On October 29 2016, a group of advocates from the blind and visually
impaired community in collaboration with some organizations of the blind
will be holding a tele town hall titled “let’s get it out there.”
A title that was derived through the creative imagination of one of our very
own; Irene Lambert of Montreal.
Time: 1:00 pm Eastern
10:00 am Pacific
11:00 am Mountain
2:00 pm Atlantic
2:30 in Newfoundland
This town hall meeting is being jointly sponsored by the following:
Individuals – Richard Marion, Robin East, Anthony Tibbs, Donna Jodhan.
Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB),
Citizens with Disabilities of Ontario (CWDO),
Getting together with technology (GTT).
The objective of this tele town hall is to give participants an opportunity
to voice their opinions and suggestions in a meaningful and constructive way
on how we as a community can become a stronger voice for consumer advocacy.
What can we do in order to move forward in a positive way.
This tele town hall is not meant to be used as any sort of decision making
mechanism but rather as an open forum for constructive discussion.
Meet our panelists!
Richard Marion, Anthony Tibbs, Melanie Marsden, Albert Ruel, Paul Edwards.
Our moderator is Jane Blaine.
You can read more about our team in the section following this one.
We have prepared a short list of questions which you can use to help you to
spark and formulate your ideas and this is pasted at the end of this email.
If you wish to participate then you may send an email to us at
You will receive a confirmation of receipt.
During the week of Oct 24 you will receive an email with details of the call
in info along with the rules of engagement.
Registration will close at noon Eastern on Oct 26.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Introducing our team!
Meet Richard Marion! (co-sponsor and panelist)
Currently Richard Marion is living in Vancouver British Columbia.
Richard has been involved in advocacy for most of his adult life so far.
He first expressed interest in working on issues concerning people with
disabilities as a student in college when he got involved with the
provincial affiliate of National Educational Association of Disabled
Students. From this point he was hooked and continued working on issues
concerning people with disabilities until now. Over the years, he has
taken a more specific interest in the blind consumer movement in Canada
and has been an active member of Alliance for Equality of Blind
Canadians and served as the organization’s president in 1998 when it was
still known as NFB:AE. Over the years Richard has also been involved in
a number of advisory processes including sitting on CNIB advisory
committees and currently chairing the TransLINK Access Transit User’s
Meet Robin East! (co-sponsor)
Robin East has a Bachelor Degree in Social Work, a Certificate In
Rehabilitation Personal Development, and Professional International
certificates in Adaptive Technologies and Accessibility Guidelines. He has
worked as a Teacher Associate, a Behavioural Therapist, and finally, an
Officer with the Federal Public Service. Add to this volunteer work with
the Community, the Union, the Province of Saskatchewan, a number of national
charitable advocacy organizations, as well as local accessibility and
advocacy organizations.”An advocate is like a catalyst that mixes with an
ally and inspires empowerment” is a coined phrase of Robin’s. He believes
in working with ally’s to overcome barriers and address common issues. He
has been involved in advocacy since the early 80’s and continues to be a
strong leader in which ever role he takes on.
Meet Anthony Tibbs! (co-sponsor and panelist)
Anthony Tibbs has more than six years of experience on the national
board of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians as treasurer and
then president, and has served on a number of other boards over the year
as well (including Guide Dog Users of Canada). With a business and law
background, Mr. Tibbs’ day to day job is as a litigation lawyer (civil,
class action, human rights, administrative law), but he continues to
support the charitable and not-for-profit organizations that play such
an important role to the community.
Meet Donna Jodhan! (co-sponsor and coordinator)
Donna is a past president and second vice president of the Alliance for
Equality of Blind Canadians. She is also a past communications director of
Canadian Blind Sports Association and she is the founder of Barrier Free
Canada – Canada sans Barrières.
Donna is an entrepreneur, blogger, author, audio mystery writer, ongoing
advocate, and law student. She firmly believes that whatever we do today
will affect our kids of the future and that they are the ones that we need
to protect, assist, and nurture.
Meet Albert A. Ruel! (panelist)
Albert has found his passion in the field of access technology for people
who are blind or partially sighted. He has enjoyed a 22 year career in the
not-for-profit rehabilitation, technology training and advocacy sectors for
people with vision impairments. He holds a Social Service Worker
Certificate and is passionate about helping people connect with their needs.
Most importantly, Albert is solution-focused, flexible, has a positive
attitude and has a great sense of humour.
Meet Melanie Marsden! (panelist)
Melanie Marsden has been an advocate for over 30 plus years.
Part of this journey started while working on her social work degree at
Carleton University in 1989 While rasing two boys she completed her degree
Personally and professionally Melanie advocates for safe effective
Any events that are planned are planned from a best practices cross
disability antiopression framework.
“When we all work together ecknowledging each person has a voice we
Melanie enjoys assisting others whenever she can and connecting folks to
one another when appropriate.
Meet Paul Edwards! (panelist)
And in his own words:
I was born in San Francisco California and was one of the early users of an
incubator after being very premature. I was left with a little light
perception which soon went away. At the age of seven I moved to Calgary
Alberta Canada and went to school in Vancouver, British Columbia. At
thirteen, my mother decided we were moving to Jamaica and I stayed there
till I was 21. I graduated from high school sort of and completed my
Bachelor’s SPECIAL Honors degree in History at the Mona Jamaica campus of
the University of the West Indies. I was the first blind student to go there
and ended up in Trinidad because I wanted to do a graduate degree in
international relations which I successfully completed.
I met my first wife there and married during my degree and so was faced with
the need to find a way to support her and my first daughter who was pretty
quickly on the way after our marriage. I taught at a small school in the
rural area of Trinidad partly because there was no other job and partly
because I was not sure if I could really teach. I really enjoyed that first
year because all the girls I taught really wanted to learn. Yes, it was a
girls’ school. I was not making disparaging remarks about boys!
After one year I became the senior history master at Trinity College, the
leading Anglican School for Boys in Trinidad and Tobago. Near the end of my
teaching career, I got a graduate degree in Education from the University of
the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad.
When I left Trinidad ten years later I had three children: two girls and a
boy. I moved to Florida where I went to work for the Division of Blind
Services as a rehabilitation teacher. In this job, I went to people’s homes
and taught them skills that would enable them to adjust to visual
impairment. After three years of this, I became a Rehabilitation Counselor
and worked mostly with high school and college students. In 1983, I moved to
Jacksonville to take over as Executive Director of an agency serving blind
people there. In 1986, I moved to Miami as Director of Services to Students
with Disabilities on the North Campus of Miami Dade College, the largest two
year college in the United States. On my campus we served over seven hundred
disabled students a year. I retired from that job in May of 2012.
While I certainly regard my working life as rich and varied, I have derived
much more pleasure from the work I have done as a volunteer and advocate. I
have worked at the local level, at the state level and at the national level
to try to make things better for people who are blind. I currently serve on
the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind, the National Accreditation
Council Board and hold several positions within the American Council and its
Florida Affiliate. I have worked particularly on library issues, promoting
braille and changing laws.
I absolutely believe that I have been given as much by the people I have
tried to help as I have given them. Until I became associated with ACB, I
saw myself as an inferior creature desperately trying to compete in a world
where I could never do quite enough to be accepted. What the blindness
movement taught me is that the only person I have to satisfy is me. That may
sound arrogant and overbearing but that is not how it is intended. I set
high standards for myself and if I can meet them I am likely to meet the
standards of others. I no longer worry about being accepted by society. I
have rights and I will fight to see they are protected. Society does not
need to accept me but they do need to include me. I am proud to be a person
who is blind. I am proud of what I accomplish every day in spite of the
barriers that are there. More than that, I am proud of what every blind
person everywhere accomplishes every day. It isn’t easy to be blind and
anybody who says it is or who suggests that it’s a walk in the park does not
live in the same world I do!
I enjoy modern folk music, fantasy and science fiction and hope that, in
due course, I will find some time to write. The one thing you can be sure I
will not write is an autobiography. My three children are now grown up and I
have ten grandchildren which is quite enough to keep me occupied and young.
I still have a lot to do and many places where I think I can help. I have
had a good life and only wish I had not been quite so busy. When you don’t
make time to smell the roses, they have often faded before you can enjoy
Meet Jane Blaine! (moderator)
Jane has been involved in programming and administration of blind sport and
para sport for over 30 years. Professionally she is the Executive Director
of BC Blind Sports and Recreation Association and also acts as the CEO of
Canadian Blind Sports. Current interests of Jane’s include the development
of a long term athlete/participant pathway showing how individuals who are
blind or visually impaired enter physical activity and become physically
literate, and move through the stages of long term athlete and participant
development, as well as supporting the research into development of sport
specific classification systems for athletes who are blind. Jane is also
interested in the progress on development of a Canadians with a Disability
Jane facilitated a previous session for AEBC and looks forward to
facilitating this upcoming session.
Questions for consideration
1. In order to ensure that people who are blind, Partially Sighted or
deaf/blind continue to have a strong voice in Canada,
What do you think the national consumer movement should look like in the
2. Canada is a small country in population. However, it is geographically quite large. would it be better in Canada to ensure that on a national level there is 1 organization of the blind working on projects and advocacy to help strengthen community activities provincially and locally?
3. National, Provincial and local organizations have tried working in coalitions. Are you aware of any activities that these coalitions have done?
Would you support a more formal working relationship between the existing
national organizations of the blind?
4. “Why do you think the blindness community is so fragmented in its
approach to advocacy and community activities?”