VISIONS – December 2020

Cover of the December issue of VISIONS featuring a sleeping puppy.

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Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

December 2020

“A lack of sight is not

a lack of vision”

President’s Message

As we approach the holiday season many chapters would usually be preparing for festive dinners together. In most of our great country this will not be possible due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the country is in the midst of the second wave therefore it is recommended that we stay home to be safe and celebrate with our household family. I hope everyone is staying healthy.

Meanwhile our organization continues to move forward with the work at hand. Zoom and Team Meetings are very popular methods of communicating with the various external committees and groups we are involved with. For instance, Marine Atlantic is currently working to improve their company’s accessibility and inclusion, therefore, they are working with various groups to assist them in fulfilling that need. We are very pleased to see a growth in GTT with a group of young Canadians. That leaders from GTT are checking in with chapters and some members across the country as a follow- up to the first COVID check in.

As we have in the past completed Patient Submissions in conjunction with Fighting Blindness Canada and CNIB to the Canadian Agency on Drugs and Technologies for new treatments for eye therapies with the most recent one being for Luxturna which has been approved by Health Canada for the treatment of an inherited retina disease. Although this is a very expensive treatment it can make a major change in individuals who have the particular gene that causes the disease.

We are in the process of arranging for a special meeting of members to be held near mid-February to approve the recently completed By-Laws for which you have received a copy from the National Office. An attachment will be sent at this time including the Nomination forms so that there will be ample time to have them returned to the nominating committee to be able to vet and prepare a slate for the upcoming election for the Board of Directors. Following the approval of the By-Laws notification will be sent out to all members in good standing to attend the delayed AGM which will be in March.

At this time, I wish all members and readers of Visions a Happy Holiday season. Keep safe, enjoy your close family connections and keep in touch with members of your community by telephone over the holidays to check on their well-being.

Best Wishes

Louise Gillis, National President


CCB’s GTT Helping Individuals through Trying Times:

What a year 2020 has been!  We never would have dreamed this time last year that we would be in for a year like this.  Although the pandemic has brought many challenges, it has also shown us how adaptable, creative, and supportive we can be.

“Through GTT, I learned how to use Zoom on my iPhone”, explained a GTT participant from Ottawa. “Now I can have virtual visits with my grandchildren. It’s so nice to have that face to face interaction again, even if it is from a distance!”

Technology is helping us get through these times. I have loved getting to know and hear the voices of people from across our country in our GTT zoom calls, and individual training sessions.

“I was nervous about trying to remain physically distant while paying for items with cash”, said a GTT participant in Vancouver.  “GTT taught me how to do e-transfers in this time when it’s necessary to be physically distant and difficult to exchange cash with ease.”

“I had not even used an IPhone as a blind person a year ago”, said an individual in the GTT Edmonton group. “Today I’m using dolphin easy reader to read books, as well as WhatsApp, skype and facetime to keep in touch with family around the country.

We continue to host many innovative meetings through zoom, produce podcast content, host our e-mail list, and social media, and provide individual support and training.

To find out more about all of this, call 1-877-304-0968 or e-mail [email protected]

Even though the CCB offices are closed from December 24 to January 4, we may be hosting some zoom sessions over the holiday period.  Stay tuned for announcements about that on our blog, e-mail list, and during upcoming calls.

From everyone on the CCB GTT team, happy holiday season.

By Kim Kilpatrick, GTT Coordinator

After Hours Book Club:  A Book Club For Those Who Like To Listen (And Sometimes Feel):

The CCB has a number of chapters dedicated to the love of books.  Unlike many book clubs, members typically enjoy literature with their ears (and sometimes their fingers) rather than using their eyes.

The CCB Ottawa Listeners’ Book Club has been meeting in person monthly for a number of years. They enjoy choosing books and engaging in lively discussions.  Some have received assistance in acquiring devices needed to listen to books, and guidance in obtaining books on CD or via download from the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) Library. While this book club is very successful, the need for an additional book club stemmed from a number of interested participants who are working, studying and otherwise unavailable during the day.   

Thanks to a generous grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation, a team working from CCB’s National Office set about to establish a book club that would meet in the evening.  With expertise and guidance from Jane Beaumont, (who has been instrumental as a volunteer with the current book club here in Ottawa), the team set out to fulfill the goals outlined within our grant application. 

Along with creating a book club for those who are unavailable during the daytime, another goal of our project was to help participants navigate away from materials on CD, and toward downloadable or single use Braille formats readily available through the CELA Library.  Some Victor Streams were purchased, and then loaded with books. 

Training for participants who need to increase their knowledge of the new technology and apps will be provided through the Get Together With Technology (GTT) program.  Another project goal is to create a comprehensive manual that may be used by any CCB chapter who wishes to form a book club of their own.

The pandemic turned everything upside down.  Originally, we’d hoped to meet at Ottawa’s CNIB Hub.  With strict prohibitions on gatherings indoors in effect, we turned to technology instead. Since its inception on July 7, we logged on to Zoom where we’ve been meeting ever since.  Zoom was chosen as it is easy to use with screen-reading/magnification software.  Thanks to the prompt, thorough training by the GTT Team, those new to Zoom soon felt at home using the platform.

At our first meeting, everyone took turns introducing themselves and talking about their likes/dislikes in terms of genre—there was a lot of variety among this group.  For our next meeting, three of our avid readers were chosen to ‘pitch’ their book choices for voting. We have read such works of fiction as “An Ordinary Grace”, “All the Light We Cannot See”, “The Power of One”, “Not Without My Daughter”, and “Indian Horse.”  The club is now chuckling our way through “An Irish Country Doctor.” 

One of our insightful literature lovers said, “This book club is a regular gathering of people united by a common passion for reading. Being avid readers we actively discuss books that we usually read in advance before our Zoom meetings. We share our understanding of each book, analyze the development of its main story, characters, their relations, conflicts and actions. What I enjoy the most is that during our discussions there is always a variety of different opinions, interpretations and   points of view. They greatly enrich my understanding of the meaning of each book in terms of its literary, moral and social values.”

Like other book clubs, our group has lively discussions about plot, character, relevance and the author’s writing style.  Unlike other book clubs, talk also turns to narration—human-narrated vs. synthetic speech.  A good narrator can add to a story and further captivate the reader.  We also exchange information about book sources, CELA and Bookshare, listening and single use Braille, and choice of reading app—some swear by Dolphin Reader while others are staunch Voice Dream Reader users.

Another enthusiastic Book Club participant said, “The After Hours Book Club transforms the spoken words of audible books into memories, explanations, discussions, debates, laughter and so much more.  It turns books into ideas about what they are trying to say.  It makes its members think!  And it does this in the evening with a simple click! on the join Zoom meeting link.  It’s great.” 

Our membership is not completely restricted to those with vision loss as there are a couple of sighted spouses who have joined the discussion. The After Hours Book Club is a welcome addition, especially now when we may have more time to enjoy a good read. We don’t know when we will be able to meet in person once more, and, even when the pandemic has lifted, there may still be a preference to meet over Zoom, especially during the winter months.  Like reading in alternate formats, COVID 19 has taught us the true meaning of adaptability. Another happy participant commented, “These Zoom Book Club meetings are invaluable. Interacting with various people, on a common topic is both fun and stimulating. The level of involvement is up to the participant, which is so important, during COVID times. The meetings are very well run and I credit the CCB for this.”

If you would like to know more, please contact the CCB National Office. 

Submitted by Shelley Ann Morris

AIRA and the CCB Organization Plan:

Aira is proud to partner with The CCB to make visual interpreting services available to more people. To encourage CCB members to try our service, we are extending special CCB Membership pricing from October 1st, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

CCB Member Intro Plan

Minutes: 30 per month

Price: $20.00 per month

Plan Share: no additional users

CCB Member Enhanced Plan

Minutes: 140 per month

Price: $99.00 per month

Plan Share: up to two additional users

To qualify for these plans, one must be a member in good standing of The Canadian Council of the Blind or its affiliates or chapters for the current membership year. Membership will be verified through our Customer Care Team.

Aira provides visual information through our smartphone app and trained agents, 24/7, 365 days per year. Agents are screened and adhere to strict security protocols. Our app uses the camera of your smartphone plus GPS and other powerful tools to give you the visual information you need, on your terms. To learn more about Aira, visit our web site at or call our Customer Care Team at 1.800.835.1934.

In addition, our Customer Care Team will need a direct contact and established method to verify membership in the organization. In order to continue these offers we do require that membership be validated by each organization at regular intervals.

Jenine Stanley

Explorer Community Manager

[email protected]


Aira Tech Corp.

Aira, the description of life, on your terms Us and Canada 1.800.835.1934

Australia: +1-800-765-096

New Zealand: +64-800-425-451

UK: +44-800-046-5668

Exciting Scholarship News:

The CCB is looking for 9 candidates who have an interest in a career in finance who could benefit from a new scholarship program.

The CFA Institute Investment Foundations® Program (previously called Claritas) covers the essentials of finance, ethics, and investment roles, providing a clear understanding of the global investment industry.

The Quartic package for the CFA Institute Investment Foundations Program ® includes:

Quartic Online: A series of inspirational videos covering everything students need to know to understand each of the chapters.

Question bank: For testing knowledge and honing exam skills with extensive question bank.

Mock exams: Two full-length online mock exams.

Tutor support

Classroom courses

Certification (on passing the exam): CFA Institute Investment Foundations Certificate.

For more information on this exciting opportunity, please contact the CCB National Office:

Toll-Free 1-877-304-0968

E-mail: [email protected]

International Day of Persons with Disabilities Conference:

 The Toronto chapter of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) will be hosting a special virtual conference, via Zoom, and everyone from across Canada is invited. This is our Fifth Annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities Event and this year’s theme is “Together One Voice, More Choices – Don’t Leave Us Behind”. The event will take place on Saturday December 5th, 2020 from 1-4 pm (EST). There is no charge to attend.

The CCB is proud to be a Gold sponsor of the event and Louise Gillis, our National President, will be one of the keynote speakers. We hope to hear you there!

A special and important message about your CCB 2021 membership:

Many of you have inquired and/or wondered about your 2021 CCB membership. “How can I pay when we are not getting together?” is by far the number one question. First and foremost, thank you for your patience and understanding as we considered all options available during this difficult time.

Obviously collecting the fees at a face to face gathering or meeting is not doable this year.

Let me reconfirm with absolute certainty the health and wellbeing of our CCB family, that includes members, volunteers and staff, is by far our top priority!

We are excited to now offer an online registration and payment option. The link to the CCB membership page on the Council’s website is listed below. We can also send you, or happily walk you through step by step instructions that we hope will make the process a bit more user friendly. Please rest assured that this payment and registration process is totally safe and secure. An SSL certification is enabled. Also, the CCB will not retain any credit card information if you elect to use that payment option.

Please find the CCB’s membership webpage at:

If you have any questions on the membership process, or would like us to send you step-by-step instructions on how to submit your on-line membership fee, please contact us at:

Toll-Free 1-877-304-0968

E-mail: [email protected]

We understand and appreciate that this may be new and/or difficult for many of our members. We get it and we have your back. Rest assured that NO MEMBER WILL BE DELETED from our organization because of non-payment. During these difficult times it is extremely important for us to maintain and have an active membership roster. This helps us generate additional funds from various sources, so we encourage you, and appreciate very much your willingness to pay your membership fee and give that support to your Council.

Thanks and Stay safe everyone!

International Website Accessibility Meeting – Report on Web Accessibility, Asia Pacific Region:

CCB members attend Hong Kong, World Blind Union virtual Presentation

On Oct 22, 2020, the Hong Kong Blind Union, held an International zoom meeting and hosted three important presentations regarding accessibility on the World Wide Web. The event was attended by 5 CCB members together with participants from over 14 countries.

The Hong Kong Blind Union President, Mr. CHONG Chan Yau, shared the findings report on the Web Accessibility Adoption Levels in the Asia Pacific Region. The survey took place over one year and included 11 countries covering 6 categories. The highest rated accessibility was in Banking and Transportation web sites.

The keynote presenter, Judy Brewer reported on her work at the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C and the Web Accessibility Initiative, WAI.  Ms. Brewer discussed her work on ensuring every platform on the web, is fully accessible as well as secure. She spoke about Artificial Intelligence, AI, its risks and support to people in the blind and greater disability community.

The final presenter was, Robert HSU, HSBC Hong Kong, who presented on his banks website accessibility work following litigation in early 2013 in the United States. He discussed his bank’s commitment to web accessibility in all of their banking platforms worldwide including their support of the new Hong Kong Banking Accessibility Standards. 

The work of the World Blind Union, through its member country organizations, partnering with W3C, is committed to the goal of a fully accessible web. The Canadian Council of the Blind is proud to be a member of the WBU and has established a committee to “keep the ball rolling” so to speak, and continue the work already started on our own website accessibility. The accessible membership signup integrated into the site, is one example of the ongoing work we are committed to. Please note: All the presentation slides and reports are in links below this article.

Thank you

Heather Walkus, member, CCB Website Accessibility Team

Mr. Chong’s Survey Presentation slides:

Survey report:

Survey appendix:

Keynote speech slides, Judy Brewer, W3C:

Best practice sharing on web accessibility, Robert Hsu, HSBC, Hong Kong:

 Hong Kong new Accessible Banking Standards:

Presentation on Benefits and Credits for Persons with Disabilities:

When; Wednesday, December 9, 2020 2:00 PM EST

We’re hosting a live and interactive webinar for persons with disabilities. We’ll be talking about:

• the disability tax credit

• The Child disability benefit

• The Canada workers benefit disability supplement

• The home accessibility tax credit

• The registered disability savings plan           

• The Canada caregiver credit

• How to get your taxes done for free

• The importance of keeping your information up-to-date with the Canada Revenue Agency

Please visit this link to register:

Reminder: Some older bank notes no longer legal tender as of January 1, 2021

Effective January 1, 2021, the Government of Canada will remove legal tender status from some older bank notes that are no longer produced—the $1, $2, $25, $500 and $1,000 notes.

Amendments to the Bank of Canada Act and the Currency Act followed an announcement on legal tender that was made in the federal government’s 2018 budget. The changes were originally announced by the Bank in 2019.

The removal of legal tender status from these notes essentially means that Canadians may no longer be able to use them in cash transactions.

These bank notes will not lose their face value since the Bank of Canada will continue to honour them. People wishing to redeem their notes can do so at their financial institutions or by sending them to the Bank’s Bank Note Redemption Service <>. They can also decide to keep their bank notes.

The Bank supports this initiative because it will help ensure that the bank notes used by Canadians stay current and in good condition, and are easy to use and hard to counterfeit. There are no plans to take any other bank notes out of circulation.

If you have any questions, please check our website

for more information.

Guide Dog Documentary Series:

Hey all, over 10 months in 2019 I filmed ten short videos that started off with me “dating” seven young guide dog puppies in training. The idea was that I’d have a hand in their outdoor training and maybe a say in which one would become my next guide dog. The training thing worked out great and included everything from snow shoeing to canoeing, but in the interest of following proper protocol, I relented and let the very smart people at the CNIB Guide Dog program pick which of the seven dogs would be my new eyes on the world.

Well, we started rolling out the videos on YouTube. If you’re interested in watching with described video the process unfold, all of the 10 of the videos are now released. Or, if you want to watch all ten videos at once in a documentary format, tune into AMI TV on Dec 3 at either 11:00 or 7:00, and for a chat I’m set to have with Kelly and Company that same day at 2:45.

Please don’t take this as pure self-promotion. I received no financial compensation for the two years I spent planning, scripting, producing and promoting the series. My goal from the start is to train the trainers to train guide dogs for people who like to get outdoors, like me, and for all those who live in rural, remote and northern parts of Canada – including indigenous people. In fact, one of the seven guide dogs I worked with over the ten months is now living with an Inuit man in Iqaluit.

Link to the videos and read my blogs at:

Submitted by Lawrence Gunther Euteneier


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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.

Microsoft Excel – Useful Shortcuts Part 1. Note that an Excel document contains a single workbook which in turn, may contain multiple worksheets (spreadsheets). Each worksheet contains rows and columns of data. The intersection of a row and column is called a cell. Rows are numbered 1, 2, 3 etc. and columns are labeled A, B, C etc. So, the cell in the third column and fifth row would be referenced as C5. The top left corner of the worksheet is cell A1.

– To open a new workbook (Excel document) press Control+N.

– To move around a worksheet, just use arrow keys. You can also use TAB and Shift+Tab to move to the next or previous cell within the row.

– TO enter data into a cell, just type in the cell and press Enter to finish and move down to the next cell or, press TAB to finish your cell entry and move right to the next column.

– To enter a formula into a cell, begin with an equal sign.

– Press Delete to clear a cell’s contents.

– To jump to a specific cell, press Control+G, then enter a cell reference such as H23, then press Enter.

– To jump to a specific cell, and select all the intervening cells , press Control+G, then enter a cell reference, then press Shift+Enter.

– To sum a row or column, position to the blank cell at the end of the row or bottom of the column. Then press ALT+H, U, S and then press Enter. This puts the Auto Sum formula into the cell to provide the total of the cells above or to the left.

– Press Control+Space to select a column.

– Press Shift+Space to select a row.

– To select multiple columns or rows, select the first column or row, and then while holding down the Shift key, press the appropriate arrow key to select adjacent columns or rows.

– To reach the last cell with data in any direction press

Control+Arrow key or, End key, arrow key. For example, to jump to the last cell with data in the column, press Control+Down arrow or, End key, Down arrow. To reach the next nonblank cell in a row press

Control+Right arrow or, End key, Right arrow. If you add the Shift key while performing these shortcuts, then the intervening cells will be selected.

– If you are positioned on a blank cell, then the Control+Arrow keys will instead find the first nonblank cell in the given direction. This is a good way to find any cells in a column or row after what you think is the last cell. If there are no more cells in that direction, you will reach the bottom or right edge of the worksheet space. In that case, return to where you were by pressing Control + the reverse arrow. If there is an unexpected cell with data, you will be positioned on it.

– For more shortcuts here is the complete list of Excel shortcuts (

) .

– And here is more info on basic Excel tasks using a screen reader (

) .

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

In the News

Canada announces new measures to prevent drug shortages:

November 28, 2020 – Ottawa, ON – Health Canada

Drug shortages remain a global challenge and COVID-19 has increased demand for certain drugs, adding to the complexity of ensuring drug supply where it is needed. The Government of Canada remains steadfast in its efforts to ensure Canadians have access to the medications they need, when they need them.

Canada is a small market, representing 2% of global drug sales, that sources 68% of its drugs internationally. The need for vigilance in maintaining the national drug supply continues.

In 2017, the Government of Canada added requirements for manufacturers to report drug shortages publicly. Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announces new measures to protect Canada’s drug supply from bulk importations that could worsen drug shortages in Canada.

Starting November 27, certain drugs intended for the Canadian market are prohibited from being distributed for consumption outside of Canada if that sale would cause or worsen a drug shortage. Companies will now also be required to provide information to assess existing or potential shortages, when requested, and within 24 hours if there is a serious or imminent health risk.

For more information, please visit:


“Back in 2010 Blind persons all across Canada joined in celebrating the landmark decision in Donna Jodhan’s victory in her Charter of Rights case against the federal government for its failure to provide ‘equal access to, and benefit from, government information and services provided online to the public,’” says Robin East, Past-President of the nationwide Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians.

This Charter challenge was all about access to information and usability of federal information and websites.

“It is very regrettable that rights holders of Canada were forced to go to court and fight to gain access to information. This should not have been an issue in 2010 or some 10 years later,” added East. “Blind, partially sighted, and deaf -blind Canadians must not be closed off from accessing Government information forms and applications.”

“I launched this case for all blind Canadians and for the kids of the future,” says a jubilant Donna Jodhan upon hearing of the successful outcome of her case back in 2010.

“Blind Canadians want to be able to access information on websites independently and privately.” 

“Today an increasing number of job applications and purchases are carried out electronically, and we must not be left on the sidelines,” said Jodhan.

“We had hoped that this decision would have sent a signal to all website designers and developers working with organizations that the time has come for inclusive accessible websites.” said Leo Bissonnette, “It is time that governments be proactive and remove barriers to our equal participation in society instead of being reactive and fighting with citizens like Jodhan.” Added Bissonnette. 

“Jodhan’s charter challenge continued the efforts to give us a barrier free society where we have equal access to information at a time when online access is becoming increasingly important.”  


Membership Madness

Hi Everyone!  Becky from the office here. Membership packages have been sent to the chapter contacts of each chapter.  If your chapter would like a digital version of the membership package, please just let us know. 

Remember we now have an online membership renewal page, good for individuals or chapters.  You can find it here,

Chapter Rebate Deadline – December 11, 2020

All 2021 Memberships Due – December 31, 2020

White Cane Week Orders Due – December 18, 2020

WCW Insurance Requests Due – December 18, 2020


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.                      1-877-304-0968

 [email protected]