Canadian Council of the Blind

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Visions – March 2024

From the President’s Desk

While we turn the calendar to March, let us revisit February White Cane Week events across the country.

I wish to thank the B.C./Yukon Division for kicking off WCW with their honouring of the Lions, which included a wonderful presentation of how Helen Keller attended the Lions International Meeting; and the very moving presentation in which Helen Keller convinced the Lions to become the Knights of the Blind.  The speech and story is included in this newsletter, and I was witness to this moving speech as I attended the B.C. Division kickoff.  I recommend everyone watch and listen to the outstanding presentation.  A big thank you to Pat, Ann, Fraser, and team for their always outstanding efforts in kicking off White Cane Week.  I was privy to the many events happening across Canada, from Provincial and Civic proclamations, activities in Calgary, many outstanding events throughout Ontario, a dining in the dark event in Montreal attended by CCB VP, Leo Bissonnette; as well as snow laden events which took place in Atlantic Canada, as weather took its toll with some planned events in the Atlantic, but our Atlantic Members continued through tough weather conditions. A huge thank you to our Atlantic group – the show always goes on!

There were also events happening which turned White Cane Week into White Cane Month, with the Conference event in Ottawa which was very informative on AMD awareness, followed by a presentation by Statistics Canada.

A huge thank you to our partners at Fighting Blindness Canada, for co-hosting the event, as well as the many who attended in person, and the hundreds who joined on Zoom. 

I wish to thank Keith Communications and team for the outstanding initial edition of White Cane Magazine, which highlighted all of the events ongoing, and showcased our many sponsors and supporters. 

To that end, the Council is very grateful for the ongoing support of our partners, sponsors, and donors and a special thanks to our staff team who were involved throughout.

Knowing there were many events not included in this Visions Newsletter, please continue to submit to our National Office any other events which transpired, as we will continue to track in March on social media as well as our upcoming newsletters.  Let’s make sure we highlight all of our amazing events, and remember, it is your newsletter, so keep the articles rolling in!

I wish to thank all of our members and friends across Canada for their true commitment to showcasing our abilities during White Cane Week, our time to shine, and shine we did!

On behalf of the National Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and sponsors, I wish joy and happiness in celebration of Easter; please remember to continue to get your eyes checked regularly.

Thank you to all for your wonderful support,

Jim Tokos

National President


Member Spotlight: We would like to introduce Linda Hall from the Kamloops White Cane Club in British Columbia.

I was born in Lethbridge, Alberta in 1951, and 3 months premature and placed in an incubator, which resulted in damage to the optic nerves in the eyes. I spent 3 months in the hospital due to the fact that they required me to weigh 5 lbs before being released. At 10 months of age my parents moved from Lethbridge to a small community named Parson, 25 miles south of Golden BC, and from the age of 9 to 15, I attended Jericho School for the Deaf and Blind in Vancouver.

In 1976, I got married at the age of 25.  In 1977 my husband and I moved to Nakusp, BC. While in Nakusp I was diagnose with Glaucoma, and totally lost my sight 2 years later in 1979. I received my first Guide Dog of three in 1988, from the Canine Vision of Canada Guide Dog School which was located in Oakville, Ontario.

In 1986, I moved to Kamloops, BC and joined the newly formed Kamloops White Cane Club in June of 1993. In 2006 I was elected President of the Club and have held that position for the majority of the years since.  

CCB feels like home to me!  I get a chance to be around like-minded people, with similar goals in life. CCB is my community and a place where my friends and I can celebrate our achievements and support each other through difficult times.

It gives me great pleasure to help out where I can and I ensure to keep up with all our meetings and share information. I am also an advocate for Braille literacy. To me, every person who is diagnosed with sight loss should be encouraged to learn braille.

CCB BC-Yukon Division 2024 White Cane Week Webinar links and presenters:

Below you will find links to presentations of the “Helen Keller’s Connection with the Lions”

AND “Knights of the Blind & Grandpa’s White Cane”.

Webinar 1 from Sunday February 4, 2024:

“Helen Keller’s Connection with the Lions” featuring Bob Scales from the Comox Valley Lions AND “Knights of the Blind & Grandpa’s White Cane” featuring Colette Arvidson from the Knights of the Blind Lions.

To listen, please visit the following link:

Webinar 2 from Friday February 9, 2024:

“Tips and Tricks for Low Vision and Blind Folks” featuring Terry Pipkey, CCB BC-Yukon Division 2nd VP.

To listen, please visit the following link:

FYI: when you click the above links, there is an alert letting you know the Division is tracking viewer numbers and city location; assuring you no other information is available to us.

Contact Information for speakers:

Bob Scales, Comox Valley Lions Club

[email protected]

For more information or to participate in Grandpa’s White Cane Project or any KOTB activities:

In Canada contact Lion Charles Bailey

778-684-1662 or [email protected]

White Cane Week Blind Curling in B.C.:

It was Monday morning, February 5th and the Women’s Draw was in full session when the doors opened to the arena, TV camera rolling and lights ablaze. What could it be? Brad Gushue stopping by? Cheryl Bernard dropping in?

No, it was Bruce Laurie and his Campbell River Blind Curling rink leading in a group of 10 Oceanside vision impaired past and potential curlers and their partners, eager to engage in a demonstration of blind curling techniques—a first for the Parksville Curling Club (PCC) and coinciding with White Cane Week in Canada. For the next 90 minutes we watched in amazement as those who had curled before showed their former skills, responding to the stimulus of a bright halogen light on a broom for direction; or, for those with complete sight loss, the “click, click, click” of a Cricket Clicker noise maker guiding their delivery path. Yes, the other senses DO pick up the slack!

For others in attendance, this was their first time on curling ice and their first time throwing a rock. Each curler was given good grippers for their shoes; and once they were out on the ice, they all were comfortable quickly. Then they learned how to push a rock.

Not sure if ice would be my chosen recreation surface were I visually impaired but the pleasure on the faces of those throwing their first stone, hearing the “roar” of granite on ice and… best of all…the sound of granite-on-granite as their rock collided with another stone was truly inspiring.

How impactful this opportunity was can be seen in the feedback we received through Albert Ruel, a local organizer for visually impaired persons and author of a Blog on Disability, Assistive Technology, Blindness, Low Vision, Life, Adjustment and Peer Mentoring. From Cynthia: “That was the most POSITIVE experience since I began this journey. I guess I can order new curling shoes…I am in 100%, and you can count on [my husband] to help in any way you need.  He was as impressed as I and was so happy to see me embracing my old sport.”

From Joan: “[My son], somewhat to my surprise, is asking what is going to happen with the blind curling.  It’s true!”

As Albert himself put it: “Some of us attended with some reservation, and from the feedback I’ve received all of us have gone away from the event with a much higher level of enthusiasm for the sport, and more importantly, with confidence that we can do it enjoyably.  The warmth of the people who make up the PCC was evident by the reception we got, and the PCC members who approached many in the group offering support for such an effort going forward at the Parksville Curling Club is gratifying.”

Below is the CHEK News report on this event:

‘It’s a lot of fun’: Blind curlers wanted across Vancouver Island:

Monday, February 5 marked the beginning of “White Cane Week,” a time to raise public awareness about the challenges facing people with vision loss.

Many blind people feel isolated, but one group in Campbell River is trying to change that one curler at a time.

Bruce Laurie coaches the Campbell River blind curling team, the only one on Vancouver Island and one of only four in B.C.

He and a few members of his team were in Parksville Monday, gauging the interest of local blind curlers.

“It’s a lot of fun, and unfortunately, the blind people don’t get a chance to do a lot of activities,” said Laurie.

Laurie is looking for blind curlers and coaches from across the Island to help establish blind curling outings or even teams.

Parksville’s Colin O’Brien is blind and tried curling for the first time.

“It is interesting, and it seems like something I might want to pursue and continue. I’ll try it again and see if I can get better,” he said.

“They were very patient, and it’s wonderful. I’m really, really enjoying it today,” added Ruth Bieber.

The Parksville Curling Club supports the drive to find more blind curling enthusiasts.

“It’s something to do in the winter and gets them out of the house and into the community and we’re going to open up a sheet for them here at the club if they want it,” said club president Tony Reinsch.

There are over 7,000 visually impaired people on the Island, and 40 per cent of them rarely leave their homes.

The people taking part on Monday say curling is a great way to change that.

“It’s very educational and exciting to be around other people with sight loss and to get out of the house,” said Jeremy Steenberg, who has five per cent sight in one eye. “It’s my second year on the Campbell River team, and I’m really enjoying it.”

Laurie is dedicated to helping blind people on the Island get into curling. “If you’re at all able enough to get out, we will help you to try out this sport,” he said.

You can reach him at the Campbell River Curling Club.

CCB-Get Together with Technology (GTT) Program:

CCB’s GTT is very active and has many types of meetings that you are welcome to join each month to learn about new assistive technology. Whether you are a beginner, or an advanced user, there’s always something new to learn!

For more information, or a list of upcoming meetings, please contact us:

Corry Stuive, CCB National Program Coordinator

[email protected]  OR 1-877-304-0968 Ext 550

David Greene, CCB GTT Accessibility Trainer

[email protected]  OR 1-877-304-0968 Ext 509

Nolan Jenikov

[email protected] OR 1-877-304-0968

Via Rail Accessibility Meeting:

On January 30th, 2024, I attended a meeting of the Via Rail Universal Accessibility Working Group to communicate Via Rail’s plans to roll out accessibility on their long trip and cross-Canada rolling stock.

These trains include five cars which make up their Toronto to Vancouver line and their Toronto to Halifax line, as well as their Winnipeg to Churchill lines; which consist of sleeper cars, passenger lounging cars, economy and first class, dining and three tiered panoramic cars. 

With the success of the new accessible rolling stock now being brought into use in the Quebec to Windsor corridor, Via has an obligation with the Accessible Canada Act to continue ensuring accessibility on its alternate (long trip) fleet.

The meeting was kicked off by the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hon. Kamal Khara, Minister of Accessibility, who welcomed the project and applauded Via Rail in its outreach to the disability community and the collaboration of such with their design team to ensure feedback and input was driven by the disability community in the design process, promoting inclusion for all.  I was quickly introduced to and spoke to the Parliamentary Secretary on behalf of CCB, who asked many questions about serving the blind community. We spoke on the Canada Disability Benefit, and Bill C 284 moving forward and the subsequent importance of a National Eye Care Strategy.

This project is in the infancy stage, so Via Rail was tasked with this plan to provide a fully accessible fleet prior to reaching out for procurement to the Government of Canada, therefore ensuring the new fleet is designed through the lens of disability where, be it blind, deafblind, deaf, or mobility issues, they are all considered in order to meet standards to adequately transport all persons with disabilities.

This was an all-day meeting, with Via Rail design and accessibility teams encouraging feedback, noting all feedback from the disability community to go back to the design team for further implementation.  We will then be invited to another meeting to further view and assess the progress of the design of the new fleet.  This fleet will then be moved forward to a mock train setup for further approval prior to regulatory and accessibility needs being met. This was a wonderful opportunity to be an integral part of the design process, at its infancy stage.

Submitted by Jim Tokos, National President

Braille Literacy Canada Accessible Signage Guidelines 2024

I am pleased to share that Braille Literacy Canada approved updated signage guidelines at our February 20th, 2024 board meeting.

Of note in these 2024 Guidelines is the use of the capital indicator, left justification of braille and the use of uncontracted braille.

These directives, among others, set us apart from the ADA standards used in the US.

These revised guidelines come at a time when CCB has an opportunity in its work to promote these guidelines to, for example, Standards Canada and their own efforts to update a number of standards.

The guidelines also have value to provinces and cities looking at improving accessibility in their communities.

These guidelines will soon be available on the BLC website.

Submitted by Leo A. Bissonnette, Ph.D., 1st Vice-President, National Board

Edie Mourre Scholarship: Are you interested in pursuing a certification in braille transcription?  

Or maybe you have always wanted to study music braille?  

Perhaps you have been contemplating pursuing braille studies but the cost has held you back? Your time could be now!    

The Edie Mourre Scholarship fund is intended to assist those who are pursuing employment as a braille transcriber or proofreader, or as an educator.  Eligible codes include: Unified English Braille, Code braille français uniformisé, music braille, or other braille systems.   

More information on the program and an application form (in English and in French) may be found online at

Minister Khera welcomes first Annual Report from Canada’s Chief Accessibility Officer:

GATINEAU, QC, Feb. 15, 2024 Accessibility is a key component of communities that thrive and an economy that grows. Since the significant milestone of passing the Accessible Canada Act, the Government of Canada has been fully engaged in creating a barrier-free country and ensuring the full participation of all Canadians in society, particularly persons with disabilities.

The Government of Canada continues to engage the disability community in the spirit of “Nothing Without Us” on the actions needed to advance disability inclusion and accessibility across the country.

Today, in the House of Commons, the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Kamal Khera, tabled the first Annual Report from Canada’s Chief Accessibility Officer (CAO), Stephanie Cadieux. This marks a historic step forward for the Government’s implementation of the Accessible Canada Act, as the report is a mandated requirement to highlight progress made under the Act and bring attention to persistent accessibility issues.

In her report, entitled “Everyone’s Business – Accessibility in

Canada,” Ms. Cadieux sets out a call to action that aims to help Canada reach its goal of building a country without barriers—one where 6.2 million Canadians with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of society. The CAO has placed special focus on four areas where collective and harmonized efforts are needed to advance accessibility, including mandatory training, regulations, dedicated accessibility funding, and the collection of meaningful data to support decision making.

In welcoming the report, Minister Khera highlighted Government progress under the Accessible Canada Act, as well as federal initiatives that will help support improvements in the areas noted by the CAO, including:

-the coming into force of the first set of Accessible Canada Regulations;

-the publication of the Federal Data and Measurement Strategy for Accessibility;

-the creation of Accessibility Standards Canada, as well as the positions of Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner;

-the support provided to over 7,200 projects under the Enabling Accessibility Fund to make communities and workplaces more accessible, and helping thousands of Canadians gain access to programs, services, and employment opportunities; and

-the release of the Disability Inclusion Action Plan, a blueprint for change to make Canada more inclusive for persons with disabilities, which includes the Canada Disability Benefit Act.

These actions build upon the important work the Government has been doing on accessibility and disability inclusion since 2015, but there is much more to be done. Making Canada inclusive, and free of physical and attitudinal barriers is a collective responsibility that extends beyond government involvement; it’s a commitment that benefits us all.

“This first Annual Report from the Chief Accessibility Officer is a milestone moment for the Government of Canada and our implementation of the Accessible Canada Act. I would like to thank Stephanie Cadieux for the dedicated work she is doing as an advocate for diversity, accessibility, and disability inclusion, and I look forward to continuing to work with her to improve the lives of all Canadians with disabilities. As we forge ahead, our Government will keep on championing meaningful change through strong policies by partnering with the community and demonstrating our unwavering commitment to inclusivity and equal opportunities for all Canadians.”

-Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Kamal Khera

“The purpose of the Accessible Canada Act is to create a barrier-free Canada by 2040. This report recognizes that while some barriers will take longer to remove, the time to take action is now. Change is long overdue, and for people with disabilities, waiting even one more day seems like too long. Getting to 2040 is going to take sustained effort and funding. Organizations need to give accessibility the time and dedicated resources required for it to become an integral part of the way they operate. I’m going to keep championing and challenging on these issues and others and am inviting everyone to do the same.”

-Chief Accessibility Officer, Stephanie Cadieux

Accessible games:

My name is Peter Sallai, and I am a mobile game developer. I specialize in creating games for blind and visually impaired individuals.

I would like to introduce my unique voice-based iPhone game, Voice of the Ancients (VOTA). I believe this game could be a fun and engaging challenge for members of the blind community.

Voice of the Ancients is an adventure game. You are in your fourth year in the French Foreign Legion in the Sahara when a dying teammate gives you his father’s diary. The diary contains clues to a long-lost temple full of treasures. After you set out on the temple’s trail, you realize that a secret organization, the “Society of the Ancients,” is also searching for the temple. So, in addition to solving the diary’s mystery, you must escape from the Society.

VOTA is optimized for and tested with the help of the blind community. The game is controlled entirely by voice. So, playing the game is like a conversation with your phone. You don’t even need to touch your phone after starting the game.

A short feedback from a blind Canadian player: “Terrific! I had so much fun going through this, and found that the puzzles did get harder with progression to the game, which is something I do like a lot. Thank you for making more accessible games for us! This one really rocks, I hope you do more in the future.”

You can find the game in the App Store:

You can also search for the game in the iPhone’s App Store by its name: Voice of the Ancients

The first episode is free, and the second and third chapters are $7.99 together.

If you don’t have the time to try it but want a short overview of the game, a review from the AppleVis community is available at this link:

In the News

Bride who lost sight as a teenager has wedding guests ‘live a moment in her shoes’ with blindfolds:

‘You don’t need eyesight to have a lovely time, to experience the milestones in our lives,’ bride says

Lucy Edwards got married to her fiance Ollie Cave in London last August. She took to TikTok to share what the ceremony looked like and explain her decision to have the groom and all of her guests blindfolded. “I’m blind and I blindfolded my sighted husband and guests when I walked down the aisle…this is their reaction when they lived a moment in my shoes,” text across the screen read.

The video goes on to show Edwards having her father walk her down the aisle and placing her hand in Caves. As the guests sat down and removed their blindfolds, Cave kept his on as he began to touch Edwards’ wedding dress to feel the different textures and understand why she picked that specific dress. “He was able to feel my wedding dress in the exact way that I felt it when I first had it on,” she wrote in the TikTok’s caption.

“This was such an important experience for us both even though Ollie isn’t blind, but we thought it was really important for him and all of my guests to experience what it’s like for me in the most important moment of our life so far,” Edwards continued in the caption.

She explained in an interview with Insider that she lost her sight completely at 17 years old when she had been dating Cave for two months. She previously shared on TikTok that this was due to a rare genetic condition called incontinentia pigmenti.

“I never envisaged that I would walk down the aisle to Ollie as a blind person,” Edwards told the outlet, explaining that she previously faced uncertainty about whether her condition would result in blindness or not.

When she had thought about walking down the aisle, she felt uncomfortable about people lovingly staring at her without her being able to look back at them in the way she once wanted to.

“So I thought, right, I know no one does this, but let’s blindfold all my guests, and we can all not see each other and we can all live in this beautiful moment together,” she said.

The moment was so well received that many guests came up to her after the ceremony to say it was their favourite part, according to Edwards. Her TikTok viewers agreed, as the video had been viewed over six million times since being uploaded in September.

“I love that he’s crying without even seeing how beautiful she looks,” one person said of her husband, Cave.

“What a truly beautiful moment, something to treasure always. Thank you for sharing this with us,” another commenter wrote.

Edwards decided to post the moment on TikTok to show others that sight isn’t needed to enjoy large moments like a wedding day. “I wanted to show that you don’t need eyesight to have vision. You don’t need eyesight to have a lovely time, to experience the milestones in our lives. You know, I’m not going to have eyesight when I give birth to my children, but that’s okay and I’ve come to terms with that,” she said.

By Brittany Miller

Podcasts About or for People with Visual Impairments:

Are you using podcasts as a learning tool?

Podcasts! They are a great way to be entertained and informed. I enjoy listening to a wide variety of podcasts, but recently started exploring ones that are related to or about persons with visual impairments. There are a surprising number in this category, but below are the ones I found most informative and entertaining.   Some give the sighted listener a different perspective on the lives of visually impaired persons and their families.  Others give valuable

information to the visually impaired listener that will enhance their daily lives. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. NPR podcast

This is a podcast about unforeseen forces that control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs and assumptions.  

How to Become Batman is an episode that explores the world of blindness, how it shapes others perceptions, and the reaction of a visually impaired boy and his mother.  The narrator is interesting to listen to, and her questions to the hosts are relevant.  

2. RNIB Connect Radio podcast

The RNIB Connect Radio podcast gives great technology information that is designed specifically for the blind and partially sighted individual.  The topics range from Apple products, Braille, Amazon, and more. In addition to the wealth of information provided, the production is from the UK, and the accents make it enjoyable to listen to.  

3. The Blind Bargains podcast

The Blind Bargains podcast discusses the biggest names, latest news, and insights from the field of blindness. The hosts, who are both visually impaired, use humor and personal insight into how the products work, and ways they use them.  It features interviews, demonstrations and commentary from experts in the field. 

4. Ted Talk podcast logo

Ted talks are amazing, and the ones related to blindness are well worth a listen. The talks are given by people with a visual impairment as well as from people who have changed the lives of individuals with visual impairments.  They have a wide variety of topics, but I only selected the ones related to blindness.

5. Blind Alive podcast

Blind Alive is a fitness podcast that discusses wellness topics and how it relates to the sighted and blind. The topics range from cooking to health and wellness. They are informative, and relevant to persons with visual impairment.  The commentator is a person with visual impairments and is very inquisitive with her guests.  The information is broken down, and very descriptive when referring to exercise, such as the recent Barre program. 

By Michela Tavolieri                1-877-304-0968    [email protected]

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