Canadian Council of the Blind

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Visions – June 2024

From the President’s Desk

As National President, I must thank the many individuals across Canada who contributed to making Vision Health Month such a tremendous success.

It was also an honour for me to witness so many wonderful events lead by outstanding members who gave up their time to plan, organize, attend, and participate in events all across the country.

To the Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend organizers, host, Summerside, Prince Edward Island, and their many volunteers, to the Toronto Visionaries for their quality consumer expo, it certainly makes us proud of your efforts as contributors to the Council.

The Vision Health Month gala event in Ottawa, in support of our sponsors and partners, was a fantastic event. I truly appreciate the time and efforts of the volunteers and staff team. This event was highlighted by CCB members who received awards for outstanding service, and supporters all lending to the rich 80th anniversary of this wonderful Organization. Dorothy, Heather and Kelly; your continued contributions and memories which you were kind enough to share were so inspirational, and we are indebted for your words of wisdom.

What I have spoken to here is only a snapshot of what transpired across the Country, but certainly exemplifies the commitment Organizationally, we   make to “Changing what it means to be blind.”

On behalf of the Board of Directors, staff, and the many who support and believe in what we do, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Jim Tokos

National President

Member spotlight:

My name is Lori Shea and I’m from Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. I have been a member of our local E. A. baker chapter in St. John’s for over twenty years now.

During that time, I was president for a number of years, met a lot of wonderful people and experienced growth in membership. I very much enjoy watching the chapter grow and continue to offer our members fun and exciting activities.

On a national level, I have had the opportunity to travel to Ottawa to participate in the peer support training program where I learned a lot and met some wonderful folks. I’m currently employed as a client service officer with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. This job involves working with and advocating for our most vulnerable in our community.

In May 2022 I was elected chairperson of the Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend. Along with our committee, we work to a sure this event continues for many years to come. We just completed another successful weekend; and I look forward to attending the annual sports weekend next year from May 16 to 18 in Moncton N.B. I hope everyone across the country has a wonderful and enjoyable summer.


Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend 2024:

On behalf of the CCB Summerside Socialites Chapter, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all CCB Atlantic Canada participants and their guides for attending the Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend (ASRW). This year, the event was held in our beautiful city of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, from Friday, May 17th to Sunday, May 19th, 2024. It was our pleasure to host this memorable occasion, and our organizing committee and volunteers poured their hearts and dedication into making this weekend an overwhelming success.

The ASRW is an annual event where members from across Atlantic Canada come together for a fun-filled weekend of sporting events and social activities. We all look forward to the weekend each year as it provides an opportunity to reconnect with friends, make new ones, and create lasting memories. This year, we were honored to have CCB National President Jim Tokos join us. It was a pleasure to see him socializing with our participants, adding an extra layer of significance to the weekend.

This year we had a total of 45 participants along with their guides who enjoyed their stay at the Microtel Inn which is a lovely hotel conveniently attached to the Credit Union Place. Having the events centered around here enhanced the accessibility and accommodation of our weekend activities. The staff at these venues were always friendly and a delight to be around.

On Friday evening, we kicked off our event with an exciting round of chute bowling, which was a big hit with everyone. We also had an incredible display of crafts and hobbies, showcasing the amazing talents and creativity within our community. The highlight of the night was the talent show, where members shared their diverse skills and passions, making it a truly memorable experience. During the event, we celebrated the Canadian Council of the Blind’s 80th year of supporting individuals with sight loss, and we capped off the night with a delicious cake to mark this significant milestone.

On Saturday morning, we enjoyed our friendly bowling competition which is a favorite among our CCB participants. This was held at the Credit Union Place Bowling Lanes where Laughter echoed through the lanes as we cheered each other on while having enjoyable conversations. Following our bowling fun, we all headed over to the Three Oaks Senior High School to start our friendly competitions of washer toss, horseshoes, javelin, and shotput. It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. We all would like to express thanks to the Sydney Chapter for demonstrating some new games which might possibly be implemented into future ASRW’s to come. That evening, the ASRW committee held its Annual General Meeting which is a vital part of our weekends, and we always encourage CCB members to come and observe and to stay up-to-date. Our Saturday evening wrapped up dancing the night away to a variety of great music provided by our incredibly talented DJ.

On Sunday morning, we organized table bowling and darts activities, which turned out to be a fantastic experience for everyone involved. These events took place at the Summerside Legion, where the staff provided exceptional service, and we enjoyed a delightful luncheon together. Following the luncheon, our cribbage event began. Meanwhile, our walking/running events were happening simultaneously at the Credit Union Place Walking Lanes, offering more opportunities for participation and fun.

The weekend concluded with a Sunday night banquet at Miscouche Legion. The staff prepared a wonderful meal, and their hospitality was exceptional. Heidi White, chair of the CCB Summerside Socialites Chapter, served as the master of ceremonies, recognizing and thanking everyone who helped make this weekend possible. Our guest speakers including CCB National President Jim Tokos, our MLA Honorable Barb Ramsay, and Deputy Mayor and also the General Manager of the Microtel Inn Cory Snow, who delivered heartfelt speeches. Lori Shea, Chair of the ASRW committee, alongside statistician Joyce Dean who was newly appointed as secretary of the committee, presented medals to participants, making it a memorable occasion.

We are immensely proud of all the participants and congratulations to everyone who won awards and to those who tried new events. Personally, it was incredibly rewarding to witness the importance of these games to our members. All of our CCB members are amazing and beautiful individuals.

Once again, a huge thank you to our CCB participants, their guides, volunteers, our sponsors, the venues, and everyone else who has made the 2024 ASRW a huge success.

See you all again in 2025!!!

Submitted by Heidi White

Chair, CCB Summerside Socialites Chapter

In Memory: Michael Hayes:

Michael passed away peacefully at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa on Monday May 6, 2024, at the age of 76. He was a member of the Nepean Lions Club and then the Ottawa-Vanier Lions Club for a total of 36 years.

He was an avid fisherman and the founder of B.A.I.T. (Blind Anglers International Tournament) and was also a great blind curler who was the initial organizer of the Canadian Council of the Blind National Curling Bonspiel. Michael’s hard work and dedication got the CCB’s Bonspiel off the ground, and it remained a touchstone event for the community for years to come. This event garnered lots of media attention an gave blind curlers a fantastic opportunity to showcase their incredible abilities on the curling rink. Because of this event, curlers from across the country were able to come together for a week of top notch competition on the ice, and where lifetime friendships were made both on and off the ice!

His contribution to the Lions Organization was acknowledged by many awards and recognitions. Please read below an article from 2011 on the BAIT weekend Michael founded.

What it’s Like to Fish While Blind:

Near Westmeath, Ontario, the ancient, curving sweep of the Ottawa River has deposited a half-mile of soft, brown sand. Here one finds Nangor Resort, a series of discrete cottages anchored by a main building with a restaurant, lounge and sundry housekeeping units. For the last 18 years, through four different owners, Nangor has played host to a fishing tournament unlike any other the world over.

Not that you’d know it at a glance. Arriving at Nangor during the first weekend of June, you might think you’d stumbled upon a typical Canadian fishing derby. Here’s the parking lot, full of trailered bass boats, 225-horsepower rockets bristling with carbon-fibre rods and state-of-the-art electronics. There’s the bustling registration table and, to the left, a professional-looking weigh-in station, complete with raised stage, scoreboard and PA system. Ontario tournament veterans might even recognize a few familiar faces: Chris Roy, Bobby Bird and Wincell Spence of the Renegade Bass Tour; Brian Wilson of the South Eastern Bass Open; and Mike Augot, the 2006 Petawawa Bassmasters’ Angler of the Year.

But then there are the dogs.

Off to one side, a dozen or more ludicrously well-behaved Labs and retrievers are studiously ignoring one another as they await instruction from their masters. They’re all wearing the distinctive harnesses of their trade-seeing-eye dog-providing the first clear sign that this is no ordinary gathering. Not that the name of the event didn’t already give it away, however: the Blind Anglers International Tournament, or BAIT, is Canada’s first and only fishing competition for men and women who are totally or legally blind.

The tournament is the brainchild of Michael Hayes, a one-time travelling salesman. A little more than two decades ago, when Hayes was 40, his life was altered, profoundly and forever. “I woke up one morning and my right eye was sore and bloodshot,” recalls the tall, angular gent. “A day later, I couldn’t see out of it.”

A trip to the doctor resulted in a shocking diagnosis: his eye had been infected with histoplasmosis, a fungus that grows on bird and bat droppings, leaving his retina cross-hatched with tiny scars. The doctors eventually traced the source back to a bout of severe illness Hayes had suffered >>as a three-year-old growing up on a farm in Lowe, Quebec-a farm that contained, among other animals, poultry. Thirty-seven years later, the disease was revealing itself in a particularly terrifying way: he’d gone blind in one eye.

Hayes initially took the blow with equanimity. “I’d worked all my life, logging more than three million miles as a professional driver and salesman. Now I had lost the use of one eye. Fine, I’d still be able to work, still be able to drive and earn a living.”

Three months later the disease struck again, erasing all but three per cent of the vision in his other eye. With that, he was plunged into a world of shadowy darkness and despair. “I’d wake up in the middle of the night screaming, the bedclothes soaked in perspiration. It was a really awful time, filled with bitterness, anxiety and depression, not only for me, but also for my wife and son.”

Shortly thereafter, Hayes joined the Lions Club, one of the world’s largest philanthropic organizations, and one with an 80-year history of serving the blind. It was there he floated the idea for a blind fishing tournament. “Fishing was one of the ways I used to deal with stress before I went blind, and I missed it. I thought it would be fun and emotionally rehabilitative to get not only myself, but other blind people out on the water.”

To his surprise and delight, the Lions jumped at the opportunity, raising funds and mobilizing volunteers from more than 50 chapters across eastern Ontario and western Quebec. The first BAIT pike and walleye tournament was attended by Canada’s angling royalty, people such as fishing TV personalities Bob Izumi and Angelo Viola, and local tournament legend Big Jim McLaughlin. They’ve since been replaced by a cadre of local pros, most of whom return year after year, guiding the same blind anglers in a tournament that, despite its paltry $400 winner’s purse, is in many ways the most important, rewarding and life-affirming stop on the season’s competitive angling circuit.

By Mark Anderson

Braille Literacy Canada 4th Annual Symposium:

Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) will hold its fourth annual virtual braille symposium on Friday, June 14, 2024, from 1 – 5 PM EDT.

The schedule of events is as follows.

1:00pm EDT: Teaching Braille to Adults: Beyond Just Knowing the Code (Jennifer Ottowitz, CVRT, National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision)

2:00pm EDT: Where are We Now? An Update on the Monarch Dynamic Braille and Tactile Graphics Display (Peter Tucic, Humanware)

3:00 pm EDT: What’s the Problem with Pre-Braille? Re-Visiting Early braille literacy (Adam Wilton, Ph..D, Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired)

4:00pm EDT: Braille Music – using technology, how do we learn it, how do we find resources? (Jordie Howell, Vision Australia, International Council on English Braille)

Each presentation will be approximately 30 minutes long, followed by a 15 minute question-and-answer period, and then a 15 minute intermission. More information on our exciting line up of speakers will be provided soon!

Registration will close on June 11th, 2024. Live automatic captioning will be provided for the presentations through Zoom, and written transcripts of the presentations will be made available after the event. Once you have submitted your registration, your request will be reviewed, and a Zoom link will be e-mailed to you within a few days. Email any questions you have to

Please visit the following link to register: /register/37

This event is open to anyone in Canada and internationally with an interest in braille.

It is free of charge to members of Braille Literacy Canada (or members of organizations who are corporate members of BLC) and $20.00 for non-members. Interested in becoming a BLC member? Annual membership (open to all Canadians) is $20.

2024 Para Bowls Championships:

August 17-22, 2024

For More Info Go To


Toll-free: 1-800-567-2695

Tel: 613-244-0021

The 2024 Canadian Para-Bowls Championships will take place at the Brampton Lawn Bowling Club from August 17-22, 2024. The event is open to any visually impaired or physically impaired lawn bowler who belongs to an affiliated club in Canada. The cost to register is $130 per person. Registration deadline is June 30, 2024.

Host Club

Brampton Lawn Bowling Club

Phone: 905-874-3500Registration

Registration deadline is June 30, 2024

In order to compete in Provincial, National and International competitions, a Classification system is essential. Sanctioned events at which bowlers with a disability compete must conform to the rules of IBD (International Bowls for the Disabled) who in turn are affiliated to the International Paralympic Committee. The goal of a classification system to create a “level playing field” using the main sensory and physical functions of bowls. Classification determines the types of events offered at a competition.

New Rules for Guide Dog Users Travelling to the United States:

Starting on August 1, 2024, dogs entering or returning to the United States must meet new, specific requirements depending on where they have been in the 6 months before entering the U.S. and where they received their rabies vaccines (if required).

Here is the link to CDC new rules: united-states/dogs-entering-us-after-august-1.html

Travelling with your dog to the U.S.? The CDC has new guidelines to curb the spread of rabies:

Starting this summer, Canadians travelling south of the border with a dog will have to follow new guidelines as part of a United States effort to prevent rabies from re-entering the country, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulations announced this week.

Although the CDC says the U.S. eliminated rabies in 2007, it has faced challenges with rabid dogs in recent years.

The new regulations will take effect at the same time that a temporary suspension on importing dogs from countries at high risk of rabies will expire, a rule that will “build on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Canadian travelers to the U.S. will have to prepare for new travel rules.

The new rules will apply to foreign nationals, as well as U.S. citizens and U.S. residents, and will affect all dogs, including service animals and dogs who left the U.S. and are returning.

Starting on Aug. 1, dogs entering the U.S. will have to be at least six months old and microchipped, with a CDC Dog Import Form online submission receipt. They also have to appear healthy upon arrival, a rule that hasn’t changed from prior guidelines.

The microchip will have to be International Organization for Standardization (ISO)-compatible and implanted prior to any required rabies vaccination. The number must be on all required forms and accompanying veterinary records.

The CDC Dog Import Form should be completed online two to 10 days before arrival; if travelers need to make any changes to their submission, they can do so by sending a new form and indicating they are making changes to an existing form.

Previously, the Animal Welfare Act required all dogs to be at least two months old to travel into the U.S., and the CDC required each to have verbal or written documentation verifying they hadn’t visited a high-risk country in the last six months, CDC spokesperson Dave Daigle told the Star in an email.

Asked whether Canadians will face any additional regulations, Daigle recommended they visit the CDC’s website and use its “DogBot” tool to see what documentation they will need.

“Since Canada is a rabies-free country, there are multiple options available to (Canadian travelers),” he said.

Canadian travelers should plan ahead if they visit other countries before the U.S.

Canada is not on the CDC’s long list of countries at high risk of rabies, but visitors should beware that they may be subject to additional rules if they have been to one of the countries on the list.

More than 100 countries are considered high-risk for dog rabies, including states in the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia. Among the high-risk countries listed are Afghanistan, China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan), Iran, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines and Syria.

Dogs that have been in a country with a high risk of dog rabies in the six months prior to travelling to the U.S. who do not have documentation of a U.S.-issued rabies vaccine must have:

a valid (non-expired) rabies vaccination that was given at the age of at least three months old.

a complete Certification of Foreign Rabies Vaccination and Microchip form.

a valid rabies serology titre (unless the dog has a reservation for 28-day quarantine at a CDC-registered animal care facility).

a reservation at a CDC-registered animal care facility for examination and revaccination.

an international flight that arrives directly at the airport with the CDC-registered animal care facility where the dog has a reservation.

By Manuela Vega, the Toronto Star

Oko App Launching in Canada on July 1st:

Many of you will remember that CCB actively supported the development of the app for Canada. In the winter, after we asked you to test the app, we now have an app available to use, starting in July of 2024. CCB urges you to use the app and send feedback to the OKO developer.

We are thrilled to share some exciting news with you! Our team at Oko has been working tirelessly to bring you the best in accessible navigation, and we are delighted to announce that the Oko app will be officially launching in Canada on July 1st, 2024, in the Apple App Store. Oko will be downloaded automatically on your iPhone when you pre-order now using the link below:

Our mission is to revolutionize safe navigation and exploration for everyone, empowering people with sight loss to live the lives they choose.

Here’s what you can expect from the Oko app:

Accessible Navigation: intuitive, user-friendly maps and GPS designed with accessibility in mind. Get turn-by-turn directions as well as announcements of upcoming intersections.

Accessible Pedestrian Lights: Oko makes pedestrian signals accessible using the camera and artificial intelligence. Receive audio, vibration, and visual feedback to know whenever the walk or don’t walk signal is on.

We believe that our app will create a significant positive impact on the lives of many Canadians, providing the freedom and confidence to explore new places safely and independently. We look forward to your continued support and to hearing your feedback once you start using the app in Canada.

Stay tuned for more updates as we approach the launch date! More information is available on our website.

Connect Beyond View Point:

Thank you for joining us at last month’s View Point! We had a chance to hear from Dr. Paul Yang on some of the latest developments in gene therapy, as well as explore your questions about inherited retinal diseases, age-related macular degeneration and more in our Ask the Expert and Lived Experience panels. To explore the sessions again, they are now available online here:

It’s always so wonderful to come together as a community. If you are looking for another opportunity to connect or to support our efforts and continue to MOVE research and provide information and programming, look no further than MOVE FOR SIGHT, our inclusive fundraising challenge. We are bringing our community together for a day of fun and MOVEMENT, all while raising funds for critical sight-saving research, and we encourage anyone who hasn’t done so already to register.

With MOVE FOR SIGHT, participate in anyway you like: walk, run, cycle, jump, hike or stretch. Hit the pickle ball court or head to the pool. MOVE in your own way, on your own or with a team of family and friends. The important thing is to MOVE and join hundreds of other Canadians on Sunday, June 23.

Register Now!

Thank you once again for your support.

Jennifer Jones, CEO

Fighting Blindness Canada

P.S. Can’t join us on Sunday, June 23? That’s OK, register now and make your MOVE ahead of the day. Be sure to share pictures with us of your own MOVE Day.

P.P.S. If you’ve already registered, thank you for making the first MOVE. We’d love to hear how you’re planning to MOVE FOR SIGHT! Email us at or tag us on Instagram at @fightingblindnessca


B.C. man wants homes for thousands of books he soon won’t be able to read:

In the 10 years since John William started to lose his vision, he’s been finding new ways to enjoy his vast personal library.

Right now, that involves glasses and a magnifying glass with bright lights illuminating the pages.

But he says it’s time to say goodbye to much of his collection, about 3500 books.

“Aside from going blind, I’ve had four spine surgeries, and my doctor has warned me on numerous occasions to stop lifting things over five pounds. Well, some of my books weigh five kilos,” he said.

William said many of the books he owns, from a massive tome on the human cell to a rare first edition laying out the history of the Korean War, aren’t available in large print or audiobook form. It’s part of what’s motivating him to sell so many.

“When that book disappears, there aren’t any other books that I think are anything like that book. I don’t want that to disappear because I die or I go blind,” he said, referring to the book on the Korean War.

“I would like to pass it on to hopefully a 30- to 40-year-old. And then they will keep it for 20 or 30 years and hopefully pass it on to somebody else. It’s an optimistic view, I understand.”

William posted about the sale of his collection in a local buy and sell Facebook group, complete with a massive spreadsheet detailing each title up for sale, and he said he’s already found homes for hundreds, mostly going to families who home school and university students.

Perusing the more than a dozen bookshelves that line most walls in his apartment, you might come across a profile of the oil giant ExxonMobil, books on the Cold War, or even a pocket guide to trees.

The fiction options are much more sparse, it’s something he mostly avoids, unless you want to chat about the classics like “War and Peace” by Tolstoy.

“Real life has so many unbelievable stories, and twists, that anyone who reads fiction should be satisfied with reading non-fiction, and knowing that these things actually happened,” he said.

The 68-year-old said his love of educational reading material started in university where he double majored in philosophy and English literature and went on to get a masters in philosophy. “I noticed that I like having them around. I didn’t refer to them as much as I did when I was in a course, but I just liked the idea of them being handy,” he said.

His initial collection of about 400 books disappeared after William left them behind with a friend and went travelling.

Throughout his life he spent much of his time travelling, including eight years living in Japan.

He said he’s always worked as a handyman of sorts, in construction and later repairing computers, before his health meant he had to retire.

William has a preference for smaller bookstores, like the Vancouver staple Duthie Books, which closed its last store in 2010, over larger national chains, because he said they offer a more curated selection picked by people with a similar love for books.

“I’ll pick up a book because it looks like it might be interesting. I’ll flip through it. I’ll look at the table of contents, or look to see if the bibliography makes sense to me, and then, if I think the content is worthwhile, I’ll buy it,” he said.

He said he’s resigned to the fact that he soon won’t be able to see, but hopes his books will have found good homes.

“It’s approaching, I’m falling into it. There’s nothing I can do about that,” he said.

By Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press                         1-877-304-0968

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