Save the date!

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?”