Braille Literacy Canada affirms the importance of access to braille during the pandemic

Braille is literacy. Braille signage, elevator buttons, restaurant menus, and other braille materials provide equal access to information and are essential for blind people to have and use. This is especially true during times of pandemic when access to information may be especially vital. Braille must continue to be available to those who need it. Braille users can sanitize and wash their hands before and after touching braille. Surfaces which have braille such as elevator panels, signs, room numbers, can and should be cleaned as other surfaces are, in accordance with public health recommendations.  

An update about the COVID-19 Disability financial assistance

Creating an Accessible Canada
My Canada Includes Me.

Bill C-20, An Act Respecting Further COVID-19 Measures, received Royal Assent today, and also came into force. This Act includes the one-time financial assistance of up to $600 to people with disabilities. It’s a done deal.

As a reminder, to be eligible for the funding you must be a recipient of one of the following programs or benefits:

* A Disability Tax Credit certificate provided by the Canada Revenue
  Agency;Canada Pension Plan
* Disability benefit or Quebec Pension Plan disability benefit
* Disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.

You can read more about this Act at:

Statistics Canada Survey

(French follows English)

As you may have seen, Statistics Canada has launched a survey on how COVID-19 is impacting Canadians with disabilities and those with long-term health conditions. The survey includes questions about employment, household expenses, support networks and access to services. It will be posted online until July 6th . The more people who answer the survey, the better the information will be. So we are encouraging you to reach out to your staff, volunteers, clients, partners and anyone else in your network to let them know about it.

We have included the link to the survey below. Please fill it out. And spread the word!

Thank you.

Comme vous le savez peut-être, Statistique Canada a lancé un sondage sur l’impact de la COVID-19 sur les Canadiens en situation de handicap et les personnes avec des problèmes de santé à long terme. Le sondage est composé de questions relatives à l’emploi, les dépenses du ménage, les réseaux de soutien et l’accès aux services, entre autres. Il sera disponible en ligne jusqu’au 6 juillet. Plus le nombre de personnes qui répondent à l’enquête est élevé, plus les informations seront bonnes. Nous vous encourageons donc à communiquer avec votre personnel, vos bénévoles, vos clients, vos partenaires et toute autre personne de votre réseau pour leur en faire part.   

Nous avons joint le lien vers le sondage, ci-dessous. Veuillez remplir le sondage et faites passer le mot!


Bill C-17 On Hold. Write your MP.

Bill C-17, which is the bill contains the COVID-19 payment for those with disabilities, has been held up in the House of Commons. Please see the below from Accessible Canada. CCB was part of the original letters and the open letter, now we encourage you to write to your MP too.

Hello All,

Enough is enough.

Sixty-six disability-related organizations wrote an Open Letter asking the federal, provincial and territorial governments to figureout how to get financial aid to the people with disabilities who need it most. That Open Letter was sent to every MP and every senator.

then over 50,000 letters were sent to the Prime Minister, Minister Qualtrough, Minister Morneau, all of the premiers, and other provincial and territorial decision makers.

Finally, when most of the country is switching to recovery mode, the disabilty community gets the news that those with a Disability Tax Credit Certificate will receive a one-time payment up to $600. This isn’t even close to what we have been asking for, but it is a start.

Well now we have another problem – shenanigans in the House of Commons.

Bill C-17 has four parts. One of them is the $600 support for people with disabilities with a Disability Tax Credit Certifcate. The other three parts of the Bill and the fact that the House of Commons isn’t meeting and operating regularly, are the sore points with the Bloc Quebecois, the NDP and the Conservatives. Bloc and the NDP suggested taking the one part about diability support out of Bill C-17. The Liberals made a bid to split the Bill so eppeople with disabiliteis could get their financial aid. The Conservatives refused to agree. The government needs all parties to agree to pass the Bill.

So, once again, we are pawns in the political game. This will definitely delay people receiving their disability benefits.

If this ticks you off as much as it does us, here’s your chance to tell the MPs enough is enough. Write to your MP and tell them to pass legislation so that people with disabilities can get their financial aid now.

Either follow the links to use the website, or you can copy the sample letter below.


Pass Bill C-17 Now

Bill C-17 has four parts. One of them is the $600 support for people with disabilities with a Disability Tax Credit Certificate. The other three parts of the Bill and the fact that the House of Commons isn’t meeting and operating regularly, are the sore points with the Bloc Quebecois, the NDP and the Conservatives. Bloc and the NDP suggested taking the one part about disability support out of Bill C-17. The Liberals made a bid to split the Bill so people with disabilities could get their financial aid. The Conservatives refused to agree. The government needs all parties to agree to pass the Bill.

So, once again, we are pawns in the political game. This will definitely delay people receiving their disability benefits.

If this ticks you off as much as it does us, here’s your chance to tell the MPs enough is enough.

You can use the letter below to tell MPs to pass Bill C-17 or you can remove the text and write your own letter. We urge you to share your own stories of why people with disabilities should receive financial aid from the Government of Canada.


Le projet de loi C-17 comprend quatre parties. L’un d’eux est le soutien de 600 $ pour les personnes handicapées avec un certificat de crédit d’impôt pour personnes handicapées. Les trois autres parties du projet de loi et le fait que la Chambre des communes ne se réunit pas et ne fonctionne pas régulièrement sont les points sensibles avec le Bloc québécois, le NPD et les conservateurs. Le Bloc et le NPD ont suggéré de retirer la seule partie sur le soutien aux personnes handicapées du projet de loi C-17. Les libéraux ont fait une offre pour diviser le projet de loi afin que les personnes handicapées puissent obtenir leur aide financière. Les conservateurs ont refusé de s’entendre. Le gouvernement a besoin que toutes les parties acceptent d’adopter le projet de loi.

Donc, encore une fois, nous sommes des pions dans le jeu politique. 

Vous pouvez utiliser la lettre ci-dessous pour dire aux députés d’adopter le projet de loi C-17 ou vous pouvez supprimer le texte et écrire votre propre lettre. Nous vous invitons à partager vos propres histoires sur les raisons pour lesquelles les personnes handicapées devraient recevoir une aide financière du gouvernement du Canada.

First Name/Prénom *

Last Name/Nom de famille *

Email *

Postal Code/code postal *

Country/Pays *

Federal Riding/Circonscription fédérale *


My MP’s email

Send to/Envoyer à:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Minister Carla Qualtrough

Minister Bill Morneau

Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Conservative Party

Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party

Yves-François Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Québécois

Subject/Sujet *

Message *

Dear federal politicians, and especially Conservative MPs,

Pass Bill C-17 now so that people with disabilities get the promised $600 in financial aid.

People with disabilities are the last in line to receive any COVID-19 support – and we need it immediately.

Our community members have been paying out of pocket for personal protective equipment because care providers continue to have difficulty accessing their own. They  have also been paying for services such as garbage pick-up, grocery delivery, respite care, accessibility equipment repair, or medical supplies. People with disabilities are making hard choices between keeping safe and paying for food.

How can your petty politicking be ethical in times like this? You have delayed long enough!

In 2019, the average CPP disability payment was $1,001.15 per month, and the maximum CPP disability benefit anyone could get was $1,362.30 per month. But some of the people receiving this low income will not receive the $600. Financial aid only goes to those receiving the Disability Tax Credit.

None of us feel that the amount or the reach of the bill is ideal, but we are in dire need. It would be a start.

Pass the bill.


Chers politiciens fédéraux, et surtout députés conservateurs,

Adoptez maintenant le projet de loi C-17 pour que les personnes handicapées obtiennent l’aide financière promise de 600 $.

Les personnes handicapées sont les dernières à recevoir un soutien COVID-19 – et nous en avons besoin immédiatement.

Les membres de notre communauté ont payé de leur poche pour l’équipement de protection individuelle parce que les fournisseurs de soins ont toujours du mal à accéder au leur. Ils ont également payé des services tels que la collecte des ordures, la livraison d’épicerie, les soins de relève, la réparation de l’équipement d’accessibilité ou les fournitures médicales. Les personnes handicapées font des choix difficiles entre rester en sécurité et payer pour la nourriture.

Comment votre petite politique peut-elle être éthique dans des moments comme celui-ci?

En 2019, le paiement moyen d’invalidité du RPC était de 1001,15 $ par mois, et la prestation d’invalidité maximale du RPC que n’importe qui pouvait recevoir était de 1362,30 $ par mois. Mais certaines des personnes qui reçoivent ce faible revenu ne recevront pas les 600 $. L’aide financière est réservée aux bénéficiaires du crédit d’impôt pour personnes handicapées.

Aucun de nous ne pense que le montant ou la portée du projet de loi est idéal, mais nous en avons grandement besoin. Ce serait un début.

Votez la loi.


Prime Minister Announces Supports for Canadians with Disabilities

The Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced support to help Canadians with disabilities deal with extra expenses during the pandemic.

This support includes a special one-time, tax-free payment to individuals who are certifcateholders of the Disability Tax Credit as of June 1, 2020, as follows:
– $600 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate.
– $300 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension.
– $100 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the OAS pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

There are also supports to do with employment as those with disabilities are also at higher risk of job loss during economic downturns.
– Creation of a National workplace Accessibility Stream through the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities.
– Invest $1.18 million in five new projects across the country through the Accessible Technology Program.

To read the full statement can be read here :

Canadian Council of the Blind’s COVID-19 Impact Study Reveals Disturbing Reality for Those Canadians Living with Vision Loss

A magnification of the Covid-19 virus.


May 6, 2020 – Ottawa, ON – Louise Gillis, National President of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), today released the findings of the CCB’s recent Survey on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Canadians Who Are Blind, Deaf-Blind, and Partially-Sighted, which was conducted from April 7th to 14th.

The report’s objective was to provide recommendations to our federal, provincial, and municipal governments in order to assist them in creating policies to support those living with vision loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey received a robust sample of 572 responses, with respondents representing all provinces. The results paint a disturbing picture of the experience of Canada’s vision loss community during this crisis.

Speaking from her home in Nova Scotia, Gillis spoke of the need for government to recognize the circumstances presently impacting all Canadians with disabilities, but specifically the over 1,560,000 Canadians living with vision loss. “The vision loss community was too often marginalized and already socially and economically depressed prior to the arrival of the pandemic,” said Gillis, noting that, “the present situation has only served to magnify those barriers and obstacles.”

Key results of the study showed high levels of stress in the vision loss community. Respondents are very concerned about social distancing – they’re unable to see how far they are from others and are concerned that others don’t realize that they have vision loss and tend to come too close. Respondents feel unsafe when going out.

Those living with vision loss are particularly concerned that the effect of the added stress from the pandemic on their mental health may cause them to become overwhelmed.

Survey respondents are stressed about their inability to access a doctor or health care practitioner and to meet their financial obligations, and about their ability to maintain their present standard of living. They’re further stressed due to their already-fragile economic status.

Respondents also expressed concern about having transportation and finding someone to accompany them should they have to go to the doctor or hospital.

Shopping is a concern as plexiglass shields make it difficult to negotiate payment and those with seeing disabilities are uncomfortable interacting with staff. About half of the respondents indicated that they had a personal care worker entering their home, about half of whom weren’t wearing proper personal protective equipment.

Respondents are concerned that when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, they’ll discover that their job no longer exists. Many who were asked to work from home have discovered that they don’t have the proper accessible devices and technology necessary to do their jobs from home, and that their employers have refused to provide or fund them.

The survey succeeded at identifying the challenges confronting those living with vision loss during the COVID-19 crisis. As Respondent 211 commented, “What’s affecting my mental health is this prolonged and extreme isolation. As a blind person, I already live a fairly limited life when referring to freedom of movement and independence and now even that small wedge of my active life has been completely eradicated.” It’s clear that the vision loss community is being heavily impacted by the pandemic. It’s further evident that there’s a need for immediate action from all levels of government to provide support and solutions to help those living with vision loss get through these stressful times. The CCB’s resulting report includes detailed recommendations for all levels of government to consider.

“We must ensure that those with disabilities aren’t left behind and that they have the urgent support they need,” said Gillis. “Leadership must come from the top down, and therefore we’re counting on the federal government to take the lead role in providing the guidance and financial support to provinces to make sure that all Canadians with disabilities, and especially those with vision loss, have access to the needed programs and solutions.”

The Survey Report on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Canadians Who Are Blind, Deaf-Blind, and Partially-Sighted is available on the CCB’s website and is fully accessible.


Michael Baillargeon, CCB Senior Advisor, Government Relations and Special Projects, [email protected], 416-651-2102


Canadian Council of the Blind Logo

The CCB is the Voice of the Blind™ in Canada. Founded 75 years ago in 1944 by returning blind veterans and schools of the blind, the CCB is a membership-based registered charity that brings together Canadians who are blind, living with vision loss, or deaf-blind through chapters within their own local communities that provide the opportunity to share common interests and social activities.

The CCB works tirelessly to improve the quality of life of people with vision loss through advocacy and its dedication to building public awareness, improving the well-being of people with seeing disabilities, and promoting and providing a better understanding of, and solutions for, the barriers faced by those living with vision loss, all while promoting the fact that a lack of sight is not a lack of vision.

The CCB is proud of these efforts to change what it means to be blind, and of its success in partnering and building relationships with other national and international organizations of and for the blind. Most importantly, the CCB is proud of its leadership role through initiatives that call for access to accessible, assistive technology, the provision of the very best in available medical treatments, and the fostering of patients’ rights, all while recognizing that blindness and vision loss are avoidable.

Copyright © 2020 The Canadian Council of the Blind, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

The Canadian Council of the Blind

National Office

20 James Street, Suite 100

Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0T6


COVID-19 Survey Results

We Have Heard Your Voices

Cover of the COVID-19 Impact Survery Report - The Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on canadians who are blind, deaf-blind, and partially-sighted.

As you may be aware, the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) conducted a survey over the period April 7 to April 14 to determine the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic was having on Canadians who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted. The objective of the survey was to provide recommendations to the federal, provincial and municipal governments in order to assist them in creating policies to support those living with disabilities during this time of COVID–19.

In the short time the survey was open responses were received from 572 members of the vision loss community and yes we have heard your voices. We were delighted and a little overwhelmed with the thorough, thoughtful and heart felt emotion projected in your responses. The robustness of this sample means that our survey will be considered to be truly reflective of the concerns of our community at this time.

On behalf of the CCB, I would like to thank those who participated in the survey, for providing us with your concerns and insights and for enabling us to assemble a number of substantial recommendations for government. Without your quick response, this report would not have happened within the short timeframe essential to make our recommendations meaningful. These recommendations are included in the full report available at the link below. The report is fully accessible, and after reviewing it you may comment on its results, by emailing; [email protected]

Once again, on behalf of CCB, I would like to thank you for participating. Please stay safe and healthy. Do your best to follow local COVID-19 guidelines and shelter in place to the extent possible.

Louise Gillis Signature

Louise Gillis
National President,
Canadian Council of the Blind

Download the Survey Report in Word Below

Download the Survey Report in PDF Below

A Press Release from Barrier Free Canada

Press Release:

Barrier free Canada – Canada sans barrières congratulates the government on the formation of an advisory group to take action on issues relating to Canadians with disabilities

We are very pleased to congratulate Minister Qualtrough on the initiative to establish this very important advisory group as there are many Canadians with disabilities who are quite concerned over how their needs and requirements are going to be met. From concerns over health issues, to financial issues, to scoial distancing, and more.

We believe that each time that the government rolls out any type of initiative to help combat COVID-19, the voices, needs, and concerns of Canadians with disabilities must also be included.

While the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group (CDAG) includes strong repesentation from a cross-section of the disability community, it is important that the individuals appointed to the CDAG actually be representatives on behalf of their constituents, and not merely of the organizations with which they are affiliated.

We encourage all those sitting as representatives on the CDAG to engage in broad and inclusive consultation with their respective communities, to ensure that a broad spectrum of views and experiences are considered.