Need’s Report on Accessible Technology

Please find below the CCB’s Needs Report on Accessible Technology for your review. Special thanks to the 453 respondents from across Canada who took the time to reply to the survey. The results and recommendations, as presented in the final report, are  already having a huge impact on the Governments mindset and will impact on future decisions on legislation effecting Canadians with vision loss. Please forward your comments to CCB National at Once again thank you for your participation.

Needs Report – PDF

A woman uses her laptop while wearing headphones that are plugged into it.  Her cell phone sits close by.

Canada’s Largest Private Funder of Vision Research Calls for National Strategy to Tackle Emerging Vision Health Care Crisis


Fighting Blindness Canada 

Apr 25, 2019, 11:10 ET

Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC) is warning that Canada is facing an emerging vision health care crisis that, if not addressed, will see the number of people living with blindness double by 2031.

Blindness is the most feared disability amongst Canadians. In addition to the 1.5 million people living with vision loss today, over 5.59 million Canadians live with eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, which put them at serious risk of going blind.

Vision Loss in Canada and Fighting Blindness Canada (CNW Group/Fighting Blindness Canada)

Fighting Blindness Canada called for a national vision health strategy that entails: a national public health campaign for vision loss prevention; better access to existing vision-related medications and treatments; greater access to emerging treatments such as gene therapy, stem cell therapy, and pharmaceuticals; increased research funding to advance science into clinical trails; access to genetic testing; and the creation of a national talent plan to address the decreasing number of ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, and other eye professionals.

FBC unveiled its call for a national strategy in Vancouver, where the organization, formerly known as Foundation Fighting Blindness, also launched its new name and expanded mandate.

“We are changing our name to Fighting Blindness Canada to reflect our mission to accelerate the development and availability of treatments and cures for all blinding eye diseases,” said Doug Earle, President and CEO. “Throughout our 45-year history, research has always been our focus. All the research we fund supports our goal of understanding why vision loss occurs, how it can be slowed or stopped, and how sight can be restored.”

While in Vancouver, FBC and FBC-funded researchers will showcase the latest information about sight-saving research and emerging treatments for blinding eye diseases at several events for the public and scientific community.

About Fighting Blindness Canada

Fighting Blindness Canada Logo

Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC) is the largest private funder of vision research in Canada. FBC has contributed over $40 million to the search for sight-saving cures and treatments for blinding eye diseases. With the support of its generous donors, FBC has funded over 200 research grants that have led to over 600 discoveries such as stem cell research, neuroprotective therapies, technological developments, pharmaceuticals and gene therapies. Visit or call 1.800.461.3331 to learn more.

SOURCE Fighting Blindness Canada

For further information: Greg Descantes, 604-646-3564,; Bryn Turnbull, Communications Officer, Fighting Blindness Canada, 416-669-4476,

Iluvien Survey for Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

On behalf of the International Federation on Ageing (IFA), in partnership with the Canadian Council of the Blind, Diabetes Canada and the Canadian Association for Retired Persons, your feedback is requested if you are a person living with Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) or a caregiver for a person living with DME.

The purpose of the survey is to gather vital information to populate a Patient Input Template to the Common Drug Review (CDR) for Iluvien (fluocinolone acetonide intravitreal implant), a medication recently approved by Health Canada.  CDR is empowered to recommend to provincial and territorial governments whether Iluvien should be publicly funded for DME patients.

Please click to begin the survey.

You do not need to have taken Iluvien to respond to this survey.  It should take only about 15 minutes to complete.  Your input is vital to this process and to helping to ensure access to this treatment.
Your responses will NOT be personally identified.  All responses will be anonymously summarized as part of the overall submission to CDR.  This survey will close on Friday, April 19, 2019

On behalf of the IFA and our partner organizations, thank you in advance for your engagement.  If you have any questions about this survey, please contact Dr. Jane Barratt at

WBU Position Statement on Accessible Air Travel

The interior of a plane full of people boarding

On March 28, 2019, the WBU published and distributed a position statement to member organizations on accessible air travel. The statement can be found by following this link:

With this statement the WBU acknowledges the status of Canada within the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

During the period 2016-2019, Canada holds a Council position in the ICAO, and according to ICAO, Canada is considered as having a chief importance in international air travel. Thus, WBU assess that Canadian parties are having greater opportunities to influence the agendas and issues raised in ICAO. Henceforward, it is our perception that your advocacy efforts may yield leverage effects in our global endeavor to lobby ICAO on the three areas raised in the position statement. The issues raised in the WBU statement are not exhaustive albeit form good grounds for advocacy in 2019.

The Canadian Council of the Blind Applauds the Federal Government’s Support of Canadians with Sight Loss

Federal Budget 2019:

The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) is emboldened by the announcement of several measures in the 2019 Federal Budget that will greatly benefit Canada’s sight loss community.

A 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability, undertaken by Statistics Canada for Canadians 15 years of age and over, showed that 756,300 Canadians had “seeing disabilities.” In their more recent 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, this number increased by over 100% (1,519,840 Canadians with a “seeing disability”). These numbers reflect the scope of the problem – now exacerbated by an ever-aging population – which is why the measures announced in Budget 2019 are so important.

First, to address the challenges faced by Canadians with vision loss and print disabilities, we are pleased to see that Budget 2019 proposes to provide the Centre for Equitable Library Access with an investment of $3.0 million in 2019–20 to produce new accessible reading materials that will be available through public libraries across Canada. While this is a one-year allotment (hopefully to increase in the future), it is a good start for an initiative that is greatly appreciated by the sight loss and print disabilities community.  

A pair of  black rimmed glasses held in front of a book, bringing the words into focus.

Second, the CCB supports and commends the government’s Budget proposal to invest $22.8 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, to provide Canada’s independent book publishing industry a much-needed assist in increasing their production of accessible books for persons with print disabilities. We will be waiting, with great anticipation, for materials provided to persons with print disabilities to exceed the 10% of books currently made available in accessible format.  

Third, in support of independence of persons with disabilities, Budget 2019 also proposes to invest $0.5 million in 2019–20 towards finding ways to improve the accessibility of electronic payment terminals to enable persons with disabilities to conduct daily activities, such as paying for their groceries, without relying on others. Providing this type of accessibility with swift action on implementation will receive strong support from peoples with disabilities. 

Fourth, the CCB is also pleased to see the mention of drug costs – which also affects many in our community. The budget included a section on pharmacare, with several announcements, including the introduction of the Canadian Drug Agency to improve prices and lower the cost of prescription drugs for Canadians by up to $3 billion per year in the long-term.

And finally, most notably to the CCB, the government is committed to improving employment opportunities for persons with sight loss. To this end, Budget 2019 proposes to provide $1.0 million in the next fiscal year to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to connect persons with vision loss to small- and medium-sized employers. The CCB sees this as a top priority. With chronic unemployment in the sight loss community (according to our recent survey), the CCB looks forward to reviewing the plans, confirming what will be covered, and getting a handle on where people will find work. The CCB is looking forward to working with the government and stakeholders, in this first of many steps required, to put Canadians with vision loss on an equal footing with their fellow Canadians.

Employment is a top concern for the low-vision community in Canada. For this reason, the CCB has recently completed a national “Survey on Accessibility and Assistive Technology” to help Canadians with vision loss participate in the workforce. Over 450 members of Canada’s vision loss community participated in the survey. The CCB looks forward to sharing the results of this survey with its federal government partners in this initiative.

A portrait of Minister Carla Qualtrough
Minister Carla Qualtrough

The CCB would like to extend its deepest gratitude to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Carla Qualtrough, a true champion for Canadians with disabilities. The CCB offers its full support to Minister Qualtrough and looks forward to working to implement her broad vision for improving the lives of Canadians with sight loss and ensuring that this Budget 2019, when passed, contains these all-important measures.

Louise Gillis Signature

Louise Gillis

National President

Canadian Council of the Blind

For more information, contact Becky Goodwin at CCB National: or 613-567-0311.

Happy International Women’s Day from the WBU

The World Blind Union Logo

04 March 2019

RE: World Blind Union statement on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2019

The World Blind Union joins the United Nations to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2019. The theme this year is Think equal, build smart, innovate for change. It focuses on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. Hence it is a day to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, including women with visual disabilities.

Generally, blind and partially sighted women and girls experience multiple forms of discrimination, which infringe on their basic human rights and empowerment.  Due to the intersections of discrimination based on gender and disability, blind and partially sighted women are at a higher risk of neglect, gender-based violence and exploitation.

The latest data shows that 55% of the world’s visually impaired are women (139 million). States must address the unique needs of blind and partially sighted women to ensure equal participation and access to education, innovation and technology opportunities, employment, rehabilitation, among other basic rights.

According to Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) states parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Furthermore, gender inequality continues to hold women back and deprives them of basic rights and opportunities as per Sustainable Development Goal 5. This Goal states that empowering women requires addressing structural issues such as unfair social norms and attitudes as well as developing progressive legal frameworks that promote equality between women and men. The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality, innovation and the empowerment of all women and girls.

The World Blind Union, therefore, reminds states to fulfil their obligations by protecting and respecting the rights of women, particularly blind and partially sighted women. As we commemorate International Women’s Day, we appeal to states, UN agencies, development partners and civil society to mainstream the rights of women with disabilities in their development plans, programs and policies. We urge governments to end all forms of discrimination against women with disabilities and put in place necessary provisions to promote gender equality and other fundamental rights of all women.

It is vital that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.


The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at

For further information, please contact:

Terry Mutuku

Communications Officer, World Blind Union ​​

Survey Deadline EXTENDED!

CCB Survey on Accessibility and Assistive Technology

You now have until MARCH 18th to finish the survey!

As you know, the employment rate of Canadians who are blind, partially-sighted, and deaf-blind is very low, and the cost of assistive and accessible technology is very high. Given these facts, the CCB is endeavouring to better understand your thoughts, experiences, and goals in these matters so that we may advocate for you more effectively. We want to work with you towards a future with a higher employment rate for those with vision loss as well as increased accessibility and independence. 

Our goal is to eliminate or minimize the barriers limiting those with vision loss from acquiring the education of their choice and from entering and thriving in today’s workforce. So help us help you and submit the survey below!

Tell us about your circumstances. Where you are and where do you want to go? We want to help you get there.



Please invest the 8 to 10 minutes it will take to complete the above survey by March 18, 2019. With the accumulated information you will provide, we will be able to better understand the present status of Canadians with vision loss and to act accordingly. Thank you in advance for your participation.

All the best,

Louise Gillis' signature

Louise Gillis

National President

Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)

In Memorium – John Rempel

The Canadian Council of the Blind is sad to inform you about the passing of Mr. John Rempel on January 17th.  Please see the letter below from the National Board of Directors about John.

I think of John on a regular basis.  If it was not for John I would not be here, and most likely neither would the Council.  His dedication and belief in the council assisted and encouraged the members to work together for the benefit of the community.

John’s leadership helped steer us through some very difficult and challenging periods for the Council.  His Strong leadership, knowledge, commitment, and ability helped bring the council together.

Since 1975 John has been active in the Council at Chapter, Divisional, and National levels. John’s involvement with the CCB began in the Saskatoon White Cane Club, where he served as President for seven years.  He then moved on to serve the Division for another six years becoming Division President for his last two years.  In 1998 he became National President, and spent the following six years directing and building programs to create a better Council.

What I see as one of John’s best moments was during the 2006 Convention where he brought together the members allowing them to pass the bylaws they were working on at that time. We all owe him a strong debt of gratitude for all he has done for the Council. 

John always put the Council first before his own interests. He maintained a great interest even after his retirement which I really recognized when I visited him in his home when I last was in Saskatchewan. From 1998 when he became President and Past President until 2010, and even beyond, he worked through his times of pain to keep this organization alive so we could one day be the beneficiaries of his unselfish efforts and his work ethic which taught us the true value of always reaching for more. John was a soft spoken man of great wisdom and when needed he sure he got his point across for the betterment of the Council.

Selma, I want to thank you for your continued support through all these years as you not only assisted John in many ways but you also assisted any board member needing help at the meetings plus many more things that we are not even aware. Please take care of yourself and thank you for sharing John with us who helped to make us stronger leaders in the Council.\

Louise Gillis, Jim Tokos, Jim Prowse and the Members of the National Board of Directors.

United Nations General Assembly adopted the World Blind Union’s World Braille Day.

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 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

“In United States braille has come to be recognised 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:

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, 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”.