Canadian Council of the Blind

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Visions – April 2024

From the President’s Desk

National Volunteer Week is mid-April so let us sincerely thank the many volunteers from coast to coast who assist us in all activities enhancing the many programs the council continues to support. While we prepare to celebrate the rich 80-year history of the CCB, it is without saying that we truly appreciate the many supporters be it family, friends, care givers, and the many others who donate their time in support of assisting our interests. It is to those volunteers that we need to reach out and thank for always being there over the years that has allowed us to reach this wonderful milestone.

While many of our chapters are planning events, such as trips to enhance the lives of their members, there are many who are also planning celebratory anniversaries this year, and to all congratulations, knowing our volunteers are always playing a role in the success of these events.

Much of this is evident in our Visions Newsletter, but recent events such as White Cane Week activities, Western Blind Curling Championship, and many yearly events such as Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend (ASRW), Blind golf, Canada Ability trade shows, Get Together with Technology programs (GTT), chapter meetings and activities are all enhanced by the support of volunteers.

To our volunteers, we sincerely thank you for your willingness to help us in so many different areas and we certainly are indebted to your kindness and support.

We are also reminded that although White Cane Week is traditionally in early February, in fact, every week is White Cane Week.

National Volunteer Week is mid-April and for those of us living with vision loss we thank you for being there to assist year-round, continuing to be supportive of the many who truly rely on your kindness and generosity.

On behalf of the National Board, staff, and sponsors we truly thank the many volunteers and Happy Volunteer Week! Enjoy the spring season, and please remember to get your eyes checked regularly.

Jim Tokos

National President


Member Spotlight: We would like to introduce Shawn Johnson, member of the CCB Peterborough Chapter.

Approximately 9 years ago, Shawn was a member of The Canadian Council of the Blind in Oshawa, however, when Shawn moved to Hiawatha, he was disappointed to find out that there was no CCB Chapter in Peterborough. He very much missed going to the club, so he decided to start a chapter of his own. He said, “he wanted other visually impaired people to enjoy the CCB group as much as he does.”

After a great deal of hard work, speaking to other visually impaired people and contacting the national office, Shawn started The CCB Peterborough Chapter. It began as a small group of 4 people but has grown over the years to 45 members.

The Chapter has now started other programs such as “From the Blind for the Blind,” a lending library of visual aids, “Insight Peterborough,” a Trent radio talk show and “Bookworms,” an online book club. Shawn loves to share his books and recipes with the book club and encourages other folks to join. He is very proud of the Peterborough Chapter and is always excited to be involved anyway he can.

Shawn now lives back in Port Perry where he is starting another CCB chapter there. Shawn loves meeting new people, fishing, reading, curling and aquafit at the YMCA. He is a proud member of his native heritage and enjoys going to Sun dance ceremonies, powwows and is honoured to be a Drum carrier for his community. As of 2022, Shawn is the CNIB Lake Joe ambassador.

Another one of his passions is writing, and Shawn enjoys putting together a poem or phrase to express his feelings and joy. Here is a poem Shawn wrote for CCB, which the Peterborough Chapter showcased in their 2022 Calendar.

I Extend to You a Warm Welcome

With my hand I extend to you a warm welcome.

I welcome you to this wonderful place.

This place I call CCB.

Will you come with me?

Come in my friend, as we walk together.

Through the halls of CCB.

I welcome you; I will call you, my friend.

Shall I walk with you? Yes.

Let’s walk together.

CCB President’s Award:

Congratulations to Dorothy Macnaughton, from the CCB Sault White Cane Club, who is this year’s recipient of the President’s Award.

Dorothy is receiving the Award as a result of her long-term service in the Northern Ontario region, including her work with the Get Together with Technology (GTT) program.

“My number one priority is the CCB Chapter here in the Sault,” stated Dorothy. “It’s all about improving services for our members and the disabled community as a whole.” And under her direction, the local CCB Chapter is thriving.

The chapter will celebrate it’s twenty-five-year anniversary this June; and what has sometimes been a small group of only eight to ten members, is now up to twenty-five and growing.

“I believe the success of the group is based on the people who started it, and those who continue to contribute, especially the volunteers,” mentioned Dorothy. “For example, last year we hosted an AccessAbility Week Information Fair, and it was a huge success in terms of promoting the chapter to new members.”

As the only physical vision loss support group in Sault-Ste. Marie, the chapter also invites people from outlying areas to join. It is a warm, welcoming environment, and everyone is willing to share their experiences living with vision loss and to support each other.

The chapter also does a lot of work towards improving accessibility in the city. Dorothy sees a big part of this as sharing information, so she has invited the accessibility coordinator from the city to come to their meetings to listen to changes that need to be made, and so that members of the group can suggest new accessible features they can take advantage of.

She is also extremely dedicated to the Northern Ontario and Rural contingent of the GTT program, which gives individuals a chance to meet up and share tips on assistive technology. This enthusiastic group of tech interested people have been meeting for over 10 years, and loves to share ideas regarding technology, which is so integral to the blind community these days.

These popular meetings are held over Zoom, where it’s not uncommon for members from all across Canada to join in, including some real tech experts! Typically, the group will choose a topic to cover, and then this is followed by a general question and answer period.

For many years, Dorothy was active on the CNIB Library Board, as well as on the Board of the Friends of the local library. She continues to advocate for increased local library services to people with print disabilities.

Another thing that Dorothy is clearly passionate about is advocacy. Recently, transportation services in Northern Ontario have diminished, and she is a staunch advocate for maintaining these services and expanding them where possible.

She is the Chair of Ontario Northland’s Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC), which advocates for accessible transit, including regional buses and the Polar Bear Express train. She has also been working to reinstitute the Northlander, which is a train from Toronto to Timmins. “Two members of that AAC spoke up and said that we needed busses that included somewhere to put guide dogs,” said Dorothy while reflecting on an improvement to accessibility. “And now they have just purchased 2 new buses with more leg room, where dogs can rest comfortably, instead of having to put them in the aisle.”

“I just want to make a positive difference by bringing back our regional trains, and advocating for better transportation,” said Dorothy. “I like to get involved, no matter how much work it is, if I’m making life easier for people with disabilities, it’s worth it to me.”

Looking toward the future, she wishes for the Chapter to continue to grow, and will always advocate for those living with vision loss. “It’s really about the peer support we provide-that’s what is at the core of our chapter.”

And when it comes to this years President’s Award, the ever-humble Dorothy is honoured to receive it, but feels she is truly receiving it on behalf of her CCB Chapter.

“It’s nice to be recognized, but I do this work for the people in my community. It’s really about them.”

Dorothy said it can all be summed up by what one of the members of the group told her during one of their meetings, “This Chapter is making such a difference in my life, and I don’t know what I’d do without it.”

We know that Dorothy is making a huge difference in people’s lives with her work in CCB and we thank her so much for her hard work and dedication to the members. Congratulations Dorothy!

Western Blind Curling Championship a Resounding Success!

The annual Western Blind Curling Championship was held in Edmonton at the Granite Curling Club from March 20th to 23rd.

This year the event marked it’s 50th Anniversary and included a couple of unique variances to mark the occasion. Firstly, two rinks from Saskatoon made their debut. After a bit of a struggle air travel wise getting to Edmonton due to weather, both teams did well, and they vow to be back next year.

Secondly, thanks to the support of CCB National, the top two rinks from the Ontario Blind Curling Association were invited to participate. The Ontario curlers, one rink from Toronto and the other from London, were welcomed with open arms and shown what true western hospitality is all about.

The event opened on the Wednesday evening with an opening ceremony where participants were paraded onto the ice and welcomed by various dignitaries. Roger Morin, who to the best of everyone’s calculations has attended most of the previous fifty events, threw out the ceremonial first stone. After that, it was game on, and each rink had 4 qualifying games to determine the finalists. From there Two Semi-final games were held Saturday morning with the winners moving on to the event final.

After four days of competition, the two rinks from British Columbia competed in the event final in front of a packed house at the Granite. Our congratulations go out to the Eric Rosen Rink from Prince George who defeated the rink from Vancouver skipped by Fraser Hiltz.

Third place honours went to the Natalie Morin rink from the home club in Edmonton.

The final game was featured as a live broadcast on AMI audio and the blind curlers thank them for their continued support.

Following the competition, a windup banquet was held at the Sandman South Edmonton hotel where the curlers stayed during the event. A wonderful evening of celebration, networking and fellowship was enjoyed by all.

Congratulations goes out to Western Blind Curling Association President Lori Hysert and her team for pulling the event together. The CCB was proud and honoured to be the lead sponsor at the event and we look forward to hosting a National Curling event again next year, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to the sport of Blind Curling.

The CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter Celebrates Turning 10:

On Saturday March 23 at Hot House Restaurant in downtown Toronto, about 90 members of the CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter, its friends, community partners, and a number of special dignitaries gathered to celebrate the Visionaries 10th Anniversary.

The Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Kelly MacDonald of Accessible Media’s Kelly & Ramya daily afternoon radio show, guided the evening’s festivities, including a congratulatory speech from CCB National President, Jim Tokos. A speech was given on behalf of the Honorable Judy Sgro, Member of Parliament for Humber River-Black Creek, on the importance of the passage of Bill C284, legislation on the creation of a National Eye Health Strategy for Canada, now before the Senate. Work being done by Chapter President Ian White and others on reforming the Assistive Devices Program in Ontario was highlighted as well.

Then, Chapter Vice-president, Reg Sullivan, read a list of recipients of a Visionaries Certificate of Appreciation, praising a long list of Visionaries volunteers whose work and devotion have been so instrumental to the Chapter’s growth and success. Reg was also the announcer of two Grand Prizes for the night: a 7-CD set of music by guitarist Johannes Linstead donated by Visionaries member Chyvonne Bray, and a trip for two to Ottawa on VIA Rail’s business class with two-night accommodation at one of Ottawa’s premier Suites Hotels!

Live music for the event was provided by internationally renowned guitarist Johannes Linstead, and a delicious 3-course dinner was served. CCB member and professional DJ Kenneth Rojas helped out with more music.   And near the end of the evening, Ian White offered his perspective on the formation and growth of the Visionaries Chapter, noting that it began as an 8-person peer support group, and over the past 10 years has blossomed into the largest chapter in Canada with a registered membership of over 150.

He went on to award Certificates of Excellence to all those who have served on the Visionaries Executive Team through the years, to the many extraordinarily dedicated volunteers who lead the Visionaries regular programs, and those who have contributed to the chapter’s success with exceptional service.

The CCB Toronto Visionaries – like all CCB Chapters across the country – relies exclusively on the energy and commitment of volunteers to make everything happen. Ian thanked all the volunteers who donate their time and energy to building our community and supporting the work of the Chapter. A final award was then bestowed upon Ian for his leadership throughout the past 10 years: a beautiful commemorative plaque and a lovely bottle of wine!

Then, to round out the evening, Ian, with the Visionaries Executive team beside him, officially cut a delicious, celebratory cake for all to enjoy!

Louise Gillis Appointed to Accessibility Advisory Board:

As Louise says, “Disability doesn’t define me. If you work at it, you can do it.”

Along with lived experience, Louise has been integral to advocacy for disability rights for people who are visually impaired as well as others over the past 27 years.

Through her work and others across the province, the eye clinic at Glace Bay Hospital was opened and MSI coverage for essential eye treatments that can help save someone’s vision was achieved around 2010.

Louise has also been very vocal about the issues people with mobility disabilities and visual impairment have while walking in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM), particularly downtown Sydney, as was reported in the Cape Breton Post.

“I’ve spent my last number of years working to try and decrease those barriers (holding us back), not only for me as a person with sight loss and some mobility issues but for all people who have different types of issues with hearing and seeing and physical mobility and sensory of whatever sort,” Louise said.

“Even with other invisible things such as mental health, it’s very, very important that we work towards making Nova Scotia, in particular in this case, accessible by 2030 and Canada by 2040 to make everybody on a more equal playing field and this includes an inclusive environment.”

The former president of the Canadian Council of the Blind, Louise also served in all vice-president roles of the non-profit.

Louise has also served on the Goods and Service Standards Committee for the Nova Scotia government. The purpose of this committee is to ensure that people with visual and hearing impairments, as well as other disabilities and people who are neurodivergent, have equal access to goods and services in the province.

Outside of her advocacy work, Louise is a champion curler having won medals at the provincial and national level. This includes her team taking gold at the CCB Canadian Visually Impaired Curling Championship in 2019 where they represented the Sydney Curling Club and Nova Scotia.

Louise is looking forward to the work she can help accomplish when the term starts in April.

“I’ve been so aware of accessibility all my life … but more recently since I’ve lost most of my eyesight,” she said.

“I’ve worked with so many people across the country in my volunteer services over the last 27 years that I know what people are going through with inaccessible venues and sidewalks and streets and snow removal and all of these things that cause us to have to stay in the house and not be able to get out and live like other people live.”

Some of the areas she said need attention in the CBRM include the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, which is an exceedingly difficult place for people with visual impairment to get around due to signage and the colours inside. Louise hopes this will be changed in the new hospital build currently underway.

“I’m honoured by (the appointment) because there’s many people in the community who have worked on the committee before and have provided great strength to it,” she said.

” I feel like we can work together and provide even more accessibility to the community and the province.”

The Nova Scotia Accessibility Advisory Board reports to the Minister of Justice. For more information go to 

By Nicole Sullivan, Cape Breton Post

Update from the CCB BC/Yukon Division:

Karim Damani, his guide dog Enzo, Vic Leach, from Walker’s Caucus and myself (Fraser Hiltz) had our walk with the Mayor and Councillors from the City of Burnaby on Monday, March 4. Mayor Mike Hurley, Councillors Daniel Tetrault, Maita Santiago, and Transportation Director, Amy Choh, joined us for a walk around the Brentwood Mall area which demonstrated some residential and commercial surroundings. Karin, Vic and I described to the group just what challenges us as we came upon different situations, such as inconsistent curb cut slope directions and floating bus stops with adjoining bicycle lanes. Karim even gave the mayor his white cane and invited him to close his eyes to try to find the curb cut ramp leading to the cross walk at one of the corners. They were enthusiastic and asked us many questions, the big takeaway can be summed up with their comments: “I never thought of any of this and did not know until you demonstrated this to me”.

We have provided them with position statements on curb slopes and accessible crosswalks with good acoustic pole locators and audible safe to cross sounds.

Overall, this was a very positive outing and the Councillors, and the mayor have energy to take this further to the Transportation and Traffic Planning Departments of the City of Burnaby.

Submitted by Fraser Hiltz 

CCB BC-Yukon Division Theater Invitation (Free):

The CCB BC-Yukon Division is sponsoring up to 200 attendees to view a movie at Colossus Theatre with descriptive video at no cost. This is an opportunity for all – blind, low vision or sighted – to experience descriptive video on the big screen! 

“Making Community Connections” Workshop

Colossus Theatre, 20090, 91A Avenue, Langley

Tuesday April 23, 2024, at 2:00pm

We will be viewing a movie with descriptive video (no headset necessary) 

To keep track of numbers, you will need to register to attend by Monday April 15, 2024. Please send your contact information (name, email, phone and address) by email to:

[email protected]

About the movie:

Argylle (Rated PG13)

Reclusive author Elly Conway writes best-selling espionage novels about a secret agent named Argylle who’s on a mission to unravel a global spy syndicate.

However, when the plots of her books start to mirror the covert actions of a real-life spy organization, the line between fiction and reality begin to blur. 

Stargardt’s Summit:

Event Recordings

Thank you all for registering for the Stargardt’s Summit held February 29. We are pleased to announce that the video recordings for the entire event are ready for viewing.

Below, you will find access to five (5) recordings:

·      Part 1: Introduction & Keynote by Bradford Manning

·      Part 2: The Patient Panel with Kira Baldonado, Jack Duffy Protentis, Charlie Collins, and Chloe Duplessis, followed by a short preview of “Seeing Stars”, a new film about Stargardts

·      Part 3: The Research Panel with Ben Shaberman, Drs. Jason Comander MD PhD, Abigail Jensen PhD, and Peter Zhao MD

·      Part 4: The Accessibility & Adaptive Living Panel with Tina Laffer, Bob McGillivray, and Sam Seavey

·      Part 5: An audio recording of the closing virtual Q&A session

We hope you will find the recordings inspirational and informative. Please use the link at  to access the videos and watch!

We were truly blown away by the spectacular outpouring of excitement about this first ever event in the U.S. to bring the Stargardt community together. Between those of you in the room and those who registered to attend virtually, over 1,600 people from around the world wanted to band together to share stories, hear the latest research updates, and learn low- and high-tech strategies to best cope with Stargardts.

Many people asked if the Summit would become an annual event. We will certainly be reviewing that possibility. If any decisions are made, we promise, you’ll be the first to know. Stay tuned!

In the News

Do You Hear What I See? How Blindness Changes How You Process the Sound of Movement:

Almost nothing in the world is still. Toddlers dash across the living room. Cars zip across the street. Motion is one of the most important features in the environment; the ability to predict the movement of objects in the world is often directly related to survival—whether it’s a gazelle detecting the slow creep of a lion or a driver merging across four lanes of traffic.

Motion is so important that the primate brain evolved a dedicated system for processing visual movement, known as the middle temporal cortex, more than 50 million years ago.

This region of the brain contains neurons specialized for detecting moving objects. These motion detectors compute the information needed to track objects as they continuously change their location over time, then sends signals about the moving world to other regions of the brain, such as those involved in planning muscle movements.

It’s easy to assume that you see and hear motion in a similar way. However, exactly how the brain processes auditory motion has been an open scientific question for at least 30 years. This debate centers on two ideas: One supports the existence of specialized auditory motion detectors similar to those found in visual motion, and the other suggests that people hear object motion as discrete snapshots.

As computational neuroscientists, we became curious when we noticed a blind woman confidently crossing a busy intersection.

Our laboratory has spent the past 20 years examining where auditory motion is represented in the brains of blind individuals.

For sighted people, crossing a busy street based on hearing alone is an impossible task, because their brains are used to relying on vision to understand where things are. As anyone who has tried to find a beeping cellphone that’s fallen behind the sofa knows, sighted people have a very limited ability to pinpoint the location or movement of objects based on auditory information.

Yet people who become blind are able to make sense of the moving world using only sound. How do people hear motion, and how is this changed by being blind?

In our recently published study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we tackled the question of how blind people hear motion by asking a slightly different version of it: Are blind people better at perceiving auditory motion? And if so, why?

To answer this question, we used a simple task where we asked study participants to judge the direction of a sound that moved left or right. This moving sound was embedded in bursts of stationary background noise resembling radio static that were randomly positioned in space and time.

Our first question was whether blind participants would be better at the task. We measured how loud the auditory motion had to be for participants to be able to perform the task correctly 65% of the time. We found that the hearing of blind participants was no different from that of sighted participants.

However, the blind participants were able to determine the direction of the auditory motion at much quieter levels than sighted participants. In other words, people who became blind early in life are better at hearing the auditory motion of objects within a noisy world.

We then examined how the noise bursts interfered with the ability to tell the direction of motion. For both sighted and blind participants, only the noise bursts at the beginning and the end of each trial had an effect on performance. These results show that people do not track objects continuously using sound: Instead, they infer auditory motion from the location of sounds at their beginning and end, more consistent with the snapshot hypothesis.

Both blind and sighted people inferred movement from the start and stop of sounds. So why were blind people so much better at understanding auditory motion than sighted people?

Further analysis of the effects of background noise on the ability to track auditory motion showed that blind participants were affected only by noise bursts occurring at the same locations in space and moments in time as the onset and offset of the moving sound. This means that they were more sensitive to the beginning and end of the actual auditory motion and less susceptible to irrelevant noise bursts.

As any parent of a blind child will tell you, understanding Motion is just one of the many ways that blind children learn to interact with the world using different cues and actions.

A sighted baby recognizes their parent’s face as they approach the crib, while a blind baby recognizes the sound of their footsteps. A sighted toddler looks toward the dog to attract their parent’s attention, while a blind toddler might pull their parent’s hand in the direction of the barking.

Understanding the ability of blind people to learn how to successfully interact with a world designed for the sighted provides a unique appreciation of the extraordinary flexibility of the human brain.

By Ione Fine and Woon Ju Park,

The Conversation                         1-877-304-0968

[email protected]

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