VISIONS January 2019

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VISIONS
Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter
January 2019
“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”
President’s Message++
Happy New Year to all! I hope 2019 brings you good health and a great year to celebrate as this is our 75th year as an organization of the blind.
As we approach this New Year “Our Year of Accessibility” we have a lot to be proud of from 2018 which we will work to continue and grow into the future. CCB is always looking for new ideas that will interest both young and old, new to sight loss or blind since birth so that we all can live life to the fullest.
As you will see in the newsletter there are activities taking place in February but our anniversary can be celebrated anytime through the year so that we can showcase our abilities and improve accessibility for all. Please send announcements of any celebrations in your chapters so that we can add them to the website and newsletters and also send a report on the event with photos.
We are always looking at new treatments to prevent or slow down sight loss and new technology to assist in mobility, communication and entertainment. So if you come across something new let us know so we can share it with others.
I hope all had a good holiday season with family and friends and now it’s time to get back to work and our winter sports and activities. I hope you enjoy this edition of Visions which contains many interesting items.
Louise Gillis, National President
Announcements
White Cane Week 2019++
Get ready for another fun and exciting awareness week from February 3 to 9. Events include our annual AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship and countless local activities. Please visit the CCB website to keep yourself updated on the many exciting events that will be taking place this year across the country. And stay tuned for reports on events in upcoming newsletters!
White Cane Week Dinner++
JOIN THE CANADIAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND AND OUR KEYNOTE SPEAKER THE HONOURABLE CARLA QUALTROUGH AS WE CELEBRATE OUR 75th ANNIVERSARY
The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) is thrilled to announce that the Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility will be our Keynote Speaker as we celebrate our 75th Anniversary. So mark your calendar, and join us in Ottawa, for our gala dinner, 6:00 PM Wednesday February 6, 2019, at Christ Church Cathedral’s Great Hall, 414 Sparks Street.
The CCB was founded 75 years ago, in the waning months of 1944 and World War II, by returning blind veterans and schools of the blind. The CCB is the largest membership based organization of the blind with 85 chapters across Canada.
To celebrate our 75th Anniversary the Canadian Council of the Blind is dedicating 2019 to “our Year of Accessibility”. The CCB is dedicated to working towards improved accessibility and a barrier free Canada while at the same time continuing its efforts to enhance the quality of life of Canadians who are blind and have low vision.
Purchase a table for eight (8) for $800.
For More Information Contact: Becky Goodwin 1-613-567-0311.
Email: bgoodwin@ccbnational.net
‘EXPERIENCE’ EXPO 2019++:
Ad for Experience Expo 2019 Saturday February 2 10am to 4pm, at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre 750 Spadina Ave. Toronto, ON. For more information please visit www.ccbtorontovisionaries.ca
An Experience Expo Special Event
Your special invitation to attend a forum on assistive technology.
Check your calendar and RSVP now!
Saturday, February 2 at 4:00 pm. Miles Nadel Jewish Community Centre, 750 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON.
Your chance to participate in a panel discussion dedicatedt o brindging technology for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted and designed to achieve inclusive, progressive accessibility. Followed by a question and answer session.
Panel will include Louise Gillis, National President, CCB, Chelsea Mohler, M. SC. Community Engagement Specialist at Balance for Blind Adults and a assistive technology educator and Alvert Ruel, CCB’s GTT Program Coordinator, Western Canada.
Space is limited to the first 75 reservations. Please direct your RSVP to CCB toronto Visionaries Voice Mail Line: 1-416-760-2163 or by email: info@ccbtorontovisionaries.ca
Don’t forget to RSVP if you would like to attend this fantastic event.
“The CCB mysteries chapter extends holiday greetings to everyone that are already thinking about 2019.++
On January 22 we will be holding our first Improv evening of the year and we hope to see you there.
Our very first Improv evening held in November was a roaring success.
Time – 6 pm to 8 pm.
Location – the CNIB hub.
Come and let your imagination do the rest!
Light refreshments will be provided.
For more info please call 416 491 7711 or email info@sterlingcreations.ca
Guide Dog Night In Ottawa++
On December 6, a group of Ottawa Guide Dog handlers and their 4-legged companions gathered at CCB’s national office to watch Pick of the Litter, a documentary that follows 5 Labrador Retriever puppies from birth to adulthood. The evening was moderated by David Greene with his second Guide, Impreza nearby. Among the attendees were seasoned Guide Dog handlers, new dog/person partnerships, and those who were considering having a Guide. An experienced Animal Health Technician specializing in animal massage was along to pamper the pooches during the show. Additionally, a Guide Dog Emeriti and a Guide-In-Training were present.
Set in the Guide Dog School for the Blind in San Rafael California, the movie chronicles the journey of each pup, three boys and two girls. As the story unfolds, it is evident that not all dogs would be destined to become guides. Just like people, each dog has his or her own personality and may be better suited for another career path.
A Descriptive Video soundtrack accompanied the movie so that those of us with low or no vision would not miss a thing! The crucial role played by the puppy raisers was presented in great detail—a variety of people, with different lifestyles and motivations work with the dogs during this critical stage of their development. All puppy raisers possessed a genuine kindness, a willingness to provide a loving home, a desire to help others and the knowledge that one day, their puppy would leave. Some dogs had one puppy raiser while others, for various reasons, had two or three. A ‘family reunion’ of sorts took place as the brothers and sisters were brought together at a few months of age. The support and guidance of the school figured prominently as puppy raisers and canines alike worked hard in preparation for the important job that lay ahead. There was not a dry eye in the room as it was revealed that some puppies would follow a different career path and would not go on to be trained as Guide Dogs.
Once returned to the school, the potential guide dogs were put through a stringent series of tests to make sure that they would succeed as Guides. The safety of the dog/handler team is of utmost importance. All of us watched in suspense as the dogs completed a rigourous set of tasks in the hopes that they would pass. More tears flowed from the audience as prospective handlers were introduced; some returning for a second, third or fourth Guide, and others, who were both new to blindness and new to life with this special four-legged friend. “Dog Day,” as dog and handler meet for the first time was a poignant moment, and sure to bring back memories for the many Handlers in the room.
While not all the dogs in this story became guides, each found his or her perfect home. The movie ends as the circle of life begins once more as Veterinary staff welcome another litter of puppies into the world.
After the movie, memories were shared and stories were exchanged in this warm and welcoming social setting. People asked questions and exchanged tips and tricks while many of the dogs snoozed contentedly on the floor. The meeting adjourned with best wishes for a Happy Holiday and promises made to reconvene once again in early 2019.
Shelley Ann Morris
World Braille Day++
News Release, December 17, 2018:
The United Nations General Assembly has today adopted the World Blind Union’s Resolution recognizing the World Braille Day.
The purpose of the World Braille Day, celebrated every January 4, is to raise awareness of the importance of braille to converting the written word to tactile form for the benefit of blind and partially sighted persons worldwide.
WBU members and partners around the world have reacted with excitement upon receiving the news.
“This is a wonderful achievement especially because braille is the means of literacy for blind people. Literacy is the foundation of education and foundation of full integration of employment’ says WBU’s President Dr. Fred Schroeder, from the UN Head Quarters in New York City. Watch his full remarks on WBU YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=29
“In United States braille has come to be recognized as an important item because if we can read and write, we can fully participate in all the activities in life that everybody else takes for granted, says Former President of the National Federation of the Blind-USA, Mr. Marc Maurer. Watch his full remarks on WBU YouTube Channel:https://youtu.be/5YrrqwbAkIm
From Rwanda, the WBU Second Vice President Ms. Donatilla Kanimba, said “This is a great opportunity to advocate for braille as the most important literacy tool for the blind community, especially children here in Africa who cannot pursue education because they cannot access braille for their literacy needs, she says.”As the World Blind Union, we believe that reading is a human right and therefore we are grateful that the UN is recognizing this right. We urge governments to recognize this right as well and provide braille literacy in schools”.
Braille Literacy Canada Commends the United Nations adoption of World Braille Day and Canada’s Accession to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
January 4, 2019 – Toronto – Braille Literacy Canada/Littératie braille Canada (BLC), as the Canadian braille authority, celebrates the United Nations’ recent adoption of World Braille Day, recognizing it as an official day to be celebrated annually on January 4th around the world, to coincide with the birth date of Louis Braille. Official recognition of World Braille Day on the international stage brings with it a strong message to both raise awareness and celebrate the importance of braille literacy for the generations of blind people who continue to benefit from it around the globe.
“Braille represents literacy, freedom and equality for the millions of blind people who use it around the world. It is as important as print is to the sighted,” explains Natalie Martiniello, president of Braille Literacy Canada. “It enables blind children to acquire literacy, raises employment and income levels, enables people who are blind to independently vote and exercise their citizenship, and to read personal and professional communications independently.
We commend the United Nations for recognizing the importance of braille by designating January 4th as World Braille Day, and we celebrate alongside Braille readers everywhere.”
BLC also commends the Government of Canada which has recently announced that Canada will accede to the optional protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The UNCRPD sets guidelines to bolster the rights of persons with disabilities and calls for the abolishment of laws and practices that perpetuate discrimination. Importantly to BLC, the treaty also affirms and reinforces the importance of equal access to information for those unable to read print, including those Canadians who are blind or who have sight loss and who use braille.
Though Canada ratified the treaty in 2010, it only recently agreed to also be bound by the Optional Protocol, allowing the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to consider complaints against Canada and providing a further level of recourse at the international level for Canadians with disabilities facing discrimination.
“Access to information is not a privilege, but a right,” explains Martiniello. “We applaud the Government of Canada for acceding to the optional protocol. We hope that the Optional Protocol will provide an additional protective layer where gaps in accessibility remain and that the introduction of the Accessible Canada Act will usher in an era of increased accessibility.”
iHabilitation.ca Offers Online Training for Voice Over on iOS Devices++
One of the GTT Victoria members and periodic contributors, Tom Dekker wants you to know about his paid online training service now available.
Are you ready to gain greater command of your iPhone? Are you willing and able to work at it? iHabilitation Canada is very happy to announce a new iPhone instructional opportunity that will help you do just that. At the same time, you will gain experience with the latest in inclusively designed meeting and webinar platforms – a skill that offers ever-increasing educational and employment potential.
We also offer the opportunity to engage in a Structured Discovery approach to what we like to think of as touch screen O&M. That’s right! Orientation and Mobility, “on screen” as with “on land”! This means that you gradually learn the location of everything you may need on an app’s screens before making serious use of the app. Familiarity reduces frustration.
This is very different from the kind of iPhone Voiceover instruction where learners are simply taught a “flick-and-tap route”. They flick and tap through the steps of a task without learning much about other on-screen clues and landmarks that would otherwise provide a broader picture of the virtual environment.
Imagine the fun and benefit of transforming that sometimes seemingly endless bead flicking experience to a full-screen Mind’s Eye view, independent of physical vision. Imagine whizzing around the screen with your finger just as you would with a mouse as if you could see to use one.
Find out more about iPhone Structured Discovery coaching and online multi-media learning possibilities available via Zoom Cloud Meetings!
For more information, visit ihabilitation.ca/coaching
To learn more about our methodology and some of the apps and possibilities for increasing personal iPhone-based productivity in general, check out our workshop document from the 2018 CNIB National Braille and Technology conference. Ihabilitation.ca/bc2018
Sincerely,
iHabilitation partners
Tom Dekker and Ken Sudhues
Assistive Technology
New tech helps deaf-blind people ‘watch’ TV ++
Innovation lets these individuals know what’s happening without asking for help
A TV delivers content through images and sound. But for those who cannot see or hear, watching TV is impossible without special technology.
You may enjoy TV — as do many people with hearing or visual disabilities. But those who are both deaf and blind need special help to follow along. Now an innovative technology is turning television signals into a form that deaf-blind people can understand.
Deaf people can’t hear. But they can use closed captioning to read subtitles of the words spoken on TV. Blind people can’t see. But they can make use of visual description in voice-over comments that describe what’s happening on the TV screen. Neither method, however, works for people who are both deaf and blind. That makes it harder for them to “watch” television shows or programs.
Roughly 45,000 to 50,000 deaf-blind people live in the United States, according to the National Center on Deaf-Blindness in Monmouth, Ore. By that center’s count, almost 10,000 of them are under age 22. Thousands more deaf-blind people live elsewhere around the world.
Ángel García Crespo is a computer engineer at Carlos III University of Madrid in Spain. His group has invented a new way for deaf-blind people to “watch” TV. He unveiled the technology at a conference, last year, in Aveiro, Portugal. The team went on to describe what they’d done in a paper, earlier this year.
The idea for the system grew out of previous work by García Crespo’s group. The team had already worked on making audiovisual materials accessible to people with either vision or hearing disabilities. But the group wanted to help people with both challenges. So they asked some deaf-blind people what would help.
“We heard from them that they would like to know, without intermediaries, what is said in the TV newscasts,” García Crespo says. In other words, the deaf-blind people didn’t want to always need someone else to tell them what was going on. That sent the team brainstorming.
Getting technologies to work together
Deaf-blind people rely on their sense of touch to communicate. One way to get info is to have someone on hand — literally. A deaf-blind person can get and give information through touch-based hand signals with another person. But it isn’t always “handy” to have someone else around.
An innovative system can let deaf-blind people “watch” television in real time on their own. Audio and video information from the TV is sent to a machine called a refreshable braille display so deaf-blind people can read it with their fingers.
People who can’t see can also get and send information with a braille line, better known as a refreshable braille display. The braille system uses patterns of raised dots to stand for letters and numbers. A refreshable braille display is an electronic machine with a changeable braille display. Dots or pins rise up or drop down based on electronic information sent to the machine. With such a portable device, someone who cannot see a screen can still read email or other information from a computer.
The new system converts TV signals to data that a refreshable braille display can use.
“Key to the system is the possibility of using subtitles to collect TV information,” García Crespo explains. “Subtitles travel with the image and the audio in electromagnetic waves that we do not see. But an electronic system can capture those waves. That is what we do.”
First, a computer program, or app, pulls out the subtitles and visual descriptions from the broadcast signal. The system then combines the information and converts both into data for braille. “No one had done this before,” García Crespo notes.
Now another app gets to work. It sends the data out to people’s refreshable braille displays on demand. “This is done in real time, in less than a second,” García Crespo says. This lets a deaf-blind person “watch” TV as it is broadcast. The system will work with all types of refreshable braille displays, as long as there is a Bluetooth connection available.
Currently, the system is only used in Europe. Teams need to tweak the decoding process to work with the TV signals used by broadcasters in different regions.
The Dicapta Foundation in Winter Springs, Fla., has been working with García Crespo’s team and others to make that happen. They call their project GoCC4All. Apps for Google and Apple phones are just about ready, says Lourdes Fiallos. She’s a project manager at Dicapta. Testing with deaf-blind users should start in a few weeks.
García Crespo’s team also wants to create a “universal communicator” for deaf-blind people. It would let them communicate with anyone without the need to have a human assistant present.
Javier, a deaf-blind person, talking with Angel Garcia Crespo Anindya “Bapin” Bhattacharyya is a technology-development and training specialist at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults.
It’s in Sands Point, N.Y. Bapin is deaf-blind himself. And he says the new technology sounds like “a great development.”
Bapin does raise a few questions. “There needs to be a menu to allow me to select a channel or show that is captioned and also has audio/visual descriptions,” he points out.
Bapin also would like a way to skip an ad. People with sight and hearing can take a break when a commercial comes on. When they hear or see that the show resumed, they can again pay attention. Deaf-blind people would like such a signal to let them know when a show resumes, he says.
Technologies to assist people with disabilities “are fantastic and give deaf-blind people access to digital info and communication,” Bapin says. However, he notes, gaps remain. Examples include self-help machines at some stores and banks. Too often the developers forget to include accessibility features.
Inventing new technologies to boost their accessibility takes work, as García Crespo’s team has learned. For instance, the TV system had to work in real time. Yet no one knew in advance which show someone might want to “watch.” To deal with that, the team has different computer processors handle each TV channel’s signal. Then one server centrally manages all of them. It collects the processed subtitles and visual descriptions and then sends them to users on demand.
Getting the whole set-up to work was tricky, but García Crespo liked the challenge.
“I like to solve problems,” he says. “If the solutions are related to technology to improve people’s lives, I like those problems better.”
By KATHIANN KOWALSKI
In the News
Works of art reimagined++
Peter Coppin remembers the discussion with a visually impaired student that helped him understand how much can be misunderstood when a person has to depend on words to understand what someone else can see.
They were talking about Italy and the student knew that Italy is shaped like a boot. But when Coppin described it as a boot with a high heel like the Three Muskateers would wear, the student laughed out loud. He had been envisioning Italy as an entirely different kind of boot shape and the idea of Italy as a Muskateer boot was comical to him.
It’s these chasms in understanding that Coppin and the Art Gallery of Ontario are trying to bridge with a program that brings multisensory projects, based on works of visual art, to AGO museum tours for people in the blind and low vision community.
While in the past museums have relied heavily on audio recordings and guides to bridge that gap, new practices are being brought on board, including multisensory aids designed by graduate students at OCAD University.
“Visuals are dominant in our culture. If you are a part of society and you don’t have access to visual items, then you don’t have access to a lot of stuff about the culture that people who have vision have access to,” says Coppin, associate professor of the inclusive design graduate program and director of the perceptual artifacts lab at OCAD University.
This year – the second year of the program – the works included four paintings: Tom Thomson’s The West Wind, Otto Dix’s Portrait of Dr. Heinrich Stadelmann; La Demoiselle de magasin by James Tissot and Jar of Apricots by Jean-Siméon Chardin.
In a way, it’s about getting back to the roots of what museums used to be, said Melissa Smith, co-ordinator of the gallery guide, adult education officer and access to art programs for the AGO.
Early museums began as private collections, typically belonging to the wealthy, who would share art and artifacts they had purchased or collected on their travels. They were displayed in “wonder rooms.” People were allowed to touch the items as part of the experience.
The AGO already offers multisensory tours for people living with vision loss, which include some works that can be touched – including the museum’s large Rodin sculptures – under supervision, but providing 3-D support for works of visual arts offers the possibility of evoking more than just the sense of touch.
For months, Coppin’s students grappled with the idea of how to render the terrifying look on Dr. Stadelmann’s face into a tactile experience and how to communicate the cold of the water in The West Wind.
“We were totally drawn to this portrait; the eerie atmosphere,” said student Shannon Kupfer, speaking of the Dix portrait. “I was dying to interpret it.”
Dix layered paint on the doctor’s eyes – they appear to bulge. He seems haunted. His hands are in fists by his sides. Kupfer and her partner, Tyson Moll, wanted viewers to feel that tension, and also feel the deep wrinkles in his face.
They made a 3-D replica of the doctor’s head in polymer clay that felt cold and a bit yielding, but still firm to the touch. The eyes bulge like they do in the painting.
They sewed hair onto his head in little batches, to mimic the strokes of the paintbrush in the painting. They made the body boxy and rigid, to communicate the physical tension in the painting. They gave him a rigid collar, backed by cardboard. His fists were made of polymer clay coated in silicone.
They also made it out of products that were easy to care for – the clothes are fastened with Velcro to make it easier for curators to remove them and wash them if necessary.
They recorded an audio component – a fluent German speaker reading a passage from one of Dr. Stadelmann’s writings, concerning avant-garde art in relation to what was then considered psychiatric wisdom. They included the hissing noise that used to accompany recordings played on records.
“It’s not just engaging for the low-sight community, it’s engaging for everyone. It’s such a cool way to get kids – or anyone – more engaged with art,” Kupfer said.
The problem of communicating the coldness of the water in Tom Thomson’s piece was solved more simply, with a bag of blue slime. To convey the feeling of wind, the students invested in a $20 miniature fan from Amazon.com.
“When you stand in front of this painting you can feel the strong wind because of the shape of the tree and the waves on the lake,” said student Norbert Zhao.
John Rae, who lost his eyesight in his 20s and is now blind, has been on the AGO multisensory tours and experienced the works made by this year’s OCAD students.
While he liked the Otto Dix sculpture, some things didn’t communicate as planned. For example, without knowing anything about the painting, when Rae touched the sculpture, he thought the doctor was a boxer wearing gloves, because of the way the hands felt. “That comes from me as a sports fan,” said Rae, a retired public servant and a board member of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians.
Rae liked the multisensory adaptation of Jar of Apricots, by students Nikkie To and Grace Mendez. The painting is a still life that includes a jar of apricots, a glass of wine, bread and a cup of tea.
Their model included dried apricots for tasting, jarred scents including a cork soaked in wine and apricot jam with added artificial apricot scent; 3-D printed objects including a tea cup and wine glass to handle, background music from the period and others sounds – touching the wine glass triggered the sound of a liquid being poured.
While Rae believes the multisensory aids provide another tool, he thinks museums in general need to consider making more objects available for handling by the blind and vision impaired. He cited as an example ancient pottery – while a museum may have perfect examples on display, it may also have imperfect examples in storage. What would be the harm, asks Rae, in making those available to people with limited eyesight, especially since the tours happen infrequently, involve about six to 12 items, and small numbers of people?
“One can learn a fair amount from the expertise that the people who run these tours bring to the table, but there is no substitute for being able to touch,” Rae said.
The challenge at the AGO, Smith said, is that in an art gallery the works tend to be flat and one-of-a-kind.
“Our conservators and curators do their utmost to ensure the objects, like sculptures, which make the most interesting objects to touch, are cared for and exhibited to support this program,” Smith said.
Ian White, president of a local Toronto chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind called the CCB Toronto Visionaries, said that while AGO tour leaders excel at describing art in a way that triggers the imagination, the multisensory tours are evocative.
“It starts a conversation about the piece, about the artist, about the history,” White said. “It really allows people to engage with works that are part of our collective culture.”
By Francine Kopun, The Toronto Star
Blind juror was almost rejected++
Disability advocates seek removal of courtroom barriers
A recent criminal trial at Toronto’s downtown Superior Court featured what may be a first in Ontario: a blind juror.
The fact that is, if not a first, an extremely rare occurrence in Ontario underscores that much more needs to be done to remove the barriers to equal treatment in the criminal justice system, disability advocates say.
“Certainly this applies to ensuring adequate representation of persons with disabilities on juries,” says Luke Reid, a lawyer with ARCH Disability Law Centre in Toronto.
The Criminal Code allows people with vision or hearing disabilities to serve on juries. However, an accused may challenge a juror’s service and the Juries Act deems jurors ineligible if they have “a physical or mental disability that would seriously impair his or her ability to discharge the duties of a juror.”
“However, human rights law would demand that this (or any) requirement not be interpreted in an overbroad way and that persons with disabilities have the right to the necessary accommodations,” Reid wrote in email.
Juror 29743 almost didn’t get picked. While there are likely numerous reasons preventing people with impaired vision from sitting on juries, there is still a “very active debate” around the ability of a “trier of fact” to see a witness’s demeanour in order to assess credibility, Reid noted in an email.
“I think courts tend to err on the side of caution where the right of an accused to a fair trial is potentially at issue.”
This fall, a day before jury selection in an impaired driving causing death trial, prosecutor Marnie Goldenberg told the judge she and defence lawyer Carolyn Kerr had some concerns about a prospective juror, who had shown up at the courthouse with a service dog. Goldenberg told the judge numerous photos would be introduced during the two-week trial.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Rob Goldstein told the lawyers while it was entirely appropriate to raise the issue, he didn’t intend to treat Juror 29743 any differently than other jurors.
“I think it’s something we canvass and we treat her the way we treat any other juror who has a health issue,” Goldstein said. The next day, after Juror 29743 entered the courtroom with her service dog, the judge asked her how she would “deal” with all the photos in the case.
“It would be through description … I cannot see them,” the woman, who works in human resources, told Goldstein.
“OK, all right, so if they are described – you can absorb what’s in them?” the judge asked. She said yes.
The jury selection process continued in the normal course with two already selected jurors, designated as “triers,” deciding whether or not she was an acceptable pick.
Juror 29743 said she had not heard about the case involving a man charged with impaired driving causing death on April 23, 2016, near Jane St. and Humberview Blvd. She also indicated she could consider the evidence without prejudice or bias after being told the accused was a visible minority and Muslim. Nevertheless, the triers immediately rejected her.
Goldstein, however, wasn’t satisfied. He told the triers he was going to reread their instructions and asked them to consult each other again. The test to decide is if a juror would approach jury duty with an open mind and decide the case based solely on the evidence and his legal instructions, the judge told them.
This time, the triers found Juror 29743 acceptable while counsel on both sides said they were “content” with the choice. After a few days of deliberations, the jury returned to court with a guilty verdict. The Star’s attempts to speak to Juror 29743 were unsuccessful.
Lawyer David Lepofsky, a retired Crown attorney who is blind and was not involved in the case, said having a blind juror not only makes the legal system more representative of society, it makes lawyers more effective.
There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in a courtroom that is visual and needs to be explained for the transcript, or audio recording, so having a blind juror will help ensure that happens, “so you get a better record, and it’s better for everybody,” Lepofksy said.
But there are some exceptions where a visually impaired juror might have to be excluded, he added. If, for example, the guilt or innocence of an accused is entirely based on whether a jury believes an accused looks like an assailant captured in a surveillance video.
Lepofksy, now a visiting professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall law school, said traditionally, appeal courts said trial judges were in a superior position to assess the credibility of witnesses, because they, unlike appeal judges, can access demeanour.
That view has evolved, and now appeal courts are increasingly warning “it’s wrong to over emphasize visual demeanour when assessing credibility.” He uses himself as an example to explain how everyone has different ways of doing that.
“Sighted people use eyes. I listen to a voice … and the whole idea of a jury is it’s a bunch of different people … pooling their different ways of assessing credibility and then voting as a group. Well, who’s to say visual is the only way to do it,” he said.
“Those of us who experience the world non-visually, have our own experience too.”
While jurors don’t have to be statistically representative of society, there is an expectation that they bring to the courtroom their own life experience, “drawn from different parts of the community, and they pool to form a collective assessment, a very difficult assessment, who to believe about what happened.”
By Betsy Powell, Toronto Star
www.ccbnational.net
ccb@ccbnational.net
1-877-304-0968

VISIONS December 2018


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VISIONS

Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

 

December 2018

 

“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”

 

President’s Message++

 
As many of us have experienced winter rather early this year it seems today happens to be a bright, sunny and slightly warmer day more typical of the season. I hope that this continues for everyone so that we can enjoy a bit of family time as we prepare for the holiday season.
 
We continue to be very busy in many areas with a variety of CCB programs. GTT has been posting a lot of great information to assist in mobility, new apps and some simple ideas to make life easier for those living with vision loss. Thank you to all the leaders working with GTT to continue to make it a successful program.
 
This has been a busy month with the Accessible Canada Act which has now moved through the third reading unanimously and on to the Senate for consideration and hopefully approval. We have sent in a written submission to the Standing Committee as did many other organizations of persons with disabilities. The Act, as it stands now does not give time lines and some other concerns expressed by varying organizations, for a fully accessible Canada by a specific date but what it has is standards for regulations for federally run agencies which will have to comply with the Act. You can check out on the “HUMA” website many of the submissions and the progress of Bill C-81. http://www.ourcommons.ca/Committees/en/HUMA/StudyActivity?studyActivityId=10268658
 
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is busy making changes to regulations for air, rail and ferry services under federal jurisdiction. For those who have computer access you can go on their website to follow what is transpiring. This is also taking place with CRTC as well for communications. The changes are being made to comply with the anticipated Accessible Canada Act. CCB has been involved in providing input and submissions to both agencies. Thank you to Kim Kilpatrick and Shelly Morris on their work with CRTC. Several CCB members have been working with rail, air and ferry services and thank you all for your input.
 
We have recently completed a submission to Canadian Agency on Drugs and Technology (CADTH) for a new treatment (eye drops) for Glaucoma. It is the first of its kind also there has not been any new drops in many years. What is CADTH? CADTH is an independent, not-for-profit organization responsible for providing Canada’s health care decision-makers with objective evidence to help make informed decisions about the optimal use of drugs and medical devices in our health care system. Created in 1989 by Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial governments, CADTH was born from the idea that Canada needs a coordinated approach to assessing health technologies. The result was an organization that harnesses Canadian expertise from every region and produces evidence-informed solutions that benefit patients in jurisdictions across the country.
 
CCB continues to work with Best Medicines Coalition, FFB, CNIB, and others to ensure that Canadians get the best care possible not only eye care but other disease processes that many of our members may be dealing with in their lives health promotion and illness prevention.
 
The Mobile Eye Clinic continues to check children in the Ottawa region schools. Results still show that approximately twenty five percent of children attending have previous undetected eye concerns needing further follow-up.
 
ll our committees have been very active over the fall. It takes a lot of time and important work to complete items as we make our way through to ensure everything meets requirements that are set for compliance. Thank you for the work of the committee members for their great work and time commitment.
 
It is now time to enjoy holiday festivities with families and friends. As our country is made up of a vast number of nationalities I would like to wish everyone a time of enjoyment, relaxation, spending time with fellow workers or neighbours as we will soon will be moving into a new year with lots of hope for continued strength and growth.
Best wishes for the holidays and Happy New Year to all.
Louise Gillis, National President
 

Announcements

 

‘EXPERIENCE’ EXPO 2019++:

Ad for Experience Expo 2019 Saturday February 2 10am to 4pm, at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre 750 Spadina Ave. Toronto, ON.  For more information please visit www.ccbtorontovisionaries.ca

An Experience Expo Special Event

Your special invitation to attend a forum on assistive technology.
Check your calendar and RSVP now!
Saturday, February 2 at 4:00 pm.  Miles Nadel Jewish Community Centre, 750 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON.
Your chance to participate in a panel discussion dedicatedt o brindging technology for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted and designed to achieve inclusive, progressive accessibility.  Followed by a question and answer session.
Panel will include Louise Gillis, National President, CCB, Chelsea Mohler, M. SC. Community Engagement Specialist at Balance for Blind Adults and a assistive technology educator and Alvert Ruel, CCB’s GTT Program Coordinator, Western Canada.
Space is limited to the first 75 reservations.  Please direct your RSVP to CCB toronto Visionaries Voice Mail Line: 1-416-760-2163 or by email:  info@ccbtorontovisionaries.ca
 

Thank-you!++

 
CCB would like to acknowledge and thank Ken Christie, from the Windsor Low Vision Chapter in Ontario for his many years of support and activity within the Council. Ken joined CCB in 2005, after having volunteered with CNIB for over 25 years. He was already quite active in the blind bowling community, and decided to bring his enthusiasm for bowling and community engagement to CCB. Ken pulled together the communities of Sarnia, Chatham and Windsor to bowl, and each May, he would organize a tournament followed by a banquet. He worked closely with the local Lions Club, who ended up cosponsoring the bowling tournament. Ken and the Windsor chapter could also always count on lots of support from his wife, Catherine, who volunteered to drive members to meetings and help organize fundraising activities. Ken will be turning 89 years old in January, and he has decided it’s time to take a step back from his active role in the chapter and reflect on the wonderful times he spent with the chapter members in CCB.
 
Jim Tokos adds:
Ken was a mentor to me, as when I first joined the Ontario Board, Ken, along with Don Grant, Theresa Dupuis, Doug Ayers, to name a few, always encouraged me to move forward, and how can you not be motivated to succeed when you are surrounded by such wonderful and devoted persons.”
 
I have also been fortunate enough to know Ken quite well over the past and upon request from Ken have spoken to the Windsor Low Vision Chapter on many occasions.  Ken will certainly be missed as he touched a lot of hearts, and Ken and Kay, what more can the Council say but Thank You for your outstanding service to the CCB.
 
 

CCB Toronto Ski Hawks Ski Club Chapter at the Toronto Ski and Snowboard show.++:

In late October the Ski Hawks had an exhibit at the Ski and Snowboard show. This was the first time in many years that we have been at the show.
Over the course of the 4 day show the booth was staffed, in rotating shifts, by 9 of our blind skiers and several volunteer ski guides. Many of the visitors to our booth were truly amazed that blind people actually ski downhill.
 
Of particular interest was our short video that describes how we ski with a guide. At the very least it definitely raised awareness that people with low vision or no vision can be skiers.
 
One of our goals at the show was to recruit volunteers to be trained as guides and this was indeed a success! The other was to get some form of sponsorship from the ski industry, we are currently pursuing some leads from the show.
 
The highlight of the show for our blind skiers was when they had a visit with Kelsey Serwa winner of the gold medal in ladies ski cross at the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Not only did they have the opportunity to ask her questions but also got to hold her gold medal and discovered that the edge was inscribed in Braille.
Submitted by Chris Wyvill
 

The Situation of Blind and Partially Sighted Persons in Accessing their Human Rights – from the World Blind Union

 
Persistent cultural, social, legal, physical and institutional barriers pose restrictions to the full inclusion of visually impaired persons in society in all areas of private and public life, including education; employment; health care; cultural, recreational, sporting and leisure activities; and political participation.  They face huge barriers to personal mobility owing to lack of accessibility.  Poor access to justice limits their access to communications and compounds their isolation and exclusion.  Unemployment of persons with visual disabilities is a significant challenge and they remain the poorest of the poor, unable to compete with the labour market.  Therefore, disaggregation of data by disability, sex and age is fundamental for understanding the situation of blind and partially sighted persons and informing policies to ensure their effective inclusion and the full realization of their human rights.
 
While significant progress has been made towards the inclusion of bind and partially sighted persons in the international human rights and development frameworks, concerted advocacy efforts are still needed to ensure that these commitments are translated into an enabling environment that mobilizes stakeholders, enhances participation of organizations of persons with disabilities and strengthen political will and the capacity of governments to implement to 2030 Agenda in line with all the UN International human rights instruments, together with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).  This requires constant attention to ensure that human rights mechanisms uphold the highest CRPD standards and facilitating interconnections and consistency of these mechanisms with normative development frameworks.
 
We further celebrate the adoption and ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty that calls upon researchers, publishers, and the academia in line with the intellectual property rights to ensure that persons with visual disabilities receive and access information in accessible formats of braille, large print, audio and electronic formats.  We celebrate this achievement, but we call upon states to ratify this instrument and domesticate it into their legal framework to ensure that the obligations spelt under the treaty are met.  However, this is still a big challenge by many states, as this goal has not been adequately implemented.  This poses a barrier to our participation as blind and partially sighted persons on an equal basis with others.
 
We advocate for the availability of resources to accommodate the different needs for blind and partially sighted persons.  We appeal to governments and international agencies to provide consistent statistical data for persons with visual disabilities to provide evidence during planning, budgeting, programming, policy development and implementation.
 
We further request governments and development partners to promote the full and effective participation of persons with visual disabilities by ensuring that their organizations and their representatives are permanently consulted on contentious issues and rights affecting them during development processes.
 

Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

News release

December 3, 2018         Ottawa, Ontario                  
Employment and Social Development Canada
 
The Government of Canada is working to create a truly accessible Canada. Today, as part of these efforts, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, along with the ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Canadian Heritage, announced that, with the support of all provinces and territories, Canada has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
 
Accession to the Optional Protocol means that Canadians will have additional recourse to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated.
Along with the proposed Accessible Canada Act, which was recently adopted by the House of Commons and is now before the Senate, today’s announcement shows that the Government of Canada is taking another step towards creating a barrier-free Canada.
 
Recently released data from Statistics Canada reinforce the importance of a more inclusive and accessible Canada. The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities shows that the prevalence of disabilities among Canadians is greater than many realize, with 22% of Canadians identifying as having a disability. The new data will be used by the federal government to help build a more inclusive society that benefits all people in Canada – especially persons with disabilities – through the realization of a Canada without barriers.
 

Quick facts

  • The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) is an international human rights instrument that requires State Parties to the Convention to promote, protect and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. Canada ratified the Convention in 2010.
  • The Optional Protocol establishes two procedures. The first is a complaint procedure that allows individuals and groups to take complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the case of an alleged violation of their rights under the Convention. The second is an inquiry procedure that allows the Committee to inquire into allegations of grave or systematic violations of the Convention by a State Party.
  • The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention by States Parties.
4The members of the UN CRPD Committee
  • As of November 2018, there are 177 States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with 93 States Parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention.
  • Under Bill C-81, approximately $290 million over six years would serve to further the objectives of the proposed legislation.
  • One in five people—22 percent of the Canadian population aged 15 years and over, or about 6.2 million individuals—had one or more disabilities, according to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities.
  • The survey also reports that people with severe disabilities aged 25 to 64 years are more likely to be living in poverty than their counterparts without disabilities (17 percent) or with milder disabilities (23 percent).

 

Assistive Technology

 

Donna’s Low Tech Tips++

Meet the Talking First Aid Kit

Carl Augusto of the American Foundation for the Blind Blog posted the following about this great product.
 
I think it’s always important to keep safety in mind, so I thought I’d let you know about a new product from Intelligent First Aid, the First Aid “talking” Kit. The Kit includes nine injury-specific packs to help treat common injuries, including Bleeding, Head & Spine Injury, and Shock. The packs are individually labeled and color-coded, which I love because it would help someone with low vision easily distinguish the packs. The best part, though, is that with the press of a button, the audio component attached to each card provides step-by-step instructions to manage the wound. Situations often become chaotic when a loved one, an acquaintance, or even you, experiences a minor injury.
 
With this tool, people with low vision can remain calm and have an idea of how to handle things without worrying about reading any print.
 
Check out the Intelligent First Aid website to purchase the product or get more information:
http://www.intelligentfirstaid.com/index.php
The site even allows you to listen to a sample of the audio component of the kit.
 
To contact Donna, send her an email at info@sterlingcreations.ca
 

In the News

 

Disability Advocates Criticize Lack of Teeth in New Manitoba Accessibility Regulations++

A new law is now in force for Manitoba businesses, but don’t expect a bylaw officer to show up at your door any time soon.
 
As of Nov 1, businesses and organizations in Manitoba should be following the letter of the law when it comes to providing accessibility for Manitobans with disabilities.
The Customer Service Standard Regulation is the first of five areas to come into force under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, which passed in December 2013, but at this point, officials are more interested in educating the public than imposing penalties on businesses.
 
“We would take concerns and educate and support those organizations into complying with legislation. Turning to the stiffer penalties would be more of a last resort for us,” said Jay Rodgers, deputy minister for the Department of Families.
 

 ‘Never a ramp’

That means that it could be a while before Megan Clarke can roll into one of her favourite restaurants in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.
 
When the restaurant first showed up a few years ago, she was excited about trying it out, only to find that a small lip in the sidewalk created a barrier for her wheelchair. Clarke waited outside while her friend went into the restaurant to order and bring the matter to the owner’s attention.
 
“[The owner] said ‘We’ll get a ramp made,’ so for the course of the summer, we went back and there was never a ramp, never a ramp, and then one day my friend went in to talk to him and his response was, ‘Well, we don’t have the ramp made yet, but she can have free dessert any time she comes,’ and I was like, well, that’s the last time I’m going to come to your place,” said Clarke.
 
Under the Customer Service Standard Regulation, any business or organization with one or more employees in Manitoba must provide its goods and services in a barrier-free way.
The regulations cover everything from training staff to the built environment, but don’t prescribe specific measures, such as the installation of ramps at doors with raised entryways.
 
“Our expectation, I think, would be that if the building is physically inaccessible that there might be other ways of offering the service to the customer, whether it means coming out and meeting someone at the front or doing business over the phone. Our point would be that the alternative ways of accessing the service need to be communicated broadly to the public,” said Rodgers.
 

 Documentation required

The regulations also require every business with 20 or more employees to document customer service policies and procedures, and either post them publicly or provide them on request, so those living with disabilities understand how the business is working toward eliminating barriers.
 
However, there are no clear guidelines for enforcing the standards, so businesses will be unlikely to comply, advocates say.
 
“Without effective enforcement, a law is a voluntary law, and a voluntary law is really not very much of a law at all,” said David Lepofsky, a lawyer and disability rights advocate who was highly influential in the creation of Ontario’s accessibility laws.
 
Legislators in Manitoba looked at the Ontarians with Disabilities Act while creating Manitoba’s legislation, but Lepofsky warns poor enforcement means Ontario’s law has failed in many areas.
 
“We revealed through Freedom of Information Act applications and otherwise that [officials] were aware of rampant violations and yet deployed a paltry number of enforcement staff and a paltry number of audits and therefore did a really ineffective job of enforcing [the act],” Lepofsky said.
 

 Slow rollout

Manitoba is considering using its existing bylaw enforcement officers, such as those operating under Workplace Safety and Health, to enforce the act, Rodgers said.
 
It’s a step above what Ontario is doing, Lepofsky said, but he is critical of the lack of a solid plan for enforcement.
 
“This law was passed half a decade ago in Manitoba and half a decade is more than enough time to plan to get something like this set up,” he said.  “The Manitoba government has had ample opportunity to contact Ontario, find out what they’ve learned, get this designed, get it up and running. They shouldn’t just be looking at it now.”
 

 Complaints and concerns

Bringing businesses into compliance with the act will take time, despite the November 1 deadline, Rodgers said.  Complaints and concerns about business compliance should be directed to the Disabilities Issues Office, he said. It is up to him as director to determine whether a complaint is reasonable or not.
 
Despite the slow rollout, Clarke remains optimistic about what the act could mean for her.  Already she is seeing small changes in her neighbourhood, such as the addition of accessible buttons on an automatic door at her local Starbucks.
 
“Whether it’s coffee or groceries or clothing or getting my hair cut, whatever service I’m going to, I’m going to be able to just go in and live my life. That’s what it’s all about. It’s just access,” she said.
By Kim Kaschor, CBC
 
 

Guide Dog Users, Inc. Publishes Handbook to Help People Who Are Blind Decide if the Guide Dog Lifestyle is Right for them++

 
Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI), the largest membership and advocacy organization representing guide dog handlers in the United States, is pleased to announce the recent publication of a revised handbook for perspective guide dog users which shares comprehensive information about acquiring and using a guide dog for safe and independent travel.
 
The guide, 90 pages in length, and available in e-book and print formats, “A Handbook for the Prospective Guide Dog Handler,” 4th Edition, updates a GDUI publication, called “Making Impressions,” which GDUI members wrote and published a quarter of a century ago. The original manual assisted countless guide dog users with applying for training with and adjusting to working with guide dogs. Many of those original readers are now working successfully with a third or fourth or even an eighth, or tenth guide dog. Realizing how well their original publication had served guide dog users all over the country and beyond, GDUI has spent the past several years updating the manual to reflect changes in guide dog training methodologies, growth in the community of guide dog users, changes in the number of schools now available to provide training and dogs, and evolving attitudes among the public concerning acceptance of guide dogs as reliable and respected aids for blind and visually impaired people who choose dogs for independent travel.
 
The informative handbook answers questions not only for the prospective guide dog team, but also for families of people who are blind, blindness rehabilitation professionals and educators, and the general public.
Part One, Section One sets the stage with heartfelt accounts from many guide dog users who can speak with authority about the guide dog lifestyle which pairs humans and canines in a relationship, unlike few others, that involves a 24-hour daily bond between dogs and their owners.
Then the handbook covers the whole process of deciding whether a guide dog is the right choice for mobility and safety, choosing and applying to a training program, learning to become a guide dog handler, returning home, and spending the next several years bonding with a dog who is likely to become an indispensable assistant and treasured companion.
 
The manual outlines the indispensable support that an organization like GDUI can provide to guide dog users during times when their partnership can pose uniquely stressful challenges, for example, when a guide dog team experiences denial of transit in a taxicab, or exclusion from a restaurant or other public venue, when a treasured guide dog becomes ill or passes away, or when family or friends don’t understand how the team functions safely and independently.
 
GDUI encourages readers and members to share the handbook with family, friends, colleagues, blindness and disability advocacy organizations, and other guide and service dog handlers. “A Handbook for the Prospective Guide Dog Handler” is available as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com, Smashwords, and other online sellers. Visit this link for further information and to explore options for purchase:
http://www.dldbooks.com/GDUIHandbook/.
 

I live with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Here’s which one you should pick++

 
Sure, you could chose a smart speaker based on sound or price. The go-to gadget gift of the season is available from Amazon, Apple and Google with better acoustics, new touch screens and deep holiday discounts.
 
But you’re not just buying a talking jukebox. Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant also want to adjust the thermostat, fill your picture frame or even microwave your popcorn. Each artificial intelligence assistant has its own ways of running a home. You’re choosing which tribe is yours.
 
I call it a tribe because each has a distinct culture — and demands loyalty. This decision will shape how you get information, what appliances you purchase, where you shop and how you protect your privacy. One in 10 Americans plan to buy a smart speaker this year, according to the Consumer Technology Association. And Amazon says its Echo Dot is the bestselling speaker, ever.
 
The last time we had to choose a tech tribe like this was when smartphones arrived. Did you go iPhone, Android, or cling to a BlackBerry? A decade later, it’s increasingly hard to fathom switching between iPhone and Android. (A recent Match.com survey found iPhone and Android people don’t even like dating one another.)
 
Now imagine how hard it will be to change when you’ve literally wired stuff into your walls.
 
In my test lab — I mean, living room — an Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod sit side by side, and the voice AIs battle it out to run my home like genies in high-tech bottles. Here’s the shorthand I’ve learned: Alexa is for accessibility. Google Assistant is for brainpower. And Siri is for security.
 
Amazon’s aggressive expansion makes Alexa the one I recommend, and use, the most. Google’s Assistant is coming from behind, matching feature by feature — and Siri, the original voice assistant, feels held back by Apple’s focus on privacy and its software shortcomings. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, but I review all tech with the same critical eye.)
 
Smart speakers are building the smart home that you never knew you needed. Inside the audio equipment, they’re home hub computers that work alongside smartphone apps to connect and control disparate devices and services. Now with a speaker and the right connected gizmo, you can walk into a room and turn on the lights without touching a button. Or control the TV without a remote. Amazon even sells an Alexa-operated microwave that cooks, tracks and reorders popcorn.
 
But home assistants can also be Trojan horses for a specific set of devices and services that favour one company over another.
 
My buddy Matt recently asked me to help him pick speakers and appliances for a big remodel. He loves the Google Assistant on his Android phone, so selecting his tribe should be easy, right? Hardly: He wanted to put Sonos speakers all around the house, but they take voice commands directly via Alexa. (Sonos says Google Assistant support is coming, though it’s been promising that for a year.)
Figuring out which connected doodads are compatible can be like solving a 10,000-piece puzzle. The best smart home gadgets (like Lutron Caseta and Philips Hue lights) work across all three tribes, but sometimes alliances and technical concerns make appliance makers take sides.
 
Each AI has its limitations. They’re not all equally skilled at understanding accents — Southerners are misunderstood more with Google and Midwesterners with Alexa. The price of ownership with some is letting a company surveil what goes on in your house. You can try, like me, to live with more than one, but you’re left with a patchwork that won’t win you any favours with family.
 
How do you find your AI tribe? Here’s how I differentiate them.
 

Alexa

Supported smart home devices: Over 20,000.
Who loves it: Families who buy lots through Amazon and experiment with new gizmos.
 
The good: Alexa knows how to operate the most stuff, thanks to Amazon’s superior deal making. The only connected things it can’t run in my house are the app-operated garage door and some facets of my TV. Amazon also has been successful at spawning new connected gadgets: Alexa’s voice and microphone are built into more than 100 non-Amazon devices. And Amazon recently announced plans to offer appliance makers a chip that lets Alexa users voice command inexpensive everyday things, from wall plugs to fans.
 
Alexa has also mastered some of the little details of home life. It will confirm a request to turn off the lights without repeating your command — super helpful when someone nearby is napping.
 
The bad: Alexa grows smarter by the week, but it can be a stickler about using specific syntax. It also has the weakest relationship with your phone, the most important piece of technology for most people today. Amazon has bolstered a companion Alexa app for phones, making it better for communicating and setting up smart home routines, but I still find it the most confusing of the lot.
 
Amazon doesn’t always show the highest concern for our privacy. This spring, when Alexa inadvertently recorded a family’s private conversations and sent it to a contact, Amazon’s response boiled down to ‘whoopsie.’ And it records and keeps every conversation you have with the AI — including every bag of popcorn it microwaves. (Amazon says it doesn’t use our queries to sell us stuff beyond making recommendations based on song and product searches).
 
Some love Alexa’s ability to order products by voice. But as long as Alexa runs your house, you’ll always be stuck buying those goods from Amazon. (That microwave will only ever order popcorn from Amazon.) The coming generation of appliances built with the Alexa chip inside could similarly trap you forever into Amazon-land.
 

Google Assistant

Supported smart home devices: Over 10,000.
Who loves it: People who are deep into Google’s services.
 
The good: Google Assistant comes the closest to having a conversation with an actual human helper. You don’t have to use exact language to make things happen or get useful answers. Its intelligence can also be delightfully personal: It’s pretty good at differentiating the voices of family members. And on the new Home Hub device with a screen, Assistant curates a highlights-only show from your Google Photos collection.
 
While Android phone owners are more likely to use lots of Assistant-friendly Google services, the Assistant doesn’t particularly care what kind of phone you use — its simple companion apps work on iOS and Android.
 
And Google is neck and neck with Alexa on many of the nuances: Night mode reduces the volume of answers at night, and it can even require Junior to say “pretty please.”
 
The bad: As a relative newcomer to the smart home, Google has been catching up fast. But in my house, it still can’t fully control my Ring doorbell or send music to my Sonos speakers. And I’m not convinced that Google has Amazon’s negotiating sway, or the influence to bring the next generation of connected things online.
 
The bigger problem is privacy. Google’s endgame is always getting you to spend more time with its services, so it can gather more data to target ads at you. Like Alexa, Google Assistant keeps a recording of all your queries — every time you ask it to turn off the lights. Google treats this kind of like your Web search history, and uses it to target ads elsewhere. (Thankfully, It still keeps data from its Nest thermostat and home security division separate.)
The potential upside is that when Google discovers your habits in all that data, it might be able to better automate your home — like what time all the lights should be off.
 

Siri

Supported smart home devices: Hundreds.
Who loves it: Privacy buffs and all-Apple households.
 
The good: Apple means business on security and privacy. Any device that wants to connect to HomeKit, its smart home software that works with Siri on the HomePod and iPhone, requires special encryption.
 
What’s more, your data is not attached to a personal profile, which aside from protecting your privacy also means that Apple is not using your home activity to sell or advertise things. (While other smart speakers keep recordings and transcriptions of what you say, Siri controls devices by making a request to its system through a random identifier, which cannot be tied to a specific user.)
 
And Apple is pretty good at keeping the smart home simple. Setting up a smart home device is mostly just scanning a special code. Even creating routines, in which multiple accessories work in combination with a single command, is easier in the Siri’s companion Home app than with competitors.
 
The bad: You have to live in an all-Apple device world to reap these benefits. Siri’s a pretty good DJ, but only if you subscribe to Apple Music. You’re stuck with the HomePod as the one-size-fits-all smart speaker, and Siri still isn’t as competent as her AI competitors.
 
And Apple’s security-first approach has kept too many appliance makers from joining its ecosystem. Sure, it’s quality not quantity, but Siri still can’t interact with my Nest thermostat or Ring doorbell, just to name two. Apple did recently loosen up a tad: starting with Belkin Wemo’s Mini Smart Plug and Dimmer, it no longer requires special hardware for authentication — that can now happen via software. The move should make it simpler to make new products
Siri compatible, and allow it access to existing ones.
By Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Washington Post
 

REMINDERS

DON’T FORGET DONATIONS!++

Donations Received in the office in 2018 are the only ones that can be receipted for 2018.  Remember to send those donations now if you want receipts for the current year.

Membership Madness++

Hi Everyone!  Becky from the office here.  All chapters should have received their membership packages. The rebate time has passed, but there is still time to get your chapters membership in for 2019!
All 2019 Memberships Due – December 28, 2018
WCW Orders and Insurance Requests Due – January 4, 2019
 
www.ccbnational.net                 1-877-304-0968
ccb@ccbnational.net

VISIONS November 2018

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Visions November 2018 TEXT | Visions November 2018 DIGITAL | Visions November 2018 DIGITAL PDF

VISIONS

Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

 

November 2018

“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”

 

President’s Message++

 
It is hard to believe it is November already! Members have been busy with all their activities, enjoying some sunshine and rain as well as the beautiful Maple leaves that are almost a thing of the past for this year.
 
Amidst all this the Board and the Advocacy committee have been busy working on submissions regarding the Accessible Canada Act – Bill C-81 as it goes through the Standing Committee. Many of the presentations for those who were invited can be found on the Government of Canada website so that you are able to hear presentations and the questions asked by the committee to the representatives. CCB did send in a written paper on our stance on the areas we felt needed to be amended.
 
With the hopeful passage of Bill C-81 the Federal regulated transportation & communication agencies are busy making many required changes/regulations with input from members of the disability community including CCB. We are hoping that these will be very positive changes, and while they may take time to come into effect, we will be working with other groups for this to happen sooner than later.
 
 
Also CCB has, in conjunction with FFB and CNIB, provided information to Canadian Agency on Drugs and Technology in Health (CADTH) regarding the approval of Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS) which is a minimal invasive procedure used to decrease the pressure in the eye due to Glaucoma. CCB continues to make other submissions for potential new medications for eye diseases.
 
Our By Laws Committee continues to move along very carefully on suggested amendments that need to be in compliance with the CNCA (Canada Not-for-Profit Act). The membership committee continues with their work of looking to gain new members and to bring some new ideas to strengthen our organization.
 
VISIONS looks forward to articles of interest to the wider community on activities you have or new ideas/techniques that you find useful so others can enjoy them too. Please submit them to the office.
 
November is a time to REMEMBER as Remembrance Day comes on the 11th. If at all possible attend a program near you. Veterans, along with others, were our founders and are still an important part of CCB. It is at this time I wish to acknowledge the recent passing of one of CCB Sydney’s long time members Rory MacRae, age 91. He was active in his local Legion and Lions Clubs. We will miss him out selling Poppies this year. I pass on condolences from CCB to his family.
 
Louise Gillis, National President

Announcements

 

‘EXPERIENCE’ EXPO 2019++:

 
SPEND THE WEEKEND IN TORONTO
Join us for ‘Experience’ Expo
Saturday February 2, 2019
 
The CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter, the Canadian Council of the Blind, is very excited to announce the 2019 White Cane Week (WCW) ‘Experience’ Expo, on Saturday, February 2, 2019!
 
CANADA’S ONLY CONSUMER SHOW DEDICATED TO CANADIANS WHO ARE BLIND AND LOW VISION
 
‘Experience’ Expo 2018 was incredibly successful. In 2019 ‘Experience’ Expo, (entering its 4th year) returns to the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, right on the south-west corner of Bloor and Spadina, just across the street from Spadina subway station. In a single space with over 6000 square feet of room for exhibitors, we’re looking to bring together dozens of community groups, agencies, product, and service providers serving the vision loss community here in Toronto.
 
The Expo is open from 10am to 4pm, and will be followed by a ‘Community Social’ (RSVP) from 5:15pm to 8pm, featuring music, food, a cash bar and door prizes!
 
Please visit our website at http://www.ccbtorontovisionaries.ca/WCW.php
 
If you have any questions or need more information, call 416-760-2163 or email us at ccbtorontovisionaries@gmail.com.
 
Join us in Toronto. Spend the day or weekend.
Bring your ‘Experience’ to the Expo!
Come celebrate with us Saturday February 2.
It’s all about you.
 
Ian White, President,
CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter,
Canadian Council of the Blind
www.ccbtorontovisionaries.ca
 

CCB Health & Fitness Update++

BE A BETA TESTER!
 
As we look at different ways to use technology to help us on our health and fitness journey, our program is asking for beta testers to help us out!
 
If you have an IOS, Android device, you can participate easily and provide us with valuable feedback.
Participation is free, simple and hey, you may just love it!
 
What do you need to do?

  1. Download “Polar Flow” & “Polar Beat” off the app store
  2. Follow the directions in the app and create your user account
  3. Use the Polar Beat app to record, and go for a walk, do a weight routine, get a workout in!
  4. Take a look at the Polar Flow app to see all your stats

 
Think of the BEAT app as your recording device for your workout and the FLOW app is your logbook or diary of all your stats
 
Why?
We want to find better, more exciting ways to engage, educate and empower you, therefore we are in Phase 1 of a new program opportunity, however it relies heavily on members of all abilities and all vision loss levels, to test these apps.
 
Why these apps?  That will become a bit clearer in Phase 2, however essentially if these apps work for us, we will be able to provide FREE virtual coaching/mentoring to you, based on your objective data.
 
Bottom line:  Ryan will be able to help you better by seeing what exercise you are doing.
 
If you already use a fitbit or Apple Watch, great!  However you can still help us by testing these apps, making a list of what does not work and then we will see if they are things we can get fixed.
 
Next steps?
If we get positive feedback, the next steps will be….well…awesome!!
But I’m not going to put the cart before the horse just yet!
If we find these apps troublesome, then we move in a different direction.
 
I know there are lots of fitness apps out there but these apps allow the Health & Fitness program to accomplish some pretty awesome things.
 
So, download, try them, test them, and most of all PROVIDE FEEDBACK!
If you find these apps are accessible to you, please reach out to me and I can give you some direction on how to help me dive a bit deeper in testing.
 
The Health & Fitness program is absolutely committed to finding solutions that work for the members.  We don’t need high tech solutions but they are just another arrow in the quiver.
Thanks so much for your participation and fingers crossed the next steps will be even bigger!
 
If you have ANY questions, let me know, I can post videos, podcast answers out there as well as email and phone calls are always an option.
 
RYAN VAN PRAET (R. Kin)
CCB Health & Fitness
National Program Manager & Coach
ccb.healthandfitness@gmail.com
226-627-2179
 
Go to our page: https://ccbhealthandfitness.wordpress.com to find links to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Podcast & Email Chat List
 

Early Bird Draw Winners

We would like to congratulate CCB Alberni Valley Chapter, and CCB Moncton Chapter for getting their membership in early and winning this year’s Early Bird Draw.
 
 

The CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter turns 5-years old!++

 
It’s been five years since the CCB Toronto Visionaries received its Chapter Charter from the Canadian Council of the Blind, and on Saturday October 20th, we marked this milestone with a celebratory dinner at the CNIB Centre in Toronto!  With more than 80 members, their families and friends in attendance, and a 3-course full-service dinner on the menu, it was a wonderful chance to mix and mingle, and enjoy each other’s company.  It was also a time to reflect on where the CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter started, where we’ve come in five years, and where we hope to go in the not-too-distant future.
 
Our Master of Ceremonies, Visionaries member Suzanne Decary-Van Den Broek, guided us through the evening, making everyone feel welcome and describing everything from the table setting to the cake-cutting ceremony!  And after dinner was complete, and the last of the cake frosting was being scraped from plates and coffee offered round, Suzanne introduced Ian White, Visionaries’ Chapter President, who sketched the growth of the Chapter over the past five years.
 
Starting as a Peer Support Group of about 8 people at the CNIB in 2011, White and co-founders, Denise Chamberlin and Carol Mondesir, encouraged those new to vision loss to come out to a monthly meeting, to share their experiences, to learn from each other and from a series of guest speakers on a wide range of topics.  In 2013, having grown to a group of about 30, CCB National Vice President Jim Tokos was invited to speak, and shortly thereafter, application was made to Charter the Chapter.  With 21 founding members and $50 to open a Community bank account, The CCB Toronto Visionaries was born!
 
Since then, through the dedicated work of many volunteers, the Visionaries has grown to a membership of nearly 150, becoming one of the largest and most vibrant Chapters in Canada.  Beginning with one meeting per month, we added outings to the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ontario Science Centre, and a 5km Walk-a-thon, gradually adding activities and outings to our calendar.  In 2015, we launched a Chapter website, complete with an online calendar and Community Resources list with links to dozens of organizations, products and service providers available here in the Greater Toronto Area.  We inaugurated GTT Toronto, a monthly adaptive technology user group, a part of CCB national’s Get Together with Technology program, and have partnered with Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, Balance for Blind Adults and the CNIB on advocacy issues and workshops.  Speaking to school and community groups and participating in conferences and disability trade shows, the Visionaries Chapter has reached out to promote a greater public awareness of the challenges of living with vision loss.
 
But mostly, our outings and activities are about having fun and the chance to socialize with our peers.  Over the past five years, we’ve continued holding monthly meetings, including potluck socials and an End-of-year luncheon, monthly pub nights at three locations and a monthly afternoon bowling group.  We’ve explored Toronto’s Historic and cultural sites, booked dinners out at a dozen local restaurants, created 5 fully-described Walking Tours, and experienced accessible planetarium shows, an antique carousel and the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair!  We’ve hosted 4 live music concerts, an annual Beach BBQ, and offered 5 bus trips to destinations all over southern Ontario.
 
Initiated by members, we now offer a regular alternate format book club, a casual conversation group and Latin Dance classes!
 
But our greatest achievement, going into its fourth year, is the White Cane Week ‘Experience’ Expo, an exposition of nearly 50 groups, clubs, organizations, businesses and service providers serving the vision loss community here in Toronto.  In this one event, we bring the whole vision loss community together, get people directly connected to the services and products they need to live a full, rich life, and increase public awareness by promoting a wider understanding of the experience of living with vision loss.
 
“None of this amazing growth and activity could have happened without the passion, dedication and hard work of many, many volunteers”, said White.  So dozens of volunteers were presented with certificates of Appreciation and Recognition for their contributions to the success of the Visionaries Chapter.  Special recognition went to three exceptional volunteers: Donna MacLeod who created and maintains the ccbtorontovisionaries.ca website, our most vital and informative communications link, Sue Marsh-Woods, who has been instrumental in supporting, promoting, and augmenting the work of our Chapter, and Alicia Modeste, who has just stepped down as our Chapter Secretary, whose sense of fairness, fiscal responsibility, and whose management of our email communications over the past five years, has created a sense of inclusion and community for the Chapter.
 
CCB National Vice President, Jim Tokos, added his congratulations, describing the Visionaries as a “model Chapter” that embodies the core values of the Canadian Council of the Blind.
 
With all this success behind us, what does the future hold?  White outlined six priorities for the coming years:
To strengthen the administrative structure of the Chapter and its Executive Committee to ensure the ability to meet the demands of future growth,
To develop an even more dynamic digital footprint, including more access through enhancements to our website and expansion into social media,
To reach out to a younger demographic of young adults and ensure they have access to social and recreational opportunities,
To strengthen and expand the ‘Experience’ Expo, including stable funding, strengthening relationships with our community partners and developing greater media interest,
To create a positive culture of volunteering in all aspects of Chapter operations, and
To broaden our marketing reach so that no one living with vision loss in Toronto has to live in isolation.
 
It was with great pride that the CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter celebrated its 5th year.  And we look forward to continuing to create many more social and recreational opportunities for those living with vision loss to get together with their peers, to share information, interests, learning and recreational activities, and to encourage members to explore their potential for living a full, rich life through social engagement!
 
The CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter
www.ccbtorontovisionaries.ca, Email: info@ccbtorontovisionaries.ca
Voice Mail Line: 416-760-2163
 

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE! ++

 
To all CCB members, this is our chance to make a difference, to make a statement on behalf of Canada’s blind low vision community. Please take the time to support NDP Member of Parliament Carol Hughes of Algoma-Manitouline-Kapauskasing’s efforts, through her motion M-183 calling for a Pan-Canadian Framework for Action on Eye Health and Vision Care. Canada needs, we need, a national strategy on eye health and vision care. You can read the full text of her motion below. MP Hughes’ motion is right on message is consistent with the mandate of the Canadian Council of the Blind in “changing what it means to be blind”.
 
You can make a difference and it is a relatively simple task. Just follow the attached link and print 3 sheets of the petition. Once that is done, spend the time and effort to get 25 signatures (please use a blue pen) and then follow mailing instructions found at the bottom of the petition send the signed petitions to MP Hughes at her office in the House of Commons, Ottawa K1A 0A6. MP Hughes will share your petition with other MPs who will then present your petition in the House. Do this and you will lend your voice to the call for Canadian action on Eye Health and Vision Care.
 
M-183: Pan-Canadian Framework for Action on Eye Health and Vision Care:  Text of the Motion:
 
That, in the opinion of the House, the Government should work with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities and government, not-for-profit eye health and vision care organizations towards the creation of a pan-Canadian Framework for Action on Eye Health and Vision Care, that respects jurisdictional authority and Quebec’s right to withdraw with compensation, and that will: (a) establish an Office for Vision Health at the Public Health Agency of Canada, charged with working with provinces and territories on strategies for eye health, vision care and the full integration of post-vision loss rehabilitation therapy into the health care continuum; (b) enhance funding for vision health research, beginning with ensuring representation on dedicated Canadian Institutes of Health Research review and evaluation committees; (c) ensure enhanced access to eye health and vision care for Indigenous peoples, seniors and children;
(d) to engage in vision care pilot projects that reflects the entire journey of vision loss from prevention to rehabilitation, and encourage direct citizen engagement; and (e) engage in a public information campaign based on population health strategies aimed at influencing individual behaviours and that encourages
Canadians to think about their eye and vision health.
Latest Activity: Placed on Notice (2018.05.07)
 
Link to MP Carol Hughes delivering the petition in the House:
https://www.facebook.com/38326584416/videos/964491597084544/
Link to petition:  http://ccbnational.net/fresco/petition-for-motion-m-183/
 

Our Trip to the VIA Train Station in Ottawa++:

On October 26 a diverse group of people with vision loss visited Via Rail’s Ottawa station.  This year, Via Rail celebrates its 40th anniversary, and doing much to make train travel from station to train accessible for all. We navigated our way through the station using an app and indoor wayfinding beacons supplied by In Doors. We also provided feedback on a Braille map and a descriptive MP3.  We then explored the station wearing Sunu Bands—vibrating devices that alert us to the proximity of objects and obstacles. Via staff and others involved in the project brainstormed, observed, listened, recorded and took the time to learn from us, so that everyone can enjoy travelling with confidence and independence.
Submitted by Shelley Ann Morris
 

British Columbia Voters: Vision Accessibility Related to the BC Province-wide Referendum on Proportional Representation++

A referendum on which voting system British Columbia should use for provincial elections is being held between October 22 and November 30, 2018.
 
Registered voters will receive a voting package in the mail between October 22 and November 2. If you do not receive a voting package or are not currently a registered voter, you can ask for one from Elections BC, a Referendum Service Office or a Service BC location by November 23.
 
For this referendum, voters who read braille can request a braille template package and ballot question to be used when completing the mail-in voting package.
 
Please call Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683 to request a braille template and ballot question, or if you have any questions regarding voting in the referendum. Information on the voting systems featured in the referendum can also be found at elections.bc.ca.
 
 

Assistive Technology

 

Live Listen Support Comes to AirPods++

 
Live Listen enables you to use your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch as a sound-boosting microphone to help you hear in difficult situations.
Previously only available when using Made-for-iPhone (MFi) compatible hearing aids, with iOS 12, the Live Listen feature comes to AirPods, too.
 
To make use of this feature, you will first need to go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls and ensure that the ‘Hearing’ control is enabled. Now, when you are using your AirPods and want to activate Live Listen, simply go to Control Center and double-tap the ‘Hearing Devices’ button.

In the News

 
Travelling While Visually Impaired: An Interview with Blogger Kerry Kijewski from Expedia.ca++
 
When one of your senses is limited, travelling becomes a wholly unique experience. As part of our Travel Sensations series, we interviewed Kerry Kijewski, a writer, blogger, and novelist who has travelled the world while visually impaired.
 
We asked Kijewski about her love of travel, and everything there is to know when travelling blind or visually impaired.
 

Tell us a little about yourself and what first inspired you to travel.

I am a grateful Canadian, from birth, who loves living here, but who has also always been intensely curious about the rest of the world. Travel has always been in me; I’ve always been curious about the world that exists beyond my own backyard.
 
Really though, my love for travel comes directly from my parents and grandparents, and I thank them for showing me why travel is of such great value. They all loved to travel and taught me to love it, too. Whether it was my grandparents who made a point of taking all 21 of their grandchildren to
Niagara Falls, or my parents who made it a priority to show my siblings and myself other places, I was brought up to want to see as much of the world as I could because it mattered and could teach so much.
 

What other sense is heightened more so than any others when travelling?

Some love to sample restaurants and local dishes when they travel, but I am no foodie. For me, my strongest remaining sense when travelling is that of hearing. Depending on where I am, other senses are more highly heightened, but overall, I remember those sounds that make a certain spot stick in my memory.
 

Do you have a favourite travel memory with touch?

In central Mexico, there’s a man who uses bottles and other smooth pieces of glass to make the most stunningly beautiful art. This tactile creativity is on display all over his property there. He makes mosaics, creations, and I was moved beyond words, using my hands to touch the essence of artistic expression. When I ran both left and right hands over a sun with rays, created on a wall on a sunny January morning, I could transfer what my fingers were finding into as close a religious experience as I’ve ever had. It was a thrill that started at the tips of my fingers and shot through me in an instant of direct touch; what he’d made, making me grateful I’d been welcomed to be there to witness it.
 

What place holds your favourite experience with smell?

I was approaching eighteen (adulthood) and swearing I’d never camp again when I didn’t have to, by choice. The bugs at the campsite were relentless and the air was heavy and muggy.
 
Once I stepped out onto those rocks at the edge of the Saint Lawrence River, though, the air was sea air and the smell took my breath. I wanted to camp there that night and drift off, inhaling the salty sweetness, but instead I took it all in, drinking it in by bounds and gulps-full.
 

Are there certain destinations that are more visually impaired or blind traveler-friendly than others? Where, and what about the made them accessible?

 
The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in Ireland seemed like a risk, without being able to see my footing. I hesitated when our tour guide asked how many of the group would be walking across. I was tempted to sit out the excursion, fearing an inaccessible situation ahead.
 
At the last minute, I decided I wasn’t going to let fear of the unknown of things keep me from joining in with the rest. I stepped out, onto that bridge, and across to the other side I went, hands on the ropes on both sides and my feet, feeling for the edge in both directions. I would have missed the surge of freedom being up there gave me, which I would have cheated myself out of if I’d allowed myself or anyone else to dictate what the experience was going to be like.
 
The same goes for the experience of walking around the outer edge of the CN Tower. There were those who wanted to tell me I couldn’t do it, and indeed they said so, all while I pushed back with determination. I wasn’t about to let other people’s uncertainty prevent me from the doing of something worthwhile.
 
So many parts of travel are unforgiving, uneven, unpredictable attempts at something new. The terrain is often a possible danger. The ground can trip me up at any time, but so much of this is well worth the challenge of overcoming.
 
City tours are the obvious choice over steep slopes and hilly hikes. Lots of steps make it difficult. Any of it can present a downside, but I have managed to find ways to make it happen when it mattered.
 

What’s some advice you’d give a fellow visually impaired traveler who is apprehensive about travel?

Nike has it right: Just do it. I spent a lot of time, questioning every move I made, but when it came to travel I never wanted that to be my choice. The world is opened to those who reach out and touch it. Travel isn’t to be missed, though a lot of what is unknown and unfamiliar is the scary stuff. All the most unforgettable moments in life aren’t to be missed out on because of something as silly as a lack of one single sense. Find ways to stay safe, while at the same time letting go of the everyday that travel untethers us all from. Or, at least, it will if you let it.
 

Are there any resources you’d recommend for other blind or visually impaired travelers?

Not enough I’m afraid. Honestly, as far as travel companies go, tourism isn’t designed for the blind. I believe strongly that more could be done to provide the kind of service that travel can offer up. We need to travel because we need to show that it is totally doable. I like to work with a travel agent/expert who can make a plan that works for me. Online isn’t specific enough, directed at the individual, not like the experience I’ve had after working with a trusted travel planner. For me, now, travel and the best experience I will have starts with someone knowledgeable.
 
Asking for help to customize things helps a lot. Winging it can be fun, certainly, and yet planning ahead can save a lot of unwanted stress, before and during travel.
 

Last but not least, what’s one experience that’s on your bucket list? And, not necessarily separate from that, but what destination do you want to travel to next?

In the Pacific Ocean, there is a place I learned of and
Palau is its name. There, in my mind I am travelling to Jellyfish Lake and discovering a species I am endlessly fascinated by. My bucket list is long and ever increasing with items, but some are at the top of that list for a reason. If there is a place more special and unique as a lake especially for the jellyfish, I haven’t found it. My curiosity about jellyfish has to do with the fact that they are difficult to imagine, without sight, and still I try.
 
My newest adventures are a deeper exploration of my own country of Canada. After venturing to a point far north, I first went west and then out east. This branching out of such a vast country as Canada inspires me to keep finding places here I never knew existed before.
 
Having travel goals and dreams keeps me striving for a wider investigation of place and time. It shows me how wide and wild the world truly is and that I can be a part of that.
Special thank you to Kerry Kijewski!
 

CCB Tech Articles, Donna’s Low Tech Tips, Apps round up++

Today, I’d like to introduce you to my apps round up.
 

AirRead, listen to flying text (iOS, Free)

Would it be amazing if somebody reads aloud articles for you?
If your answer is “Yes”, AirRead is for you.
 
You can “read” web pages, news, and books while waiting, walking, driving, exercising …whatever!
 
AirRead reads aloud text for you.
 
Listen to web pages
*          in-app browser for reading aloud web pages interactively
*          skips advertisements and menus while playing
*          one tap to play multiple linked articles inside a web page
*          save web pages and read aloud later in offline mode
*          select web pages first and later on play them all together
 
Listen to books
*          create your own audio books (on iPhone/iPad or PC/MAC)
*          convert ePub, PDF, text, rtf, doc files to audio books
 
Listen to news
*          speak aloud news article one-by-one automatically
 
Listen to text
*          type and speak
 
Copy and play
*          Copy a web address or text onto pasteboard and speak it aloud
 
Current Version: 8.2.3 (June 24, 2018)
Read AirRead, listen to flying text’s AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
 
https://www.applevis.com/apps/ios/reference/airread-read-aloud-text
___________
 

Travelear: Listen to the World (iOS, Free)

Travelear promises to take your ears on an adventure like never before! You can finally go to a variety of destinations and environments with a pair of headphones and the click of a button. With Travelear you can hop across the pond and experience the hustle and bustle of London’s famous Flower Market or even take a trip down to New Orleans jazz-filled streets. If you’re not in the mood for a new city sound then you can always get up close and personal with forest wildlife or simply sit back and relax on your porch as a summer thunderstorm passes by. Let our sounds immerse you into an environmental narrative and make you feel like you are actually there.
 
Features:
*          3D experiences created exclusively for Travelear
*          Organic recordings designed to tell a story
*          Captured with the latest in 3D microphones
*          Recorded and composed by Professional Audio Engineers
*          HD sound quality
*          HD images provide a visual for the experience
*          Map View allows you to choose your destination
 
Take a break from your day, go somewhere fun. Sit back, relax, and choose your destination.
Current Version: 1.2.3 (May 25, 2018)
 
Read Travelear: Listen to the World’s AppleVis App Directory entry for more information
https://www.applevis.com/apps/ios/health-and-fitness/travelear-listen-world
 
To contact me, send me an email at info@sterlingcreations.ca and I’d be happy to respond.
 
 

WBU statement on the World Sight Day 2018++

The World Sight Day is the most important advocacy and communications event on the eye health calendar. Observed annually on the second Thursday of October, it is a global event meant to draw attention on blindness and vision impairment. On this day, the World Blind Union (WBU) in collaboration with other organizations provide information through awareness raising regarding eye care. One of the priorities of WBU is to ensure the prevention of sight loss through advocacy for affordable and accessible eye health services as well as providing referrals.
 
Around 253 million people live with vision impairment worldwide, of which 36 million are blind. The vast majority live in low-income settings. More than 80% are aged 50 years or above. Globally, uncorrected refractive errors and un-operated cataract are the top two causes of vision impairment. More than 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. Measures to do so should focus on increasing access to quality, comprehensive eye care services, especially at the community level (WHO)
 
The World Sight Day is therefore significant to raise public awareness of blindness and vision impairment, influence governments to participate in and designate funds for national blindness prevention programmes and educate the public about blindness prevention.
 
Globally, cataracts and glaucoma are the leading causes of blindness. The defects include: long sightedness, short sightedness, low vision, most of which defects can be corrected through eye health interventions recommended by the world health organization, vision 2020 among others. The right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health stipulated under the CRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) includes provision of accessible eye care services nearer to the community. This obligation has been accepted by about 174 states parties that ratified the Convention. However, this right manifests several challenges: There are very few eye care doctors, ophthalmologists and optometrists that provide eye care services in the communities across the world; Most of the families in the communities at both national and regional levels are not aware of the existing eye care services; These services are under funded by governments and are not available, accessible and affordable to the entire communities that need them; Eye glasses are too expensive for our communities to afford yet they need them.
 
During this World Sight Day celebrations, on October 11, the World blind Union provides the following advice and call for action:

  • It is important for all children and adults to have their eyes screened once a year in order to avoid preventable causes of blindness.

A •    Governments should allocate appropriate budgets across the world to conduct the following activities: Construct vision corridors in the communities to enable village health teams and nurses to conduct eye health screening; conduct eye health services in schools to ensure that children receive them; conduct outreach clinics to provide eye care services; provide eye glasses at a subsidized cost; provide medical examination equipment in all hospitals and health centers; as well as encourage trainings of doctors, optometrists and ophthalmologists to improve their skills in eye health.

  • WBU also encourages radio and television campaigns to sensitize the public about eye conditions and interventions.

If this is done, we are sure that governments would have met their obligation of providing eye care services to blind and partially sighted persons across the globe.

REMINDERS

 
 

Membership Madness++

Hi Everyone!  Becky from the office here.  All chapters should have received their membership packages.  Independent membership will be sent shortly.
Chapter Rebate Deadline – December 7, 2018
All 2019 Memberships Due – December 28, 2018
White Cane Week Orders Due – January 4, 2019
WCW Insurance Requests Due – January 4, 2019
 

DON’T FORGET DONATIONS!++

Donations Received in the office in 2018 are the only ones that can be receipted for 2018.  Remember to send those donations if you want receipts.
 
www.ccbnational.net                 1-877-304-0968
ccb@ccbnational.net

VISIONS October 2018


Visions October 2018 DIGITAL PDF | Visions October 2018 DIGITAL
Advertisement: Bell offers the Doro 824C and 824. These smartphones are designed with accessibility in mind. With your purchase of a Doro mobile device, you’ll also receive a free pair of AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones.
 
Click this message to learn more.

VISIONS

Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

 

October 2018

 

“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”

 
 
 

President’s Message++

 
Welcome to the fall season! If weather is like what the summer was we should expect lots of sunshine.
The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) chapters across the country will have all started up preparing for activities and events over the next number of months. As 2019 is the anniversary of the CCB I anticipate many are considering ways to celebrate in their communities and demonstrate to everyone our “abilities” rather than our disability.
 
It is now the season for all sports activities to get started. Have fun, get exercise, socialize, and learn or assist in the GTT program so that we can lead a more productive lifestyle.
 
September has been very busy at the National level as well. Meetings were held with the Biosimilar Working Group (biosimilaroptions.ca). The Biosimilars Working Group is a key collaboration of diverse organizations, registered health charities, and health care advocacy coalitions who are dedicated to ensure that good outcomes for patients are at the center of health policy in Canada, specifically in the biologic medication treatment. These medications are used by many of our members for the disease processes that we need to deal with on a daily basis. This, the reason for our participation, as per our mandate –“improving the quality of life for those who are blind and in the prevention of blindness”.
 
Both our Advocacy and Membership committees met in September which will continue throughout the fall. Should you have advocacy items you would like the committee to look into contact Pat Gates at advocacy@ccbnational.net. Some of the current topics of discussion were the possibility of a National Pharmacare Program urging members to take part in consultations in communities over the next while. Also the concern of Greyhound service in Western Canada was a hot topic.  Regarding ideas of how to attract new members may be sent to Co-Chairs Heather Hannett (hjhannett@telus.net) or Jim Tokos (jtokos@ccbnational.net).
 
The Bylaws committee continues to work toward making required changes to comply with the CNCA. This process does require a great deal of work and thank you to Mike Vrooman for leading the committee.
 
We continue to work with other groups of and for the Blind to help improve the quality of our lives, the prevention of blindness and awareness of the organization. This involves meeting with government officials at all levels, community organizations, letter writing to ensure we continue to receive reading material of our choice plus much more. We continue to work with the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) on the Eye See You campaign, as we all know blindness has no limits of age, gender, etc.
 
There are lots of interesting articles in the newsletter. We encourage good new items, photos, or interesting articles that your chapter (such as dinners, awareness tables, sporting events,) are doing for the newsletter.
 
Louise Gillis, National President
 

Announcements

 

Two Important Days++

October 11, 2018 – World Sight Day

The World Sight Day is the most important advocacy and communications event on the eye health calendar.  Observed annually on the second Thrusday of October, it is a global event meant to draw attention on blindness and vision impairment.
Around 253 million people live with vision impairment worldwide, of which 36 million are blind.  The vast majority live in low-income settings.  More than 80% are aged 50 years or above.  More than 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured.
 
During this World Sight Day celebrations the World Blind Union provides the following advice and call for action:

  • It is important for all to have their eyes screened once a year in order to avoid preventable causes of blindness.
  • Governments should allocate appropriate budgets across the world for vision health.
  • WBU also encourages radio and television campaigns to sensitize the public about eye conditions and interventions.

 

October 15, 2018 – White Cane Day

The mission of White Cane Day is to educate the world about blindness and how the blind and visually sighted persons can live and work independently while giving back to their communities.
 
On this year’s White Cane Day, October 15, the World Blind Union emphasizes that trainings and awareness campaigns towards the promotion of mobility and orientation using the white can guarantee autonomy to blind and partially sighted persons to choose places they would like to go to and to participate effectively in their communities.
 
You can read the WBU’s entire press releases here. http://ccbnational.net/fresco/wbu-statement-on-the-world-sight-day-2018/
http://ccbnational.net/fresco/wbu-statement-on-white-cane-day-october-15-2018/
If you would like even more information please visit www.worldblindunion.org
 

GTT at the Annual CNIB Technology Fair++

On Thursday September 27 members of the blind/low vision community, family and friends, educators, vendors and community partners gathered for the annual CNIB Technology Fair.  This event took place at Ottawa’s City Hall.  The room was filled with booths, offering everything from technology solutions that assist people living with vision loss and beyond. Ottawa’s blind/low vision community was also well-represented with a host of services, as well as the Ottawa CCB Chapter and Get Together With Technology Program.
 
Kim Kilpatrick, GTT Program Coordinator and some GTT program participants were on hand to answer questions and provide information about this innovative, peer-driven group where people could learn to use all kinds of technology for increased independence.  For example, those who stopped by the booth saw how any iPhone with Voiceover enabled would assist a blind person to read mail, find a bus stop, read short printed text aloud, take a picture, access the internet, use Social Media, attend school, and send a text. Whether blindness/low vision was life-long or recently-diagnosed, there was something for everyone! Other kinds of technology (both high and low tech) were also demonstrated.  Many visitors felt encouraged and said that they would follow up on what they had learned about GTT’s blog posts, one-to-one drop-in sessions, monthly evening meetings and/or monthly conference calls.  For more information, please contact 613-567-0311 or (toll-free) 1-877-304-0968
By Shelley Morris and Kim Kilpatrick (Picture from Fran Cutler)
Picture shows a very large GTT sign with GTT program Coordinator Kim Kilpatrick using a keyboard paired with an iPhone.
 

CCB President Advocates for Patients at International Conference ++

 
In August, longtime Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) partner, the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) hosted delegates from 75 countries at the 14th Global Conference on Ageing, in Toronto. The conference focused on critical issues facing older people today and for future generations. A diverse range of topics on ageing, which included a focus on vision were addressed and debated, guided by insights from thought leaders, new research, and real-world examples.
 
CCB President Louise Gillis was invited to participate in a panel discussion with experts from the World Health Organization, the IFA, and Canada’s leading ophthalmologists. Rooted in ageism is the false and problematic myth that vision deterioration is just a part of ‘normal’ ageing. Vision loss is not an ‘ageing issue’ yet among adult at-risk populations there is a relatively low-level awareness of the need for regular eye screening, symptomatology of eye diseases and access to safe and effective treatments.
 
The panel discussion explored the relationship of vision-loss and declines in the health and the wellbeing of older populations, while focusing on important access, screening and policy issues that are threatening an individual’s ability to optimize vision health.
 
“Ensuring the voice of the patient is heard loud and clear is always an objective for me,” says Louise Gillis, CCB President. “With such a high profile conference, this was an important opportunity to not only highlight concerns and issues from the vision community, but to help establish an actionable framework that in collaboration with various stakeholders, we can achieve.”
 
The vision symposium at the conference was a marquee event that put ‘vision health’ on the priority list for Canadians. Through their ongoing work on the Eye See You campaign, the CCB and the IFA are a driving force, advocating for the rights of all patients. New advocacy initiatives are underway and the groups encourage you to visit www.eyeseeyou.care to ensure your voice is heard.
 

CCB Health & Fitness October Update!++

Thanks to everyone who participated in our September Mindful Eating Challenge.  We received some great feedback from across the country.
 
What have you learned from examining your own eating habits? Have you made any tweaks?  Have any questions?
 
As always, it isn’t a one size fits all answer, it is about being self aware and making little changes over time.  Small changes in our lifestyle habits can have huge payoffs!!  What’s the old saying?  Slow and steady wins the race!!  Keep being mindful and looking for opportunities to make healthy choices.
 

FITNESS TRACKERS

As we turn the page on a new month, I got thinking about the number of CCB members out there that either:
-use their smartphone’s GPS or accelerometer and an app, to measure their activity -use a dedicated activity tracker or fitness wearable, such as a gps watch, heart rate monitor, fitness tracker (fitbit, garmin, polar)
 
We all love technology and CCB Health & Fitness will be looking at this a bit more in depth as we move forward.
 
We would LOVE and appreciate your feedback.
 
Please send Ryan an email letting him know what technology you use to keep track of fitness; you phone, a dedicated fitness wearable, or none at all?
 
ccb.healthandfitness@gmail.com
 
As always, we welcome feedback and suggestions on topics and challenges moving forward!
 

CCB Chapter Update++

 
Hands of Fire proudly welcomes you to our third annual fundraising event: It’s in the Fingertips – A Night of Art and Music! Hands of Fire is a not-for-profit organization and a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind which offers sculpture classes to blind and visually impaired individuals. We are a Toronto-based group comprised of a number of talented blind and visually impaired artists who are thrilled to showcase their amazing and diverse works of art to the greater Toronto community in this fundraising event.
 
This year’s fundraiser will be hosted at Jumblies Theatre, located 132 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto, ON M5V OE3. This downtown gallery space is steps from public transit and easy to access. Sculpture made by the artists will be on display and for sale, with the artists present to socialize and speak about their art. We are excited to announce that this year’s fundraiser will include live musical performances by members of the blind and visually impaired community as well! With great art, music, a sociable and friendly environment, as well as food and drinks, this night promises to be one to remember.
 
On behalf of Hands of Fire, we cordially invite you to come visit us this November 10 at Jumblies Theatre for a night of art and music, and all for a great cause!
 

CCB Chapter News:++

 
CCB Chatham/Kent Chapter: The past 14 months have brought about the establishment of a new Chapter, customized Chapter logo, creation of our Mission Statement “providing support, information and social activities for all our members”, the recruitment of the current 40 members, both blind or visually impaired and sighted, grant writing including budget development and submission, 3 fundraising events, 2 of them very successful and the other one I’ll classify as a learning experience while maneuvering through the Municipality rules, regulations and bi-laws.
 
Every Chapter member had the opportunity to participate in the following events – golf, lawn bowling, self-defense classes, mini golf, horseback riding, game day, trivia night, pot lucks, BBQs, monthly bowling, Christmas get-together, Pizza party, Elmira Maple Syrup Festival bus trip, volunteering at the information booth for RetroFest, and manning the information table at various senior awareness events.
 
Our Chapter meetings have had guest speakers from the Canadian Mental Health, Police Department, Hydro Rebate Program representative, Heart and Stroke and Self Defense instructors.
It’s been quite a ride!
Kathie & Dave
 
 
 

US House of Representatives Passes Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act Treaty Now Awaits Presidential Action ++

 
Washington, DC (September 25, 2018): The United States House of Representatives has passed the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (S. 2559), which makes modest changes to copyright law that will bring the United States into compliance with the terms of the Marrakesh Treaty. The Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification of the treaty and passed the implementing legislation on June 28.
 
“For almost a decade now, the National Federation of the Blind, our partners, and other advocates have worked to bring the Marrakesh Treaty into being and into force,” said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “Today we applaud the United States House of Representatives for its passage of the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act. We now urge President Trump to sign this implementing legislation, and to order the State Department to deposit the instrument of ratification with the World Intellectual Property Organization as soon as practicable. We are closer than ever to the day when blind Americans will have greater access to the world’s knowledge, in many of its original languages, than we have ever had in human history.”
 
 

Assistive Technology

 

Introducing the Doro 824++

It’s the smartphone designed to make mobile more accessible. And it’s available exclusively at Bell.
 

Simplified user interface

With specially designed apps and an easy-to-read 5” HD screen, it’s easy to use email, access your camera, browse the Web or message your contacts. Plus, the Google TalkBack feature helps low-vision users navigate. The Doro 824 is intuitive and understandable with larger fonts and a simplified menu.
 

Safety and support features

Stay safe with a dedicated emergency assistance button that dials a predefined contact. Step-by-step guides and videos will coach you through the basic features, helping you understand your new phone. The My Doro Manager app lets your relatives or caregivers remotely manage settings, share photos, set up accounts, add calendar appointments and more – all done remotely.
 

Modern design

The stylish, accessible design combines the simplicity of basic phones with the more advanced features of smartphones. Ergonomic and grip-friendly, the Doro 824 comes designed with physical buttons, including an emergency button.
 

HD camera and sound

Take beautiful pictures with the 8-megapixel camera. It’s easy to capture the moment by pressing the physical camera button. Plus, with the 2-megapixel front-facing camera and the Google Hangouts app, you can stay connected through video chat.
 
Need some extra help? The Doro is hearing aid compatible and provides loud, crystal clear sound.
 
Doro 824 customers who self-identify as having an accessibility need qualify for an $8.54 monthly bill credit. Please let your Bell customer service representative know when activating your phone, or contact the Bell Accessibility services centre.
 
Accessibility add-on: complimentary 2 GB of data per month for qualified customers with hearing, speech or visual accessibility needs.
 
For more information, please visit: https://www.bell.ca/Mobility/Products/Doro-824?INT=MOB_mobdevpg_BTN_poplink_Mass_051016_mb_details
 

Bank Note Reader Update++

 
Today, the Bank of Canada announced that it will begin to phase out the bank note reader program. The bank note reader is the handheld device that identifies denominations through machine readable codes.
 
As technology continues to evolve, the Bank has determined that there are more modern devices that can be used. For those with a smartphone or tablet, the Bank has evaluated apps currently on the market, and both Seeing AI and NantMobile Money Reader quickly and reliably denominate Canadian bank notes.
 
There are several benefits to using apps: they are free and easy to download and try out; they are easy to update as new bank notes enter circulation; and instead of a single function device like the bank note reader, smartphones and tablets have built-in accessibility features that can be used for various needs.
 
The bank note reader will continue to be available for a time, but no further upgrades are planned and the reader will not be compatible with the next generation of vertical bank notes.
A number of bank note accessibility features will continue to help the blind and partially sighted recognize all five denominations with confidence. They include: the tactile feature, large high-contrast numerals and use of distinct colours for each denomination.
 
The Bank is also issuing a recall of the latest model of the bank note reader to upgrade and improve its performance with the polymer notes currently in circulation.
 
Those who’ve received this model of the bank note reader will be contacted by telephone and offered an upgraded device. A “swap” approach will ensure that individuals are never without a reader.
 
 

Donna’s Low Tech Tips: A scam alert++

 
Today, I’d like to introduce you to my scam alert.
Those emails asking you to login and verify your username and password that appears to be coming from your bank or insurance company.
 
If the email in question that you have received seems to be from a bank or insurance company that you do not do business with then you are okay.  Just delete it and move on.
 
On the other hand if the email in question is from a bank or insurance company that you do business with; then by all means you can read it but my advice would be to also delete it.
 
No bank or insurance company would ever send you this type of email.
 
Not sure?  Then just visit your bank.
Ask them to verify that they never sent you such an email. You could also call to verify as well.
 
Some of these types of emails may also go as far as to ask you to provide such details as your date of birth and account number.
 
Just delete this email and move on.
What would happen if you were to respond?
 
The simple answer would be trouble, lots of trouble, and now you have given a scammer out there carte blanche to hack into either your bank account and/or your very own computer system.
 

In the News

 
 

HoloLens can now guide the blind through complicated buildings

The headset’s ability to map a space and talk people through it may prove more important than the mixing-imagery-with-reality stuff. ++

 
HoloLens, Microsoft’s pricey face computer, is made for mixing digital images with the real world. But a group of scientists found it’s really good at a totally unanticipated application: helping blind people find their way through buildings and offering a better sense of where objects are around them.
 
The researchers, at the California Institute of Technology, created a new guiding app for HoloLens by taking advantage of the device’s real-time room and object mapping capability, as well as speakers that can make audio seem to be coming from different points in three-dimensional space. They used these features to map a complicated path through a campus building and created a virtual guide that helps a blind person navigate it, calling out directions like “Follow me” from what seems like a meter or so ahead of the person, according to work recently published on the bioRxiv website.
 
An accompanying video shows how this plays out in reality. A female voice directs a HoloLens-wearing study subject, who is blind, by saying things like “Railings on both sides,”
“Upstairs,” and “Right turn ahead.” The man follows the commands, walking easily from a first-floor lobby up a set of staircases, around several corners, and past a few doorways until he arrives at a room on the second floor.
 
He’s one of seven subjects who tried the application. All got to their destination on the first try, though one briefly got off track. Markus Meister, a professor at Caltech and coauthor of the study, thinks the research could eventually lead to a device that could be offered to visually impaired visitors at places like hotels or malls, helping them get around unfamiliar areas more easily. There are already some tools that can be used this way outdoors, such as turn-by-turn mapping apps—but indoors, as Meister notes, there aren’t as many options.
 
The World Health Organization estimates that 253 million people are blind or visually impaired, so the potential market for such an application could be huge. But there’s still a lot of work to be done. For now, any routes from one point to another must be scanned in advance, and there isn’t a way to track other people who might walk through the space as the HoloLens wearer is navigating it.
 
But the study subject in the video, at least, was impressed with the work thus far. “That was pretty cool,” he says, chuckling, at the end of the clip.
By Rachel Metz
 

  Hope for new macular degeneration treatments buoys patients++

 
Sometimes it starts with wavy vision. Objects appear distorted. Familiar faces go blurry.
 
Sean Teare, a 48-year-old health care consultant from Duxbury, struggled to read menus in dimly lit restaurants. After a battery of tests, his optometrist told him he had age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, an eye disease that afflicts more than 9 million Americans and can cause serious vision loss. “It came as a complete shock,” said Teare.
 
The prevalence of the condition is rising as the population ages. The number of early-stage cases for those 50 and older is projected to nearly double to 17.8 million in the United States by 2050, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For baby boomers, who are living longer than past generations and fiercely prize their independence, it’s a dreaded diagnosis that threatens to rob them of everyday functions such as reading, driving, cooking, or watching television.
 
With the increase in cases has come a burst of research activity. There’s currently no cure for the disorder, and no treatment for its most common form, which accounts for 85 percent of cases.
But scientists in Massachusetts and around the world are experimenting with dozens of drug candidates, including about 20 in clinical trials that work to preserve vision and, ideally, restore sight. They include not only well-established drugs, such as repurposed statins, but also new approaches such as gene therapies, stem cell treatments, and medicines tailored to the genetic makeup of patients.
 
“We’re close to seeing some important findings,” said Dr. Joan Miller, chief of the ophthalmology department at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston.
 
The disease, considered the leading cause of blindness in older Americans, is triggered by fatty deposits that damage a spot in the retina called the macular, which lets the eye see fine detail. Its rate of progression varies. Some patients don’t experience vision loss for many years; others lose sight in their central field of vision, inhibiting their ability to see straight ahead, but retain peripheral vision.
 
Patients with a more severe form of the disease can receive periodic injections of an antibody into the eye that can slow progression of the disease by blocking leaky blood vessels.
 
Miller, who helped pioneer the science behind Lucentis, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 as the first treatment for age-related macular degeneration, hopes to see a new generation of treatments emerging in the next five to 10 years.
Some of those new treatments could be less uncomfortable and time-consuming than today’s injections. The emerging field of gene therapies, for instance, promises “one and done” procedures that could stop the disease in its tracks by inserting healthy genes into cells in place of defective or missing ones. Another approach involves stimulating cells in the retina to act as mini-production factories that generate proteins to protect the macular.
 
Such advances can’t come soon enough for such patients as Laura Brennan, 64, of South Boston, who gets shots into her eyes every two months to stabilize her vision.
Brennan, who first experienced wavy vision when she was in her 50s, is determined to keep living her normal life. The injections and other adjustments have enabled her to continue walking, swimming, and working as a chef for Foodie’s Markets in South Boston and the South End.
 
“When I first noticed that I couldn’t make out someone’s face across the room, that was very difficult,” said Brennan, who recalls her father also developing macular degeneration late in life. “But I’ve been able to adapt. I know who people are by their steps or their voice. At this point, my goal is to preserve the vision that I have, not to have it decrease anymore.”
 
Hemera Biosciences, a Waltham startup, is seeking to develop a kind of vaccine that would make treatments easier and less invasive for patients like Brennan.
“Patients in their 60s and 70s will go to their ophthalmologists,” said Hemera chief executive Adam Rogers. “If they’re diagnosed with AMD, they can receive a shot and keep it at bay during their lifetimes. I think that’s something we could see in the next five to seven years.”
 
Biopharma giants such as Genentech, Novartis, and Regeneron are also working on experimental medicines. So are a raft of biotech startups ranging from Cambridge’s Gemini Therapeutics to Regenxbio in Rockville, Md.
 
For drug makers, the tens of millions of people with age-related macular degeneration are a potentially lucrative market. Sales of current medicines, mostly first-generation treatments including Lucentis, totaled nearly $5 billion in 2016, and the expected new drugs will expand the market to $11.5 billion by 2026, the British analytics firm GlobalData projects.
The approval of the first-ever gene therapy for any disease last December galvanized eye researchers. The new drug, Luxturna, treats a rare genetic retinal disease in children by replacing a mutation with a corrective gene. In March, Mass Eye and Ear performed the first-ever procedure to administer the drug to a patient.
 
“It opened up the avenue for other gene-based treatments, and some of that might be applicable to AMD,” said Miller.
While macular degeneration is thought to be influenced not only by genetics but by environmental factors, such as smoking, “gene therapies have incredible potential” to treat the disease, said Luk Vandenberghe, cofounder of Odylia Therapeutics, a Boston nonprofit working to commercialize retinal disease research. Decades of research to understand diseases is now helping to power the new approaches to treatments, he said.
 
There’s also hope that the success of gene therapies for maladies of the eye could help launch similar kinds of treatments for other diseases.
Ben Shaberman, an official at the Foundation Fighting Blindness, a patient advocacy group, said the retina – a thin tissue lining the back of the eye – is emerging as an ideal proving ground for the young gene therapy field.
 
“The retina is accessible and a really good target,” he said. “If you get things to work in the retina, there’s a good chance you could apply them to neurodegenerative disorders of the brain or the central nervous system.”
 
Gemini, based in Kendall Square, is trying to bring the precision medicine model being deployed in targeted cancer treatments to AMD. Unlike drug developers that try to make one-size-fits-all treatments for macular degeneration, it’s focusing on treatments tailored to subsets of patients with distinct genetic variations that put them at risk.
“We believe that genetics plays a key role, and we’re spending a lot of time trying to understand these subpopulations,” said Gemini chief executive James McLaughlin.
 
Sometimes patients themselves aren’t sure what role genetics has played in their disease. Teare, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2016, doesn’t know anyone in his family with it. He wonders if his exposure to sunlight while boating or skiing was a factor.
 
Teare feels lucky to have the less severe form of the disease. And he’s been quick to embrace lifestyle changes – eating a diet rich in fish and vegetables and wearing sunglasses with ultraviolet eye protection – in an effort to keep it from progressing. Last year, he ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., to raise money for the Foundation Fighting Blindness.
He’s counting on his healthy diet and lifestyle – and his upbeat attitude – as he awaits the progress of research programs.
 
“This isn’t a terminal illness,” he said. “I feel I can make lifestyle changes that will keep it from progressing until there’s some kind of treatment.”
By Robert Weisman, Globe Staff   September 09, 2018
 

REMINDERS

 
 

Membership Madness++

 
Hi Everyone!  Becky from the office here.  All chapters should have received their membership packages.  Independent membership will be sent shortly.
 
Early Bird Draw – November 2, 2018
Chapter Rebate Deadline – December 7, 2018
All 2019 Memberships Due – December 28, 2018
White Cane Week Orders Due – January 4, 2019
WCW Insurance Requests Due – January 4, 2019
 

DON’T FORGET DONATIONS!++

 
Donations Received in the office in 2018 are the only ones that can be receipted for 2018.  Remember to send those donations if you want receipts.
 
 
 
www.ccbnational.net                 1-877-304-0968
ccb@ccbnational.net

VISIONS September 2018

Visions September 2018 TEXT | Visions September 2018 DIGITAL | Visions September 2018 DIGITAL (PDF)

 
Advertisment: Bell offers the Doro 824C and 824. These smartphones are designed with accessibility in mind. With your purchase of a Doro mobile device, you’ll also receive a free pair of AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones.
Click this message to learn more.

VISIONS

Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

 

September 2018

 

“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”

 
 

President’s Message++

I hope that all have had a great summer with lots of sunshine, activities with families and friends and now fired up to begin the fall season of CCB activities. I am aware that there have been many wild fires in several provinces and hoping no one has been affected.
 
As noted in the newsletter below we are all very saddened on the untimely passing of Michelle Anfinson. Michelle will be missed greatly by her family and friends in Regina and also by the many curlers she has assisted over the years at all the curling championship events that Team Saskatchewan attended. Our condolences to all her family at this difficult time.
 
Over the summer members of our committees have continued to do some work. In regard to advocacy we have been asked by CNIB to provide input on Wednesday, September 19, they have extended an invitation to our members to participate in a teleconference call hosted by CNIB. The most important items are – Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Non-Signalized Pedestrian Crossings. Contact Lui Greco, National Manager of Advocacy CNIB: lui.greco@cnib.ca. See more info in this newsletter.
 
Also, it is time to talk to your local Members of Parliament to ensure Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada passes through the legislature this fall keeping in mind any thoughts you may have for improvement to the act into the future.
 
As we realize that making Point of Sale (POS) devices more fully accessible does not exist alone within any one sector of either the disability community or the financial/payment services industry. Therefore it is necessary to do this collaboratively by bringig together payment processors, banks, stakeholders from within the disability community to move this initiative forward. This is a process that we are working on with other disability organizations.
 
A letter has been sent on behalf of CCB to The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, Government of Canada regarding the recent news on Greyhound services. This service affects all of Canada and is very important to our community.
 
The Bylaws committee continued to meet over the summer and will increase meeting times during the fall season. Also, the membership committee will be in full force in September.
 
It is now time to be thinking of what our chapters will be planning for 2019 in celebration of our 75th anniversary. CCB is becoming a more active organization in the prevention of blindness as well as developing programs for those of us with vision loss so we have lots to celebrate.
 
Enjoy this edition of Visions.
Louise Gillis, National President.
 
 

Announcements

 

CCB HEATH & FITNESS++

September Challenge!

 
After a successful 150 challenge in July, where we focused on getting everyone a bit more aware of how much activity they are doing…we want to launch our September Challenge.
 
Being healthy is a balance of many factors, being active, living as stress free as possible and being mindful of what we are eating.
 
For September we would love you to join our challenge and take part in “mindful eating”.  We don’t want you to count calories but what we do want you to try and do, is to write down what you eat on a daily basis.
 
Keep a list on your phone, on the fridge, wherever is easy and convenient.  The goal is to take an honest look at what we eat/drink on a daily basis.
 
Don’t judge yourself too harshly if you see a trend of maybe a bit of unhealthy eating, but rather use it as a motivator to introduce healthier choices.
 
If you already eat well, great, keep it rolling!
 
How do you know if you are eating well?
Best to keep tabs on our podcast, Facebook and Youtube channels and subscribe to our email list.  Here we will continue the discussion and give tips/ideas on best ways to eat more mindfully.
 
See below on ways to keep track of all we do!
 

HOW ARE WE DOING AFTER 1 YEAR?!!

CCB Health & Fitness is turning 1 year old!  Roughly a year ago we transitioned from our successful local Trust Your Buddy Program, over to our Nationally reaching health & fitness education program.
We want to get your opinion and thoughts on where we are now and what we can do better!
 

Some questions to consider and provide your feedback on:

  1. a) Have you learned anything in the past year?
  2. b) Do you find it easy to follow us and consume all the content we are putting out there?
  3. c) How do you best keep track of us? Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Podcast, Email list, Blog, Newsletter?
  4. d) What would you like to see Health & Fitness do either Nationally, Provincially, Locally, on an Individual basis or with chapters?

 
We NEED YOUR HELP!  In order to grow and to serve the CCB membership better, we want your honest feedback.
Ryan is excited for open, honest feedback….don’t worry you won’t hurt his feelings!
 
Simply email Ryan and let us know how the program has affected you, how you would like to see it grow AND any other programming you’d like to see us take on?
 
Do you need more info on general topics? Things like employment, travel, general coping skills, socialization, or life skills?   Perhaps we can incorporate this if the feedback shows a need.
 
The CCB is here to help you live your best life….so let us know how we can do better.
 
Thanks in advance!!
All the contact info is below.
RYAN VAN PRAET (R. Kin)
CCB Health & Fitness
National Program Manager & Coach
ccb.healthandfitness@gmail.com <mailto:ccb.healthandfitness@gmail.com>
226-627-2179
 
Go to our page: https://ccbhealthandfitness.wordpress.com
to find links to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Podcast & Email Chat List
 

Get Together with Technology (GTT) Victoria++

A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind
in Partnership with The Greater Victoria Public Library
 
Theme: Tom’s NFB Tech Round-up – Accessible Voting in the Fall
 
Date: September 5, 2018
Time: 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Where: Community Room, GVPL, Main Branch 735 Broughton St
 
First Hour:
Tom Dekker will give us 2 or 3 wonderful technology nuggets he picked-up/learned at the NFB Convention in July, then we’ll discuss the accessibility of the upcoming fall referendum on Proportional Representation and the Province-wide Civic Elections.
 
Second Hour:
During the second hour Corry Stuive, Albert Ruel and Tom Dekker will lead the group in discussion on any other assistive tech topic participants want to raise.  Please bring to the meeting all your other assistive technology questions, nuggets and frustrations for discussion with the group.
 
For More Information:
Contact Albert Ruel at 250-240-2343, or email us at GTT.Victoria@Gmail.com
 
 

News from the Hill++:

We at CCB are very pleased to see Minister Carla Qualtrough be appointed to the accessibility portfolio. The appointment of Minister Qualtrough to this portfolio bodes well for the country. Accessibility is a top priority not only for individual provinces but for the country as a whole. Congratulations!
 
 

Golfing for the Blind++

Our very own British Columbia Blind Golfer from Langley, B.C., George Thirkill, Won the Overall championship at the Western Canadian Blind Golf Championships in Winnipeg the week of July 9th to 12th. There were 21 players from all over Canada.
The championship consisted of 2 rounds Stableford matches with 4 divisions.
B1 –B2 – B3 & Seniors. The weather was some sun with winds on both days and some rain. The course was very challenging for a Blind golfer, but they managed to get some assistance from their guides on some of the tricky holes.  By the way, I was George’s Coach and guide.   George shot a 91 on the first day and a score of 85 on the second day, due to some excellent putting to win by 2 strokes.  The junior winner B3, Keifer Jones, 24yrs old from Calgary, shot a 75 & 76 to take the Junior division. Keifer is the top blind golfer in the world.  George represents Blind Golf British Columbia and at age 79 is the Top senior golfer in the world.  George along with our other top golfer from B.C., Darren Douma (member of the CCB VIBE Creston Chapter), from Creston, will be heading to Rome, Italy this year to compete in the World Blind matches and Team play competition representing Canada.
 
Gerry Nelson, President of Blind Golf Canada, said we are always looking for people that are visually impaired or Blind, or Disabled to come out and learn how to golf.  We have a Blind Training facility at the National Golf Academy in Langley at the Tall Timbers Golf Course and we can be reached at Nitrogolf@shaw.ca.  There is No Cost for the blind or disabled.
 
 

Chapter News++:

Members and friends of the Pembroke White Cane Club gather to celebrate two important birthdays.
 
The Pembroke CCB White Cane Club held a Birthday Party for two of our senior members on August 15th at a popular local bake shop. The two guests of honour were George Foss, who will celebrate his 95th Birthday in September, and Marion Jackson, who turned a young 93 on the 15th of August. Both are active members of our club providing wisdom mixed with humour to the group.     Of course there was a very yummy cake served up with a choice of beverage.
 
Lots of laughs with numerous photos taken, including this group shot.
As we all departed we all agreed that we should do this more often.
A big thank you to the staff at the bake shop.
Submitted by Gerry Frketich on behalf of the CCB Pembroke White Cane Club.
 

In Memory++:

On the morning of August 10, 2018 Michell Anfinson lost her fight with cancer, at the age of 46.  Michelle was very active in the CCB Regina Chapter, the Saskatchewan Team for the CVICC, and the Western Bonspiels.
She will be missed, and our thoughts are with Marv and the rest of their family.
 
 

Assistive Technology

 

Demo of Accessible Audible Traffic Signal in Peterborough Ontario++:

Devon Wilkins interviewed a CNIB/Vision Rehabilitation Ontario Orientation and Mobility Specialist as they demonstrate the use of an accessible Peterborough intersection. Wach here: https. //www.dropbox.com/s/s966rq25bwdxfm1/Audible%20Traffic%20Signals.mp3?dl=0
 

CCB Tech Articles, Donna’s Low Tech Tips: Cleaning & laundry++:

Today, I’d like to talk about cleaning & laundry.
 
Wear an apron with large pockets when cleaning. The pockets may be used to hold cleaning materials such as a dust cloth and polish, or may be used to hold small items you pick up along the way and plan to return to their original storage places.  Likewise, put cleaning materials in a basket or bucket and carry it around the house with you so all materials will be handy as needed.
 
Avoid spot cleaning!  Clean the whole surface to ensure no spots are missed.  When cleaning counters, start at one end and work to the other in overlapping strips.  Use your free hand to check areas just cleaned for extra stubborn spots.  Also work in overlapping strips when dusting, vacuuming, washing floors, etc.  In large areas, you may find it helpful to divide the surface into sections such as halves or quarters, with overlapping boundaries.  Use pieces of furniture (for example, a chair in the middle of the kitchen floor), or use permanent fixtures to mark the boundaries of each section you are cleaning.
 
Transfer liquid cleaners into containers with pumps for easy use.
Containers can be filled with a funnel.  Remember that flat-sided bottles upset easily.
 
To fill a steam iron use a turkey baster, a funnel, or a squirt bottle.
 
Safety pins or Sock Tuckers (available in department stores) can be used to keep socks in pairs during washing and drying.  Some people find it helpful to buy socks in different colors, patterns or textures for sorting purposes.
 
Wash small items in a pillow case or small mesh laundry bag to keep them from getting lost.
 
To measure laundry detergent use the scoop provided. Avoid pouring directly from the box.
 

                Advocacy

 

Let’s Get It Out There++:

Tele Town Hall Committee Consultations
 
The goal of the “Let’s Get It Out There” project was to take a holistic view of issues around advocacy, respect and working more closely together. Although there have been previous efforts at coalition building, this was an opportunity through a Tele Town Hall consultation process to receive feedback and suggestions at a grass roots level.  See the Tele Town Hall Committee Mission Statement appended to this report.
 
In Canada, our history of people who are blind, partially sighted and deafblind working together is not that different from other countries. The main thing that makes Canada different is the small population spread over a vast distance that makes ongoing collaboration and communications difficult. When looking at advocacy, we have many different organizations and individuals working on issues sometimes together, but very often in isolation not knowing or trusting what each other is doing. Even today with more communications options available, because of accessibility issues of some current technology and the lack of assistive technology training, many times we are not aware of what each other are doing.
 
Although this discussion was meant to cover all ages, economics and other demographics, no effort was put into ensuring that all were adequately represented.  To recruit participants the communications avenues employed were through discussion mailing lists, Facebook Groups, Twitter feeds and newsletters known by the committee members and the organizations they interact with.  In short, we relied on word of mouth to promote the Tele Town Hall meetings, and by copying representatives of the blindness, low vision and deafblind organizations on our radar it was hoped that news of this initiative would be circulated to their respective networks.  It was noted that the first meeting had the largest number of participants, with numbers decreasing as we moved into the final two gatherings.
 
This report looks at the discussion that occurred during each of the town hall meetings and attempts to put forward some suggestions and challenges to individuals and organizations working in the sector and what that might look like. It should be noted that even though the role of service providers like CNIB was not the main goal of this discussion, it does factor into the ongoing relationships between people and organizations representing people who are blind, partially sighted and deafblind.
 
Here is a link to download the final report in MS Word format.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/v7pb3krn6lxzhks/Tele%20Town%2Hall%20Final%20Report%20Protected%202018Aug17.docx?dl=0
 
 

Pedestrian Crossings and Accessibility++:

The emergence of new traffic signaling devices at a growing number of intersections are creating concern for pedestrians with sight loss. When is it safe to begin a crossing, how will marked cross walks be delineated and will drivers know how to respond to new signaling mechanisms?
 
In recent months, CNIB has witnessed a growing number of requests for advocacy support to address concerns regarding these new or different devices.
 
Clearing our Path, online since 2016, has been CNIB’s go to resource on accessible environments since it was first published in 1999. The guidelines under review for this project can be found at:
http://www.clearingourpath.ca/4.2.0-street-crossings_e.php
 
This section of Clearing Our path contains guidelines on:

  1. Curb Ramps and Depressed Curbs
  2. Islands
  3. Raised Pedestrian Crossings

*4.    **Accessible Pedestrian Signals*

  1. Roundabouts

*6.    **Non-Signalized Pedestrian Crossings*
 
*Of these, items 4 and 6 will be the primary focus of this initiative.*
 
Request for input
A working group has been struck to consider these as well as other issues surrounding accessible pedestrian signals and intersection design.
 
On Wednesday, September 19, we would like to extend an invitation to your members to participate in a teleconference call hosted by CNIB.
 
The questions we would like to have feedback for include:

  1. What are some of the new intersection and mid-block crossings tactics, structures, or devices being adopted in your area at either controlled or non-controlled intersections?

 

  1. What are any accessibility challenges posed by these tactics, structures or devices?

 

  1. What recommendations would you have that would better ensure accessibility and safety for pedestrians who are blind, deafblind or who have sight loss;

 

  1. Any additional information you wish to share relevant to Audible Pedestrian Signals, pedestrian intersections and mid-block crossings?

 
Comments from this conversation will be collected and reviewed by a national working group and any comments for change will be reflected in the sections of clearing our path sited above.
 
Alternatively, any written comments or suggestions would also be appreciated. These should be sent to lui.greco@cnib.ca no later than September 28.
Submitted by Lui Greco, National Manager of Advocacy
CNIB
 

Visually-impaired Victorians need design change to life-threatening bike lanes++:

Support our BC Human Rights case to insist that the City change its ill-conceived, life-threatening design of floating bus stops, such as along Pandora Street, that require transit users to cross a separated bike lane to get on or off buses in Victoria, BC.
 
The blind/ visually impaired have already experienced several serious incidents in Victoria (ones we know of) while crossing bike lanes. Imagine the sudden whiz of a bike past you and your guide dog’s nose or tires screeching in front of you as you step out to cross a bike lane.
 
No one wants to see the inevitable–a crash causing bodily injuries or death as a result of the City not changing this dangerous inaccessible design. Imagine your sense of confidence shaken by uncertainty and fear, knowing you cannot hear oncoming bikes as you step out to cross a bike lane. It’s Russian Roulette.
 
People ask: What’s the difference between crossing a bike lane versus crossing a street as a blind or visually-impaired person? We cross city street intersections all the time by listening to traffic flow and pedestrian signals. Vehicle traffic on roads can be heard. Bikes, on the other hand, are silent, stealthily silent, so you cannot judge when it’s safe to cross a bike lane.
 
For more information on this initiative, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/cfb-bike-lanes
 
 

In the News

 

How Running Can Help Protect Your Eyesight++:

Find out how many miles a week you should log to reap the benefits.
 
Your heart isn’t the only organ that can benefit from regular running: The more fit and active you are, the less likely you are to develop glaucoma, a serious eye disease that can damage your optic nerve and even lead to blindness, new research set to be published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise finds.
 
In the study researchers analyzed data from more than 9,500 people between ages 40 and 81 enrolled in a long-term study at the famous Cooper Clinic in Dallas. The researchers compared the subjects’ aerobic fitness (measured by treadmill tests) and weekly amount of exercise (reported by the subjects) to how many of them developed incident glaucoma during a nearly six-year follow-up period. The researchers specifically looked at incident glaucoma, the more common form of the condition, rather than traumatic glaucoma, which is caused by direct injury to the eye.
 
The researchers found that those who were the most active and the fittest had only half the risk of developing glaucoma as the least-active, less-fit group. Running 10 miles per week at a 10-minute mile pace would be enough to rank in the study’s fittest, most-active category.
 
This isn’t the first time scientists discovered a vision benefit to running.
This new research builds on a study published in 2009. In that study, which involved only runners, those with the highest mileage and best 10K times had the lowest rate of glaucoma, compared to lower-mileage and/or slower runners. The new study strengthens the pro-running evidence by including sedentary people as well as casual exercisers who are less active and fit than runners, and by showing that modest mileage appears to bring significant eye-health benefits.
 
So why might running lower your risk for glaucoma?
As the new study states, “intraocular pressure is the primary modifiable risk factor for glaucoma.” When pressure in your eye is too high, it can damage the optic nerve in your eye, potentially leading to glaucoma.
 
Other studies have found that a single workout reduces intraocular pressure, which the reduction is greater following more intense workouts, and that higher levels of fitness are associated with lower underlying intraocular pressure. Taken together, these findings suggest that exercise that’s frequent and intense enough to boost fitness, such as regular running, should lower intraocular pressure enough to make a significant difference.
 
And the glaucoma reduction might not be the only eye-related benefit to
running: Separate research by the 2009 study authors found that the more people ran, the less likely they were to develop cataracts during a six-year follow-up period.
 
Although few people probably take up running to help their eyes, you have to love research like this that shows just how profoundly regular running improves nearly all aspects of your health.
By Scott Douglas
 

On-line Training++:

Please find info below about some free online training courses coming in the next couple of months.  Explanations and descriptions are below.  Matt’s email is at the bottom of the message.
 
Hi everyone, first off, please share this with others, as I’ll explain later on in the message. Many of you may remember, or may have taken, the iPad training course I offered this past spring. I was really humbled and appreciative of all the positive feedback from that course, and I felt that the response to it was overwhelming.
 
I’m now excited to announce that I will be offering more free training courses for 2018-19 training season.
 
First off, I’ll be offering four major courses over the next year. They are as follows:
 
Replacing Your Traditional TV with Apple TV: four sessions, one session per week, beginning Tuesday, October 2, 2018
 
Living the Connected Digital Life: Four sessions, one session per week, beginning Tuesday, October 30, 2018
 
Learn Voiceover In and Out: eight sessions, two per week, beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019
 
Learning Voiceover In and Out, Section B: Eight Sessions, two per week, beginning Tuesday, February 19, 2019
 
IPad for All Computing: 12 Sessions, two per week, beginning Tuesday, April 16, 2019
 
The courses which have two days per week will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All courses will be held in the afternoon, with exact start times to be decided. Plan on somewhere around 2PM or 2:30 PM Eastern.
Sessions will last for two hours.
 
As with prior courses, each course is completely free and is available to everyone, sighted and non-sighted alike. As before, courses will be held in Zoom, with an accompanying set of materials, offered as iTunes U courses, with the exception of the Apple TV and Connected Digital Life courses, which will require only small handouts rather than complete iTunes U courses.
 
I’ll provide descriptions of each course below. What I’d love is if people would start sharing this with your friends, family, co-workers, etc, and on any other relevant lists you may belong to.
Additionally, please let me know which courses interest you.
 
The Apple TV course was sort of requested by several participants in this year’s iPad course. It will be designed to offer participants an overview of what the Apple TV can do and how to use it. We will then get into various options for making the Apple TV your complete living room device, cutting the cord, streaming, etc. what about local channels? How about sports? What does it cost? How many people can watch at the same time?
On and on. We’ll answer all the questions we can, with a particular emphasis on Voiceover use as well. You do not need to own an Apple TV to benefit from this course. Even if you are just mildly interested in it and want to explore what’s out there, we’d love for you to join.
 
The Connected Digital Life will explore in-depth how to make all your devices work for you no matter where you are. We will spend lots of time on all the iCloud features and services, such as iCloud Photo Library, iTunes in the CLoud, iCloud Drive, and many more. We’ll discuss iCloud Keychain for password and credit card autofill, Apple Pay, continuity, multiple devices together, HomeKit and home automation devices, and much more. Anyone with an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV, Apple Watch, HomePod, Mac, or any combination of these devices should benefit from this course.
 
The Voiceover In and Out course is something I believe many are looking for. You’ll notice I’m offering two sections. This is because I intentionally want to keep enrollment small and look at the students to best tailor the course to individual needs. This will be perfect for anyone who has never used an Apple device and wants to learn about it, or anyone who has just gotten their first Apple device. Additionally, those who have been using Apple products for years but want further Voiceover help will also benefit. Finally, if you struggle with certain gestures, fingering, or just want advance tips and tricks, this course is for you as well. Note that as of right now, this course will primarily focus on Apple iOS including iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, TVOS, Watch OS, and HomePod. Though we wil indeed explore keyboard commands and Braille displays, our primary mode of using these devices will be gestures. My most recent certifications are on the iOS side of things, and that’s what I use, so I’d prefer to not do Mac OS for now.
 
Finally, for the iPad course. You’ll notice I’ve renamed it. You’ll also notice that it’s longer than the one we did this past spring – 12 sessions instead of 8. This is because I really want to go deeper. We will be spending minimal time on learning Voiceover. If you want that, choose both this iPad course as well as the Voiceover course. In this course, we’ll do what we did last time, except much more involved. Instead of just talking for a short time about Messages, we’ll practice sending and receiving messages, use screen effects and iMessage apps, attach photos, record audio messages, and more. Instead of just discussing the calendar, we’ll create test events, modify events, use features like travel time, shared calendars, and much more. We’ll actually create short movies in Apple Clips, view a Keynote presentation together, and we will spend one whole session on file management and two entire sessions on nothing but Pages.
 
This course is for everyone, though having an iPad is strongly suggested, though you will be able to complete most of the course on your phone. We will have a prerequisite this time though – a strong familiarity with Voiceover. If you do not feel comfortable with Voiceover but would like to take this course, just also take the Voiceover In and Out course, and you’ll be fine. Even if you took the 2018 iPad course, you may wish to take the 2019 one, as it will as I’ve stated, go much deeper.
 
Again, please contact me with any questions, and please let me know which courses you’d like to take, and please share. Even though some of these are quite a ways off in the calendar yet, please start letting me know what you’d like, because creating course materials and course structure will be much better the more time I have. Shortly I will respond to those who have actually chosen specific courses, and I’ll keep in touch with you from now through the start of the courses. Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing from you. Take care.
I can be reached at m.jvollbrecht@comcast.net
 

REMINDERS

 
Hi Everyone!  Becky from the office here.  Membership season is here!  Here are the important dates that are listed in the package.
 
Early Bird Draw – November 2, 2018
Chapter Rebate Deadline – December 7, 2018
All 2019 Memberships Due – December 28, 2018
White Cane Week Orders Due – January 4, 2019
WCW Insurance Requests Due – January 4, 2019
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
 
DON’T FORGET!
Donations Received in the office in 2018 are the only ones that can be receipted for 2018.  Remember to send those donations if for your receipts.
 
 
 
www.ccbnational.net                 1-877-304-0968
ccb@ccbnational.net

VISIONS Summer 2018

Visions Summer 2018 DIGITAL PDF | Visions Summer 2018 TEXT

Advertisment: Bell offers the Doro 824C and 824. These smartphones are designed with accessibility in mind. With your purchase of a Doro mobile device, you’ll also receive a free pair of AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones.
Click this message to learn more.
 

VISIONS

Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

 

Summer 2018

“A lack of sightis not a lack of vision”

 

President’s Message++

Welcome to summer! I hope all members are getting to spend some relaxing time with family and friends. Many places are experiencing extreme heat so remember to drink lots of fluids to keep yourself hydrated.
 
As President of the CCB, it is a pleasure to inform you, about the proposed Accessible Canada Act. We want to thank Minister Duncan for introducing the act, as well as Minister Qualtrough for the initial steps in the process. This Act has been through the first reading and tabled until fall sitting.
 
Thank you to all of you who attended the consultations held in your communities over the past two years. We as an organization have had representation in meetings with the Ministry of Disabilities, Sports and Science on this act as well. We are pleased with the bill once passed, and any amendments that may come, will ensure that our shared spaces will be more accessible to all, job opportunities will increase and transportation improved.
 
Please read the letter from Government of Canada below for further details.
 
Minister Duncan introduces the proposed Accessible Canada Act.
Most significant progress for people with disabilities in over 30 years
June 20, 2018
Gatineau, Quebec
Employment and Social Development Canada
 
Today, following the most inclusive and accessible consultation with Canadians with disabilities and with the disability community, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, introduced the proposed Accessible Canada Act to Parliament. This historic legislation would enable the Government of Canada to take a proactive approach to end systemic discrimination of people with disabilities.
 
The goal of the legislation is to benefit all Canadians, especially Canadians with disabilities, through the progressive realization of a barrier-free Canada. The act would establish a model to eliminate accessibility barriers and lead to more consistent accessibility in areas under federal jurisdiction across Canada.
The bill outlines how the Government of Canada will require organizations under federal jurisdiction to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility, including in: the built environment (buildings and public spaces); employment (job opportunities and employment policies and practices); information and communication technologies (digital content and technologies used to access it); the procurement of goods and services; the delivery of programs and services; and transportation (by air as well as by rail, ferry and bus carriers that operate across provincial, territorial or international borders).
The Government of Canada is providing funding of approximately $290 million over six years that will further the objectives of the new legislation.
 
The act would strengthen the existing rights and protections for people with disabilities, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act and Canada’s approval of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It will do this through the development, implementation and enforcement of accessibility standards, as well as the monitoring of outcomes in priority areas. These requirements will be enforced by the new powers and enforcement measures needed to ensure compliance, and overall implementation will be monitored. No longer will Canadians with disabilities be expected to fix the system through human rights complaints, instead, new proactive compliance measures will ensure that organizations under federal jurisdiction are held accountable to ensuring accessible practices.
 
As the Government of Canada moves forward with the implementation of the proposed act, continued and meaningful participation by Canadians with disabilities will be crucial towards realizing a barrier-free Canada.
 
The Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) will be Canada’s first-ever standards development organization exclusively dedicated to accessibility issues and will be led by persons with disabilities.
 
In keeping with the objectives of the bill and respecting the Government’s approach to historic and modern treaties, we will also support the work of First Nations leaders and communities to improve accessibility on reserve.
 
While this legislation is a significant first step in ensuring a barrier-free Canada for all Canadians, the Government of Canada will work collaboratively with partners in both the public and private sectors to create opportunities for full participation by people with disabilities in their communities and workplaces, and to help change the way society thinks, talks and acts about disability and accessibility.
 
“Society benefits when all Canadians can fully participate. The proposed accessible Canada act represents the most important federal legislative advancement of disability rights in Canada in over 30 years. Thank you to the many community leaders and advocates who have worked for years and decades to make this happen. With the proposed act now in Parliament, we are one step closer to our goal: to have a truly inclusive and accessible Canada.”
– The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
 
“Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in improving accessibility for all Canadians. As a life-long advocate for disability rights and a person living with a disability myself, I am proud to lead a portfolio tasked with enhancing accessibility in federal buildings and establishing an accessible procurement resource centre. This important work will help ensure the goods and services purchased and offered by the Government of Canada are more accessible for all Canadians.”
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement
 
There will be some very interesting items in this newsletter for everyone to enjoy. Keep safe and enjoy the summer. If anyone is hiking, walking or doing other forms of physical activity over the summer you can submit your experiences to Ryan at CCB Health and Fitness at ccb.healthandfitness@gmail.com.
 
Happy summer
Louise Gillis, National President
Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)
 
 
 

Announcements

Chapter News: CCB Access & Awareness NS Chapter++

Halifax, Nova Scotia
 
On Wednesday, June 6, our Chapter held its’ third annual “White Cane and Dog Guide Walk & Reception”.  While not as warm and humid as last year’s weather, this year was fairly cool and many chilly hands and paws arrived at City Hall following the walk through some of the main streets of downtown Halifax.
The purpose of the walk is to demonstrate to the public the independence, freedom, accessibility and inclusion that our white canes and dog guides provide to us during our daily activities and while travelling throughout our communities. Refreshments were provided following the walk at Halifax City Hall and music was provided by renowned Halifax musician, Maria Alley, whose dulcet tones were the perfect background to our reception. It was the perfect opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. A great time was had by all!
 
Submitted by Pat Gates, Chair, CCB Access & Awareness NS Chapter
 

Advocacy Alert++

Greyhound is turning off the ignition in Western Canada and leaving persons with disabilities on the recent announcement by Greyhound bus lines that they are closing their services to Western Canadians should be of concern to all Canadians and is most concerning to those of us who rely on that service for transportation to and from our daily activities.  This includes those of us who live with vision loss, those of us with various disabilities and those of us who cannot afford our own form of transportation. Reliable transportation is vital to our well-being, in getting from Point A to Point B, for medical appointments, for purchasing the necessities of life as well as for social activities and staying connected with family. We need to let our voices be heard on this issue so that governments will know just how vital this service is to us.
 
Your CCB National Advocacy Committee has this issue on its’ radar and will be discussing what we as blind, partially sighted and deaf/blind Canadians can do to ensure that this important item does not fall to the roadside – pardon the pun!
 
Pat Gates the side of the road, by Albert Ruel
 
 
This is not good news for persons with disabilities and those who opt to function without a Driver’s License.  Below are 3 articles related to the Greyhound Bus closure topic found on CBC News since September 2017.
 
I have been an intercity bus passenger, mostly on Vancouver Island and the BC Interior since August 3, 1978 when I had to relinquish my BC Driver’s License due to failing vision.  Other than periodic flights to some destinations, riding with others who happen to be heading my way, or sometimes recruiting people to facilitate my getting to a chosen destination, I have long relied on Greyhound to get there.  Yes, we have other options now on Vancouver Island, however neither of those other two options offer wheelchair accessible vehicles, nor their schedules often require me to spend additional nights in Hotels due to poor rural service.
 
I live in Parksville and when work keeps me in Victoria beyond 3:00 PM I am not able to get all the way home, necessitating a night in a Hotel.  Also, the earliest I can arrive in Victoria is 12:00 Noon because the first bus out of Parksville doesn’t leave until shortly after 9:00 AM.  I remember in the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s riding on Greyhound busses that were full or nearly full most of the time, and their schedules made sense.  I could leave for Victoria on the 6:30 or 7:00 AM bus, and I could leave Victoria on the 7:45 PM bus and get home to Parksville, and to Port Alberni where I lived then.
 
It’s been my experience that when Greyhound started to cut back on schedules years ago the ridership went down accordingly, to the point that they have become irrelevant to me and many passengers over time.  Also, the cost of a ticket has gone up to the point where many who live on limited incomes find it difficult to take the bus today.
 
I don’t know what the answer is, however it should be well understood that not everyone has a car in the driveway, and our ability to connect with family and our chosen communities has just been curtailed beyond reason for a country as rich and diverse as Canada.  I hope that Provincial and Federal Governments work with affected Canadians to work out solutions that will work for passengers, and that will allow Intercity and transit operators to provide transportation under profitable and sustainable models.
 
Greyhound to end all bus routes in Western Canada except 1 in B.C.
CBC News, the Canadian Press Posted: Jul 09, 2018 2:40 PM ET
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/greyhound-cancellations-albertamanitoba-saskatchewan-british-columbia-1.4739459
 
‘It’s very disappointing’: Greyhound opts to cut some rural B.C. Interior stops.
Courtney Dickson CBC News Posted: Feb 23, 2018 4:14 PM PT
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/greyhound-southern-interior-1.4549732
 
Goodbye Greyhound? The thread stitching together Canada’s North wears thin.
Yvette Brend CBC News: Posted: Sep 01, 2017
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/greyhound-bus-canada-transit-northern-routes-health-bc-1.4270314
 

CCB Chatham-Kent Chapter, in the News++

The new Chatham-Kent chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind is getting out in the community to let people know what they have to offer for folks who have visual impairments. The group set up a booth recently at Retrofest in Chatham and welcome new members to meetings the first Monday of each month.
 
Run by co-chairs Dave Maxwell and David Lachance, the local chapter meets the first Monday of every month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the United Way office on 425 Grand Ave. W. in Chatham.
 
Based on a belief in ability, not disability, the local CCB chapter offers a variety of social and recreational activities based on the interest of its members.
 
The organization also works to improve the quality of life for persons with vision loss through awareness, peer mentoring, socializing, sports, advocacy, health promotion and illness prevention.
 
Locally, the chapter offers a Getting Together with Technology session the second Wednesday of each month at the United Way office from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. The sessions help the blind and people with low vision explore access to new devices such as phones, e-readers, computer software and digital recorders with help from Matt Dierckens, a certified technology instructor.
 
“Our most important focus is the social aspect within the chapter, meaning we are there for support, social gatherings, and just all around socializing within the Chatham-Kent region,” chapter chair Dave Maxwell said in a release. “This may include field trips, barbecues, and our meetings to discuss multiple subjects. The CCB Chatham-Kent chapter is a great place for all those that may be dealing with vision loss or have been visually impaired or blind their whole life, and are looking to get out and meet some new great friends that share the same experiences in life.”
 
The local CCB chapter has a Facebook page under CCB – Chatham-Kent or for questions about the group or becoming a member, contact Maxwell by phone at 519-674-0141 or by e-mail at dmaxwell53@gmail.com.
 

Bowling++

If you enjoy Lawn Bowling and want to know more about Blind Bowls Association of Canada, go to:  www.bbacan.ca
 

A Message from Coach Nitro++

Just wanted to touch base to let you know that our very own British Columbia Blind Golfer from Langley, B.C.  George Thirkill Won the Overall championship at the Western Canadian Blind Golf Championships in Winnipeg last week July 9th to 12th. There were 21 players from all over Canada.  The championship consisted of 2 rounds Stableford matches with 4 divisions. B1 –B2 – B3 & Seniors. The weather was some sun with winds on both days and some rain. The course was very challenging for a Blind golfer but they managed to get some assistance from their guides on some of the tricky holes.  By the way, I was George’s Coach and guide.   George shot a 91 on the first day and a score of 85 on the second day, due to some excellent putting to win by 2 strokes.  The junior winner B3 Keifer Jones 24yrs old from Calgary shot a 75 & 76 to take the Junior division. Keifer is the top blind golfer in the world.  George represents Blind Golf British Columbia and at age 79 is the Top senior golfer in the world.  George along with our other top golfer from British Columbia Darren Douma (member of CCB VIBE Creston Chapter) from Creston, B.C will be heading to Rome, Italy this year to compete in the World Blind matches and Team play competition representing Canada.
 
Gerry Nelson, President of Blind Golf Canada said we are always looking for people that are visually impaired or Blind or Disabled to come out and learn how to golf.  We have a Blind Training facility at the National Golf Academy in Langley at the Tall Timbers Golf Course and can be reached at Nitrogolf@shaw.ca.  There is No Cost for the blind or disabled.
Thank you,
Coach Nitro
 

CCB Membership Reminder++

On behalf of the CCB National Membership committee we would like to remind all chapters to make sure they have updated CCB national office of any Chapter member changes in Address’s, emails and phone numbers.
Please send in the changes so that it can be updated in the system.
 
This will ensure that all CCB chapter members are receiving all the newsletters and information send out from the National office.
 
Thank you,
CCB National Membership Committee.
 

CCB Membership Season++

Hi Everyone!  Becky from the office here.  I thought I would give you the heads up about the upcoming Membership Season dates.  Membership packages will be sent out by the end of August, so Chapter Contacts should be watching for them.  Here are the other dates that are listed in the package.
Early Bird Draw – November 2, 2018
Chapter Rebate Deadline – December 7, 2018
All 2019 Memberships Due – December 28, 2018
White Cane Week Orders Due – January 4, 2019
WCW Insurance Requests Due – January 4, 2019
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
 
 
 

Congratulations and Happy Birthday!++

HARRY  ARPANE, a member of the CCB Windsor/Essex Low Vision Social and Support Group, WILL  CELEBRATE  HIS  100TH  BIRTHDAY  ON  JULY  22ND.  2018. Happy Birthday!
Submitted by Helen Medel – President, CCB Windsor/Essex Low Vision Social and Support Group
 
 

Braille Literacy Canada Honours Darleen Bogart with the BLC President’s Award++

(OTTAWA, ON, June 5, 2018) — Outgoing president Jen Goulden presented the Braille Literacy Canada President’s Award to Darleen Bogart at the BLC Annual General Meeting on May 26th, 2018. Established this year, the award acknowledges individuals who have made a significant contribution to braille literacy. Darleen Bogart is the first recipient of this award.
 
Darleen was instrumental in the founding of Braille Literacy Canada (then known as the Canadian Braille Authority) and served as its first president. She is also the longest-standing member of the board of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) and she represented Canada on the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) from its founding in 1991 until 2012.
 
Darleen played an active role in the development of Unified English Braille (UEB) and has served on numerous braille-related committees and initiatives, both in Canada and around the world. Darleen received the BANA Braille Excellence Award in 2015 and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in June of 2017 to honour her many years of continued leadership and dedication to the braille community.
While her list of accomplishments is lengthy, her most enduring contribution to braille is her unswerving dedication to both the code and to braille readers. Braille Literacy Canada applauds Darleen Bogart for her outstanding contribution to braille both in Canada and internationally.
 

Assistive Technology

 

Get Together with Technology Update++

GTT continues to thrive and grow. New groups are starting up across the country and more blind and vision impaired people are learning how to use technology and discover new devices to support their independence.
 
For more information on GTT, or how to get involved, please contact Kim Kilpatrick at gtt@ccbnational.net
 

CCB Tech Articles: Donna’s Low Tech Tips, Talking

Thermometer++

Hi there!  It’s Donna and today I’d like to talk about the talking thermometer.
Meet the talking thermometer
There used to be a time when dreaming of having a talking thermometer was just that; just a dream!  No more!  This nifty device has been on the market now for several years and you can find them as either stand-alone units or folded into other gadgets.
 
As an example, you may find talking thermometers that also tell you the time.  Mine tells me the time as well as both the indoor and outdoor temperatures.  It tells the time on the hour.
 
Again, it is the best of both worlds.  The advantage of a stand-alone unit may be that there are no other add-ons to it; clock, alarm, time, and so on.  The advantage of having it as part of another gadget is that you get other things with it but if that main gadget breaks or stops working then there goes the thermometer along with it.
 
Almost all talking thermometers will give you the temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celsius versions.
 
So go out there and make friends with the talking thermometer.
 
Want some contact info?
Here are a few places for you to contact if you are interested to learn more.
 
CNIB – toll free = 1800 563 2642
Frontier Computing – toll free = 1-888-480-0000
Or visit http://www.futureaids.ca
You can also call them at 1-800-987-1231
 
There is also no harm in checking out http://www.independentlivingaids.com and http://www.maxiaids.com
 
 

Email Suggestions, Share from KeyWord, Find and replace, Insert a page break and much more.++

July 5, 2018 — HumanWare announces the immediate availability of BrailleNote Touch July update. Among many of the features and enhancements included in this free Update, users will immediately enjoy:
 
The ability to request for email suggestions, a more natural way to write your emails without having to remember the email address and a new efficient way to share your documents to the cloud.
 
The Touch July app updates are now available to download and brings incredible new features and enhancements.
 
 
 

In the News

 

How This Visually Impaired Runner and Guide Dog Find Their Way++

“Win, come. Come. Come close. Good girl,” said Ken Fernald, 52, as he called his guide dog, Winnie, while sitting on his deck in Binghamton, New York.
“She’s outside finding the flowers and biting them. I promised my wife I’d keep a close eye on her while I’m out here so [Winnie] doesn’t destroy all the flowers.”
 
Fernald has been legally blind since he was 8 years old, but he has also been active for most of his life. For many years, he enjoyed road cycling until his vision slowly deteriorated, so he had to adjust by riding with others and avoiding the main roads. Later, the list of safety issues grew, and Fernald switched from biking to running about 12 years ago.
 
As his vision worsened, he transitioned from running solo, to running alongside someone, to then being physically tethered to another runner.
Fernald could manage training on a track fairly well, but he grew tired of running in loops. So he did what he had to do: train a guide dog.
 
That’s how Fernald came upon Winnie, a 2-and-a-half-year-old yellow lab. The two were paired in the Guiding Eyes for the Blind program, a guide dog nonprofit based out of New York.
Winnie was specifically trained to be a runner, and Fernald said Guiding Eyes is the only guide dog school that offers a program for dogs and owners who want to run together. The cost of breeding, training, and matching a guide dog with their owner equates to $50,000, which is all funded through donations at no cost to people with visual disabilities.
 
Fernald lived at the school for three weeks so the Guiding Eyes team could teach the duo how to live and work together. Fernald and Winnie finally graduated from the program in October last year.
 
Not every dog is cut out to be a running guide dog, but if there’s one quality Winnie has, its drive.
 
“[Winnie] is just an exceptional dog,” Fernald told Runner’s World over the phone. “Very bright and very energetic. She basically does everything a guide dog does in a working environment, but just does it a lot faster.”
 
Fernald currently serves as the CEO of the Association for Vision Rehabilitation and Employment (AVRE). Even during his long, back-to-back board and committee meetings, Winnie rests by his side. During breaks, Fernald will take her to an unused office space and throw a ball with her for 30 minutes a day, just to keep her active.
 
“She’s very competitive,” Fernald said. “If there’s someone in front of us, she wants to pass them. If we’re walking with another guide dog, God forbid, she wants to be the first dog.”
 
Fernald and Winnie ran part of the Binghamton Bridge Run Half Marathon on May 6. It was Fernald’s fifth time running the race, but the duo’s first chance running an event together. For the first 10 miles, Fernald ran alongside his future daughter-in-law, Carly (who will marry his son, Michael, in July). When he reached the crest of a hill, close to the 10-mile marker, Winnie was at the top waiting for him with his wife.
“You have to put yourself out there and take the risk. Don’t be afraid.”
It was Winnie’s first event, so amid all the crowd excitement, she took off, Fernald almost unable to keep up with her (though eventually they slowed into a comfortable pace). As they neared the finish line, Winnie sensed the communal adrenaline and picked up speed. Fernald, Carly, and Winnie completed the race in 2:14:07.
 
Fernald said many people have misconceptions about those with impaired vision, one of which being that guide dogs always know how to get to their destination, and the owner is just along for the ride. Fernald clarified that he knows where he’s going, knows when it’s safe to cross the street, and so forth, but Winnie is the one who guides him around people and obstacles to get there safely.
 
Next on Fernald’s list is to do part of a 10-miler or another half with Winnie in the fall. He’s completed the Army Ten Miler several times over the years, but because of the swell of participants (last year saw almost 26,000 runners), Fernald’s not sure Winnie would be able to handle the crowd. In the meantime, the two pals are just going to keep running.
Visually impaired or not, runner or not, Fernald just wants people to pursue a healthy lifestyle.
 
“If someone is visually impaired specifically, and they want to become active, it can be challenging,” Fernald said. “You just can’t curl up on a couch and fear life. You have to put yourself out there and take the risk.
Don’t be afraid.”
By McGee Nall
 

Blind community says bike lanes put their lives at risk. Visually impaired Victorians say the City knew of problems, built bike lanes anyway ++

Members of Victoria’s visually-impaired community have come forward with safety concerns about the Pandora bike lanes.
The biggest problem surrounds the bus stops along Pandora Avenue, which are stationed on meridians across from the bike lanes. While raised crosswalks are in place, there is no way for those with visual impairment to know when they can cross.
 
“I was standing on the bus stop island, waiting and waiting and thought ‘OK, it must be alright to go’ and I stepped out and a bike passed right in front of me,” said Linda Bartram, chair of the City of Victoria’s Accessibility Working Group, a volunteer group that aims to make policies, services, infrastructure and facilities more accessible.
 
“I don’t hear the bikes until they’re literally in front of me.”
Bartram, who is visually impaired, was using the crosswalk as part of a demonstration to Brad Dellebuur, manager of transportation and infrastructure design at the City of Victoria. During the demonstration, Bartram and a partially sighted friend tried crossing both directions, and used both a guide dog and a white cane to test how people would react. Bartram said with her dog, she waited long enough that she could hear her bus passing.
 
“If I had actually wanted to catch it, I would have missed it,” she said.
When she used her cane, she eventually heard a cyclist joke that they were “at a standoff,” because he had stopped but didn’t know to tell her to go.
Bartram said the demonstration came into fruition after the lanes were already being constructed, because the Accessibility Working Group wasn’t formed until after planning decisions for the Pandora bike lanes had been made.
“We were only asked to comment on the bike lane accessibility to the bus stops, and as a blind person I couldn’t ascertain that it would be in the middle of the road,” she said. “We’ve been told it’s too late to do much about it in terms of changing things; but obviously this group feels something does need to be done.”
 
Brad Dellabuur said that after he saw the demonstration, he realized there was a problem. “We came to the conclusion that we need to put some additional markings, which we’ve incorporated in Fort Street at mid-block crosswalks,” he said. “It’s just some additional information for cyclists that there is a legal requirement to stop.”
 
The additional “crossing ahead” signs are intended to warn cyclists that pedestrians may be ahead, and while they have been incorporated onto Fort Street, they have yet to be placed on Pandora Avenue.
 
Bartram said the additional signage would help, but that an ideal solution would be some kind of auditory signal that the visually impaired could use.
 
The difficulty spurred the Canadian Federation of the Blind to come forward with a complaint against the City with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. Oriano Belusic, vice-president of the federation, said the City’s actions have put blind peoples’ lives in danger. “It’s like playing Russian roulette,” Belusic said. “Without eye contact, you really don’t know if you’re gonna get whacked by a bike.” Belusic said his friend had his cane run over several times, and that he had personally encountered many near-misses.
“If you have a close call experience with a guide dog it could easily ruin their confidence to work, if they survive.”
 
In their claim, the Canadian Federation of the Blind is asking that the city tear up the floating bus islands, and allow busses to pick up riders from the safety of the sidewalk, noting that more signage does not do enough.
“In order for it to be safe, both parties need to be active in that safety,” Belusic said. “If I put my safety solely in the cyclist’s hands, that’s not good enough, it puts my life and my dog’s life at risk.”
 
By NICOLE CRESCENZI
 
 
 
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