++White Cane Week 2016: Get ready for another fun and exciting awareness week from February 7 to 13. 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!
++2016 AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship: Our annual Blind and Vision Impaired Championship will again be held at the Ottawa Curling Club. We wish all the participants Good Curling!
++CANADA’S BLIND AND VISION IMPAIRED COMMUNITY HAS LOST ONE OF ITS TRUE STATESMEN
HAROLD SCHNELLERT: LEADER-ADVOCATE-MENTOR
1944 – 2016
It is with great sadness that I write these words to announce the passing of Harold Schnellert, Past President of the Canadian Council of the Blind. Harold has been a friend, a confident, and a mentor for me since I first met him many years ago. He was more than well deserving of his recognition of the 2014 “Person of the Year Award”.
He devoted his entire working life to improving the lives of Canadians with vision loss in one way or another.
Words cannot express how truly grateful I am for Harold guiding me through both the good times and those that were more difficult. He was always there for me. Harold has been dedicated to his work with CCB for over 20 years ensuring that the Council will continue to grow and develop well into the future.
Harold was a great supporter of Canadians with disabilities. As the CCB President, his leadership and efforts helped bring the issues of disability and accessibility more to the forefront of the Canadian social agenda.
As a knowledgeable, caring, diligent and sensitive individual Harold gave to the Council endless years of full time volunteerism. He was a good and loyal friend who was truly devoted to his work and we can only thank Wendie and his family for sharing him with us.
Born and raised near Steinbach, Manitoba, where he attended a one-room country school to grade eight then Harold completed high school at the Ontario School for the Blind in Brantford. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Social Work Degree at the University of Regina, and receive Non-profit and Volunteer Management Certificates in Edmonton.
His work experience included both profit and non-profit management positions as well as working in various group homes for adults with disabilities. He had Alberta CCB Chapter and Division involvement for over twenty years in many positions as well as Director on the National Board. He was National President of the organization from 2004 to 2010.
While President of CCB, Harold was a visionary leader and a hard-working advocate for Canadians who are visually impaired. During his time as President, Harold reinvigorated and motivated the organization, moving it into the 21st century and setting the stage where it thrives today.
Harold worked with the CCB board and members to launch new programs and marketing initiatives, as well as to better support
Canadians who are visually impaired and increase public awareness of both vision-related issues and the CCB.
When considering his achievements in the blind and vision impaired community Harold’s legacy and what he may best want to be remembered for were his efforts and dogged determination in “changing what it means to be blind” in Canada. Efforts that remain mainstream CCB to this day.
The Past President galvanized his vision for CCB as a dynamic and accessible national network of people and agencies providing support and services to Canadians who are visually impaired. Harold made sure people with vision challenges were connected to their communities and the world. He revitalized and placed a new emphasis on White Cane Week at the same time expanding programs such as the education bursary and a computer-training program that was successful in training hundreds of people from across the country who were blind.
As we celebrate the life of Harold Schnellert our sympathies once again go out to his loving wife, Wendie, and his family. Harold’s passing leaves a void in our community that will not be easily filled.
On behalf of all Canadians we thank him for his service to those people who are blind and vision impaired. In Harold we have lost a true statesman. A leader, an advocate, a mentor and thus it can be said that for this, for his many contributions and for his life lived
Harold will not be forgotten.
By Louise Gillis
CCB National President
++Get Together with Technology (GTT):
GTT Nanaimo Meeting Invitation, February 4, 2016
Where: The 710 Club, 285 Prideaux Street, Nanaimo BC;
When: Thursday, February 4, 2016
Time: 1:00 until 3:00 PM
Agenda for the first hour:
- We will work on recommending ways of accessing audio books from the iPhone, as well as other helpful hints about useful services offered by iDevices generally.
- Albert will provide another demo of the new OrCam OCR device,
- Hugh and Aedan will demonstrate two types of iPhone/iPad stands that facilitate the use of the K NFB Reader app for scanning text.
- Albert will report on the Barrier Free BC/Canada initiative intended to work toward the enactment of a British Columbians with Disabilities and Canadians with Disabilities Acts.
The second hour is for you to bring up technology issues you need answered, so bring along your devices and ask for support and guidance.
To RSVP, please call Albert Ruel at
1-877-304-0968 Ext. 550
email at GTTWest@CCBNational.net, or Donna Hudon at
GTT Victoria Meeting Invitation, February 3, 2016
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Community Room, GVPL, Central Branch
735 Broughton Street
- Games People Play on their smart phones and computers: Eadan Staddon from Nanaimo, and Albert Ruel will attend the meeting to tell us about the very large number of available games ranging from the simple to the complicated.
- Music Apps for smart phones and the computer: Tom Dekker will demonstrate how he accesses music from all over the world.
- Open Forum
And of course, during the second hour, there will be plenty of opportunity for networking and to find someone that can assist you with any devices you may care to bring along. Hope to see you on Wednesday!
To RSVP, please call Tom Dekker at,
Or by email at,
GTT Vancouver Meeting Invitation, February 10, 2016
People who are blind or partially sighted of all ages are invited to this month’s GTT where we will learn what iCloud is, how to use it and the accessibility features built-in.
Who Should Attend?
– People who have, or plan to have an iPhone, iPad or iPod
– People who want assistance with other assistive technology like Mac and PC computers, talking book machines etc.
Time: Wednesday, February 10, 10AM to 12Noon
Location: Blind Beginnings Office, 227 6th Street, New Westminster
Transit Directions: Catch the 106 from New Westminster Skytrain Station and get off at 3rd Ave. and 6th St. If you would like to be met at the bus stop for the short walk into the office, call 604-434-7243.
During the first hour we will learn how to use iCloud to back up our iDevices, why it’s important and how it integrates with your PC. The second half of the meeting will include an opportunity to seek tech advice from those with more knowledge. Please bring the device you want assistance with.
If you plan to attend please RSVP no later than Tuesday February 2 by Emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-434-7243.
++New Book Announcement: Charles Mossop, great friend and supporter of CCB, is pleased to announce the release of his latest novel The Golden Phoenix. Like his two previous novels, it is historical fiction, moving from seventeenth century India and eighteenth century Siam, China and England to the present. As is his customary style, the historical thread is interwoven with a present day story which draws the plot together at the end. The protagonist, searching for a semi-legendary objet d’art reputedly of enormous value, becomes unwittingly involved in a dangerous, multimillion-dollar, scheme launched by her client, a wealthy Hong Kong business tycoon. If you’re interested in knowing more, or reading the book, please visit Charles’ page at:
CCB is also extremely pleased to present the 2016 Person of the Year Award to Charles Mossop. Congratulations!
++Nova Scotia Health Authority (Central Zone) Diversity Bursary: Deadline February 5, 2016
The Nova Scotia Health Authority (Central Zone) is taking steps to create a more diverse workforce that better represents the communities we serve.
Post-secondary students who identify as African Nova Scotian, Aboriginal, immigrant or a person with a disability are invited to apply for a diversity bursary. Students must be:
- Continuing studies in a health profession
- Attending a Canadian post-secondary institution that is recognized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
- A resident of Halifax Regional Municipality or West Hants with an intention to practice in the area.
*Applications are available at *
For more information please contact Anna Jacobs,
Applications will be evaluated by Community Health Boards on a number of factors including: community involvement, financial need, educational goals and field of study in health care.
++KELOWNA BLIND CURLERS HOST ANNUAL BONSPIEL: The Kelowna Blind Curling Chapter of the CCB hosted the annual provincial blind curling bonspiel from January 8-10th, 2016. The welcome mat was rolled out for teams from Vancouver, Prince George, 100 Mile House and the host Kelowna team. Volunteers from the host committee have spent the last several months to insure that all visitors had a good time in Kelowna and the bonspiel ran smoothly. We wish to salute all of those people that gave of their time from our volunteer drivers, people that helped to serve the meals and the officials at the rink that supervised the games. This spiel could not happen without their participation. Of course, we further wish to express thanks to our sponsors: CCB Yukon Division, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Remedies RX, Costco and independent Grocers for their sponsorship of the event.
The opening ceremonies were highlighted by a moment of silence for Jim Harris, a member of the Kelowna Blind Curling Club. Jim was an active member of our group. Learning of his passing the day prior to the start of the spiel was extremely sad and we will miss Jim’s contribution to our Club.
Kelowna won the event and will represent BC at the 2017 AMI Canadian visually impaired championships in Ottawa. The second place team was Vancouver and they will take one of the 2 spots at the Western Blind Bonspiel from February 24-28th, 2016 in Lanigan Saskatchewan. The third place team was 100 Mile House and they passed on the second spot for the Westerns and offered it to Prince George. We wish all of this team the best of luck in their respective bonspiels. Good luck to the 100 Mile House team this coming February at the 2016 AMI Canadian Visually Impaired Championships.
SUBMITED BY: Bill Mah, Kelowna blind curlers
++Outreach project: The International Disability Alliance is launching an outreach survey in partnership with the World Health Organization. The Canadian Council of the Blind, as a member of the World Blind Union, is also part of the International Disability Alliance. Your participation would be invaluable in this project which we see as a critical step towards the universal realization of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
The objective is to create a Priority Assistive Products List.
Your support will be critical. The aim is to have a large representative sample of users and potential users of assistive products, as well as their family members and organizations, to complete this survey. This data will then be used as an advocacy tool and guide for governments in prioritizing access to assistive products for their populations, contributing to their implementation of the UN CRPD.
The survey can be completed through this online portal:
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you very much for your time and we look forward to your participation in the survey.
Communications Assistant, International Disability Alliance
205 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017
++New Service to Access Information on Prescription Medication Labels Dispensed by Shoppers Drug Mart in Ontario:
Reading or understanding the contents and instructions of labels on prescription medications is a source of problems and frustration for many people, particularly for persons who are blind and others who have difficulty reading print material. The small print and look-alike packaging of medicine vials can lead to confusion, non-compliance, and mistakes. A solution to this serious issue, the ScripTalk Station prescription reading device, developed by EnVision America, is now available at Shoppers Drug Marts in Ontario.
The ScripTalk works by simply pressing a button on the device and placing the special talking label over the reader, which then speaks all the information printed on the label including drug name, dosage & instructions; warnings and contraindications; pharmacy information; doctor name; prescription number and date; warnings etc. More information on the ScripTalk technology can be found at ScripTalk | En-Vision America – Assistive Technology for the Blind and Low-vision Community. You can also view an overview video of the ScripTalk for Pharmacies on YouTube and an overview video of the ScripTalk system for customers on YouTube.
The first step to obtain a ScripTalk prescription reader is to contact your Shoppers Drug Mart owner/pharmacist who is responsible for initiating the process. Information on the ScripTalk was sent, a while ago, to all Shoppers Drug Mart stores in Ontario. Customers who are blind should discuss their needs with their pharmacist, who can then contact their field support teams with any inquiries regarding available options.
Once you have decided to get the ScripTalk reader, you will be asked to sign a program registration document required by EnVision America, who will then send a reader directly to you. There is no cost to the customer who is blind.
There is, at present, a 48 hour lag time between requesting a medication at your pharmacy, and the pharmacist sending the information to Shoppers Drug Mart Head Office who then prepare the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) lables required by the ScripTalk device. New prescriptions requiring immediate use will be a problem for the customers initially. Hopefully, this lag time issue will soon be resolved, so that customers can access their prescription information at the same time as the print ones are dispensed. For medications that are being refilled on a regular basis, it is a matter of planning for this lag time when renewing your supply.
I have received my free ScripTalk prescription reader. It is very easy to use. An instruction CD is included to help with set up and operation. The ScripTalk labels are on each one of my medications, which enables me to read all the pertinent information for all my medications, for the first time.
If your Shoppers Drug Mart Store is totally unwilling or unresponsive to your drug prescription information needs, tell them to contact Ashesh Desai, who is the senior manager responsible for this service. If that does not work, then contact him directly at the coordinates below. He was very helpful to me.
Ashesh Desai Bsc. Phm |
Senior Vice-President, Pharmacy Operations and Transformation Shoppers Drug Mart HQ
243 Consumers Road, Toronto ON M2J 4W8
Toll free: 1800-746-7737 Open until 8:00 PM and ask for him.
At present, there is no link for information regarding the ScripTalk on the Shoppers Drug Mart website. However, Shoppers Drug Mart’s Accessible Customer Service Practice document for Ontario can be accessed at: http://files.shoppersdrugmart.ca/stores/AccessibilityStandards.pdf
The ScripTalk Mobile app is also available in the Google Play Store. It provides another way to read the ScripTalk labels prescription information on some, but not all, Android devices. ScripTalk is not available at present for iPhones and other Apple devices, because Apple does not allow the use of Near Field Communication (NFC), which is required in order to read the RFID labels being affixed on medication containers for the ScripTalk.
I would like to thank Rob Sleath and Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC) for all their work on this issue in B.C. and for their help and advice to me as I worked with my local Shoppers Drug Mart. More information on ASIC and other drug store chains in B.C. offering the ScripTalk is available at www.asicbc.ca.
++AMI Programming: AMI has recorded a piece on the new Service Dog Park in Halifax. It’s going to be a great story that will reach people all over Canada!
The segment will first air on AMI Friday, February 5th, at 8:30pm on Bell Aliant channel 65 and Eastlink channel 888 (Nova Scotia). It will be part of our White Cane Week episode.
See channel guide for your area. It can be found online at the following link or by calling 1-855-855-1144.:
AMI Channel Guide
Louise Gillis, National President
The Canadian Council of the Blind
++new smart watch: This New Watch Lets Blind People Read Real-Time Smartphone Data in Braille
The Dot uses a moveable braille interface made of magnets and pins strapped to the wrist like a watch.
Until now, visually impaired smartphone users have had to rely on Siri and other readers to find their way around the Internet and digital world, but a new device in development in South Korea may change their experience completely by instantly turning text messages and other information into braille.
The Dot, a device that straps around the wrist like a watch, uses magnets and a grid of pins to create four braille characters at a time that change at adjustable speeds, allowing users to read text messages and use apps on any device via Bluetooth.
Eric Ju Yoon Kim, co-founder and CEO of startup Dot, told Tech in Asia he hopes his company’s innovation will free blind people to interact with their devices on their own terms. “Until now, if you got a message on iOS from your girlfriend, for example, you had to listen to Siri read it to you in that voice, which is impersonal,” he said.
“Wouldn’t you rather read it yourself and hear your girlfriend’s voice saying it in your head?”
That kind of technology is not groundbreaking, but transferring it to a mobile device certainly is – just like the price: computers using so-called “active Braille technology” can cost $3,000, while Kim says that when the watch arrives in the U.S. this December it will sell for less than $300.
“Ninety percent of blind people become blind after birth, and there’s nothing for them right now – they lose their access to information so suddenly,” Kim told Tech in Asia. “Dot can be their lifeline, so they can learn Braille and access everyday information through their fingers.”