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Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter
“A lack of sight is
not a lack of vision”
From The Desk of Surrender Singh, 3rd Vice-President, National Board
My name is Surrender Singh, and I am the third VP for CCB national. I have been on the CCB national board for the past 4 years. I was born in the UK and moved to Canada in my late teens. I am happily married to a very great person, have 2 boys and live in Kamloops British Columbia.
I have lived with a visual impairment since I was 5 years old and only started to lose my sight in 2008. Within the past 5 years I have lost all my sight, however, I continue to work as a financial planner with I.G. Wealth management and have done so for the past 22 years.
I am also a member of the CCB national membership committee, and our goal is to maintain and build membership within the organization. We also have a mandate to make sure that we build upon the membership by promoting all the positive aspects of the CCB, and everything it does for the visually impaired community. My goal is to make sure that more individuals with vision impairment are made aware of the programs and supports that are available to them through our organization.
I feel very fortunate to be part of the CCB as the organization has been integral in helping me transition as I was losing my sight. Technology and assistive devices have been part of the process for me to enhance my abilities, and I’m grateful for the people in my life who have helped me along the way.
I look forward to serving the members of the CCB and helping to make a difference in the lives of individuals with visual impairments.
The CCB strongly believes in the importance of November 11th, Remembrance Day, as a way to remember and honour the women and men who have served and sacrificed for our country.
As an organization, CCB owes a lot of our early achievements to the work done by blind and vision impaired war veterans returning from World War II.
Following World War I and in the years after World War II, there was much to be done for the blind in Canada. Dedicated stakeholder groups organized access to services across the country and did so in co-operation with like-minded organizations throughout North America and the British Empire.
At the time, many improvements had been realized for the blind — libraries and schools for the blind had been established in Canada’s biggest cities — but there was a need for more resources. The CCB was, in good part, created by 10 blind men who met regularly in Toronto. Their primary idea was to obtain a lifelong pension for the blind; similar to what was occurring at the time in some European countries — but they soon realized that recreational and peer organized activities among the blind and vision impaired could be enjoyed by all. Hence, the CCB was born.
Please take some time on November 11th this year to pause, remember
and give thanks to those who fought for the freedom we greatly cherish
Canadian Council of the Blind and Fighting Blindness Canada Release Addendum Report: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Eye Health in Canada
The Addendum to the Cost of Vision Loss and Blindness in Canada Report (“the Report) estimates 1,437 Canadians lost vision due to delayed eye examinations and delayed treatment in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge Canadian patients and the health care system. Almost all optometrists’ offices were closed during the first lockdown from March to June 2020, with most offices restricting capacity for the rest of 2020. There were close to three million fewer optometry visits in 2020 compared to 2019, which put millions of Canadians at serious risk of losing vision.
Vision loss in Canada is increasing.
- There were 335,000 fewer (47 per cent decrease) eye surgeries performed across Canada between March and June of 2020.
- An estimated 1,437 people lost vision due to delayed eye examinations and treatments in 2020.
The short and long-term cost brought on by the pandemic goes well into 2023.
- It is expected to take two years to clear the additional backlog of cataract surgeries caused by the pandemic.
- Between 2021 and 2023, it is estimated that an additional $129 million per year will be required to clear the backlog.
The cost of vision loss in Canada goes well-beyond the health care system.
- An increase in wait times for surgery will result in a $1.3 billion increase in the cost of vision health over the next two and a half years.
- Though $253.3 million of these costs are direct health care system costs, $1.1 billion result from the loss of well-being.
All Canadians living with eye diseases were impacted by COVID-19. Some had their diagnosis delayed, potentially missing or delaying an opportunity to receive treatment to stabilize their disease. Others were delayed in receiving counselling and support to assist in dealing with the mental, physical and social effects of vision loss.
It is imperative to make eye health and rehabilitation services a population health priority. Visit StopVisionLoss.ca and sign the petition asking the Canadian government to recommit to a national vision health plan today.
- “We need to make eye health and rehabilitation services a population health priority. It is critical for Canadians to have access to treatment and receive an early diagnosis,” says Louise Gillis, immediate past president, Canadian Council of the Blind. “Research shows that three-quarters of causes of vision loss in Canada are preventable, treatable, or reversible. The delays in treatment, and the backlog of appointments, has and will, continue to create long-term impacts on vision health in Canada.”
- “COVID-19 has, and continues to, affect every Canadian. This report shows the unnecessary impact of COVID-19 on the over 8 million Canadians who are living with a blinding eye disease that puts them at significant risk of going blind. We are calling for a National Vision Health Plan because it would have reduced people losing vision today and in the future.” says Doug Earle, President and CEO, Fighting Blindness Canada.
CCB-GTT Presents at the Connecting the Dots Conference
In October, Kim Kilpatrick, GTT Coordinator and Leo A. Bissonnette, CCB 1st Vice-President, presented a paper at the CNIB 2021 Connecting the Dots Conference.
The session title was Teaching Braille Displays Virtually: Ideas, and it was an opportunity to let the visually impaired community know more about the great things happening through CCB’s GTT Team!
Information on the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) Form
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is supporting people with disabilities and their medical practitioners by making it easier than ever to apply for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).
The CRA recently launched a new version of the DTC application form (T2201) that includes an updated section for medical practitioners. Section B is used to provide the CRA with important health information about the restrictions an individual may be experiencing when they apply for the DTC.
With feedback from medical practitioners and the Disability Advisory Committee, the CRA has made improvements to the form by asking more specific questions and requesting less text-based input. In particular, the revised form will support medical practitioners who are new to the DTC process and/or who may be working with new patients.
While longer in page numbers, the form is more specific and more thorough. It does not require the practitioner to interpret the CRA’s criteria themselves, and still leaves ample room for practitioners to add their own personal notes or observations to the form.
This more accessible form will benefit medical practitioners and makes it easier for clients to apply for the DTC.
The updated form is now available at canada.ca/cra-form-t2201.
CCB is proud of the following initiative, as we worked closely with CNIB and other organizations on this project. Here are both French and English youtube videos which demonstrate the accessible payment terminals developed in partnership with CNIB and Moneris and, with funding from the Government of Canada.
Please start asking how your local retailer is going to provide persons with sight loss with an accessible payment experience.
Here are two videos which will be targeted at merchants which demonstrate how their staff can use the terminal.
· in English <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Btihh0-Ghno>
· in French https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSWCekj3MfI
The following two videos demonstrate how the customer, us, would use the terminal.
in English https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c-QaClrEj0
These terminals are the first of their kind ever to be released.
With a concentrated advocacy effort let’s see if we can duplicate the successful deployment of terminals as was accomplished with automated banking machines almost a generation ago!
All Eyes on You Campaign
New Awareness Campaign Calls on the Canadian Government to Address the Crisis of Preventable Vision Loss and Blindness.
To mark World Sight Day, CCB has partnered with fighting Blindness Canada and Novartis Canada to launch a new awareness campaign, “All Eyes on You,” which will run through November 2021.
With nearly a quarter of Canadians currently living with vision-threatening diseases, it is time for the Canadian government to act and establish a national vision health plan that supports access to regular eye exams, ophthalmological interventions, and innovative therapies.
Lend your voice by using #StopPreventableBlindness on social media and by visiting stopvisionloss.ca
(https://www.fightingblindness.ca/stop-vision-loss/) to sign the petition for a national vision health plan.
Early Bird Draw Winners
Congratulations to CCB Campbell River White Cane Chapter, and CCB Humber Valley – Bay of Islands Chapter for winning the 2022 membership Early Bird Draw. Both chapters will receive back all the dues they have paid before October 25, 2021. Thank you everyone who has gotten your chapter’s membership in.
Can You Give Us Two Minutes of Your Time?
The Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD university has formed an Equitable Digital Systems working group focused on understanding gaps in Canadian accessibility legislation that lead to higher rates of unemployment for people with disabilities and reduced opportunities to succeed at
The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) and a group of Canadian disability-related organizations are supporting the project through workshops to co-create recommendations together with people living with disabilities. This survey will help shape the themes the working group tackles in the workshops.
Just answer two quick questions. Your CCB would very much appreciate your valuable input into this important research initiative.
Could you please fill out this survey before Friday November 12th by pressing the following link? Thank you!
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Stop Sabotaging Your Sleep
Tips & Tools for a More Restful Sleep
• Are you sick and tired of being tired when you wake up?
• Would turning down your mental chatter volume help you sleep?
• Can you picture what it would be like to wake up feeling refreshed?
If you’ve answered “yes” to these questions, or you are skimping on sleep, this session is for you.
North Americans are sleeping less and less over the last century. Through the pandemic, almost half of Canadians have experienced significant sleep disturbances as we cope with uncertainty, stress and anxiety.
Sleep is a foundational pillar of our health and wellness. When we have poor or inadequate sleep, it impacts our ability to focus, regulate our emotions, our decision-making abilities and more.
In this session, you will:
• Discover 3 myths that sabotage your sleep
• Tune into your inner resources to support relaxation
• Learn 3 science-backed tools to manage stress and have better sleep
When: November 16, 2021 Time: 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET Duration: 40 min.
About the Laura Feltz
Laura Feltz helps overstretched professionals shed the weight of the world off their shoulders to reclaim their time, peace of mind and freedom they crave. Her results-focused and evidence- based approach delivers meaningful and lasting change.
Laura is a Certified Master Results Coach, a Board Designated Institute, Trainer, and Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) [ABNLP], a Board Designated Master Practitioner of Timeline Therapy® (TLT) [TLTA], and a Board Designated Instructor of Hypnotherapy [ABH]. She draws upon leading-edge mind/body tools and techniques used in in 42 countries.
In her spare time, Laura is a volunteer Ambassador for Fighting Blindness Canada and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), raising awareness and sharing her lived experience with blindness.
To learn more about Laura’s programs, visit http://laurafeltz.com
With strong support from Ian White, Leslie Yee and the CCB National advocacy team, we have supported the stand made by David Lapofsky and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA)on the following issue. We ask citizens of Ontario to continue to voice their concerns. Sidewalks must become a safe place for people to travel safely, especially persons with disabilities.
Disability Advocates Call on Ford Government Not to Endanger People with Disabilities and Others By Allowing Robots on Public Sidewalks
The Ford Government is proposing to create even more new barriers against people with disabilities, contrary to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Believe it or not, the Ford Government is now considering allowing the use of robots on public sidewalks. These could, for example, be used to deliver packages or shovel snow.
This threatens to create serious new disability barriers. These robots would present a danger to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.
We oppose them. So should you!
We sent an 8 page brief to the Ford Government which calls for robots to be banned from public and quasi-public places. We urge you to write the Ford Government. Support our strong opposition to robots on public sidewalks and other public places. Before the November 15, 2021 deadline we need as many individuals and community organizations to support us as possible. Write the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario by visiting its consultation web page at
You can also send feedback via an email to
Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky,
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In The News
Stellarton, NS, restaurant gives partly blind diners greater independence
Partly blind diners at one Nova Scotia restaurant no longer need to ask sighted people for help to order from the menu.
The menu at Jungle Jim’s Eatery in Stellarton now includes braille and a QR code that takes diners to an audio version of the menu on YouTube.
It’s all thanks to Jody Holley, a server at the restaurant and the mother of 13-year-old Luke Reddick, who is partly blind.
Holley said her son is not the only partly blind person who goes to the restaurant.
“It was very important for me to accommodate all of the customers that came in the restaurant to give them just that feeling of independence when they came in to eat with us,” Holley said.
‘The feeling of equality’
She said it could be “discouraging” for blind or partly blind patrons not to have an accessible menu. Holley said as a mother she wanted them to have “the feeling of equality that they deserve.”
Reddick said when he visited the restaurant before, he would have to ask his mother for assistance. That affected his independence, he said.
Holley said she expects her son will be going off to university in a few years and he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of having to ask the servers to read the menu to him.
People go out to eat because it is an enjoyable experience, Holley said, and braille menus and QR codes help to make it enjoyable for everyone.
Holley worked with Nicole MacDonald, one of Reddick’s teachers, to create the new menus.
Need for more than braille
MacDonald said she regarded it as a “really neat project” to do in her spare time as she was already teaching students how to advocate for themselves and their communities.
She said she has a nephew with a learning disability who can’t read print and an aging father who is always forgetting his glasses when he goes to restaurants, so she understood there was a need for more than braille.
“It just became clear that it would be even more accessible if there were QR codes and there was an auditory component for the menu,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald said other restaurants that want to make their menus more accessible should consider having a basic online menu in plain text so that people could access them with the screen reader on their phone.
Reddick said his mother used to read him a few menu items she thought he would like, but now he has access to the complete menu.
“I like to eat different food every time now,” Reddick said. “I’m probably going to try some of the new sandwiches and stuff.”
By Vernon Ramesar, CBC News
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.
There’s still time to get the chapter rebate! Even if you can’t get everyone, send it what you have and you’ll get the rebate on those members.
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. https://ccbnational.net/shaggy/membership/
I look forward to receiving your chapters’ memberships.
DON’T FORGET DONATIONS!
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.