Cover of the July edition of VISIONS.

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Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

July 2020

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

President’s Message

Now that summer is here and we are getting some hot weather I hope everyone is well and able to get some relaxing time for a bit. As the cases of COVID-19 decrease we still have to be mindful of handwashing and staying away from crowded spaces so that we lessen the numbers in a second round.

As time goes on we continue numerous meetings via ZOOM and other web version meetings to work with all the organizations to do the work normally done in person. This takes a lot longer to get to the final version of what we are trying to accomplish as we are all looking forward to when we can meet in person.

GTT continues to be popular with everyone and has been a great resource. As Albert Ruel has retired I would like to thank him for his work in the blind community and also wish him well – enjoy retirement Albert.

In regard to the Disability payment that we expected I have written several letters with the most recent on July 1st. As soon as we hear the news will be posted on our website.

Enjoy your summer and happy reading.

Louise Gillis, National President


Thank-you Albert!

We would like to announce the retirement of Albert Ruel from the CCB. Albert has contributed to our organization for over thirteen years, working diligently to support the members of the blind community, a community he cares deeply about, in their efforts to increase their access to technology.

His time with CCB began in 2007, with the Computer Literacy Training program. In 2013, Albert began working with our Get Together with Technology (GTT) training program, where he continued to support the community’s access to accessible technology.

Albert was instrumental in the delivery of the CCB Computer Literacy Training program, which ran for over 2 years, in which he helped to greatly develop and increase our member’s computer knowledge. When all was said and done, this program trained over 425 blind and visually impaired participants, in over 50 communities across Canada.

CCB’s efforts to increase our community’s computer literacy continued with its work with the GTT program; and knowing Albert’s expertise in accessible technology, it was an easy decision to ask him to get involved. He greatly contributed to expanding the GTT program across the country, particularly in the province of BC. Over the years, Albert led and participated in countless GTT training sessions, and all with exceptional standards.

Albert, on behalf of all CCB members, we wish you the very best as you move into retirement. Your technology expertise is well known in the blind community, your care for your student’s in your training sessions has been outstanding, and the advice you provided to all participants has been extraordinary. Rest assured that your many years of service have contributed immensely to the independence of our members. You truly helped to change what it means to be blind!

In addition, speaking of our fabulous GTT program…Based in part on the realities that COVID-19 has thrust upon us, the CCB GTT program will see some change in the days and months ahead. Those might include, but are not limited to, a new Android users group and also one exclusively for Low vision participants. Stay tuned to the CCB GTT blog for more information at

In addition, with somewhat of a new look to the program comes a new employee. Many of you however may already know him from his previous work with the CCB in various capacities including the CVICC event and his backup role for Albert.

The CCB is pleased to welcome Corry Stuive to his new role as Program Coordinator. Corry will assume many of the CCB GTT tasks previously handled by Albert. Corry’s background includes many years of work in various media capacities as well as a ten-year stint where he owned and operated a very successful Audio recording studio in Victoria. Welcome Corry!

Corry can be reached at the following email address [email protected] or by phone at 1-877-304-0968 ext. 550

Update: Service Canada Begins the Gradual and Safe Reopening of In-Person Locations Across the Country

During the pandemic, while in person Service Canada Centres temporarily closed to the public in March, the Government of Canada never stopped serving Canadians. We have made incredible changes to our service delivery approach in a short period to ensure Canadians continue to have access to Service Canada programs, services and benefits while remaining at home.

As we move forward with the gradual reopening of Service Canada Centres, protecting the health and safety of our employees and clients is our main priority.

New safety measures have been put in place in our offices be consistent with public health guidelines such as signage to manage physical distancing, limited seating in waiting areas, clear barriers at service counters, and enhanced disinfecting of our offices.

Canadians should continue to use online services whenever possible, including the eServiceCanada portal. Those who require in-person services should verify if their local office is open and they are encouraged to make a request for an appointment through the portal

I invite to you to read the announcement from July 7 and to share this message with your colleagues and networks.

For the latest and most up-to-date information and to learn more about available services visit Service Canada.


The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

An exciting new CCB-GTT group… All about Android

Have you ever found yourself asking which type of phone should I get for my needs? An IPHONE or an Android? The truth is both have their advantages and disadvantages, but Apple gets most of the press. That is why your hosts for the call, Tracy and Matthew, have put this group together. We want to share some of the perks of using an Android device. More importantly, we want your input as blind or partially sighted users and are here to discuss any questions you may have.

This is not an android only group; we welcome the input of Apple users and users of all experience levels. In our first meeting, we will be discussing the purpose and goals of this group and will mention some of the excellent accessibility features available on Android devices. After that, the floor is yours!!! We want to hear what works for you and what issues you may have. The group can help you with your issues. We look forward to your participation!!!

Date: Wednesday 15 July 2020

Time: 7:00pm (eastern), 4:00pm (pacific)

Location: Zoom meeting, to join:

Meeting ID: 983 959 5688

Password: 320119

What’s happening in the BC-Yukon Division:

Like everyone, the BC-Yukon Division is dealing with the effects of Covid-19 – no in person meetings.  In April, the Division was forced to cancel our face-to-face 75th Anniversary Celebration and 2020 AGM being held in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island; and with tenacious doggedness and resilience, we successfully hosted our AGM via conference call for the first time.  If the health climate allows, the hope is to celebrate our 76th Anniversary and 2021 AGM in the Comox Valley next year.

As many are, the Division is now using Zoom to reach out to our members – holding Division Board and committee meetings, offering our Chapters an opportunity to connect with their members and expanding the frequency of our Chapter Call-In sessions with guest speakers in attendance. 

We salute our Chapters who are staying in touch with their members by phone – checking in on one another.

We would like to share a submission from our May edition of the CCB BC-Yukon Division Newsletter…  An article on Emergency Support Grants available and Chapters success applying; and we would also like to encourage you to visit our website to read a wonderful poem about Albert Ruel, who is retiring this month. To read the poem, please visit the CCB BC-Yukon Division Newsletter page at:

Emergency Support Fund

Did you know that the Government of Canada has committed over $350 million to improve the ability of community organizations to serve vulnerable Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis? As of May 19, 2020 community-based organizations from across the country are able to apply for funding from The Emergency Community Support Fund to assist with a variety of activities that address a pressing social inclusion or well-being need caused by COVID-19, such as:

  • increasing volunteer-based home deliveries of groceries and medications
  • scaling up help lines that provide information and support
  • helping vulnerable Canadians access government benefits
  • providing training, supplies, and other required supports to volunteers so they can continue to make their invaluable contributions to the COVID-19 response
  • replacing in-person, one-on-one contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through phone calls, texts, teleconferences, or the Internet.

The money from this fund has been distributed to three national organizations for distribution. They are the United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and the Community Foundations of Canada.

The Comox Valley and Campbell River Chapters have successfully applied to their local Community Foundation for audiobooks. If you know of a need in your chapter apply for funding. Applications should be sent directly to your local foundations. Check their web sites for deadlines, application forms and information.

If you would like more information on the Emergency Community Support Fund visit the web site with the following link.

Story Update: Comox Valley Chapter has again applied for funds to supply masks for their members; and Powell River and Sunshine Coast Chapters have applied for funds as well.

Submitted by Ann McNabb, Division President and Newsletter Editor on behalf of our CCB BC-Yukon Division Members

VIA Rail committed to follow the way towards a more accessible and inclusive future:

VIA Rail is taking another step towards universal accessibility in order to meet the requirements set out by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).

We are also proud to officially launching our Universal Accessibility Policy. This policy will guide all of our actions and decisions and support our efforts to meet and exceed government regulations.

Among meaningful options VIA Rail is proposing to passengers, here are a few examples:

  • Customers with disabilities or functional limitations unable to make reservations on our website will now have the option to make them by telephone 24 hours a day.
  • Curbside assistance from the station entrance to the platform, available in select stations, which includes wheelchair assistance, guiding assistance, and assistance carrying baggage;
  • Relief areas for service animals will be provided in 80 of our stations;
  • An improved digital strategy to make information even more accessible;
  • Menus and safety cards are available on board in braille or large print on demand

If you want to find out more information on services now available to passengers with disabilities or functional limitations, I invite you to visit the website at:

Call for Research Participants: help improve how the Federal government communicates through notifications

Have you received email alerts, status updates or notifications from the federal government and are interested in participating in interviews to help improve that experience?

Anne-Marie Mulumba is a researcher for the Canadian Digital Service (CDS), a government department that improves access and use of government services. Her team is improving how the government communicates with you, so your feedback would be super valuable. If you or someone else you know might be interested to provide feedback, they can get in touch with Anne-Marie by emailing her at:

[email protected]

You can also call her at 343-549-3273. She will get back to you with more details.

Basic Windows From The Keyboard Tutorial Podcasts by Gerry Chevalier, Sessions 1 Through 7 with more to come

During the spring of 2020 Gerry delivered to CCB-GTT Open Chat Zoom meeting

( )  participants each Wednesday morning a series of beginner sessions aimed at getting PC users more familiar with basic keyboard access.  To learn more check out the CCB-GTT Program blog at the above link.

The below Windows from the Keyboard tutorial recordings will benefit all screen reader and magnification users as they focus on basic keyboard access to the PC’s operations.  In fact, anyone can benefit from these tutorials even if they just want to reduce repetitive motion strain caused by use of the computer mouse.

To listen to each episode listed here from your computer or smart device simply click on the individual session links provided, and PC screen reader users can use their Quick Navigation key B once on the episode site to access the Play/Pause button.  Press the Space Bar to activate it once found.

You can subscribe to the CCB Podcast feed by searching for CCB/Canadian Council of the Blind Podcast on the Victor Reader Stream, or your favourite smart device PodCatcher.

Happy listening!

Session 1: April 29, 2020

Theme: Intro Session Keyboard, Desktop, Start Menu, Task Bar (

) , Show Notes and Podcast link.

Session 2: May 6, 2020

Theme: Desktop Shortcuts (

) , Show Notes and Podcast Link.

Bonus Session: May 8, 2020

Theme: Typio Accessible Typing Tutor App (

) , Show Notes and Podcast link.

Session 3: May 13, 2020

Theme: Task Bar (

) , Show Notes and Podcast link.

Session 4: May 20, 2020

Theme: Navigating and Selecting Text in Word and Outlook (

) , Show Notes and Podcast Link.

Session 5: May 27, 2020

Theme:  Windows File Explorer (

) , Show Notes and Podcast Link.

Session 6: June 3, 2020

Theme: Windows Recycle Bin and Using External Media (

) , Show Notes and Podcast link.

Session 7: June 17, 2020

Theme: Internet Browsing (

) , Show Notes and Podcast link.

How to access and download CCB Podcast Episodes:

PC Computer: all the above podcast episodes can be accessed and downloaded from; Here’s how:

  • Open the episode you wish to download and navigate to the Download Link.
  • In the Social Sharing section of the page is a Download Link along with the number of downloads to date. First letter navigation from the screen reader’s Links List won’t work to access this Download Link.
  • Down arrow to it and press Enter once found.
  • In the page that loads you will find another Download Link, and once the links are listed using the screen reader’s Links List first letter navigation will work. Press Enter to activate the function. The podcast will be found in your Downloads folder.
  • To close the Downloads Page Use Control W, which will take you back to the episode page, and Alt left arrow will take you back to the main CCB Podcast page.

Who is Gerry Chevalier?

Gerry Chevalier was an entrepreneur and software developer of small business accounting systems for over 25 years. Over the course of his career, Gerry became blind due to RP. He has used Windows primarily with JAWS for over 20 years. In 2004, Gerry joined HumanWare ( )  as the Product Manager for their Victor Reader line of DAISY digital talking book players.

Now retired, Gerry volunteers as the co-coordinator of GTT Edmonton, a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind ( ) . GTT (Get Together with Technology) is a self-help peer-mentoring group of blind and vision impaired people who use and want to learn more about assistive technology.

For more information, please contact your GTT Coordinators/Trainers:

Kim Kilpatrick 1-877-304-0968 Ext. 513

[email protected]

David Green 1-877-304-0968 Ext. 509

[email protected]

Corry Stuive 1-877-304-0968 ext. 550

[email protected]

Advertisment:  Get GPS apps for vision accessibility needs, brought to you by Bell. BlindSquare Promo and Nearby Explorer Online provide for safe, reliable, and independent travel by voicing directions, points of interest, and descriptions of surrounding areas both indoors and outdoors. Take advantage of these apps anywhere you go on Canada’s largest network. Learn more at Get Nearby Explorer Online for both Apple and Android devices for $0, or get BlindSquare Promo for Apple devices at an exclusive price of $9.99 for Bell Mobility customers (regularly priced at $54.99). Exclusive price available for a limited time only. Visit or call 1 800 268-9243 for more information.

Assistive Technology

New Accessible APP:

The DiCapta Foundation, an organization that’s part of the University of Central Florida’s Incubator, created an app to help the blind-deaf community tune into television and Emergency Alert.

Find the entire article at the below link:

Personal Power; The iOS Edition, by Michael Feir

“Getting the Most From iOS as a Blind User” is a guide for blind people who either own or are interested in using iOS devices made by Apple. Namely, iPhones, iPads and iPods. No prior experience is presumed. This guide was written to be as approachable to absolute beginners as possible.

Clocking in at around 250000 words, it has thirty-four major sections with second and third level subsections to ease navigation. There is also an interactive table of contents. The guide is not a manual so much as it is a travel guide. I wanted to impart the skills you will need to thrive in the iOS ecosystem. However, I felt that it was even more important to help newcomers explore the possibilities of what they might do with an iOS device. As with my prior Personal Power guide, I approach this from the perspective of personal life enrichment rather than employment. I think that finding ways to enjoy using iOS devices is vital if one seeks to become competent.

I encourage people to distribute this guide to whoever they think might find it useful. They are also free to post it in libraries or elsewhere on the Internet. Below is the ling to a Dropbox folder, which contains versions in PDF, Epub, Microsoft Word and Richtext:

In the News

New transport rules for disabled travelers a step forward but not enough: advocates

New rules aimed at making travel within Canada safer and more accessible for people with disabilities mark a welcome step forward but don’t yet go far enough to removing long-standing barriers, advocates say.

The reforms drafted by the Canadian Transportation Agency spell out rules governing most travel between provinces by air, rail, bus or boat. They do not apply to municipal or interprovincial travel, which do not fall under the agency’s jurisdiction. 

CTA Chairman Scott Streiner said the regulations aim to remove barriers that have plagued disabled travellers for years, such as additional fees for accommodations,

inaccessible communication in travel hubs and lack of staff assistance for those navigating them.

Advocates flagged many barriers that still remain, noting the rules do not apply to small transport providers or any international travel, but nonetheless hailed them as a notable victory.

“There’s big holes still in these regulations that we need to address, but we’ve got a footing now,” said Heather Walkus, who is blind and serves as the head of the transportation committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. “We no longer have to convince bureaucrats of this, this is the law of Canada.”

The agency first published the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations last summer after two years of consultations with Canada’s disability community.

Streiner said the objective was to bring a patchwork of regulations and guidelines, most of which were non-binding, under one mandatory framework that could be broadly applied and enforced with penalties if violated.

The rules, spelled out over more than 200 sections, are sweeping in scope and pertain to nearly all aspects of domestic travel that falls under the agency’s purview.

Transport hubs and providers alike now have obligations around accessible communications, noting websites and materials must be provided in a variety of formats and any announcements have to be made in both visual and audio form.

Streiner said the regulations also include a clear definition of what qualifies as a service animal, buffer zones and other protections for people living with severe allergies, requirements for staff to provide curb-to-gate assistance for passengers needing support, rules around the handling of wheelchairs on transport vehicles, and guidelines on making on-board entertainment accessible for all.

Some of the rules also reflect the fact that some disabilities are episodic in nature, a fact rarely addressed under the previous regime.

“The simple fact that we have all of these provisions in one place, and they can all be the subject of complaints from travellers with disabilities, and they can all be enforced, that is the single biggest breakthrough,” Streiner said, noting violators would receive a warning for initial infractions and could face penalties of up to $250,000.

Streiner cited the expansion of the Agency’s “one person, one fare” policy as among the biggest advancements in the new regulations, a view shared by disability advocates.

The policy, which was previously only in effect on certain airlines, allowed a disabled person to pay for only one seat even if they require more than one as a disability accommodation. The new regulations now make the policy mandatory across all transportation modes, not just select airlines.

Terry Green, an Ottawa resident living with multiple disabilities, lauded the agency for applying the policy more broadly.

But he criticized the exemption that will prevent several other key measures from taking effect on Thursday as planned and instead push them back to Jan. 1, 2021. These include several guidelines for accessible communication and on-board entertainment, as well as rules allowing carriers to retain medical documentation, thus saving passengers from the potential hassle of completing the same forms each time they travel.

Green said transport providers, which have been aware of the new regulations long before the advent of COVID-19, should not use a global pandemic as an excuse to delay long-needed action.

He also criticized some of the new rules, such as those that set limits on the size of wheelchairs that can be allowed on board. He noted that constant changes in medicine and technology mean the demographic targeted by the regulations will keep evolving, but rigid constraints won’t allow the agency to keep pace.

“What is considered good accessibility today is not necessarily what would be good accessibility tomorrow,” he said. “I think some part of these regulations that are coming into effect aren’t worded flexibly enough to capture that.”

That concern is shared by Allen Mankewich, a wheelchair user from Winnipeg. But more pressing for him, he said, is the degree to which employees of the travel industry will embrace the new rules and the inclusive spirit they’re meant to promote.

Mankewich said he’s encountered discriminatory treatment while flying more than once, including on one occasion when an airline employee tried to bar him from flying without an attendant on the grounds that they had had unspecified trouble with disabled passengers in the past.

“It … was completely unnecessary,” he said. “It reflects a misunderstanding by some employees about what their own policies actually are.”

Mankewich and other advocates hope future changes to the rules will allow wheelchair users to travel in their mobility devices on vehicles rather than storing them in baggage compartments where they’re highly prone to damage.

Streiner said such discussions are underway, as well as considerations around expanding “one person, one fare” to international travel and adopting way-finding technology in travel hubs to help visually impaired travellers with indoor navigation.

By Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press                      1-877-304-0968

 [email protected]