October is Children’s vision awareness month!

Did you know that the month of October is Children’s vision awareness month in Canada? Do you know when children should have their first eye exam? Were you aware that there is a relation between children’s vision and learning?


The MEC has visited schools in the Ottawa region since 2014 to perform over 1,162 OHIP covered eye exams to children from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Thanks to the MEC, 18% of the children tested for eye exams had one or more vision problem, and 14% of these children required prescription glasses.


As cited on the Canadian Association of Optometrists’ (CAO) website:

“61 per cent of Canadian parents mistakenly believe they would know if their child was having difficulty with their eyesight. However, many serious eye conditions do not have obvious symptoms and some eye diseases only show symptoms when the condition is advanced and difficult to treat. Conditions such as amblyopia or a “lazy eye” need to addressed when a child is young. Comprehensive eye examinations would result in 51% more children receiving successful treatment for amblyopia by age 10.”


In Ontario, children under the age of 20 years are entitled to a comprehensive eye exam every year covered by the Ministry of Health (OHIP). As per the CAO’s position statement on the frequency of eye examinations, infants and toddlers should have their first eye exam, by an optometrist, between the ages of 6 to 9 months; preschool children should have at least one eye exam between the ages of 2 to 5 years; and school aged children (from 6 to 19 years) should continue having eye exams every year.


Research also indicates a relationship between children’s learning difficulties and their vision. Experts say that almost 80% of what a child learns in school is presented visually, so when children with undiagnosed vision loss have difficulty learning in school, parents and teachers believe they have a vision problem and require prescription glasses. However, nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are not the only visual disorders that can make learning more difficult. Less obvious vision problems related to the way the eyes function and how the brain processes visual information also can limit your child’s ability to learn.


The best course of action a parent can do for their child is to have them see an optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam that is covered by OHIP. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s vision, or you wish to invite the MEC to your child’s school, please contact Monica or Julie at 613-567-0311 or via email at: mreategui@ccbnational.net or jdesjardins@ccbnational.net.

Driver side


Source: OAO – Schools – Mobile Eye Clinic Statistics – May 2015 – June 2015; CAO Policy and Advocacy position statement (dated July 31, 2013) http://opto.ca/sites/default/files/cao_position_statement_-_frequency_of_eye_examinations.pdf; Learning-Related vision problems http://www.allaboutvision.com/parents/learning.htm

National Newsletter June 2015

++Blind Bowling: On Saturday May 9th, the “South/West Challenged Bowlers” held their second annual bowling tournament in Chatham, Ontario. This tournament consisted of  blind and visually impaired 5-pin bowlers and the word  “challenged“ opens it up to anyone who is disabled and able to  participate. The tournament consisted of two teams from Chatham, one each from London and Sarnia along with three from Windsor.
The final results were:
Sarnia – first place with gold
London – second place with silver
Windsor – third place with bronze
Congratulations to all participants!
This event is relatively new and will be further enhanced by representation from Hamilton next year.
The Windsor blind bowlers participate at the Playdium Recreation Centre each Wedndsday during the bowling season, and is co-sponsored by the Windsor Downtown Lions Club.
Submitted by
Ken Christie – Chairman
Windsor Blind Bowlers
Get Together with Technology (GTT) – Upcoming Meetings
++GTT Edmonton: You are invited!  Blind and low vision GTT participants meet monthly to share their experiences using assistive technologies in their everyday lives at school, work, or at home.
Agenda for the June Edmonton GTT Meeting:
Location: Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 – 83 Street NW, Edmonton. Enter from back door.
Time: Monday June 8, 7pm to 9pm. If you arrive after 7pm the door may be locked. Please ring bell on right side of door.
Theme: Apple iDevices continued plus your technology, your questions.
*As you requested, for the first 45 minutes we will continue our discussion on iPhone and other iDevices. Then we will break into groups to continue other topics.
*Jonathan Sieswerda and Russell Solowoniuk will lead a breakout group to discuss MAC computers.
*Pat Hornell and Bob Logue will lead a discussion on using computers to create music.
*Others – bring your technology and questions and we will match you up with those who have answers!
Who Should Attend?
*Any blind or low vision person who is interested in learning how assistive technologies can help them lead more independent lives.
For more information contact Gerry Chevalier:
GTT.Edmonton@gmail.com or call 780-465-7021
++GTT Nanaimo Meeting Invitation:
Special Announcement: Nanaimo GTT Meetings will be moving to a new day, the 1st Thursday of each month at the usual time, 1:30 until 3:30 PM.
Please note that our next Nanaimo GTT meeting will take place on Thursday, June 4, 2015, and that this meeting will take place from 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM. It will be held at the same place as always.
Where: The 710 Club, 285 Prideaux Street, Nanaimo BC;
When: Thursday, June 4, 2015
**Time: 1:00 until 5:00 PM
Featured in the June meeting will be AbleTech Assistive Technology Inc and a Representative from Humanware. They will bring along some of their latest gadgets, as well as some that have been upgraded with features and functions designed to allow blind and low vision people to remain active in their lives and community. To find out more about these two organizations point your browser to;
During this presentation/hands-on session you will have access to low vision, blindness and learning disability related assistive technology, as well as two experts in the field of assistive technology sales, assessment and training.
To RSVP, please call Albert Ruel at 250-240-2343 email at GTTWest2015@Gmail.com (mailto:GTTWest2015@Gmail.com), or Donna Hudon at 250-618-0010 email at IamDonnaHudon@Gmail.com (mailto:IamDonnaHudon@Gmail.com).
++GTT Victoria Meeting Invitation, Wednesday, June 3, 2015
You’re Invited
Where: Fort Tectoria, 777 Fort Street, Victoria BC;
When: Wednesday, June 3, 2015
**Time: 12:30 until 4:30 PM
For more information contact Tom Dekker at 250-661-9799 or me@TomDekker.ca (mailto: me@TomDekker.ca), or Albert Ruel at
250-240-2343 or GTTWest2015@gmail.com (mailto: GTTWest2015@gmail.com).
Featured in the June meeting will be AbleTech Assistive Technology Inc and a Representative from Humanware. They will bring along some of their latest gadgets, as well as some that have been upgraded with features and functions designed to allow blind and low vision people to remain active in their lives and community. To find out more about these two organizations point your browser to;
During this presentation/hands-on session you will have access to low vision, blindness and learning disability related assistive technology, as well as two experts in the field of assistive technology sales, assessment and training.
To RSVP, please call Tom Dekker at 250-661-9799
Or by email at Me@TomDekker.ca
In order to get information about upcoming GTT meetings and conference calls as well as meeting notes and resources, please subscribe to the GTT blog. To register please visit the web page below. Look near the bottom of the page for a heading called, “Follow “GTT Program blog and resources” and leave your email address in the edit field below that heading. You will receive an email message asking you to confirm that you wish to be subscribed, and clicking on the “confirmation” link in that message will complete the process.
++Spring Has Sprung in Halifax!
After what seemed like a long and frustrating winter, members of the Advocacy & Awareness Chapter in Halifax, Nova Scotia along with their white canes and guide dogs have emerged from their cocoons and are mobile again!  The winter proved to be a very real challenge for us this year but we did manage to arrive in one piece at our monthly Chapter meetings!
Recently, two of our Chapter members, Milena Khazanavicius and her four legged companion, Louis, and Bernard Bessette spoke to approximately fifty young students at a Frontier College gathering in the City.  They spoke on their experiences and the challenges of living with vision loss and how they are living successful and independent lives.  By all accounts Milena and Bernard were very well received by their young audience who had many questions to ask of them.  We can also be sure that Milena’s furry four-legged friend, Louis, was also well received.
At our May Chapter meeting, we hosted a presenter from a local natural gas provider who wanted to speak with us regarding their company minimizing the safety risk to those with vision loss while the Company is installing pipelines and doing construction around the City.  A lively discussion was held and many suggestions were provided to make work sites safer.  The presenter will return to the September Chapter meeting with something that we hope will provide safer conditions for all.
This winter we also worked with members of the Municipal Parks & Recreation Department to provide input regarding the selection of a new site for a Service Dog Park in the urban core of the City.  A suitable site has been selected and we now await approval from City Council for the work to proceed.  The previous Service Dog Park has to be relocated due to the construction of a roundabout.  Members of our Chapter also had input and helpful suggestions to give City officials on that roundabout once it was decided that it would move forward.
Halifax also has a fabulous new Central Library in the downtown core, the building itself is unique to the country.  Our Chapter was able to assist with some suggestions regarding improvement in accessibility for those of us who are blind and partially sighted and these suggestions are currently being implemented.  It is definitely a library that draws the community together!
Currently, our Chapter is preparing to take part in Nova Scotia’s Access Awareness Week by hosting a White Cane and Guide Dog Walk through Halifax’s historic Public Gardens on Saturday, June 6.  We invite all those who are interested in joining us for a pleasant stroll around the Gardens followed by refreshments. Should Mother Nature bless us with more than a light drizzle, the rain date for the walk will be the following Saturday, June 13. This Awareness Walk will highlight the independence that our white canes and guide dogs provide to us as we travel with confidence throughout our communities.
We have also resumed our quest to have a very busy business/shopping park on the outskirts of the City made more accessible to those with disabilities as well as for the general public.  We were successful in working with the City to have a sidewalk installed in order to allow people to disembark safely from local transit buses and now we are working towards making a huge parking lot accessible for everyone.  We are partnering with the local CNIB office as well as with other organizations to make this happen!  Wish us luck!
Our Chapter has also worked this winter on writing a pamphlet relating to assisting those with vision loss while they are shopping at various locations.  Once the graphics have been completed, the brochure will be produced for local distribution and perhaps, in the future, can be circulated to a wider audience in other provinces.  We are very proud of the work that has been done on the pamphlet and major kudos go to Barry Abbott and Barbara LeGay for their work on this project.
We are also very pleased that very shortly we will be re-launching our Chapter Facebook page and using Twitter to let people know about events that we may be planning.
Although we don’t meet in July and August, members of our 2015 Workshop Planning Committee will continue to meet during those months to plan our next workshop which we hope to hold in the fall of this year.  We are planning to hold “hands on” technology sessions that will assist those of us who may have a variety of questions and or solutions that will help others.
We continue to work on various issues that affect the blind and partially sighted in our community such as independent ATM’s – many have the portals for ear phones but once the ear piece is plugged in, nothing happens!  This is an ongoing issue for us.
The Advocacy & Awareness Chapter in Halifax is looking forward to a summer of warmth, with gentle ocean breezes and lots of fun activities!  We wish all our CCB friends a wonderful summer season and we’ll see you in September!
Submitted by
Patricia (Pat) Gates, Chair
CCB Advocacy & Awareness Chapter, Halifax, Nova Scotia
++Shot in the Dark: Eighth-grader Micah is psyched to have made the BC junior goalball team— even though he gets the news while in the hospital dealing with a flare-up of his degenerative eye condition.
What he’s not happy about is his parents’ decision to get him a guide dog, and the possibility of losing his independence.
When Liam, a new, first-rate player, joins the goalball team, Micah’s frustration with his vision spills onto the court. He is rude to Liam and starts a fight with another teammate, Sebastian, after practice. It’s only with the help of Cam, his Orientation and Mobility Specialist that Micah starts to get a handle on his aggression and trust people enough to communicate how he feels.
But with the team’s big junior tournament in Vancouver quickly approaching, Micah has to reconcile his differences with Liam and Sebastian — both on and off the court — to become a real team player and help his team win the championship.
Shot in the Dark is part of Lorimer’s Sports Stories series for reluctant readers — an action-packed series of books for young sports nuts who will relish reading all about their favorite pastime. Sports Stories reflect the realities of kids’ own lives where there are winners, losers, and lots of players in between.
JANET WHYTE is a former equestrian and the author of five books, including the Lorimer Sports Stories novel Rescue Rider. Janet lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she works as a library technician at Langara College.
++Cribbage E-Mail Tournament – DEADLINE EXTENDED
Please be advised that the CCB National Cribbage E-Mail Tournament deadline date has been extended to June 22, 2015.  Due to computer crashes, the committee felt that it would be fair to all Chapters involved,
in order to gather the correct statistics.
Bill Rizzo
National Tournament Chair
++Audio Described Performances at Stratford, Ontario:
The Stratford Festival offers audio description of the action and atmosphere at selected performances for patrons who are blind or have low vision.  It’s like Descriptive Video at live theatre!
Please join us at the following Described Performances:
The Sound of Music
Sunday, June 21, 2015, 2 p.m.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015, 2 p.m.
Sunday, July 26, 2015 2 p.m.
Saturday, September 5, 2015, 8 p.m.
The Diary of Anne Frank
Saturday, July 11, 2015, 2 p.m.
Friday, August 21, 2015, 2 p.m.
Sunday, July 19, 2015, 2 p.m.
Friday, August 28, 2015, 2 p.m.
The Taming of the Shrew
Sunday, September 13, 2015, 2 p.m.
Additional dates may be arranged for groups of 10 or more. Please inquire at: groups@stratfordfestival.ca.
Additional Information:
1.     Attendees are encouraged to arrive early for a pre-show description of the set and costumes, which begins 15 minutes before the performance.
2.     People who carry a valid CNIB or Access2Entertainment card can receive one complimentary theatre ticket for an accompanying support person.
3.     For our Toronto and Detroit patrons, the Festival has a direct bus service from the city centre to each of our four theatres. $20 return from Toronto; $40 return from Detroit. Please inquire about exact departure and arrival times and accessibility at the time of booking.
4.     The Festival offers Braille house programs that can be borrowed from the theatre or downloaded onto your personal Braille Note Taker.
Please contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 to book your tickets and reserve your headset.
In the News:
++Ocumetics Bionic Lens could give you vision 3x better than 20/20:
Imagine being able to see three times better than 20/20 vision without wearing glasses or contacts — even at age 100 or more — with the help of bionic lenses implanted in your eyes.
Dr. Garth Webb, an optometrist in British Columbia who invented the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, says patients would have perfect vision and that driving glasses, progressive lenses and contact lenses would become a dim memory as the eye-care industry is transformed.
Webb says people who have the specialized lenses surgically inserted would never get cataracts because their natural lenses, which decay over time, would have been replaced.
Perfect eyesight would result “no matter how crummy your eyes are,” Webb says, adding the Bionic Lens would be an option for someone who depends on corrective lenses and is over about age 25, when the eye structures are fully developed.
“This is vision enhancement that the world has never seen before,” he says, showing a Bionic Lens, which looks like a tiny button.
“If you can just barely see the clock at 10 feet, when you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away,” says Webb, demonstrating how a custom-made lens that folded like a taco in a saline-filled syringe would be placed in an eye, where it would unravel itself within 10 seconds.
He says the painless procedure, identical to cataract surgery, would take about eight minutes and a patient’s sight would be immediately corrected.
Webb, who is the CEO of Ocumetics Technology Corp., has spent the last eight years and about $3 million researching and developing the Bionic Lens, getting international patents and securing a biomedical manufacturing facility in Delta, B.C.
His mission is fuelled by the “obsession” he’s had to free himself and others from corrective lenses since he was in Grade 2, when he was saddled with glasses.
“My heroes were cowboys, and cowboys just did
not wear glasses,” Webb says.
“At age 45 I had to struggle with reading glasses, which like most
people, I found was a great insult. To this day I curse my
progressive glasses. I also wear contact lenses, which I also
curse just about every day.”
Webb’s efforts culminated in his recent presentation of the lens to 14 top ophthalmologists in San Diego the day before an annual gathering of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
Dr. Vincent DeLuise, an ophthalmologist who teaches at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, says he arranged several meetings on April 17, when experts in various fields learned about the lens.
He says the surgeons, from Canada, the United States, Australia and the Dominican Republic, were impressed with what they heard and some will be involved in clinical trials for Webb’s “very clever” invention.
“There’s a lot of excitement about the Bionic Lens from very experienced surgeons who perhaps had some cynicism about this because they’ve seen things not work in the past. They think that this might actually work and they’re eager enough that they all wish to be on the medical advisory board to help him on his journey,” DeLuise says.
“I think this device is going to bring us closer to the holy grail of excellent vision at all ranges — distant, intermediate and near.”
Pending clinical trials on animals and then blind human eyes, the Bionic Lens could be available in Canada and elsewhere in about two years, depending on regulatory processes in various countries, Webb says.
As for laser surgery, which requires the burning away of healthy corneal tissue and includes potential problems with glare, the need for night-time driving glasses and later cataracts, Webb says the Bionic Lens may make that option obsolete.
Alongside his Bionic Lens venture, Webb has set up a foundation called the Celebration of Sight, which would donate money to organizations providing eye surgery in developing countries to improve people’s quality of life.
“Perfect eyesight should be a human right,” he says.
DeLuise, who has been asked to manage the foundation, says funds would also be funneled to some of the world’s best eye research institutes.
“He has the technology that may make all of this happen,” he says, adding several companies have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to develop a similar lens, though none have come close.
By Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
++Blind photographers break barriers with new exhibition in Toronto: The Mind’s Eye is on at The CNIB Centre in Toronto
How would you take a photograph if you couldn’t see?
That’s the question asked by a new exhibition called The Mind’s Eye, currently on view at the CNIB Centre in Toronto.
The installation, which is part of the city-wide Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, challenges misconceptions about blindness and vision.
“A lot of people have a misconception that people who are blind or partially sighted live in complete darkness all the time,” said CNIB spokesperson Suzanne van den Broek. “In fact that’s completely not true.”
One of the five photographers in the show is Nanaimo, B.C.’s Rose Kamma Sarkany.
As a teenager, she was diagnosed with Usher’s Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which causes deafblindness, a substantial degree of loss in sight and hearing.
Now 50, she has only 10 per cent of her vision remaining and could eventually lose that, but she hasn’t let it slow her down. She’s a marathon runner and painter, as well as a passionate photographer.
“With me, it’s like with the view finder, that limited view through the camera is what I see,” Sarkany told CBC News.
“So in my case it’s a good hobby to have.”
Sarkany admits that people are surprised when they hear she’s a photographer. She credits the advent of digital photography with allowing her to take many pictures to get one good one.
Dylan Johnson was born blind with congenital glaucoma, but thanks to various surgeries he now has partial vision, although he’s still categorized as legally blind.
He took up photography a few years ago as a hobby.
“Photography has always been a way for me to see in the way that I never actually could growing up,” said Johnson, who makes part of his living as a professional portrait photographer in Ottawa.
While his website is clear about his situation, when meeting prospective clients he hopes the quality of the work speaks for itself.
“It’s not the first thing I lead with because I’d probably scare a few people away if I tell them I am a legally blind photographer” he said.
Johnson said that he likely prepares far more than a photographer with normal sight since he knows he must pay greater attention to every detail.
As for the exhibition, both photographers are excited that it will bring their work to a wider audience.
“I hope that people look beyond our disabilities and just see us as photographers,” Sarakany said. “We’re definitely capable of taking pictures and being creative.”
The Mind’s Eye runs through May 22 at the CNIB Centre in downtown Toronto.
By Nigel Hunt, CBC News
++New Patrons of CCB:
The CCB is very pleased to welcome their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D., Governor General of Canada and Mrs. Sharon Johnston, C.C. as our new patrons.
David Johnston began his professional career as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University in 1966, moving to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law in 1968. He became dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario in 1974. In 1979, he was named principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University, and in July 1994, he returned to teaching as a full-time professor in the McGill Faculty of Law. In June 1999, he became the fifth president of the University of Waterloo.
His academic specializations include securities regulation, information technology and corporate law. Mr. Johnston holds an LL.B. from Queen’s University (1966); an LL.B. from the University of Cambridge (1965); and an AB from Harvard University (1963). While at Harvard, he was twice selected for the All-American hockey team and was named to Harvard’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He was the first non-American to chair Harvard’s Board of Overseers.
He is the author or co-author of 24 books including new editions, holds honorary doctorates from over 20 universities and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.
He was born in Sudbury, Ontario, and is married to Sharon Johnston. They have five daughters and 11 grandchildren.
Sworn in on October 1, 2010, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston is the 28th governor general since Confederation.
Sharon Johnston graduated from the University of Toronto in 1966 as a physical and occupational therapist, and subsequently worked in the area of child psychiatry. When the Johnston family moved to Montréal, she completed her master’s and doctorate degrees in rehabilitation science. At the master’s level, she studied a more effective way of clearing the small airways of cystic fibrosis sufferers. Her doctoral thesis examined the coordination of respiratory muscles during normal speech, stuttered speech and singing. Her thesis resulted in the publication of scientific articles on respiratory mechanics.
In 1999, Mr. and Mrs. Johnston moved from Montréal to Waterloo, Ontario. While Mr. Johnston was occupied running the University of Waterloo, Mrs. Johnston began an entirely new life at a hundred-acre farm and small horse-boarding business called Chatterbox Farm, which she managed for 12 years.
Farming and horses were entirely new to her, but suddenly this new adventure became a true passion. From its modest beginnings, Chatterbox Farm was a very successful horse-training centre in classical dressage.
Mrs. Johnston also wrote an autobiographical essay for inclusion in a collection on notable women of Montréal, and will soon be publishing a novel. The novel is a fictional account of life in southwestern Alberta during a colourful, post-Great War era, based on her grandmother’s experiences.
We will be highlighting 2 other new CCB patrons in the next issue of the newsletter.
++Mark your calendars!
Do you enjoy a time away from the city, personal relaxation and being challenged by cagey fish?  If so, mark the last weekend in May on your calendar to attend B.A.I.T. 2016 which is sponsored by the District A4 Lions Clubs.
This tournament started more than 25 years ago with one Pro Angler and one Visually Impaired angler.  Without the Lions Club participants numerous other volunteers and the various sponsors, this event would never take place.  In particular, we must thank Nangor Resorts, whose cooperative staff and gracious hospitality makes everyone feel at ease.
The scenery is beyond description and sounds of birds and wild life makes one feel very peaceful.
Bill Rizzo, Blind Angler
++Canadian Patient Charter for Vision Care
Through hard work and collaboration with the CNIB and other partners Canadian Council of the Blind is pleased to be part of the signing of the Canadian Patient Charter for Vision Care, the first step on the journey to improve the patient experience.  Canada’s leaders in eye health have come together to make a shared commitment to provide optimum patient-centered care – from prevention to diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation.
To view and read the entire charter, please click on the link below or visit our website at www.ccbnational.net.
++ With Our Sympathy
Sympathy is extended to the family & friends on the passing of Laura Lively a long time CCB Halifax member on May 14. 2015. Laura was an avid lawn bowler and played in several international events. She also attended many Atlantic Sports & Recreation weekends, taking part in most events.
++’Don’t Distract Working Guide Dogs’
is new CNIB Campaign Theme:
While they are cute enough to stop and pet, they are guide dogs and more often than not are on the job. A new campaign launched this week stresses the importance of allowing a working guide dog to do its work.
“A lot of our guide dog handlers have been distracted when out on the street with their dogs and they really express the need in the community that there’s not enough awareness out there about the actual safety implications of distraction on the handler,” said Christall Beaudry, CNIB Saskatchewan’s provincial manager.
The goal of the CNIB is to prevent guide dog distractions and make it safer for the animals and their handlers. Consultation sessions helped develop the campaign.
“We had some discussions about various scenarios around distractions, we generated ideas from the group and then our agency went back and really developed those ideas into new scenarios that were presented back to the group for feed back,” said Beaudry.
“We did want to keep it light-hearted. Humour tends to stick with people so we did keep it light-hearted for that reason,” said Beaudry.
Beaudry also acknowledges the seriousness of the message and the fact that distraction of a guide dog can result in a $25,000 fine or two years in jail. This is the first of a number of campaigns the CNIB wants to roll out about guide dog awareness. The campaign also involves social media and online.
By Aaron Streck, Global News
Enjoy your summer!

National Newsletter Sept 2015

CCB National Newsletter
September 2015
++New Get Together with Technology (GTT) in Vancouver, BC:
GTT is coming to Vancouver!  Blind and low vision GTT participants meet monthly to share their experiences using assistive technologies in their everyday lives at school, work, or at home.
Agenda for the First Vancouver GTT Meeting:
Location: Blind Beginnings Office, 227 6th Street, New Westminster
Time: Wednesday, September 23, 10AM to 12Noon
Theme: Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod – can low vision people benefit from these amazing touch screen devices?

  • How to use the touch screen to read information and navigate apps.
  • Basic tasks such as making phone calls, texting, emailing
  • Learn how to type on the screen or issue voice commands.
  • Useful apps, accessories, and resources for blind and partially sighted.

Who Should Attend?

  • Any blind or low vision person, regardless of age, who is interested in learning about the features built-in to Apple iPhone, iPod, or IPad.
  • Existing users of Apple devices who have questions or want to share your experience.
  • Anyone interested in contributing to the future of the Vancouver GTT group by sharing ideas for future meetings to discuss other blind or low vision assistive devices.

For more information contact:
Shawn Marsolais: Shawn@BlindBeginnings.ca or (604) 434-7243
Albert Ruel: GTTWest2015@Gmail.com or (250) 240-2343
++New Book Release: August 31, 2015: Charles Mossop, author and great friend and supporter of CCB, is pleased to announce the release of his latest short story, With Different Sight.  It’s a historical time travel fantasy – far from his usual mystery offerings – and the thing that makes it special for him is that it’s the first, and so far the only, story he has written in which sight loss is a central theme. It’s a tale about a young man who is able to meet and talk to three disabled people from the past and thereby come to a different understanding of who he is and of his life with a disability.
If you’d like to read it, you can find it in the format of your choice at most of the usual retailers such as Amazon, etc. or direct from the publisher at:
Thanks everyone, and we hope you enjoy the read!
++Get Set to Vote!  The dates are set, the candidates are ready and it’s time for you to make your decision. But what are your options if it happens that you can’t read that ballot as well as you used to?
Voting is a fundamental right for all Canadians over the age of 18, but for a long time people living with vision loss have experienced barriers when exercising their democratic right. Over time, many barriers have come down, but recent developments at Elections Canada have made the process more accessible than ever.
Previously, many people with vision loss had to vote with the help of a sighted assistant. In 2006, with the help of CCB, CNIB and other groups, Elections Canada produced a new plastic template that will allow people with vision loss to vote in private. The tool includes raised numbers and braille, and a large print list of candidates’ names. The template will be available in all polling stations for the next federal election.
++Onkyo Braille Essay Contest: The Onkyo Corporation is again sponsoring a braille essay contest for people of all ages.  Contest winners receive cash prizes valued from
$500 to $2,000. Essays must be received by September 13. The link for full information and application for the contest is below, but here are the basics.  Please help us spread the word!
The Onkyo Braille essay contest is being administered by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) on behalf of the North America-Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union.
Essays must be written by contest participants, in English or their native language, in Braille on paper, and must be completely original in nature. Participants are also asked to email their essays in electronic format (such as Microsoft Word or something similar).  Entries should be no fewer than 800 words and no more than 1,000 words in length. There will be two groups of competitors-one Junior group, aged 25 and under; and one Senior group, aged 26 and up, and prizes range from $500-$2,000.
Note that this year, the contest is running on a shorter timeline than previous years, so the time to begin writing is now! All essays must be received by September 13, 2015. In the US, they should be sent to the NFB, and in Canada, they should be sent to Braille Literacy Canada; the contacts are listed on the application at the link below.
Essay topics:

  1. How do you acquire knowledge and information through Braille or audio devices? (Illustrate with some interesting personal stories/episodes.)
  2. How can blind persons become independent by learning Braille or music?
  3. Individual concept about world peace from the viewpoint of persons with disabilities.

Visit http://www.nfb.org/onkyo-braille-essay-contest for more information and an application.
Please use the following contacts if you have questions:
In Canada: Jen Goulden at info@blc-lbc.ca In the US: Trisha Tatam at ttatam@nfb.org
++Young Leaders Summit: The National Young Leaders Summit is an opportunity for young people living with vision loss to learn valuable leadership skills, connect with others and to help imagine and initiate a better future for those with visual impairments.
The Young Leaders Summit is open to Canadians aged 17-29 and will take place in Toronto on October 16th & 17th, 2015, alongside our Vision Quest educational session.
The Summit is free to attend, and we are hoping to establish a scholarship to provide financial assistance. You can find out more about the summit and how to apply at: http://www.ffb.ca/youthspace/YoungLeaders.html
Please note that all applications should be completed and forwarded to our Director of Research & Education, Dr. Mary Sunderland, no later than September 4, 2015 at:
Mary Sunderland, PhD
Director of Research and Education
416.360.4200 ext. 238
++Farewell and Thank-you!: After 49 years as Secretary-Treasurer for the CCB Moose Jaw White Cane Club, Geri Roman has decided to resign and move to the Okanagan Valley in BC. it will be a tearful departure as Geri considers the members to be like family.
We would like to welcome Leslie Knelsen, the new Secretary-Treasurer, for the chapter.
++New CCB Chapter coming! I am pleased to introduce CCB members throughout Canada to the new CCB Chapter that is forming. This chapter has no specific home base, we meet monthly on the telephone conference line.
Presently the four Atlantic Provinces are represented, and hopefully other provinces will get on the band wagon and join us.
The name of our group will be CCB Crafts & Hobbies Chapter. During our preliminary meeting in June, we did a lot of brain storming, and came up with endless ideas from knitting to gardening and lots in between. There were many things talked about that we would like to accomplish. This is a great brain wave of Michelle Bartram from Sydney, N.S.
The purpose of this chapter is to promote, encourage and enhance crafts and hobbies for Blind and Visually impaired People.
For persons interested in joining us, the group will meet on the conference line the second Monday of every month, at 6:30 pm Maritime time, and 7 pm NL time starting in September!   Come and join us, we would love to have you!
If you already pay the yearly dues to a specific chapter, you can join this new chapter as an “Auxiliary Member” and will not have to pay dues again join.
Any interested persons please get in touch with Michelle Bartram at 902-567-6871 or mikemariabar@gmail.com
++Accessible Travel Kiosks: The update to section 1.3 (accessible kiosks) of the Communications Code was published this summer and can be found at the links below. The update sets out criteria to be met beginning December 2016.
Implementation Guide Regarding Automated Self-Service Kiosks:
Removing Communication Barriers for Travelers with Disabilities:
++Atlantic Sports Weekend: CCB Miramichi Chapter enjoyed a wonderful weekend in Saint John New Brunswick. Seven members attended the Annual Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend Hosted by the CCB Saint John Chapter.  Participants were there from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
The Hotel Staff of the Delta Brunswick were terrific accommodating all our requests and were there to assist with everything even down to the janitor who helped when we got lost.   We could not ask for anything better!
After arrival, registration and supper we attended the CCB Idol.  The entertainment was terrific and the numerous door prizes were a real hit with everyone.  It was great to meet old friends as well as make new ones throughout the weekend activities. The bright sunny Saturday morning was spent bowling and after Lunch there were all the track and field events – 60, 100 and 400 meter runs, Javelin, Shot Put, Discus, Horse Shoes and Washer Toss –  with many taking part.  Later that evening a social and dance was enjoyed by all and again lots & lots of door prizes.
After the late night we were up early and off to play Darts and Table Bowling.  The Sunday afternoon found some of us playing cribbage and some participants having a leisurely afternoon.   Sunday evening the crowd enjoyed a delicious Awards Banquet and medals were presented together with participation certificates and ribbons.
The past National Board Member for Newfoundland, Elizabeth Mayo, was presented with a Plaque and a Gift Certificate on behalf of the CCB National Board.
I applaud the CCB Saint John Chapter for all their work and efforts hosting this event especially Gerry Harris, Scott Rinehart and Estelle Middleton.  A Big Thank you to all three of you.  It takes many hours of planning, recruiting volunteers, organizing and a lot of long hours to make this happen and I believe you did a wonderful job.
Also, a big “Thank You” to the Atlantic Sport & Rec. Committee Chairperson, Michelle Bartram and the Sports Director for NB, Ross Needham, for assisting in this process.  Of course, our biggest “Thank You” goes out to Sandra Needham who volunteers and spends most of her weekend doing the stats of all of these events, organizing and presenting the Medals, Ribbons, etc. with the assistance of her husband Ross.  She does a great job and we commend her for her efforts.
On behalf of those attending I want to say that without all of these hard workers, especially the volunteers who were there for all Blind and Vision Impaired participants, we could not have done it without them.
We are already planning and looking forward to next year.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of CCB Miramichi Chapter
In the News
++Boston from my perspective:
I am a deaf, blind runner from Aylmer, Quebec. I ran and completed the Boston Marathon on April 20th, 2015.
It was a super team effort led by Team with a Vision, a group of blind and sighted athletes who run the Boston Marathon every year to raise funds and awareness for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Running Boston is everything they say it is. I’m told there were a lot of very fit-looking runners in and around our hotel. You could feel the energy, the excitement in the air everywhere.
At the start in Hopkinton, it took nine minutes just to cross the start line.
It was wet, cold, and windy most of the way. My two guides, Christopher Yule and Melany Gauvin, did a great job and kept me going. I feel we ran quite well through the Newton hills. When things got really tough in the last 12 kilometers, the knowledge that my son Marc would be at the finish line kept me focused. We crossed the finish line as a team, holding hands, with arms raised.
Marc was super helpful the whole weekend. He took photos of us around Boston. This was a special father-son adventure, and we pulled it off really well. I like to say, “When you have good people around you, it is amazing what you can do.”
This was my 16th marathon. I would love to run Boston again. I am now looking for sighted guides to train with and to run the next Boston in 2016.
by Gaston Bedard
Running Room Magazine
July August 2015, page 56.
++British Man Receives World’s First Bionic Eye Transplant, The world’s first bionic eye implant is a success:  Argus II, the bionic eye that restores sight, just successfully completed a clinical trial
The bionic man is extending farther and farther beyond the scope of science fiction and into the realm of reality, especially now that the world’s first bionic eye implant has been successfully performed on an 80-year-old British man suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The operation, which took place at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, corrected the long-ailing vision of Ray Flynn, who previously suffered from central vision loss. This meant that while he still had relative use of his peripheral vision, he was unable to “put the numbers in for [his] card when paying in a shop or at the bank,” or “tell the weeds from the flowers” while gardening.
But now, two weeks after last month’s surgery, Flynn is demonstrating that the replacement of his own retina by a retinal prosthesis called Argus II was a success. In clinical trials conducted this week, he was able to determine whether a series of black and white bars on a computer screen were “patterned vertically, horizontally, and diagonally,” something that would have been impossible to do with AMD.
While previous clinical trials had proven Argus II’s effectiveness, Flynn’s case is the first to show that a human subject has been successfully cured of the degenerative disease. As Dr. Paulo Stanga, the lead surgeon on Flynn’s case, told the BBC, “Mr. Flynn’s progress is truly remarkable, he is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively. I think this could be the beginning of a new era for patients with sight loss.”
The Argus II works by processing visual data that is collected from a tiny camera on glasses a patient wears that is later converted into electrical pulses and sent wirelessly to electrodes found in the retinal prosthetic.
This electric signal then stimulates cells that ultimately send information to the brain about what the patient is “seeing.”
The coolest thing about the implant is that it allows the wearer to “see” with his or her eyes closed – in conducting the experiment with Flynn, doctors ensured that he never opened his eyes so they could guarantee that the visual information he was processing was via the camera on his glasses and the implant, and not his natural eyes. Said Flynn, “It was wonderful to be able to see the bars on the screen with my eyes closed.” While this is by no means a way to restore 20/20 vision, Argus II is allowing patients to reclaim a level of sight that many had previously feared permanently lost.
At the end of the day, says Cathy Yelf, a member of the Macular Society, “This is an exciting result and we are following the progress of these trials with great interest. Macular degeneration can be a devastating condition and very many people are now affected as we live longer. These are early trials but in time this research may lead to a really useful device for people who lose their central vision.”
By Lulu Chang   – July 22, 2015
++Kanata, Ontario-based tech company helping legally blind to see:  eSight founder launches charity for vision-impaired
Take a look
Research and development that took place in Kanata, Ontario has resulted in a set of high-tech specs that can help the legally blind to see.
Now, the founder of the company which produces the glasses has launched a charitable organization aimed at helping those with vision impairments to afford the $15,000 specs as well as technology produced by other companies.
Conrad Lewis, engineer and eSight founder, launched the Lewis Vision Improvement Foundation at the Marshes Golf and Country Club on June 4, where eSight eyewear was demonstrated.
The glasses contain a pair of screens which display high quality video from a camera at the front of the glasses. The battery-powered eyewear can automatically adjust contrast, brightness and other settings to a user’s needs or preferences.
Users can also manually adjust settings and focus, allowing them to zoom or even stream video content from a DVD or other device directly to the eyewear.
The eyewear cannot help those with absolutely no vision, but improves vision for those with sight problems or who are legally blind, said eSight’s vice-president of marketing and outreach, Taylor West.
“Our sort of clinical sweet spot is from a visual acuity of about 20/60 to 20/400,” said West.
Someone with 20/60 vision can see from 20 feet what a person a person with normal vision can see from 60 feet, and someone with 20/400 vision can only see from 20 feet what others can see from 400 feet.
Available since late 2013, more than 300 pairs of eSight eyewear have been sold, said West.
Customer testimonials indicate the eyewear has a powerful impact on users’ lives, allowing some to stay in school, keep their jobs or secure new ones, and in at least one case, allow a brand new mother to see her baby despite being legally blind since childhood.
“I can’t even put it into words,” said Carolyn Bradley, client relations manager with eSight, of the glasses’ impact. “Grown men burst into tears.”
But the technology is both life changing and expensive, said West.
“I don’t think that we have any problem with value, but $15,000 is a lot of money and we want to make it as affordable as possible,” he said.
West said he could not talk about the cost of manufacturing the glasses versus the selling price, but said the technology used in the glasses is cutting-edge and costly, and eSight is continuing to improve the eyewear with software improvements and, in the long term, better hardware.
The company also supports their customers’ fundraising efforts to be able to afford the glasses by connecting them with organizations and putting together fundraising events.
The Lewis Vision Improvement Foundation charity plans to collect donations to help people with low vision or who are legally blind to afford eSight eyewear and other technologies that could help them, as well as provide services.
The foundation, which West noted is separate from eSight, is another result of Lewis’s interest in helping those with vision loss, said West.
“He actually has two sisters that are legally blind with a condition called Stargardt disease,” said West. The genetic disease causes central vision loss in childhood or young adulthood.
According to eSight, their eyewear can help those with Stargardt disease and many others, including diabetic retinopathy, ocular albinism and cone-rod dystrophy.
Kanata Kourier-Standard
By Adam Kveton
++Meet Klinger, the First Certified Running Guide Dog:
A pilot program is exploring how running guide dogs can be a safe option for visually impaired athletes.
This summer, the Guiding Eyes for the Blind school in Yorktown Heights, New York, will hold a graduation ceremony and welcome a new fleet of guide dogs to their homes outside the academy. Among the pack is a special German Shepherd named Klinger, who will graduate as the first-ever certified running guide dog.
Klinger, at 2 years old, is the only dog to have been raised and trained through the school’s Running Guides pilot program. After six months of specialized training and more than 200 miles logged, Klinger will finally get to start living with his new handler, Richard Hunter.
Hunter, 48, was a second lieutenant in the United States Marines when he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 1989. The condition causes a gradual decline in vision and left Hunter legally blind. As Hunter’s sight diminished, he found his life changing in dramatic ways, but it didn’t prevent him from setting goals and continuing to race in endurance events.
“There were a lot of things I couldn’t do anymore,” Hunter told Runner’s World Newswire. “But I knew I had to focus on what I could do, especially as an example to my three daughters. The Marines taught me to love running, and one thing I could do was run.”
Hunter built up a solid record racing. He qualified for his first Boston Marathon in 2008 by running a 3:18 at the 2007 California International Marathon. He’s run four more Bostons, and now does triathlons, finishing the 2011 Florida Ironman in 11 hours and 55 minutes, making him the second visually impaired athlete with a guide to complete an Ironman in less than 12 hours.
But in 2013, two hours into a five-hour bike ride while training for Ironman Lake Tahoe, Hunter and his guide were struck nearly head-on by a vehicle.
“I went all the way through the windshield headfirst and woke up inside the car,” he said. “I had my helmet broken in two. I was helicoptered to the hospital and later sent home in a neck brace with a hospital bed that I had to use for three months.”
Despite suffering two facial fractures and a broken neck, Hunter trained for and ran the 2014 Boston Marathon nine months after the accident. Still, Hunter knew something needed to change.
“My middle daughter, Lindsay, had grown increasingly concerned about my safety after the accident and started asking when I was going to get a guide dog,”
Hunter said. “I told her if a guide program would ever allow me to jog with a dog, I would do it right away because I would be able to train more freely.”
It was at that Boston Marathon where Hunter met Thomas Panek, the CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a nonprofit that provides services for individuals who are visually impaired and have special needs. Panek was also a marathoner who used a human sighted guide for racing, but for day-to-day activities he had his guide dog. The two discussed Hunter’s idea of a more dedicated guide dog running program.
From there, Panek brought the idea to his board and staff members at Guiding Eyes. His team decided to explore the best way to make running with a guide dog safe for both the handler and animal.
“What we realized was that people were running with their guide dogs anyway,” said Ben Cawley, a trainer at Guiding Eyes. “A lot of handlers were taking their dogs running, and we wanted to make this a formal program to increase safety. So we took a really conservative approach as we developed the program.”
Knowing that an increased pace would magnify the challenges the dog faced when navigating busy streets, Cawley and the other trainers decided on a walking pace in areas of high traffic. They also limited the number of routes the dog would learn to two, and they started with a 5K as the goal distance.
The handle was modified in consideration for the ergonomics of the dog and human, and the handle allows the dog’s front legs full range of motion. The school also knew it had to choose the right dog.
Besides his love of running, there were other things that made Klinger an obvious choice. “Klinger has a nice drive to work,” said Jolene Hollister, another trainer who worked closely with the dog. “He wants to have a job and purpose and wants to please his handler. He also has an undying amount of stamina. He loves to play ball, and that was our first step in building up his endurance.”
After lots of games of fetch and retrieve, Hollister started taking Klinger on mile-long runs, gradually getting him going. The team would introduce distractions and things like intersections and street crossings for Klinger to clear. Once he was able to navigate those obstacles, they increased pace.
To ensure total safety for when Hunter would become Klinger’s owner, the trainers ran 25 percent of the runs blindfolded.
Hunter has been running with Klinger for three weeks on the routes near the Guiding Eyes school. After graduation, Cawley will travel with Hunter back to his home outside of Sacramento to help Klinger adjust to two set routes.
“On a busy sidewalk, we go at about a nine-minute pace,” Hunter said. “But on a clear trail, we can get down to eight-minute miles.”
All of Klinger and Hunter’s runs are primarily for training. Because guide dogs do their best work away from large crowds, Klinger will not be Hunter’s eyes in races.
The Guiding Eyes team will be monitoring the new running duo’s progress and looking to see how many years the pair can run together. But even if the exploration phase takes time before they bring more dogs into the running program, Hunter is hopeful that this will change running for the visually impaired.
“One of my greatest passions is helping my fellow visually impaired and blind peers,” he said. “I know blind runners who have trained for races exclusively on treadmills. This could get them outside or get some to lace up sneakers for the first time.”
By Ali Nolan, Friday, August 21, 2015
Assistive Technology
++Blitab: World’s first tactile tablet is ‘iPad for the blind’:
The first-ever braille tablet has been developed, using a new liquid-based technology to create tactile relief outputting braille, graphics and maps for the blind and partially sighted.
Austria-based startup Blitab Technology claims the “revolutionary” technology could be used to open up the digital era to the visually impaired, with plans to develop a braille smartphone.
“We are creating the first tactile tablet for blind and visually impaired people,” Slavi Slavev, chief technology officer and co-founder of Blitab Technology, told IBTimes UK at the Hello Tomorrow Conference in Paris.
“What we are doing is creating a completely new technology which outputs braille in a completely new and innovative way without any mechanical elements.
Other devices currently on the market are mechanical and only allow for one line of braille to be generated at any one time. They also cost about three-times the price of the €2,500 (£1,778, $2,802) Blitab. More recent refreshable braille concepts, such as the Anagraph e-reader, have run out of funds before being able to bring the product to market.
The Blitab tablet uses liquid bubbles to instantly generate braille text or relief images, while the corresponding technology allows text files to be instantly converted into braille from USB sticks, web browsers or NFC tags.
“Currently there are some solutions which are extremely expensive and they represent only one line [of braille],” Slavev said. “These devices were developed 40 years ago and because no one has offered any new innovations since then, that’s still all that’s on the market.”
Blitab is currently in the prototyping stage but if the ongoing investment round is successful the startup is hoping to bring the first product to market by September 2016.
++World’s first braille smartwatch is an ebook reader and more: On the surface, Dot sounds like a fairly standard smartwatch: It resembles a Fitbit and features a messaging system, navigation functions, Bluetooth 4.0, an alarm and, of course, a timepiece. Dot is remarkable because it’s a braille smartwatch — the world’s first braille smartwatch, in fact.
Its face features a series of dull pins that rise and fall at customizable speeds, spelling out words in braille as the user places a finger on top. With this system, Dot allows users to read ebooks without throwing down thousands of dollars for a portable braille reader. The watch should hit the market for less than $300, with pre-orders starting this year. Plus, Dot has an active battery life of 10 hours, according to inhabitat, so get ready for some serious reading time.
However, building a braille smartwatch comes with a catch: The US-based National Federation of the Blind estimates that just 10 percent of visually impaired people actually learn braille, while the UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People reports literacy figures of less than 1 percent. That’s why it’s so handy that Dot also features a braille-learning system.
“90 percent of blind people become blind after birth, and there’s nothing for them right now — they lose their access to information so suddenly,”
Dot co-founder and CEO Eric Ju Yoon Kim tells Tech in Asia. “Dot can be their lifeline, so they can learn Braille and access everyday information through their fingers, which is the goal of Braille literacy.”
By Jessica Conditt

Newspaper Articles

http://ccbnational.net/documents/Newspaper/W. Brett Wilson_ We need..pdf

http://ccbnational.net/documents/Newspaper/CCB Ottawa Book Club.PDF

http://ccbnational.net/documents/Newspaper/Ottawa Citizen 1.PDF

http://ccbnational.net/documents/Newspaper/Ottawa Citizen 2.PDF

http://ccbnational.net/documents/Newspaper/Ottawa Citizen 3.PDF

http://ccbnational.net/documents/Newspaper/Teresa Dupuis-Citizen-4-15-13.pdf

http://ccbnational.net/documents/Newspaper/W. Brett Wilson_ We need..pdf

Vocal Eye

Vocaleye descriptive arts society

is a non-profit organization located in vancouver, bc. we describe theatre, arts and culture for those with vision loss.

Click on a newsletter at the left to read.

About Live Audio Description

VocalEye’s Live Audio Description Program is the first of its kind in Canada. Originally a program of Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, our professionally trained describers provide the visual details of live theatre performance to blind and low vision audiences in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey and Victoria, BC.

Theatre patrons with vision loss are given a personal receiver with a single earpiece and volume control that allows them to hear both the show and our live audio description at the same time. Our live transmission begins ten minutes before curtain with brief descriptions of the set, characters and costumes. Once the show begins, our describer transmits pertinent physical action and visual information between the lines of dialogue. Short program notes and additional description for the second act may be provided at intermission.

Mandate & Mission

VocalEye Descriptive Arts Society exists to serve individuals of all ages with vision loss in our community by:

~ providing accessible description of live theatre and other arts and cultural events

~ lowering barriers to participation in theatre, arts and cultural events

~ promoting access to theatre, arts and cultural events through education and outreach

Our Services

  • Described theatre performances for adults and young audiences in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey and Victoria, BC
  • Advance description, program notes and plot synopses in accessible formats
  • Touch Tours: guided tactile experiences of the production’s sets, props and costumes
  • Theatre Buddies: volunteer guides to and from the theatre
  • Sighted Guide Training: workshops in guiding techniques
  • Live Audio Subtitling
  • Described Performance Training
  • Equipment rental for description or translation purposes

For more information on our descriptive services, training or equipment rental, please submit your enquiry to  info@vocaleye.ca

In Development

  • Live Audio Description of Dance, Opera and Festivals
  • Verbal Description of Visual Art for public art tours, galleries and museums
  • Vancouver Beyond Sight: Verbal Description of Landmarks and Architecture
  • Community Workshops in Arts and Culture for those with vision loss

For updates on all our activities and events, please join our mailing list by completing the form in the sidebar under “Subscribe” or please send an email to  info@vocaleye.ca with “subscribe” in the subject line.


The first Live Audio Description program in Canada (called “EarSighted”) was launched by Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company’s production of The Miracle Worker in 2009. The following year, the team was invited to describe a number of performances for the 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympics, including Robert LePage’s Blue Dragon.

The program was renamed “VocalEye” in 2011 and following two successful seasons became a separate non-profit society in 2012 and a Chapter of The Canadian Council of the Blind BC/Yukon, a registered charity, in 2013. VocalEye Descriptive Arts continues to provide a full season of described theatre performance in Vancouver, the Lower Mainland and Victoria. Other descriptive services and programs serving the blind and partially sighted community are currently in development.

Life after vision loss

Life after vision loss

Louise Gillis begins third term as president of national organization, represents Canada at international level

As president of the Canadian Council of the Blind, Louise Gillis is busy throughout the year attending meetings across the country and dealing with council business and responding to emails from her home in Sydney. LAURA JEAN GRANT – COMMUNITY POST



SYDNEY — “There is life after vision loss.”

It’s a statement that Cape Bre- ton’s Louise Gillis not only strong- ly believes, it’s something she’s demonstrated day in and day out for decades.

Originally from Skye Glen, Inverness County, Gillis has called Sydney home for the last 40 years. About two years after settling in Sydney, where she was working as a nurse,   Gillis’ eye troubles first developed…..   Read the Rest by downloading the PDF