VISIONS – October

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Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

October 2021

“A lack of sight is

not a lack of vision”

From The Desk of Leo A. Bissonnette,

1st Vice-President, National Board  

Hello CCB Members:

It is my honour and pleasure to send you a little info about myself and some of the key CCB initiatives and projects that I have been asked to take the lead on for CCB.

During the summer as we prepared for a busy year ahead, I was honoured and challenged to take on the position of CCB First Vice President. I look forward to the work ahead, bringing to the work over 50 years of advocacy work in our community.

As the Board of directors of CCB, under the leadership of Jim Tokos, our new President, prepared for the year ahead, I was personally impressed by the power of collaboration that runs through not only what we do within CCB, but also throughout the broader Canadian visually impaired and blindness community.

I am inspired by the passion and commitment of my CCB Board colleagues as they bring to their work an endless supply of creativity that forever carries

with it a sense of pride and empowerment for all that we represent.

Here’s a snapshot of activities in September 2021:

On September 13th the members of the CCB National Advocacy Committee came together to review items to examine over the next few months. We put on the table for monitoring a standoff between the Ontario Government, and current issues between Health Ministry and Optometrists.

Then we updated committee members on an issue around the ArriveCan App–an app required for travelers returning to Canada. The access problems in the app have a serious impact on those going to the United States for guide dogs where negotiating the app is a major problem.

On September 22nd, on behalf of CCB, Leslie Yee and I from the CCB Board attended the first meeting of the fall season for the Consumer Access Group (CAG). We have agreed to bring to the CAG discussions issues that are of special interest to the consumer groups present at the CAG table.


Leo A. Bissonnette, Ph.D.


Upcoming Webinar on COVID-19’s Impact on Vision Loss and Blindness in Canada

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on all Canadians, including people living with vision loss.  The impact on Canadians’ eye health is outlined in a new report released by Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) in partnership with Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC), the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) and Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS). 

Join us at our webinar on October 26 (5:00-6:00 p.m. EDT) to learn more about the Report’s findings and recommendations, featuring Dr. Keith Gordon, the Report’s Principal Investigator; Louise Gillis, immediate Past President of CCB; Doug Earle, President and CEO of FBC; Dr. Harry Bohnsack, President of CAO and Dr. Colin Mann, President of COS. Register for the webinar


Emilee Schevers is the first ever Miss Teen Personality Ontario! 

Emilee began competing in pageants because she noticed there was a lack of disability representation. She wanted to change that so young girls with disabilities had someone to look up to and to prove that it was possible for someone with a disability to win a title in a pageant, since it had rarely been done before.

Her pageant platform is based on disability awareness and education and her main action has been through her Tru Faces platform. Miss Teen Personality Regionals was the 4th virtual pageant that Emilee has competed in. She placed Top 5 in the last 3 and even won a Best in Interview twice! This pageant consisted of 6 areas of competition: Intro Video, Outfit of Choice Walk, Interview, Platform Speech, Vision Challenge for the title, and Social Media. Emilee even made the bold choice to use her cane in her Outfit of Choice Walk video. You can check that out here:

Her first action with this new title is to host a Virtual Trivia Night Fundraiser for the Brain Tumor Foundation. The event will be hosted by Emilee and her fellow titleholders on November 6th from 7-8:30pm EST and admission is a minimum $10 donation. You can learn more about the event or register here:

Emilee is a youth ambassador with the CCB and we wish her a big congratulation on her achievement!

Chapter Update:

Here is a quick update on the women of CCB Chapter

At a recent meeting, we had 28 ladies on our call. It was wonderful and we discussed many topics for future meetings. Everyone is quite enthusiastic about Women of CCB and many have thanked CCB for starting this up. We are very happy with the way things are going!

If you would like more information on the chapter, please contact the National Office.

Submitted by Leslie Yee, National Board Member for Ontario

Local artist featured on calendar

Peterborough – October 4, 2021 – 

A calendar that will make a difference

The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) has created a limited-edition calendar that ensures you will always be on the perfect date.

The CCB calendar features, artwork on the front cover of visually impaired, award-winning artist, Lynda Todd.  Todd recently won the Spirit of the Hills Fine Art competition.

CCB Peterborough Chapter Chair, Leslie Yee, stated,” The calendar is a fundraiser that is full of information and features.  We are striving to let the community know we are here and we are here to help those in need”.

The CCB Peterborough Chapter brings together people in the community with vision loss. The yearly $10.00 membership provides inclusion, purpose, fellowship, and social interaction with peers who understand and support each person’s unique strengths and abilities.

CCB Peterborough Chapter is a group of people with a variety of visual abilities, who love to spend time together, whether it is for socializing, physical activities, or advocacy. Volunteers are utilized to help with programming and welcomed. 

Available for the Asking

CCB Peterborough Chapter offers vision enhancement products for those in need.  Items range from magnifiers to electronics that help make life easier for the visually impaired and blind.  Donations welcomed.  All items are donated free of charge back to those in need.

Mark your memories with a calendar from CCB Peterborough Chapter and support the blind.  Calendars are only $20.  To order please email [email protected] 

Give a share to show you care.

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The CCB Get Together with Technology (GTT) are back with exciting programming for the fall!

Our weekly announcement posts have returned!

The CCB GTT team is excited to be back with you with engaging presentations, tech chats, individual assistance, and small groups.

Stay tuned for news on:

Our weekly tech chats and presentations

Regional and local meetings

Mac and Braille display groups


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 Pod Catcher. You can use this link to the originating distribution source.


CCB sponsors a GTT email support list to provide help and support with technology for blind, low vision and Deaf Blind Canadians. To subscribe to the email list, send an empty email to:

[email protected]

You will get an email back from the list asking you to confirm your subscription. Simply reply to that email and you are subscribed. You will then receive a second email welcoming you to the list and describing how to use it. You are then ready to post your technology questions and/or answers to the list.

For more information visit:


This is a Canadian Group for blind, partially sighted and deaf-blind folks to buy, sell, trade or donate previously enjoyed assistive technology.

To subscribe to the email list, send an empty email to:

[email protected]

(The list will serve as a connection venue only, and the CCB will assume no responsibility for the quality of goods or the value of the transaction(s) between two people, or a person and a company.)

For more information on all things GTT related, please contact:

Kim Kilpatrick, CCB GTT Coordinator

[email protected]

1-877-304-0968 Ext 513

David Greene, CCB GTT Accessibility Trainer

[email protected]

1-877-304-0968 Ext 509

Corry Stuive, CCB National Program Coordinator

[email protected][email protected]

1-877-304-0968 Ext 550

CCB’s National Office Is Moving!

After 10+ years at 20 James Street, the CCB’s National office will soon move to a new location.

The office will move a short distance, just south of where we are now.  As many of the people we work with do not drive, CCB made a concerted effort to stay within the downtown core, with easy access to public transportation.

Our new office at 14 Chamberlain Avenue is very close to the south-west corner of Chamberlain Avenue and Bank Street.  Buses travel north/south along Bank Street, and nearby buses travel east/west, providing good access.  Small, safe cross walks and sidewalks will provide easy-to-follow places to walk from the bus stops on Bank Street. Limited paid parking will be available as is typical for downtown Ottawa.

Our new office is on the second floor, accessed by elevator or stairs. The office is smaller– just the right size for the work done by the Council at this time. Windows will let in a good amount of natural light.  There will be areas for staff offices as well as space for the Get Together with Technology program. We will also have a Board room where we can meet when public health restrictions allow. There is a small kitchen, accessible washrooms and a Guide Dog relieving area very close to the building.

As CCB looks forward to the future, we are sure that our new location will further reflect the work, initiatives and direction undertaken by the Canadian Council of the Blind.  We look forward to serving our community, responding to its changing requirements, growth and development in a post-pandemic world. As we continue to foster and forge strong partnership with the community at large, our new space will be a place where we look forward to welcoming those who would like to come for a visit.

Our telephone, fax and email addresses will remain the same.  Our new address is:

The Canadian Council of the Blind

14 Chamberlain Avenue Suite 200

Ottawa, ON

K1S 1V9

The 2022 EZ2see®Weekly Planner/Calendar Now On Amazon Ca! 

Interested in a print, weekly planner/calendar that is specifically designed to meet the needs of those with low-vision? If so, then read on. 

EZ2See® Products LLC, a U.S. based company, will now offer its very popular calendar through Amazon Ca. 

It is so well-received because it was designed by a low-vision senior.  After finding nothing on the market that met his needs, he started a company to

make this highly accessible weekly planner/calendar.  That story is on his

About page 

Here are its many useful features, many found nowhere else:

•  8.5″ x 11” pages on heavy-weight paper

•  Laminated covers for moisture-resistance and durability

•  High contrast black fonts more than 10X larger than newsprint

•  Huge daily “cells” each nearly equal to two 3”x5” cards

•  Black page edges – no more writing off the paper

•  Four wide bold-lined pages at the end for your notes

•  Black spiral bound so you can fold it in half and lay it flat

•  Runs from this December, through next year till the following January

•  About as thick as a wooden pencil 

Sample testimonials:

“I do love this calendar and find it so easy to use and see. You have thought of everything by making the cover water resistant, making a place for my contact

information if it’s lost and monthly calendars for those wanting to see the entire month. Plus, so much space to write daily stuff. Keep making it!” 

“I have found your large print calendar exceptional!  Best on Market.  Very large and bold print and big spaces for writing. I have referred other people

to your product. Thank you for being there for low-vision people. A product I can use.” 

To see page images and to order the EZ2See calendar, go to Amazon.Ca.  

Note: This is a trial year to gauge the level of Canadian interest in the calendar. We therefor apologize that it only lists U.S. national holidays.  If

there is strong interest in the 2022 edition, a 2023 Canadian edition would be possible.  So, help spread the word. 

Thank you,

Edward Cohen, founding owner

EZ2See® Products LLC

Finally a calendar you can see™

My memoirs: a lesson in life: More than a bump in the road, Memories of an Ottawa Valley woman

This book is a collection of memories that recall the events that shaped my life and made me who I am today. I hope it may help someone, even if only one person, to cope, hope, and face another day.

I promised to donate the proceeds of my book to the CCB and the CNIB, both organizations having helped me tremendously over the years after my sight loss, and I’m happy to announce I am making a donation of $350 to the CCB.

Throughout my life, I have had to deal with a slew of emotions brought on by tragedies, or other events, some happy some painful. I have known success and failure, hope and disappointment, the loss of many dear ones and the joy of making new friends, of realizing that I had special talents that were precious gifts. I had to have courage to keep going on, inner strength to face another challenge, and overcome hardships. However, no matter how far down I fell, hitting rock bottom at times, I always made it back up to the summit. The climb was arduous and fraught with obstacles, but it was always worthwhile. If I could do it, you can too. We must have faith and believe in ourselves, then take it one day at a time. Life can be beautiful, we only need to reach out for comfort when we need it, and give solace and love and always try to be there for someone when they are in need.

To order a copy of my book, in paperback or audio format, send me an email at

[email protected]

Submitted by

Claire Paulin

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In The News

      ‘It’s just so empowering’: Calgary club teaches visually impaired kids how to skateboard

A young girl in a blue helmet tentatively approaches a sloped bowl in the smooth, grey pavement at a skate park in the west end of downtown Calgary that has been marked with brightly coloured tape.

Seconds later, she travels down on her skateboard in a confident swoop, and applause meets her at the bottom.

Grace Forsyth, 13, is a member of Skate Bats, a club established in 2019 that teaches visually impaired and low-vision kids how to skateboard — and the experience, she said, is “thrilling.”

“I’m moving without moving my legs, but I still have control of where I go,” Grace said.

Seeing Grace cruise through the park with the other Skate Bats is thrilling too, for her mother, Christine Forsyth.

“It’s amazing to me to watch them,” Christine said. “Their confidence just grows every week.”

The courage and the work ethic

The members of Skate Bats live with different types and degrees of vision loss, but most are low-vision enough to be registered with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, said founder Matt Janz.

It means they have about 10 per cent vision or less — but he said the Skate Bats have a lot more in common than that.

“They have the courage and the work ethic to [skateboard],” Janz said.

“And what we’ve seen is, they’ve been learning how to skateboard better than most people could, to be totally honest.”

‘It gives me hope about losing my own vision’

Janz has a hereditary condition called retinitis pigmentosa, and he says it means he has been slowly but surely losing vision throughout his life.

He has loved to skateboard nearly as long.

“When I was a little kid, probably six years old … I think my mom bought me, like, a banana board from a garage sale,” Janz said.

“The first ride down the driveway was it.”

Skateboarding helped him find an identity and a community, he said. Passing that on to others helps him feel inspired.

“It gives me hope about me losing my own vision,” Janz said.

“The more I skateboard as a visually impaired person, the more I feel like I have a future, and something to do — despite how much vision that I may or may not use.”

The ghost bowl

Just about every Saturday, the group meets at Shaw Millennium Park around 10 a.m. to skate in what is normally a sea of grey — Janz says

they call it “the ghost bowl.”

“We can’t see when the ramps begin and when the end, so any change of angle of the riding surface is totally invisible to us,” he said.

But the club uses high-contrast tape to help Skate Bats like Zachary Abdalla, 14, identify transitions in the pavement — where ramps start, when they end, and how skate boarders should adjust their weight.

“It’s fun, exhilarating, all that shenanigans,” Abdalla said. “But just like related to vision loss, it’s scary — probably more scary than for most people.”

The Skate Bats staff and volunteers coach and cheer them through, while other kids at the park will ask about the tape.

It helps others understand visual impairment, Abdalla said — and that inclusively is invaluable to the parents, too.

“I think that’s what everybody’s looking for in society right now, is to be inclusive all around,” Christine said.

“Why not think about skateboarding as one of those options?”

The whole world in front of them

For now, the Skate Bats club is small — six to eight kids, Janz said.

But Janz has plans for the future, and describes himself as a pretty big daydreamer.

“These kids have the whole world in front of them because of the way they’re being parented,” Janz said.

“It’s just so empowering, the way that they’re being given the opportunity by their parents to come out and do stuff like this.”

His hope is that, one day, Canada will consider creating a Paralympic skateboarding team that would give low-vision kids full-on careers in skateboarding.

“Just because they were given the chance to skate,” Janz said.

“And they were given the chance to develop their skills and become a skateboarder.”

By Dan McGarvey, CBC News

Ontario Supports Launch of First Blind and Low Vision Program for Francophone Students

New Program to Promote Greater Access to French-Language Education for all Students as Ontario Celebrates Franco-Ontarian Day

OTTAWA — As the province prepares to celebrate Franco-Ontarian Day, the Ontario government is investing more than $250,000 in the first blind and low vision program for Francophone students in the province. This ground-breaking initiative at the Centre Jules-Léger provincial school demonstrates the province’s commitment to ensuring all Ontario students succeed in the classroom and reach their full potential.

“Our government is committed to supporting all students with all abilities,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “The addition of this new program ensures that Francophone students who are blind or have limited vision get the quality education they deserve by providing more accessible materials and braille instruction in French. It represents another way that our government is ensuring that all students can reach their full potential.”

Today’s announcement builds on important investments Ontario has made to support Francophone learners and French-language education. With this investment, 127 students currently being supported by Centre Jules-Léger’s resource services will benefit from accessible course material and new programming. Four students will learn two different types of braille in French.

The government’s funding is also supporting the purchase of a variety of specialized equipment to emboss texts and enable blind students to read and write in braille, as well as technology to enlarge documents to facilitate reading for students with low vision.

“For many years, Francophone parents have been waiting for the creation of a program for blind and low vision students, specifically so they can learn braille,” said Johanne Lacombe, Consortium Centre Jules-Léger (CCJL) Chair. “Teachers with expertise teaching braille, especially in French, are very rare in Ontario. We are proud to be able to make this specialized programming available at the CCJL.”

The Centre Jules-Léger also offers advisory services in deafness, blindness, low vision, and deaf blindness. These services are intended for preschool children and students attending a French-language school in Ontario. CCJL consultants travel across Ontario to support students and their families, as well as school and child care staff in a variety of ways.

“We acknowledge the rich history, culture, and diversity of our Francophone community in Ontario and recognize how their contributions have helped to make our province the best place to live, work and go to school,” said Minister Lecce in recognition of Franco-Ontarian Day. “By continuing to support French-language education, we are ensuring that Francophone culture in Ontario is alive and thriving while setting all students up for success.” 


Membership Madness

Hi Everyone!  Becky from the office here. Membership packages have been sent to the chapter contacts of each chapter. Don’t forget to email if you want a digital package sent to you.  Independent membership will be sent shortly.

The Early Bird Draw is back on!  Send in your chapter’s memberships before October 25 for a chance to win back the chapter memberships paid before this date.

Early Bird Draw Deadline – October 25, 2021

Chapter Rebate Deadline – November 29, 2021

All 2019 Memberships Due – December 31, 2021

White Cane Week Orders Due – December 13, 2021

WCW Insurance Requests Due – December 13, 2021

These dates refer to the time that the memberships arrive in our office either by mail, or by using the new online option introduced last year.

I look forward to receiving your chapters’ memberships.



Donations Received in the office in 2021 are the only ones that can be receipted for 2021.  Remember to send those donations in if you want receipts.                      1-877-304-0968

 [email protected]

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