VISIONS – September newsletter

Cover of the Visions September newsletter.

 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.


Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

September 2020

“A lack of sight is not

a lack of vision”

President’s Message

Now that the “Dog Days of Summer” are past and we begin to prepare for the fall season I hope everyone was able to be out in the fresh air and enjoy summer with family and your bubble.

Although Canada has a reduced number of COVID-19 cases and the lifting of many restrictions has taken place we continue to be vigilant in aware of our surrounding to help reduce the risk of a second wave.

This is great but it still leaves us who live with sight loss to continue to have difficulties with social distancing, at least we can see more friends and family now. COVID-19 will be a major part of our lives for well into the future.

As we hear rumors regarding vaccines we must continue to be mindful that this is still a long way off – well into 2021 before there will be a reliable vaccine available for us. Until that time comes travel, work from home and all other things that were normal to us will all be changed.

The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) continues to work on a variety of projects over the summer, especially as we prepare for the fall activities. The working group have completed our part on the process to regulations on accessible payment terminals that now the government will be moving forward with in the fall.

We continue to work with a Biosimilars Working Group as now biosimilars are becoming part of the treatment protocol of AMD therapy. Check out a Zoom webinar on the International Federation on Ageing website for the session on August 12th at 7 AM EDT for further information. It is important to know what will change in eye care for various eye diseases so that you can have a fully informed conversation with your eye specialist.

CCB has also been working with National Museums on how to make exhibits more accessible. This continues to be a work in progress as many items cannot be handled. We will keep you up to date on this project.

CCB continues to work with our Auditors to finalization our financial statements and other documents in preparation for a fall AGM. Watch for updates coming soon.

The Canadian Curling Association has produced some new regulations that have been provided to the provinces who in turn work with individual curling clubs as to how each one will move forward. Pending results will determine how our vision impaired teams will have to comply. Our “NEW” way of living has made many changes for everyone so we will continue to be on wait and see which way we need to go.

You will see a petition in this newsletter regarding labeling for caustic/dangerous household goods. Please take a few minutes to sign this so that the process may begin.

Enjoy the last few days of summer as school will be starting in some areas which will again be a new way of life for all.

Stay safe.

Louise Gillis, National President


GTT Youth

The other day I decided to stop by the grocery store after work to pick up a couple of items. Very quickly, I was reminded of all the challenges that come with being in a new place; navigating the lay out, the changes in lighting, the new sounds and smells etc. A very quick task suddenly seemed impossible. I needed a pan to make nachos. At first I tried asking for some help However, due to COVID-19 most places are extremely low on staff. After asking two or three people, no one was available. So off I set to continue my quest for a nacho pan. After a few moments of searching I found the home isle. However finding what I needed wasn’t easy. When I did find something the writing on the packaging was so small I couldn’t figure out if the item was meant for the oven or not. I attempted to ask a random person for help, but shortly after they swooped up a passing staff member (that I didn’t see walk by) and left for something they needed. Extremely frustrated and feeling annoyed, I left. And no, they did not come back.

Today, more than ever, the problems that exist in our society have become extremely magnified. Marginalized and at risk communities have had a huge challenge the last few months to have access to some of the most basic services. When people have made large changes to a variety of day to day things people with disabilities have been forgotten.

At this point you may be wondering what ever happened to me on my nacho pan adventure. I went home got on my phone and opened up a grocery delivery app, selected what I needed, and had it delivered. The app was suggested to me a long time ago by a good friend of mine with vision loss.

Later that night I was able to share my experience on one of CCB’s zoom calls. Our GTT Youth group run by Nolan Jenikov. A place for the younger CCB community to connect, share our experiences, and talk about how different technology can provide support. Talking accessibility on topics like apps, gaming, social media and things like smart speakers with peers can make you more independent. CCB has always been about staying connected to our community. No matter how simple a piece of information may seem, it can make a really big difference when it’s shared.

Between the ages of 16-30? Or know someone who is? Send an e-mail to [email protected] to learn more about our GTT Youth chats and supports! Learn about what technology is out there that can make a difference.

By Sam Moore

Warning Label Petition

Since being elected MP for the Kenora riding, I’ve been working with the Atchison family in Kenora to advocate for accessibility.  

The Atchisons’ young daughter Jo-Hannah was born completely blind, and has spent all her life navigating the challenges that presents. One of these challenges is the fact that warning labels on hazardous household products are often not accessible to the visually impaired. This is especially concerning to parents of visually impaired children, who are at greater risk of mistaking a dangerous product for something more innocuous.

That’s why I’m sponsoring a parliamentary petition calling for braille or tactile symbols to be included on consumer product warning labels. If the petition gets 500 signatures, I will be able to present it in Parliament to raise awareness of the challenges facing visually impaired Canadians.  

I encourage everyone to sign it at:


Eric Melillo – Member of Parliament, Kenora riding  

AMI is proud to unveil the new website

Visitors will notice a different look, including the new AMI logo, and a cleaner, more streamlined layout featuring high-contrast blue banners. Accessibility is of the utmost importance to our audience, and we are excited to unveil Accessibility Preferences. Placed at the very top of the site and every page of, users can choose from eight levels of contrast, change the line spacing and the font. is fully compatible with assistive technology, including screen readers and magnifiers, and Windows, Apple and Android platforms and devices. And we’ve made it easier to find our award-winning content. WATCH means learning more about and streaming such AMI original TV shows as AMI This Week, Our Community, Eyes for the Job and Employable Me. LISTEN directs visitors to AMI-audio programs like NOW with Dave Brown, Kelly and Company and The Pulse. Visit the new today!


Canadian Council of the Blind Peterborough Chapter, would like to thank Susan Weaver for her generous donation of Visual Aids for our “From the Blind for the Blind” program.

 Susan’s husband Cliff was visually impaired and with the use of visual aids, Cliff was able to enjoy a full life. These treasures were generously donated to our program “From the Blind for the Blind, and will be passed on to others that will benefit from them.

We look forward to passing these items on, in honor of Cliff Weaver.

If you know of someone who may benefit from our program or if you have items you wish to donate please contact Debby Haryett at 705-874-6905 or send an email to [email protected]

COVID-19 Support for Persons with Disabilities

Bill C-20, An Act Respecting Further COVID-19 Measures, received Royal Assent, and also came into force. This Act includes the one-time financial assistance of up to $600 to people with disabilities. It’s a done deal!

As a reminder, to be eligible for the funding you must be a recipient of one of the following programs or benefits:

– A Disability Tax Credit certificate provided by the Canada Revenue   Agency; Canada Pension Plan

– Disability benefit or Quebec Pension Plan disability benefit

– Disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.

You can read more about this Act at:

Check out Detailed guides on the Disability Tax Credit

The COVID-19 pandemic, as you may well know, is taking a particularly heavy toll on Canadians with disabilities.

So now, more than ever getting approved for the Disability Tax Credit or CPP Disability makes a huge difference to the lives of disabled Canadians and their families.

We think you may benefit greatly from the following guides and resources:

Disability Tax Credit Guide

CPP Disability Guide

The Canada Revenue Agency announces an extension to the payment deadline and offers interest relief on outstanding tax debts during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation, and is committed to supporting Canadians throughout it. The CRA understands that individuals and businesses might be dealing with difficulties in meeting their financial obligations, including paying tax debts they may have incurred prior to the crisis. In addition to measures already announced, the CRA is extending the payment deadline and applying relief to interest on existing debt.

Payment deadline extension

The CRA is extending the payment due date for current year individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including instalment payments, from September

1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020.

Interest on Existing Tax Debt

The CRA is also waiving interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns from April 1, 2020, to September 30,

2020 and from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns. While this measure for existing tax debts does not cancel penalties and interest already assessed on a taxpayer’s account prior to this period, it ensures that a taxpayer’s existing tax debt does not continue to grow through interest charges during this difficult time. This measure provides immediate relief to impacted taxpayers.

Filing returns

The previously extended filing due dates for individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns remain unchanged. However, recognizing the difficult circumstances faced by Canadians, the CRA will not impose late-filing penalties where a current year individual, corporation, or trust return is filed late provided that it is filed by September 30, 2020.

The CRA encourages everyone to file their individual, corporate and trust returns as soon as possible, even though payment deadlines are being extended.

This is particularly important for individuals receiving credits and benefits, such as the Canada Child Benefit.

To ensure Canadians continue to receive their benefits and credits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRA temporarily suspended interruptions for those who were unable to file their income tax and benefit return by the June 1 deadline. Currently, if a 2019 individual tax return has not been assessed, the CRA is calculating benefits and/or credits for the July to September 2020 payments based on information from 2018 tax returns. However, if 2019 individual tax returns are not received and assessed by early September 2020, estimated benefits and/or credits will stop in October 2020 and individuals may have to repay the amounts that were issued as of July 2020. The CRA has helpful information and a step-by-step guide to help Canadians complete their taxes. The CRA tax processing system is fully operational and returns are being processed quickly to support Canadians in getting their refunds and ensuring continuity of their benefits.

Assistive Technology

Introducing a New Assistive Technology Blog: Windows from the Keyboard Tips

Hello. This is Gerry Chevalier from the GTT Edmonton Chapter. This weekly blog provides tips that I find useful as a keyboard user of Windows. The information is for Windows10 and Office 365, although many tips still apply to older versions.  The tips do not require a screen reader unless specifically noted. Thus, the tips apply whether you are a keyboard user or low vision mouse user. Here is a new tip.

Outlook – Search for Messages                              

If you want to find an older message which may be in your Sent items or Deleted items, first move to the folder where you believe the message is. Do this with Control+Y to bring up the tree view of folders and then arrow to the folder or press its first letter, and then press Enter to open the folder. Now, to search in that folder, press Control+E. An edit box opens. Type one or more words you believe are in the message such as an email name, a unique word from the subject line or within the message body. Then press TAB several times and you will be in a list of messages where your search text was found.

That’s it for this tip. Until next time, happy computing.

Introducing OrCam Read

With the press of a button, OrCam Read activates a laser to indicate where to start reading on any printed text or screen.

Any type of text is instantly converted into audio for transmission, either through the device’s tiny speaker or a connected Bluetooth device.

OrCam has won numerous global awards for it’s highly advanced, personal AI technology.  OrCam Read has already been described as “an exceptional on demand tool to access print in work, education and community settings.”

Please visit the following link for more information on OrCam

Educational Opportunities

The Future of Hadley is NOW:

Hadley celebrates our centennial anniversary this year. And while no one could have seen 2020 unfolding the way it has, distance learning and technology have played important roles in our “new normal.” Now, I’d like to invite you to another celebration—a chance to rediscover Hadley for yourself.

We have designed our new learning experience as a guided approach through a variety of topics. So, whether you’d like to discuss gardening techniques, learn how to safely use a sharp knife, or discover ways to use your smart phone with more confidence, you’ll find something for you at Hadley. And of course, we continue to innovate our approach to braille, too.

        Workshops: A New Learning Experience

We’ve reinvented the learning experience at Hadley and we’re eager for you to give it a try. Courses and instructional videos have been transformed into what we’re calling workshops.

Each workshop offers concise, practical help on topics of Daily Living, Technology, Adjusting to Vision Loss, Recreation, Working and Braille. There are video components, transcripts, and links to resources and handouts. They also give you direct connection to experts if you need more help.

To begin with, we have nearly 500 workshops, discussion groups, and audio podcasts ready for you. And we’re adding new titles every week.

You’ll need to register once on the new site. But from there your computer will remember you every time you return and will track your progress every time you log on.

Get Started

        Discussion Groups

Hadley discussion groups have proven to be very popular and will continue well into the future. These call-in sessions give you a chance to learn from and share with each other as well as the Hadley facilitator.

From gardening to cooking, crafting to braille, you’re bound to find a group that’s right for you.

Check out discussion groups

        My Learning Library

If you, or someone you are supporting, prefers to learn in large print, audio or braille, we have just the ticket. Your Learning Library will keep hard copy pages of workshops organized and handy.

Just call our Support Services line at 800.323.4238, and we will mail a series of workshops to your home.

        Do you have questions about which workshop is right for you?

Call us at 800.323.4238 or email us at [email protected]  and get started today.

TTJ Announces 2020-21 Free Course Offerings – Our Most Incredible Season Yet!

For anyone who may be interested, please see below for free courses offered through Zoom on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.

At our second annual TTJ Tech Summit, which was held on Saturday, July 25, The Tech Juggernaut revealed its plans for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 Training Season. This year promises to be our best ever, with something for everyone! All our courses will be completely updated for iOS and iPad OS 14 and all its features. Our Voiceover course will begin earlier this year and will provide the most thorough and in-depth training we’ve offered thus far. Our flagship iPad course, completely redesigned for iPad OS 14, will provide 12 weeks of training, and will cover the most extensive curriculum of any of our courses so far. We will also further enhance the learning experience by providing several mini courses on subjects like cutting the cord, home automation, and keeping your identity private and secure in the digital world. Finally, we are pleased to offer, for the very first time, a separate course on the Mac, as well as mini courses on AppleTV, HomePod, and Apple Watch. We’ll round out this years offerings with a mini course on Apple Pay, electronic payments, and tips for financial success.

As in past years, classes will be held live, using online conferencing software, and will also feature a digital learning platform, to facilitate the distribution of audio and video tutorials, written documentation, web links. Assignments, discussions, and more. The combined total of live and on-demand instruction will provide hundreds of hours of useful resources, created by certified instructors with the passion for helping others learn about these life-changing and empowering Apple products. Perhaps best of all, is the fact that these courses will remain completely free for all students. There are no entrance fees, no subscriptions, and no purchase necessary. For those who wish to go beyond what is taught in our courses, or for those who need individualized training, other training and support packages are available for a fee.

Classes are set to take place on Mondays and Wednesdays, beginning September 14, 2020, and running through May 26, 2021. Registration opens Monday August 10, 2020, so get ready, and stay tuned for more information.

Be sure you are subscribe to the blog at https://TTJ so you don’t miss any course information. Direct all questions to [email protected]

Advertisement: 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.

In the News

COVID-19 Causing Long Delays for Guide Dogs, Charity Says

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced people inside their homes in mid-March, the loss of freedom was felt particularly hard by blind and partly blind Canadians waiting for guide dogs.

“[Clients have] been waiting quite a while,” said Steven Doucette, who works with Manotick-based charity Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.

The charity, located in Ottawa’s rural south end, has seen its ability to match people with guide dogs severely impaired by the pandemic.

“Some [people have been waiting] for months, some maybe up to a year to get their guide dog, which gives them back their freedom and independence,”

Doucette told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning last week.

Typically, people who are partly blind would visit Ottawa for 18 days of intensive training alongside their new pooch. The charity’s training centre provides space for clients to bond with the support animal, ask questions or receive pointers.

But Doucette said Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind shut down in March after being declared a non-essential business.

Donations all but dried up, he said, although the charity still had hundreds of dogs in need of care.

“We were in dire straits for a while. Looking after these dogs,


difficult to cut expenses. We have the overhead [expenses] of a residential training centre that’s going to sit empty,” he said.  “For a while, we were stagnant.”

Months later, the charity is still only matching people with dogs at half the rate it used to.Due to COVID-19, only one client can attend the training centre at a time, down from as many as eight people pre-pandemic, Doucette said. 

 Instructors are travelling into people’s communities to work with them, before bringing the dog back to Manotick in the evening – which is not ideal, Doucette said.

Normally, clients would be paired with their dog on their second day at the centre and then start living together 24/7.

Doucette said being properly trained to work with a guide dog takes time, but is critical to get right.

“You’re basically giving them a four-legged creature and saying, ‘Here, this is your guide dog and trust it with your life,'” he said.

Physical Distancing Not Always Possible for the Blind and Partially Sighted

Jessica Bonish is legally blind. When going for walks in Regina, Saskatchewan, she’ll use a cane to watch for uneven sidewalks or details she may miss.

However, in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, Bonish is hitting a block when it comes to physical distancing. People are advised to keep six feet apart, and that often leaves it to Bonish to make the six feet of space to avoid other people in front of her.

“I’m often the one moving to the street even when I don’t use my white cane. I find I’m the one trying to keep that distance,” Bonish said.

Saskatchewan has a slightly smaller increase of COVID-19 cases lately with seven new cases and twelve new recoveries.

Bonish said when the coronavirus pandemic started, people were physical distancing and she was impressed. In the past few weeks, people seem to not be making the same allowances as before.

“I think maybe in general people are just becoming complacent,” Bonish said.

“And they think it’s all overblown – that might play into it.”

Bonish isn’t alone in her experience. The CNIB Foundation is reminding people that physical distancing isn’t always possible for people who are blind or partially sighted when on walks or doing basic tasks like grocery shopping.

Ashley Nemeth is the program lead, community engagement and advocacy at CNIB. She’s been working from home and adjusting since the pandemic started.

One big change is grocery shopping, she said.

“It could be challenging because, for example, I see with my hands,” she said. “In order for me to know what things are – I need to use my hands and touch everything. So it’s been a challenge.”

Nemeth said it comes down to education – People need to be educated that someone who is blind or partially sighted may need guides when they’re at the grocery store at times and may need assistance within six feet.

“There needs to be an understanding that they’re doing the best that they can in the situation, but social distancing isn’t always possible in every single situation.”

Nemeth said people are experiencing discrimination or being confronted by others because there is a lot of fear and anxiety around the pandemic.

Nemeth said it’s important to consider what people with disabilities are going through.

“The best thing for people to do is to just have some understanding and compassion and kindness towards people who are out and about,” Nemeth said.

“They don’t know what anybody’s situation is.”

When people are walking out and see someone with a guide dog or cane, Nemeth recommends announcing that they are approaching or giving distance to the person.

Bonish hopes moving forward people make allowances and move onto the street to give space to people using canes, people using wheelchairs, parents with a stroller or people who look able-bodied but really are not.

Bonish said she hopes people also understand the gravity of the situation in the future and give space.

“The more we can physically distance – as much as it may be difficult and sacrifice right now – in the long term it’s going to mean we get back to whatever our new normal will be a lot quicker.”

By Heidi Atter, CBC News


Membership Madness

Hi Everyone!  Becky from the office here. Membership packages have been sent to the chapter contacts of each chapter.  Independent membership will be sent shortly.  We have extended the dates this year because of the craziness caused by COVID-19.

We will not be running an Early Bird Draw this year because of situations arising from the pandemic.  It is going to be harder for chapters to get together, and the post office is slower than normal.  Look for this fun features return in the near future.

Chapter Rebate Deadline – December 11, 2020

All 2019 Memberships Due – December 31, 2020

White Cane Week Orders Due – December 18, 2020

WCW Insurance Requests Due – December 18, 2020

An FAQ that we get every year is what is an AUXILIARY membership.  Please find the definitions below.

BLIND – A paid voting member who is blind.

VISION IMPAIRED – A paid voting member who is vision impaired.

SIGHTED – A paid voting member who is sighted.

AUXILIARY – A member who is paying their dues in another chapter, but is also a member of yours.  (eg. Sophie is in CCB City Chapter, but she is also part of CCB City Curling Chapter.  Sophie is an auxiliary in the curling chapter so she only has to pay her dues once.)

HONOURARY – A member who has been recognized at the national level for their commitment and service.  They are the only free voting membership.  Chapters may nominate someone for this, but cannot just give it out.  A chapter is free to pay the dues of a member they wish to support locally.  To get the nomination forms please email [email protected]

VOLUNTEER – A free non-voting member, usually those who help out with the chapter. Sometimes a representative of another group the chapter works closely with.

YOUTH – A member under the age of 18.  A parent’s signature is needed on their membership sheets.

I hope this helps, and look forward to receiving your chapters’ memberships.



Donations Received in the office in 2020 are the only ones that can be receipted for 2020.  Remember to send those donations in if you want receipts.