BALANCE is excited to announce that we have created a unique partnership with Toronto-based Common Boots Theatre to be able to bring 3 play readings exclusively to people who are blind and their family members, via Zoom technology. The series will provide performances of 3 plays, exclusively to our community (in the city and beyond) of people who are blind or living with sight loss, and fully accessible through the reading of the stage directions. These are not radio plays, but will be readings of theatre plays that have previously been performed on stage. Note: permission for these special audio performances has been obtained from ACTRA (the union representing actors) and each of the playwrights.
We at BALANCE truly hope that Canadians who are blind will embrace this specially commissioned audio drama series, and register early for each of these performances. (Note, you do not need to be a client of BALANCE to register but this IS a specially accessible opportunity for people who are blind or living with sight loss, and those with whom they may be in quarantine at this time). Tell your friends! There are lots of seats at these virtual performances, and they are exclusively being provided as a recognition of the additional isolation imposed on people who are blind during the pandemic.
Schedule with registration links for each play:
June 16, 5 PM: The Public Servant written by Jennifer Brewin, Haley McGee, Sarah McVie and Amy Rutherford Register here.
About The Public Servant: Given the current high level of engagement between the public and our elected representatives and government staffers due to COVID-19, it seemed entirely appropriate that BALANCE request this special performance.
About the play: Step inside the halls of power as Madge, a young, idealistic and enthusiastic civil servant, gets ready to write her first official memo. The only thing standing in her way are endless revisions, an impossible deadline, funding cutbacks and the ever-shifting world of government protocol. This hard-hitting and hilarious play asks: doesn’t a successful society – one that is engaged, working, healthy and educated – require a successful civil service?
About the play: Sarah Ruhl reimagines the classic myth of Orpheus through the eyes of its heroine. Dying too young on her wedding day, Eurydice must journey to the underworld, where she reunites with her father and struggles to remember her lost love. With contemporary characters and ingenious plot twists, the play is a fresh look at a timeless love story.
After the presentation of Eurydice on June 23, we will announce the 3rd play (maybe before!) We just need a little more time to find just the right thing for our community on that evening. So stay tuned, and watch this space for more info (or register for the wonderful play Eurydice, and find out on that night what is coming on July 7 at 7!) We hope your curiosity will have you signing up right away!
Note: These performances will be provided via Zoom technology. An email address is required in order to receive the Zoom invite, but if you do not have a computer, you will be able to use a phone to dial in to listen to the performance.
A note from Common Boots Theatre: These readings are being given as a way to support the blind and low vision community, during a difficult time which has had a significant impact on people without sight. Permission to read for the blind and low vision community has been given generously by the playwrights themselves as well as in compliance with ACTRA Covid Response Initiative and the actors are donating their time. Please register if you are a member of the community of persons who are blind or living with sight loss.*
*The community is defined as those who are blind or have low vision, their immediate support network and staff who support them.
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.
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 National President, Canadian Council of the Blind
On Thursday April 23rd 2020, the World Blind Union joins UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the rest of the world to observe World Book and Copyright Day, also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Day. The focus this year is “Books: A Window into the World during Covid-19”.
According to the United Nations, “Now more than ever, at a time when globally most schools are closed and people are having to limit time spent out of their homes, the power of books can be leveraged to combat isolation, to reinforce ties between people, and to expand our horizons, while stimulating our minds and creativity”.
The World Blind Union takes this opportunity to commend all persons and organizations who have made reading materials freely available electronically and would like to encourage more of this globally. This is of great benefit to persons with disabilities, especially blind and partially sighted persons and otherwise print disabled. If properly done, it will provide them access to variety and more current reading material. Also, this can greatly reduce the likelihood of them halting their studies because of limited or no access to information and will create avenues to keep them meaningfully occupied in order to decrease the possible psychological impact of Covid-19.
However, we are calling on governments, educational institutions, service providers and other stakeholders, to ensure that the material made available electronically such as books, Covid-19 related and other information, and online schooling are fully accessible to all. Parents, guardians and teachers who are blind or partially sighted need to have fully accessible information and material so that they can provide adequate support to their children and students. As well, students who are blind, partially sighted or otherwise print disabled must have fully accessible information and material to allow them an equal opportunity for learning alongside sighted peers at their level.
As the world develops strategies to cope with the effects of this pandemic and to eventually eradicate it, WBU will continue to advocate on behalf of our members for inclusive response. Our aim is to ensure that persons with disabilities, especially those who are blind, partially sighted and otherwise print disabled are not deprived of their rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Marrakesh Treaty; and that they remain on governments’ agenda as they continue to strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at www.worldblindunion.org
For the safety of our employees, their families, and our society, the employees of the National Office of the Canadian Council of the Blind will be working from home.
What does this mean for you?
Our physical doors are shut. There is no GTT drop in, and all meetings scheduled in the space are cancelled. BUT we are still answering our emails, and the phones (please be patient with the phones as they are being forwarded to our homes), and doing our best to keep things running.
As President of the Canadian Council of the Blind at this very important time with the Corona Virus (COVID-19) I want to assure all members that we at the Council express concern for our country and most particularly our membership whom we consider as family.
We have compiled a few things for your attention. Our office will be opened at varying hours throughout this time. Emails and telephone messages will be answered in due course so please if you have any concerns let us know. 1-877-304-0968, [email protected] and check our web site for updates.
It is important to cancel all CCB social activities at this time. What is important is to have phone contact with your membership especially those who live alone. You can still conduct your local meeting via phone, Skype and GTT which is a great way to pass time as well as ensuring everyone is safe. If you are calling a meeting that normally would be in person check with Becky regarding setting up by phone. Also check with your GTT contacts.
We know and realize there is a lot of information on the news and social media and it can be overwhelming so best advice is to stay inside your home, avoid close contact if you need to go out and wash your hands frequently. We have no idea how long this will go on!
Many stores and restaurants are now offering take out services so that will reduce contact. As we realize there are many who are unable to get out to buy essentials so this is a time that we can contact our neighbours and friends to pick up these items for those of us who are healthy but not able to get out.
On the positive side this is a great time to download more books to read, watch TV – AMItv and radio, and movies. It is also a great time to get some long awaited chores to get done while we are all home.