the ground in the next second, but I wasn’t. Troy said to me to put the sole of the foot on the wall, not my toes. Now, I said to myself, “Wait a minute, that means I have to lean back, can I do that?”  I tried it, and yes, I found that because these shoes had smooth bottoms, you could slide down the wall easier than keeping your toes on the wall! I wish I had acted faster when Troy told me what to do, but I was having this conversation with myself about what he was asking me to do!


Once I was on the mat again, I stood in shock. I had gone as far as I could, and I had done it without any problems. I had trusted Marie to do what she had to do, and she allowed me to achieve something I had never done before.


Thanks to deafblind services at CNIB, Troy could work with me to give me this experience. He was so accommodating, so calm and encouraging that I can’t wait to go back!

I felt shaky for a while after; I think all the excitement came to me and I was in the shock of disbelief. Marie understood this and we took a tour of the gym to feel all the different rock climbing areas. We walked on mats in front of the walls with areas to climb that you didn’t have a harness on, and areas in kind of tunnel places, all so intriguing.


Excellent team intervention is the key to doing complicated activities. I am sure Troy understood the unique experience we had and how much we appreciated how he worked with us both. Discover what you can do, and grow in the knowledge that most of the time, you exceed your expectations.

By Penny Leclair


New smart beacons open doors for the blind in Toronto neighbourhood++:


If you were blind and walked into a coffee shop, how would you find the counter so you could order?

That’s easy for Susan Vaile at 9 Bars Coffee in Toronto – she just
needs to listen to her smartphone: “Walk forward six metres to carpet. Service counter at 9 o’ clock.”

Sure enough, there it is, and within minutes, Vaile has ordered and received a small coffee with double cream and double sugar.

Similar verbal directions are already available to customers like
Vaile at several other businesses in the Yonge and St. Clair
neighbourhood, thanks to a pilot project called ShopTalk launched by the CNIB.

The project installs and programs palm-sized Apple iBeacons that use Bluetooth wireless signals to connect with nearby users’ phones via an iPhone app called BlindSquare. It provides directions to help them navigate through doors and vestibules, to service counters, washrooms, and other important parts of buildings such as stores and restaurants.

Vaile says the beacons make it possible for customers like herself to find their way independently.

“They don’t need to ask somebody,” she said. “It’s allowing you to
have some autonomy.”

The beacon technology has already been used in other cities around the world, most notably in Wellington, New Zealand.

There, a project called “No Dark Doors” has already installed the
beacons in 200 downtown shops, and plans to expand to the city’s transit system and areas outside the city’s central business district.

Vaile, who just turned 56, lost her sight to complications of Type 1
diabetes and several strokes in her 30s. Being an artist and
photographer, she was devastated.

She recounted the challenges of learning to cross the street or walk up and down steps without the use of her eyes.

“Being outside when you can’t see – it doesn’t matter whether you’re used to it or not – is a scary prospect,” she said.

Now the self-described “technology buff” gives back by volunteering to help test new technologies like the blind beacons.

Vaile lives just a block away from the CNIB’s community hub. She walks down the street confidently with a cane in one hand and a smartphone in the other. As she passes various shops and landmarks, BlindSquare lets her know how far away they are and in what direction.

But until now, the app has only worked outside. The beacons have the potential to help open new doors for people like her.

Local businesses can get the beacons installed for free.
They’re paid for with a $26,000 grant from the Rick Hansen
Foundation’s Access4All Program.

The beacon technology itself isn’t that new – Apple launched its
version, iBeacon, in 2013. It initially used the technology to welcome customers to its own stores and encourage them to update their software. But it soon faced criticism about “potentially creepy” uses by retailers who were using it to track customers and push coupons to their phones.

She hopes the beacons will start a conversation and lead to even more positive change.

“Once the beacon’s in, we want to go back to businesses and say, ‘You’ve got the beacon, what can we do to help you provide accessible customer service?'”
By Emily Chung, CBC News, September 19, 2017.