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Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter
“A lack of sight is not
a lack of vision”
Happy White Cane Week
Now that we have had the 1st anniversary of COVID-19 arriving in Canada, I am hoping that this year will be an improvement over last. We now have vaccines, while still in limited supply, to help reduce the number of people affected by the dreaded disease. It has changed the way we live so much that now we have to think carefully before going out the door as to what our barriers may be today. As the strong Canadians we are we can work together and eventually be settled in our new way of living.
As we approach a new and different way of celebrating White Cane Week, we can do this too. All events will be through virtual methods which is not always easy or accessible to all, but we hope that many can take part across the country in these events. It is a good way to get information out in time of isolation and hopefully before too long we will be able to again have our curling, bowling and all other social activities together in our communities.
Again some of our staff and volunteers are contacting chapters across the country just to check in on their well-being. If you have any questions regarding COVID-19 contact our CCB office at 1-877-304-0968 or by email at [email protected]
CCB Membership and Advocacy committees have had meetings in January. GTT continues to flourish with many members and guests taking advantage of the call-in information and conversation. Our meetings with other organizations are on-going as well, all to improve the quality of life for those living with sight loss and in the prevention of blindness.
On February 17th we will be voting on our new By-Laws. It is important for everyone to vote to approve these bylaws so that we can move forward and continue the work of the Canadian Council of the Blind. The By-Laws committee has done a remarkable job on compiling this new version to bring CCB into compliance with the Canada Not for Profit Act. We will continue with a By-Laws committee into the future to stay on top of any needed changes as required by the Canada Not for Profit Act, so that we continue to be compliant. It was a huge undertaking and I commend the work and compassion of the committee members – everyone participated in this joint effort. Thank you from myself and the Board of Directors for this great effort.
We will now look forward to our WCW events – while different they will be great!
Louise Gillis, National President
Get ready for a different, but still fun and exciting awareness week from February 7 to 14. This year’s events will have to be limited due to the pandemic, but will still include countless local activities. Please visit the CCB website to keep yourself updated on the many exciting events that will be taking place this year across the country. And stay tuned for reports on events in upcoming newsletters!
Fireside Zoom Chat
Join us on Zoom this Tuesday, February 9th at 7:00 PM EST for a White Cane Week event! Bring a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy a virtual Fireside Chat on Mobility and Identity! Listen to our panel members as they discuss their views on the white cane, mobility and how it ties into who they are!
Zoom Details below:
Topic: WCW Fireside Chat – Mobility & Identity
Time: Feb 9, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 923 0039 7014
Help Celebrate White Cane Week 2021: A Special Invitation
Attend All White Cane Week Virtual Events
Just Select the Event(s) You Wish to Attend
Your choice, from the Expo Forum, View Point, the Summit and/or the Gala
Then simply Click Here to Register. Its that simple
CCB’s Virtual Expo Forum
Topic: Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program
Saturday, February 13th at 2 p.m. EST
Moderator: Dr. Keith Gordon (Senior Research Officer of the Canadian Council of the Blind); Panel: Ian White (President of the CCB Toronto Visionaries), Mike Potvin (Editor of White Cane Magazine), Samantha Moore (CCB Coordinator of Public Relations and Youth Programs), and Minette Samaroo (President of the Toronto Chapter of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians)
For more information and to register, visit us online at
ViewFBC’s View Point
Topic: Uncovering the Role of Vitamin D in AMD
Wednesday, February 17th at 10:30 a.m.
In this live session, we will be joined by FBC-funded researcher and ophthalmologist Dr. Jacob Rullo, who will speak about his research into the connection between vitamin D and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
For the first half hour of the webinar, we will be joined by Stephen Ricci from CNIB Smartlife. Ricci will showcase some of the latest and greatest accessible devices and technological aids for people living with vision loss.
There will be time for a Q&A session. Please send questions in advance to [email protected].
For more information and to register, visit us online at
CCB’s Vision 2021 Virtual Summit
Topic: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Wednesday, February 17th at 2 p.m.
In this live session the panel will have and in depth discussion on the
COVID-19 pandemic and its impact of those living with vision loss.
Moderator: Dr. Keith Gordon (Senior Research Officer of the Canadian Council of the Blind); Panel: Louise Gillis (National President the Canadian Council of the Blind), Michelle McQuigge (Assistant News Editor at the Canadian Press), and Dr. Orla Galvin (Director of Research Policy at Retina International)
For more information and to register, visit us online at
CCB’s Vision 2021 Virtual Gala
White Cane Week’s Annual Award Event-Enjoy CCB’s Annual Dinner
Gala without the dinner. Highlighting annual awards and special speakers.
Thursday, February 18th at 2 p.m.
Host: Michael Baillargeon (Special Advisor to the Canadian Council of the Blind); Speakers and special guests: Louise Gillis (National President Canadian Council of the Blind), White Cane Person of the Year Award Recipient, President’s Award Recipient, David Errington (President and CEO at AMI), Peter Burke (VP of Marketing and Communications at AMI), musicians Lucas Haneman and Megan Laurence, Doug Earle (President and CEO at Fighting Blindness Canada), Dr. Keith Gordon (Senior Research Officer of the Canadian Council of the Blind), Ric Watson (Executive Chef and Director of Food Services at The Ottawa Mission), and more
For more information and to register, visit us online at
If you missed “The Blind and the Beautiful” show, it’s not too late!
On Friday January 15, the CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter, Canadian Council of the Blind, hosted a live show on YouTube, and it was absolutely amazing!
Our featured guests were “The Blind and the Beautiful”, the extraordinary duo of Ottawa-based blues-funk-jazz guitarist Lucas Haneman and astonishing Canadian vocal talent Megan Laurence.
If you missed the live stream of the show, it’s not too late to enjoy!
Just click on this link:
and the recorded video of the performance will automatically begin!
Over the coming months, the CCB Toronto Visionaries will be hosting a number of live-streaming performances by talented Canadian musicians and other performers! Coming up on February 12 at 7pm, world class concert pianist, Michael Arnowitt will be offering up a set of Classical and jazz repertoire on solo piano. Stay tuned, as we’ll be sending out the link for this show soon! And don’t forget to check in on our Concert page for notice of future shows!
Join us online, and help us support talented Canadian artists in this very difficult time.
CCB Toronto Visionaries
Women of CCB
Women of CCB is a Nationwide program offered by CCB to all of our chapters across Canada. The program provides a space for women of all ages in the blind and low vision community to feel connected, share information, offer emotional support and build a strong feeling of sisterhood and mentorship. Monthly meetings are held on Zoom.
Our next meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 16th at 8:00 PM EST. Our topic up for discussion will be guide dogs and mobility.
Contact us for more information on how to join.
E-mail: [email protected]
Keeping Together While Staying Apart: How some CCB Chapters are using creativity during COVID
Not a day goes by without the words “distancing” “stay home” “avoid gatherings” filling the airwaves, scrolled on social media and punctuating everyday conversation. To say that the 2020 holiday season and the past ten months have been ‘a little different’ would be a gross understatement. Undaunted, CCB chapters found ways to connect. Chapters represent diverse situations, locations, group sizes and composition. Some have been able to leverage a variety of community connections as well as securing funding sources and other helpful resources. Some chapters are making use of technology, and some have found ways to tap into local businesses.
The following is a snapshot of how some chapters have made the best of a very difficult time.
TORONTO VISIONARIES CHAPTER
This chapter hosted a 2-hour Holiday Zoom call that was open to their chapter members, and beyond. During the first hour, everyone shared openly and honestly about their concerns surrounding COVID 19. Everything from staying in because of forced isolation, and the perils of going out in a different world were discussed in a kind, respectful manner. People spoke candidly about depression, ‘technical tyranny’ (accessing online concerts and maintaining audience engagement), covert (and not-so-covert) discrimination, the difficulties with signage, plexi-glass, changing landscapes and the guesswork involved in knowing how many people are in an elevator. Those who do not use a white cane or guide dog mentioned the criticism they face when they don’t keep six feet away or travel the ‘wrong’ way down a grocery aisle. This supportive forum offered both space and suggestions for addressing these concerns.
The intent of the second half of the Zoom call was to acknowledge the multicultural nature of this chapter’s membership, as a reflection of the composition of the population of Canadian society. Vision loss does not discriminate; not on the basis of class, colour, culture or creed. Members share a disability, but come from many different backgrounds and traditions, especially with respect to celebrating through the holiday season. December (and beyond) is marked by celebrations, with the common themes of the triumph of light over darkness, community celebration, food and song. The second half of this virtual gathering showcased the variety of celebrations that take place at this time of year. The significance of Stonehenge’s design, Diwali, Chinese New Year and Hanukah were described, as well as Christmas/New Year’s celebrations observed in Nicaragua, Italy and the Philippines Participants learned as people shared their traditional songs and stories with the group.
CCB CLUB “60” BARRIE CHAPTER
During the fall, this chapter’s bowling program resumed when Bowlerama Barrie invited the group to return amidst extremely high public health protocols. There was much interest, as well as a solid commitment from the group to strict adherence to these protocols.
They bowled for 14 weeks, having their season kneecapped by a code-red lockdown. Bowling is so popular—some of their mainstays, members in their 80s, never missed a session!
This chapter would normally have a holiday meal at Ferndale Banquet Hall in December. Instead, the banquet hall prepared lavish boxed lunches—which were then taken to the bowling alley, to be enjoyed there, or taken home. As an added holiday surprise, the chapter obtained lovely gift boxes of nuts and goodies that were then delivered to all members’ homes by the club’s volunteers.
There are as many stories of strength, hope and resilience as there are chapters. Across Canada, geography, location, history, chapter membership and composition, and access and availability to community and government resources vary greatly. The power of creativity, collaboration and commitment are strong as evidenced by the vignettes presented here. Stay tuned for more inspiring stories from our chapters in upcoming newsletters. To share your story, or to find out how CCB can support your chapter’s efforts during this difficult time, please get in touch. [email protected] or call 1-877-304-0968.
World Braille day Celebration
In these strange times when we are all at home and isolated more than usual, I was so excited to participate in and help organize a special new event for World Braille day on January 4 2021. January 4 is the anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille who developed the Braille code we still use today. He was born in 1809 in France.
In October, several blindness organizations were approached by NNELS (the national network for equitable library service) to plan an event for World Braille Day 2021. I was thrilled to represent CCB on the planning committee, to host a panel and small group book discussion, and to be a panelist for a discussion about technology and Braille.
Over 70 people participated in this event which all organizers agreed should become an annual celebration in Canada. There was a story reading in Braille, a Braille 101 workshop, two panel discussions, and several breakout sessions.
The planning committee is going to begin meeting earlier to plan an expanded celebration of World Braille Day 2022.
If any of you need help with your Braille technology, feel free to contact me and I am happy to help. We are also going to be starting a series of small group sessions on using Braille technology. If interested, contact me to put your name on the list.
Call me at 1-877-304-0968 or [email protected]
On a related note, I am the CCB representative on the board of Braille Literacy Canada (BLC). This is a very active organization with many exciting possibilities to participate in Braille related events and workshops.
To find out all about BLC go to www.brailleliteracycanada.ca
Happy 2021 to all,
By Kim Kilpatrick
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.
Certification (on passing the exam): CFA Institute Investment Foundations Certificate.
For more information on this exciting opportunity, please contact the
CCB National Office:
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RS games is an accessible platform which works on iOS, Windows, and Mac as well as having a web application. It is a fully accessible platform where blind people can get together and play a variety of everyday games that have been made accessible. Using the arrow keys it is simple to cycle through the available games. Once in a game much of the options/cards are accessed by simply pressing the up and down arrow keys. To hear details such as your score or the participants in the game, simple key commands will allow you to fully access these pieces of information.
These game specific key commands can be discovered by pressing “alt1.
The combination of the alt key and the number one will open up a web page with a list of the game specific rules as well as a list of the key commands.
I have found the application on Windows extremely user-friendly and quite intuitive. I have played with a group of five people several times and have had some truly enjoyable times. It is quite easy to set up a game with several players. I enjoy the feature allowing you to create a private group which is password-protected so only people who know the password can enter that game. This is very helpful in the case that you want to play with friends. I have also played games with people whom I don’t know, when a private room has not been created and this is just as fun being able to send written messages to them simply by pressing the “F2” key and typing what I wish to say and sending my message off with the enter key.
I accessed the RS games platform through my Windows computer running the latest version of Windows 10 and Jaws. This application is used alongside your screen reader without the need to turn any software off.
You can get to the RS games website here:
the download links are on this page under the “getting started” heading.
Submitted by Nolan Jenikov
Free TTJ course in February and iPad course in March
TTJTECH.net will be offering a Free Apple iOS course in February and an iPad course in March of 2021.
Starting Monday, February 1, 2021, The Tech Juggernaut will begin our Mid-Winter Mini Course, where we’ll teach the basics of AppleTV and TVOS, cord cutting, Apple Watch and Watch OS, HomePod, Apple Wallet, Apple Pay, online security, financial health, and more. Whether you are a Voiceover user or not, this course has something for you. It takes place every Monday and Wednesday from 3PM to 5PM Eastern throughout the entire month of February.
Then, beginning March 1, and every Monday and Wednesday through the end of May, we offer our free iPad course – iPad For All Computing. Again, this course has something for everyone, from the basics of iPad to the advanced productivity tasks you always thought you could never accomplish on an iPad. Families, teachers, students, business owners, and more, don’t miss this awesome course.
Both courses are free, and there’s still time to register for both. Even if you have already registered, you should get in touch with us to indicate that you still wish to participate. And if you have not yet signed up, but you wish to participate in either one or both of these awesome courses, please send a short email to: [email protected]
In the subject line, type, TTJ Course Registration. Then in the body, please indicate which course you want, or both.
For any other questions about the courses, please send iMessages to:
The Tech Juggernaut (TTJ) has elected to use Google Classroom for all future TTJ courses. Students who plan to enroll in the Free Apple iOS with VoiceOver, TTJ courses will be using the Google Classroom app.
Google Classroom, Learning Management System (LMS, app, provides a powerful user interface with the right combination of functionality and ease of use for even those students who are completely new to Voiceover and iOS. Finally, if new students are not yet comfortable using their iOS devices, they will be able to access Google Classroom on other platforms, such as Chrome OS and Windows, until they become more confident in using Voiceover and iOS/iPad OS.
Students who are registered for the TTJ classes will need to:
*Create a Gmail account, if you do not already have a Gmail address.
Gmail is completely free, and you can create a new Gmail address directly on your iOS device by going to Settings>Passwords and Accounts>Add Account>Google, and following the instructions.
*Download the Google Classroom app for free on your device of choice.
For iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users, the app is fully accessible with Voiceover. The TTJ Team will provide an introduction to the Google Classroom app at the beginning of the training session.
*Download the Google Drive App: In order to offload class content (such as recordings, documents, etc), students will need to download the Google Drive app, because Google Drive is the only means to download materials from the Google Classroom app.
*download the Cisco Webex Meetings App to their device before the session begins.
AIRA and the CCB Organization Plan
Aira is proud to partner with The Canadian Council of the Blind to make visual interpreting services available to more people. To encourage CCB members to try our service, we are offering special pricing to CCB’s members in the form of Power Plans.
These plans are as follows:
• Intro Power Plan, 30 minutes per month, $20.00 USD
• Standard Power Plan, 140 minutes per month, $99.00 USD.
These plans are available for individuals who signup through December 31, 2021 to all members in good standing of the CCB, its chapters, affiliates
and divisions. 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 www.aira.io or call our Customer Care Team at 1.800.835.1934.
Aira, the description of life, on your terms www.aira.io Us and Canada 1.800.835.1934
New Zealand: +64-800-425-451
Canada Revenue Agency to begin Issuing T4As to COVID-19 emergency and recovery benefit recipients
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada rolled out measures to support Canadians through this public health crisis. This assistance has included the delivery of unprecedented financial support programs through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB). As stated from the beginning, these benefits – which have helped millions of Canadians put food on the table and keep a roof over their head during this crisis – are taxable.
As we approach the launch of the 2021 tax season, the CRA remains committed to putting people first and providing the support Canadians need as they continue to do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Starting January 11, 2021, Canadians will begin receiving T4A slips from the CRA for these benefits to support their tax filing. The T4A is virtually identical to the T4 slips Canadians are used to receiving from their employers, but rather than employment income, they provide the amounts of COVID-19 benefits received from the CRA in 2020. Residents of Quebec will receive both a T4A and a RL-1 slip. T4As will be sent out in waves.
If you have questions about the slip, including if you think there may be a mistake or have received it in error, please contact the CRA by phone at 1-800-959-8281 or, for those outside of Canada and the US, at 1-613-940 8495. The CRA knows there have been questions in recent weeks about eligibility for these programs. The Government of Canada continues to look at options to respond to these concerns as we continue to support Canadians through this crisis.
• Canadians who received relief payments but do not get a T4A slip by March 10th need not worry. They may be able to get a copy by using the
My Account for individual service or contacting the CRA directly.
• Canadians who received benefits from Service Canada will receive a T4E Statement of Employment Insurance and Other Benefits from Service Canada in order to complete their 2020 tax and benefit return.
Contact Service Canada for more information on T4Es and when they can be expected.
Introducing the Know Your Rights podcast!
In 2019, CNIB launched the Know Your Rights project to empower Ontarians who are blind, partially sighted or Deafblind to better understand their rights, navigate the provincial legal system, and self-advocate to challenge discrimination. On January 23, we launched the Know Your Rights podcast series, based on the legal handbooks.
How do you feel when you’re discriminated against because of your sight loss? Join us for a 9-part journey where Jacob Charendoff hosts informative conversations with people who have encountered discrimination and reaches out to lawyers and experts for their input. Know your rights and learn more about the legislation, resources and laws in Ontario that can help you challenge discrimination.
Subscribe and listen to the Know Your Rights podcast series on: iTunes / Spotify / Stitcher / Overcast / Soundcloud. Be sure to follow our podcast channel to find out when new episodes are released!
Hi Everyone! We now have an online membership renewal page, good for individuals or chapters, new and returning members. You can find it here, https://ccbnational.net/shaggy/membership/