VISIONS – October

Cover of the October VISIONS featuring a child running through weat with their hand extended.

 Advertisement: Discover a variety of phones designed with accessibility in mind on Canada’s best national network.  Plus special savings are available for customers with accessibility needs. Learn more. bell.ca/network .

VISIONS

Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

October 2022

“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”

From the President’s Desk

With Our hearts being heavy with the spirit of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we must also leave September with our hearts going out to the Citizens of Atlantic Canada and Quebec. Unfortunately, many individuals lost so much in so little time due to extreme weather conditions which were unparalleled to any we have witnessed for many years.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to our Atlantic acquaintances and their Families. These anomalies continue to wreak havoc in many areas around the World, and we all feel the pain and frustration as there seems to be no time to let our guards down as our lives continue to be challenged in many different ways.

Let us welcome in October, and welcome in a time of Thanksgiving for all we have, and are grateful for. This is a time to spend with Family and Friends, and those closest to us, in many cases our peers, whom we lean on for support, as they are always there for us.

We at CCB have continued our efforts forward with moving our GTT programming into Atlantic Canada, and I have witnessed the value and support it offers to the Atlantic region.  Thank you to our GTT team who has and continues to offer expert training to our Members across Canada. 

Our work with our many partners continues to evolve as we advocate for the efficacy and availability of new and groundbreaking treatments to prevent blindness, or delay the impact of sight loss to those we serve across Canada.  We continue to advocate as well for a safe environment to function as respectful citizens, as we work to remove barriers from our everyday lives. To that point, you will read in this newsletter how CCB has worked with our valued partner, VIA Rail, to improve the accessibility of both trains and train stations. This is something we should all be proud of, as it’s a wonderful example of our efforts to make lives easier for Canadians living with vision loss.

On behalf of the National Board of Directors, staff, partners, and volunteers, we wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. We wish you good times with Family and friends, while enjoying your Turkey dinners and pumpkin pie, as we really have much to be thankful for.

Jim Tokos

CCB National President

Announcements

VIA Rail Canada Accessibility Update

On August 31st, I had the opportunity as a Member of the Via Rail Universal Accessibility Working Group to see the end result of a long term partnership between CCB and VIA Rail. The initiative was to make the Ottawa station fully accessible to persons with disabilities.

The project began in 2015, with the CCB team consisting of Kim Kilpatrick, Shelly Morris, David Green, Nolan Jenikov, and myself, along with other Organizations being invited by Via Rail to help design the Ottawa Station to ensure it met accessibility standards.  It’s important to note that this was prior to the Accessible Canada Act being implemented, as Via Rail took a very proactive approach to the needs of the disability community. 

Via Rail brought in many staff and engineering personnel to learn from persons with all types of disabilities to partner with Via staff, touring the station and asking for feedback on how Via Rail could make its Ottawa Station fully accessible to persons with disabilities. 

Following many meetings and a lot of feedback from the disability community, Via Rail completed its inaugural station, receiving awards for its universal accessibility.

Via certainly made the CCB proud, as they implemented many of the ideas we put forward. During this process, Kim Kilpatrick and I, on behalf of CCB were invited to a meeting at the Via Rail facility outside of Montreal. This was to help design the new rolling stock, as Via Rail received Federal funding for its new fleet. We were happy to see that they were continuing to work with the disability community to obtain input on accessibility as it pertains to design.

Via Rail designed a mock up to ensure our feedback was included in the project, and after many consultations it finally placed its order for the new rolling stock.  As mentioned above, a Universal Accessibility working group was established by Via Rail to assist them with their compliance with the Accessible Canada Act (ACA), and I was fortunate enough to be chosen to represent the blind/low vision community.  Following many structured meetings and feedback on compliance to assist Via, we were notified that the new rolling stock was about to be released for testing purposes prior to public access.  Following these many tests for design, and after having met the needs of the harsh Canadian climate, it was time for feedback from the community.

It truly was a great honour to attend the unveiling of the new fleet, which was a tremendous design achievement by Siemens, contracted by Via, as the finished product included many built in accessibility features, and we toured two new cars, one business, and one economy. 

Accessibility was built in to the fleet such as lifts for persons with mobility issues and wheelchairs, larger designed washrooms, so persons with mobility devices could turn and access such, special adaptive lighting including reading lights above each seat, speakers above each seat to ensure   announcements were clear and concise, and accessible signage. In the regular washrooms, braille was provided to verify the placement of features within the facilities along with special lighting. Aisles are much wider, each seat has a grab bar on the outside for easier mobility while the car is moving, and just to the side of the grab bar is a metal plate, with raised rows and seat identification which is also in braille, allowing blind and low vision passengers the ability to find their own seats easily.  There are also large print and braille safety cards and menus available for the asking.  Car to car access if necessary is through automated sliding doors.  The lifts which were an independent component sourced from each station, are now built into each car, and the amount of space for mobility devices has vastly been enlarged, as well as added space for comfort of guide and service animals.

In brief, it was outstanding to see the design efforts built in which are inclusive to persons living with disabilities, and following our tour of the fleet, we had an opportunity by Via design and accessibility staff to comment further on the new fleet.  Many positive comments were made on Via Rails outstanding detail to accessibility, and they are to be commended on the work so far.  There were a couple of issues that were brought to the attention of the Via team, cosmetic not structural, and we will have another meeting once the new ideas have been incorporated and the new fleet is ready for release. 

It is very gratifying when CCB has the opportunity to provide input to such a large project. My personal thanks to Via Rail for their incredible efforts in listening to our feedback on the needs of the blind/partially sighted persons they serve.  It is wonderful to see the end result of a fully accessible Ottawa station, as well as a fully accessible fleet of rolling stock to serve all persons, regardless of disability, knowing our community was consulted during the process from the planning stage.  Stay tuned!

Jim Tokos

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New CCB Chapter announcement

My name is Heidi White and I am excited to announce that Summerside, Prince Edward Island has just created a new Chapter. We are called CCB

Summerside Socialites.

When we come together as a group we offer each other support, engaging social gatherings and many opportunities to try new and exciting things within Summerside and Prince Edward Island. Our group currently consists of seven enthusiastic members and we aim to keep that number growing as our message reaches the community.

After the annual 2022 Sports & Recreation weekend in St. John’s, Newfoundland, myself and Trudy Matheson were inspired to create the CCB Summerside Socialites. At the event everyone who attended had a great deal of fun and if we are able to spread the word about our group it will allow others to join and partake in the activities we do in the future.

As our group comes together we strive to enrich our member’s lives with meaningful connections and activities in an environment they feel comfortable and respected in. We look forward to the future and any interest in our group that you or someone you may know might have. Please contact Heidi White at 902–4 38–9039 for more information on the chapter.

CCB National Men’s Group

Come Join us on Tuesday, October 25th, 2022 as we’ll be celebrating the Halloween season.

Let’s have some fun and build up fellowship and maybe make this our new tradition.  Who says that we are too old to enjoy Halloween?  I am sure it will be a fun time for us all!

To join, please email Shane Cashin at [email protected] and request to be put on the list.  Please note, if you have received an invite in the past for previous Men’s groups meetings, you are already on the list and should receive an email on or before October 24th, 2022.

CCB Patches

CCB Peterborough Chapter has embroidered CCB patches for sale.

The Peterborough chapter has created a fine embroidered iron on CCB patch.

If interested, please contact our chapter at [email protected] and we can arrange payment and shipping details. 

Consultation on the Accessibility of the Commissioner of Canada Elections’ Services

We are sharing this information on behalf of the Commissioner of Canada Elections (CCE). The CCE manages complaints related to the

Canada Elections Act. They are looking to reduce barriers to submitting complaints.

The CCE’s office has launched an accessibility consultation on its website. We invite you to complete this short survey.

The survey can be found here:

https://cef-cce.ca/content.asp?section=accessdocument=consultationlang=e

This consultation aims to identify barriers to accessibility that you may have experienced when interacting with the CCE’s office and to see how these barriers can be removed and prevented. It touches on various types of potential barriers to accessibility, whether these may be physical and architectural, technological, attitudinal, systemic, or related to information and communication.

This consultation is part of the CCE’s commitment to meet the requirements of the Accessible Canada Act and the Accessible Canada Regulations. The answers you provide through this survey are valuable, because they will help guide the CCE’s accessibility action plan.

If you would like, you can answer the survey questions through one of these other options:

By phone: 1-855-759-6740

To request a video call, or to respond directly, please email:

[email protected]

Thank you for your input.

Free iPhone Training

For those who would like to attend an online course that will teach you how to use your iPhone with Voiceover.  Registration info below.

TTJ is now accepting registrations for the upcoming free course: VoiceOver In and Out: iOS Edition. Read on for how to register:

This course teaches you everything you need to know about using an iPhone, both with and without VoiceOver, while offering particular emphasis on the fundamentals of navigating with the VoiceOver screen reader. Learn how to set up a new device, how to navigate, how to enter text, how to download and work with apps, how to communicate with others, and so much more, all with VoiceOver. This year’s class promises to be our best one yet, and it’s still completely free!

The course will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout October at 2PM Eastern Time. All sessions will be held in Zoom, with sessions also being posted to YouTube for those who are unable to attend. We strongly recommend that you do attend live sessions whenever possible, as you’ll have opportunities to ask questions and try the various concepts we teach.

If you will be attending live, please plan to join from a secondary device if at all possible. While this is not a requirement, it will make it easier for you to try what you’ve learned, while still listening to the session.

To register, please use the below registration link, complete the form, and you’re all set. You will receive an email confirmation from Zoom with the meeting join info within a few minutes of your registration.

To register, please click the following link, or copy and paste it to your web browser:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIqceGgrj8jEtKwf9UcUXu8JK_MUbIfPYsU

Advertisement: Discover a variety of phones designed with accessibility in mind on Canada’s best national network.  Plus, special savings are available for customers with accessibility needs.  Learn more. Bell.  bell.ca/network

Advocacy

Advocacy

We celebrated last November when provincial governments agreed to negotiate access to Luxturna.

However, it has been 11 months and we are still waiting for the national framework agreement. And now, three people have been able to access Luxturna treatment through workplace benefits. But over 40 Canadians do not have access to these benefits. They need your help right now. They are losing vision every month needlessly.

Government bureaucratic delays are creating two-tier health care in Canada.

We have updated the

www.ApproveLuxturna.ca

Email message to your Premier and Health Minister to finish the negotiations now. TIME = SIGHT!

Can you help again by sending our new email to urge public funding for Luxturna? Let’s give access to everyone who needs this sight-restoring treatment…

And we can open the door to future treatments when they are available to fix other genes and access future cell therapies.

Please take 2 minutes to send a follow-up email to your elected officials at:

You can help. Send an email today. And ask your friends and family to send an email too.

On behalf of Doug Earle

President & CEO

Fighting Blindness Canada

In the News

Door Opens for Hamilton Blind Golf Legend

There’s no stopping now.

That’s the approach the Genovese family is taking after learning their father Nick Genovese is being inducted posthumously into the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame.

“We’re all really thrilled and dad would be very pleased,” says son John who said the family has now applied for Nick to be admitted to both the Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame as well.

Nick Genovese, who was born and lived his whole life in Dundas, was one of Canada’s top blind golfers for many decades. He and Claude Pattemore, who was also from Hamilton, fought many battles on the golf course over the years as they dueled for Ontario, Canadian and even International blind golfing championships.

At 17, he was involved in a welding accident at a steel fabricating and welding business in Dundas. The burns he suffered in his eyes didn’t blind him initially but over the next 16 months he lost all vision in both eyes and he was totally blind until the day he died on April 9, 2005, at age 77.

John said his father and Claude had an interesting relationship and there were similarities.

Both lost their vision in accidents; Claude in a dynamite explosion and Nick in the welding accident. Both learned to play the game within miles of each other, Claude at Chedoke and Nick at Dundas Valley. And they died within a year of each other in the mid-1970s.

“In their early days of competing they were fierce competitors and I wouldn’t say they were friends,” said John. “Later in life I think they did become friends and I know they talked a lot on the phone. And when the Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers started allowing partially sighted golfers to play in their events, dad and Claude got together to convince them to create separate categories for partially sighted and completely blind golfers.”

John’s application to the Ontario Hall noted his dad’s career included the following accomplishments:

2004 at age 75.

Nick Genovese had four children and three of them, Maryann, John and Kathleen are still living. His daughter Patty predeceased him.

John says the family is thrilled their father is finally getting recognition for his accomplishments, but they want to make sure their uncle Carmen, Nick’s older brother, gets his dues as well.

“When my dad was blinded in the welding accident it was Carm who insisted that my dad take up golf and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” says John. “And when he agreed to try it Carm became his coach.”

And there probably isn’t a sport in the world where the athlete relies on his or her coach more than in blind golf.

By Garry McKay

Guide Dog, Coach Part of Golfer’s Team

Everything lined up on the golf course for Kevin Frost this past August.

Frost, a B2 blind golfer, won the low net title at the two-day Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers Ontario Provincial Championship at The Greens at Renton.

The 55-year-old golfer had a good round on the Monday of the competition and an exceptional 18-hole 87 on Tuesday – playing with a 22 handicap.

“That was actually my best round of the year,” Frost said.

“Usually I’m low 90s, everything was just lining up. If I had shot a 94-95, I’d be ecstatic but I was just on fire. Will it happen again? I just don’t know. I’d love it to happen again, but if it doesn’t I had a great round.

“I couldn’t go wrong. In golf, you’re either on or off and everything just seemed to line up yesterday. The putts were lining up, the fairways were lining up. I had one duff off a tee but I was able to make it up on the second shot.”

Sometimes golf can be a frustrating sport, he admitted.

Visually impaired golfers are assisted by a coach on the course.

“When we hit the ball, we look back at our coach and you’ve got to go with their reaction.”

It’s either “oh, good shot” or “not so good,” he laughed.

Frost described some of the challenges that come with being a visually-impaired golfer.

“The only thing I can see is the ball when I place it on the tee. Or when I’m on the green. With my tunnel vision, it’s like I’m looking through McDonald straws, that’s all I see.”

Frost followed Tuesday’s play with a nine-hole scramble-format round on Wednesday to get familiar with the 9-hole red section at The Greens at Renton. He and his coach Loretta Lachance brought along Lewis, Frost’s service dog, who rode with them on the golf cart.

“If it wasn’t for my service guide dogs I probably wouldn’t be here today. They have saved my life a few times already. When I use my cane it does not do what a service guide dog does.”

Frost first started golfing six years ago but he has been an international athlete much longer than that.

“I have Usher syndrome. When I was 11 years old I lost my hearing. At age 30 I lost my vision – so I am legally blind and legally deaf.”

At 30, he lost his job, his driving licence, and went through a divorce.

Twenty-five years later he is a three-time world champion in blind long and short track speed skating (his website is

www.deafblindspeedskater.com

He also rowed, ran in track meets, and competed in tandem cycling at the Canadian Para Championships.

“And now I’m into blind golfing. I might have played 10 games before but I didn’t take it up seriously until about six or seven years ago.

“I’ve always had a competitive edge but what I enjoy the most is just playing with other blind golfers all over North America and the world.

And just being around other blind golfers. It’s kind of cool because we all have the same hurdle. We all have to rely on our guide (coach) to golf because we can’t see the ball when we hit the ball. It’s so important – we can’t golf without guides.”

Frost noted there are some blind golfers who shoot low 80s, currently out of his range at the Canadian and world level.

“There’s some really competitive golfers and I’m just trying to climb up the ladder. I hope to get there some day – I hope to make it to the top. There’s some tough competitors, but at the end of the day we all

have the same issue – vision – and we support each other to achieve what we all want to achieve, which is to better the game.”

Frost said joining Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers gave him confidence and he gives TEDx Talks around the world to help motivate people.

“I like to give back and help people and get them motivated.

Frost is also a proud member of the Orleans Lions Club.

“Lions Clubs were a big, big contributor supporting this tournament. There were 22 Lions Clubs that contributed to this event.”

By Chris Abbott, Simcoe Reformer

www.ccbnational.net                      1-877-304-0968

 [email protected]

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