Canadian Council of the Blind

Toll-Free: 1 877-304-0968

Visions – May

From the President’s Desk

Welcome to Vision Health Month – a time to reflect on some of the highlights of CCB activity, and the difference it is making to the lives of persons with vision loss all across Canada.

The Council is a member Organization of the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), where we advocate for inclusive, accessible travel on airlines, rail, and ferries. Additionally, CCB also has a long term relationship with Via Rail, and played a key role in the recent launch of the new fleet of accessible rolling stock.  We also assist with ensuring the needs of our membership who use guide/service dogs is met and enhanced, as we are well positioned with our many partners to ensure regulatory policy is maintained for our service dog users.  Furthermore, we advocate for safe and accessible terminals to include safe passage from terminal entry, boarding, and assistance is maintained throughout the journey.  The Council is actively involved in the entire process, ensuring our voices make a difference for those we represent.

The Council continues to play a very active role in ensuring that self serve kiosk and checkout machines are accessible, and that they do not cause a barrier to the needs of our Members. We are very involved in this process, as many Corporations and retailers are continuing their rapid changes to self serve technology.  It is important that the needs of the blind, low vision users are maintained, and we continue to make a difference by pushing back to ensure accessible means of use is available to those we represent, and to have a voice in the ever changing technology landscape. 

I take great pride in being involved with our many committees, consisting of a wonderful mix of members across the country. We are always building our committees to meet the needs and requirements of the blind/low vision community – knowing our voices and expertise will truly make a difference.

Jim Tokos

National President


A note from the CCB Craft and Hobbies Chapter:

At the wonderful Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend to be held May 19-21 in Miramichi, hosted by the Miramichi Chapter, medals, ribbons and certificates will be awarded for competition, achievement and great fun.

The Craft and Hobbies Chapter will bring, prepare, arrange and present flowers for the ASRW banquet.  The jars needed for the base will be donated by the Miramichi Chapter members. 

In 2022 our flowers made a lovely addition, decorating the banquet tables at a wonderful weekend in NL, and our Chapter will do the same this year in Marimichi. Tickets will be drawn so people can take the lovely flower arrangements home as a remembrance of a great celebration.

In Marimichi, again this year, several members of various chapters will put items on display that are made by visually impaired people to demonstrate other things we can do.

The Craft and Hobbies Chapter is there to promote and encourage visually impaired people to enjoy crafts and promote our abilities.

Below is a photo of a sample of our flower arrangements.

Flower arrangement, of pink and purple flowers on a small table on front of a window that appears partially.

Michelle Bartram chapter chair

BCE Accessibility Plan

Over the past several months, the CCB was invited to participate in the developmental process of BCE’s Accessibility Plan. BCE is Canada’s largest communications company.

Both Corry Stuive, our National Program Coordinator, and Kim Kilpatrick were involved in this process. We sincerely appreciated the opportunity to communicate the needs and concerns of our constituents to the overall development of the plan.

The plan is now available publicly and can be accessed at the following link.

Alternate format copies can also be secured by completing the form on the website or calling 1-866-313-1092


Each month the Women of CCB gather together virtually for fun and casual conversation. There are so many great ideas and tips shared, we thought it would be good to share some things with everyone.

If you would like to join our monthly group please email Leslie at [email protected] to be added to the email list.

Our discussion in April’s meeting led to some of our favourite kitchen devices.

Top item: The Air Fryer.

Every kitchen needs one. They are user friendly, efficient and safe for low vision or blind users. A good tip is to purchase a fryer with knobs instead of a digital display. There are some new models still using a knob controller, but check out garage sales for a good 2nd hand air fryer, as the older models all had knob controllers.  You can use tactile bumps or puff paint to mark the knob.

Here is a link to an air fryer time sheet: or look up air fryer time sheet on Google.

Tip 2: Glass sprayer for oil.

Products you put in an air fryer often need a brush of oil on top. By using a sprayer, it is more easily controlled, less spillage and less oil used. Much more accessible for low vision or blind users. Check out Amazon for this product.

Tip 3: Toastmaster electric skillet.

Great to use for any recipe.  Meats, steaming vegetables or making pasta sauce. They can be purchased at Wal-Mart or Giant Tiger at reasonable costs. Easy to use for low vision users, sides are higher than some frying pans and you can mark the knobs with tactile bumps or puff paint. Best used with plastic utensils.

Tip 4: Crock pot

Easy cooking in a crock pot. One pot meals, stews and soups. Most crock pots use knobs but check out garage sales for the older versions as they are often a little more accessible. Use tactile bumps or puff paint to mark your knobs for preferred positioning.

Tip 5: Accessible utensils, The Blind Kitchen

The Blind Kitchen is a U.S. based company. Prices are in U.S. dollars but the site is filled with great ideas, recipes, tips and gives you ideas for accessibility in the kitchen and also while shopping. Check it out.

Tip 6: More Accessible utensils, the Braille superstore

Braille measuring cups, talking kitchen scales, coloured cutting mats and talking thermometers are other utensils that are beneficial in your kitchen. the Braille superstore has them all.

You’re Invited! CCB National Men’s Group: Join us on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2023, for our next Monthly CCB National Men’s Group Chat via Zoom!

In May, following the suggestion of our friend and group regular Jim Hamilton, we will delve into the topic of A.I. or Artificial Intelligence. While the men’s group typically avoids purely tech-related topics to prevent overlap with GTT offerings, AI has generated substantial discussion on its role in society, its positive and negative impacts, and how we might navigate the potential changes resulting from this technology’s widespread adoption.

The CCB National Men’s Group is an informal discussion held on the 4th Tuesday of each month, focusing on topics particularly relevant to our male members. Previously, we’ve covered subjects like the Canadian Registered Savings Plan, Tax Credits, Relationships, and Travel, as well as engaging in light-hearted conversations.

Additionally, our monthly meetings feature an unofficial “Men’s Group After party” for an hour following the 2-hour discussion. This casual, no-holds-barred chat allows the guys to connect with one another and discuss “guy” stuff while having a great time and staying up well past bedtime.

To join, please email Shane Cashin at [email protected] and request to be added to the list.

We will inform the members on our mailing list about this month’s topic before the meeting when we send out the Zoom link. We always welcome suggestions for future group meetings.

Please note that if you have received an invite to previous Men’s Group meetings, you are already on the list and should receive an email on or before May 19, 2023.

Looking forward to seeing you all in the room!

Shane & Surander

Cycle for Sight

Fighting Blindness Canada’s Cycle for Sight is marking a 15-year milestone, with over 5,000 riders across the country, and over $6 million raised for vital vision research.  Today, Cycle for Sight: Together, Let’s Move is more than a cycling event, it’s a movement! Thousands of dollars will be raised across Canada to support Fighting Blindness Canada from individuals, their family, and their friends simply by moving and getting active. You don’t have to cycle to be a part of this opportunity to raise awareness, funds and HOPE for the approximately 8 million Canadians living with an eye disease that could lead to vision loss. 

This summer, Cycle for Sight: Together, Let’s Move will take part across the nation, offering flexibility and inclusivity to participate in any way you choose.

We invite you to join us at one of the in-person cycle rides or walks – or gather your friends and family for a day of hiking, walking, yoga or swimming on your own schedule. You don’t have to cycle! You just need to share your commitment to the cause and know you have helped to impact the hope for cures and treatments for vision loss.  

Did you know? 3 out of 4 cases of vision loss can be prevented if caught early or treated.

Fighting Blindness Canada is also working hard to advocate for health policies and access to treatments that prevent blindness.  

Milestone discoveries in vision research are being made thanks to the support of your commitment to Fighting Blindness Canada, but there is still work to do. Moving vision research forward is our mission. Moving together, we will accomplish it.

Remember, you don’t have to cycle to be a part of the Together, Let’s Move excitement. You just need to move! Register today at and be a part of the movement supporting treatments and cures for vision loss.   

Please join us in this opportunity to raise funds, raise awareness, and raise HOPE for those living with an eye disease that could lead to vision loss.

Create a team with family members and friends and share in a fun, unique and memorable experience and make this your own milestone moment! 

Cycle for Sight: Together, Let’s Move, so much more than a bike ride.

How to Participate:   In-Person Cycles

  • White Cane Magazine May 2023

The new magazines have arrived. If any chapter would like to have them sent please contact Shelley Ann Morris [email protected] (Maximum 25 magazines).

In Memory: James Glenn Stephens died peacefully at home surrounded by his family on April 17, 2023 at the age of 95.

Dr. Stephens had a long and distinguished career in medicine both as a visionary leader and accomplished surgeon.

Jim was an avid outdoorsman, golfer, sailor, and curler. After he lost his eyesight in 2003, Jim joined the blind curling group at the Waterloo Curling Club as the “total” and the lead. He had a successful career as a blind curler winning three Ontario Championships and a Gold medal in the Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championships in 2012.

In Memory: It is with great sadness that the CCB E.A. Baker Chapter, St. John’s, Newfoundland announce the passing of one of our valuable, long term CCB members.

Cecil Goulding passed away on Sunday April 1st 2023 at the age of 75.  Cecil was instrumental in managing our Sports and Recreation profile and will be sadly missed by the organization and all members.

News on Accessible Design

Advocates want promise of Alberta accessibility legislation in election platforms

Alberta is one of the last provinces without accessibility legislation prompting advocates for people with disabilities to get the issue on the agenda in the upcoming provincial election.

Members of Barrier-Free Alberta have been meeting with MLAs, caucuses and cabinet ministers over the past number of years. With the election campaign starting on May 1, they are now reaching out to candidates. 

Sam Mason, a community advocate with Barrier-Free Alberta, said people have expressed support for the legislation but other issues like COVID-19, health care and affordability have been more of a priority for government. The scope of the legislation is also overwhelming, she suggested. 

“It just kind of gets lost in the shuffle a little bit just because it is really big legislation that would impact every facet of the government,” she said. 

The Canada Accessibility Act, which covers areas under federal jurisdiction, came into force in 2019. 

Six provinces have laws on the books. Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have legislation in progress, leaving Alberta and Prince Edward Island as the only outliers among the provinces. 

Jeremy Nixon, Alberta’s minister of community and social services, said Alberta’s advocate for persons with disabilities has started work on a future act. He said government plans to make a decision on next steps after receiving the advocate’s report this summer. 

“It does have implications that could be broad-reaching into the community,” Nixon said. “So we want to make sure that anything we do as we move forward that we’re broadly consulting with the sector, with the disability community itself, as well as other stakeholders.”

Mason says the current legislative system involves acts that address a small part of the larger issue such as rules for service animals. This patchwork of legislation creates inconsistency and gaps. 

Advocates say provincial legislation is a matter of equality. Chris Ryan, a lawyer in Calgary, said in a recent opinion column for CBC News that lack of accessibility legislation is his ballot box issue. 

Ryan has had problems with accessible transit services with unreliable service and high costs. When he lived in Edmonton, he said getting to work on time meant forcing his wheelchair through snowy sidewalks just to get to a bus stop. 

“One time I fell out of my chair in the middle of a busy street because of the snowfall,” Ryan said in an interview with CBC News. “Forcing people with disabilities to undergo these things just to participate in society isn’t fair.”

The 2022 policy document from the UCP is silent on accessibility legislation but the party is expected to release its 2023 election platform in the next few weeks. 

The Alberta Party advocates for accessibility legislation in its party policies. 

The Alberta NDP caucus proposed creating accessibility legislation as part of its affordable housing policy paper. The NDP — which is responsible for making platform promises — said the party will “explore” drafting and passing legislation if they form government. 

“We recognize accessibility as a human right and with an Alberta NDP government, we will take immediate steps to create a framework allowing us to identify, remove, and prevent barriers to access for all disabled Albertans,” St. Albert candidate Marie Renaud said in a written statement. 

Mason, from Barrier-Free Alberta, said advocates will continue to push for strong and effective legislation. 

“Many people are in support, understand it’s a good idea,” she said. “[We’re] just really trying to take the next step in getting it actually passed.”

By Michelle Bellefontaine

CBC News

What a Quebec family saw travelling the world before children lose eyesight

Edith Lemay and Sébastien Pelletier are still unpacking, even though they’ve been home from their trip for a couple of weeks. They’re not procrastinating; it just takes some time to sort things out after more than a year travelling – especially for a family of six.

The couple left their home in Boucherville, Que., in March 2022 for an adventure across three continents with their four children. Each returned with cherished memories. Léo, 10, was impressed with the wildlife of Namibia, asking, “Mom, is it a real one?” the first time he saw a giraffe. Mia, 12, was moved to tears when horseback riding in the Mongolian steppes. Colin, 7, loved the slow train ride in Tanzania, and the parents surprised Laurent, 5, with a hot-air balloon trip on his birthday in Turkey.

The idea for the world trip was for the children to see the world – before they are no longer able to. With the exception of Léo, they have been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare and incurable genetic condition that will eventually leave them blind. The news came as a shock to the couple, who were unaware they had the genes that could lead to the condition, and then learned there was only a one in four chance of their children developing it.

A specialist told the parents it would be a good idea to fill their children’s minds with visual memories, and they took the advice seriously.

Ms. Lemay started documenting the trip, which took them to 13 countries, on social media for the benefit of friends and family. To her surprise, the audience grew quickly. More than 100,000 people now follow their adventures on Instagram.

“The fact that people follow my page really forced me to have the discipline to write everything down and sort my photos, which I might not have done if I hadn’t had people waiting to hear from me,” she said.

She transferred everything to a blog she called Le monde plein leurs yeux (which can be roughly translated as “Their eyes filled with the world”), and is now grateful to have built this archive of memories. “It’s an extraordinary gift” for her children, Ms. Lemay said.

It brought opportunities, too. People in the countries they visited invited them into their homes. They were offered a stay in a luxury hotel suite in Bangkok, Thailand, and Egypt paid for a two-week visit, their last stop.

No one ever asked for anything in return, Ms. Lemay said. “We’re not influencers, we do not advertise.”

The adventure was not without occasional hiccups. COVID-19 delayed their departure for two years and pandemic-related border shutdowns nixed their plans to visit Japan.

They also faced some health scares, such as when Mr. Pelletier had an allergic reaction on Borneo, an island shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, or when Laurent developed an infected wound in Tanzania. Fortunately, the family was carrying an EpiPen in Borneo and found a clinic and antibiotics in Tanzania.

And a trip with four kids presented its own set of challenges. “Children are the same at home and when travelling,” Ms. Lemay said, so parents must be ready for them to argue, fight and get impatient on longer journeys. But ultimately, “you just have to dare” to leave, she said.

Ms. Lemay, a business intelligence analyst, and her partner, an accountant, saved for years to make this possible before quitting their jobs and packing their bags, she said.

The children were home-schooled while they were away, but they learned a great deal outside of their makeshift classrooms, Ms. Lemay said. “It was amazing how they adapted to any situation, whether in terms of food or hygiene conditions, we could sleep anywhere and there was never a problem for them. It’s something that will really be useful to them when they lose their eyesight, because throughout their life they will have to adapt all the time to this new situation.”

Already, they face difficulties seeing anything in the dark, and Mia, the oldest, is sensitive to intense light. But none of this prevented them from enjoying the trip.

They also learned to overcome their shyness and connect with kids from different backgrounds. “They quickly realized that if they didn’t go ahead and show up and suggest playing together, well, they would pass an opportunity to make friends,” Ms. Lemay said.

She saw this in action when the boys approached young monks playing soccer outside a monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, toward the end of the trip. “The language barrier, to play soccer, it does not matter.”

The couple developed a crush for that country, which they initially did not plan to visit and where they ended up doing a nine-day trek in the Himalayas. “The people welcoming us, the culture, the food, the extraordinary landscapes. It is really a country that has charmed us.”

The arrived back home on April 8, 2023. Returning to their everyday lives, the kids realize how fortunate they are to live in Canada and be able to take such things as access to education and electricity for granted, Ms. Lemay said. “Even though they live with a disability, I think they consider themselves lucky to have clean water in their tap.”

Conscious of the high amounts of greenhouse gas emissions produced by their plane trips, which the family tried to minimize by travelling by train as often as possible, Ms. Lemay said she will shop for carbon offset credits in the coming days.

As for what’s next, Ms. Lemay said she received proposals for a book, a movie and to give talks, but nothing is firm. Nothing except a six-week trip this summer, possibly to South America.


The Globe and Mail

Editor’s Note:

The following article illustrates another barrier to blind/low vision consumers. This is also a good example of why CCB’s advocacy efforts to ensure self-serve kiosks are fully accessible are so important.

Alaska Airlines to Eliminate Airport Kiosks in $2.5 Billion Tech Upgrade

The first airline to introduce check-in kiosks at the airport will be the first to get rid of them.

Alaska Airlines is removing the kiosks this year from its main airports, including Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Anchorage. Its part of a plan announced Tuesday to spend $2.5 billion over three years on to upgrade passenger technology in airport lobbies.

The plan is to transition to a fully self-service experience for check-in and baggage drop-off, with the goal of getting passengers through a lobby and to the security line in five minutes or less, the company said.

“As we thought about how to provide the most caring experience for our guests, it was clear the lobby was a pain point,” said Charu Jain, Alaska Airlines senior vice president of innovation and merchandising, in a statement. “We realized the majority of our guests were doing most of the kiosk actions on their own phones and we could reduce the congestion in our airports. Alaska was the first airline to introduce kiosks more than 20 years ago, and we’ll be the first airline to remove them.”

The check-in kiosks will be replaced with iPad stations — essentially an iPad and credit card reader on a stand — where the passenger can pay for a checked bag and print the paper bag tag. The airline is continuing to encourage passengers to check in online and obtain a boarding pass before arriving at the airport. Most of Alaska’s airports will transition to the new bag tag stations by the end of 2023.

The next step involves adding self-service stations, beginning in spring 2024, where the passengers can drop off their bags. The machine will scan the passenger’s face, identification, and bags before the passenger places the bag on a conveyor belt to be loaded onto the aircraft.

The airline said it will still have customer service associates in the airports in case they are needed.

Alaska is continuing to experiment with an electronic bag tag, as well, as the first U.S. customer of Amsterdam-based startup Bagtag since 2022. Through that program, travelers can purchase the reusable electronic tag and attach it at home, using their phone to connect it with the airline’s baggage system.

Alaska emailed Skfit a statement in late January about the progress of that project:

“The Electronic Bag Tag (EBT) program kicked off with a successful launch for 2500 elite flyers, and we’ve been collecting feedback from those guests as they use the technology through their travel journeys. We’re compiling all of the comments and are making some adjustments to the EBT before rolling it out to all guests. Early feedback illustrates that our guests love the convenience of tagging their bag at home and it’s saving them time in the lobby.”

By Justin Dawes


Survey Launch – Guide Dog Service and Remote Support:

Are you preparing to train with a guide dog or are already a current guide dog user? Members of our research team recently completed astudy which found that guide dog users reported the most significant decrease in independent travel and in confidence during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to other factors, participants highlighted the inability to access vital follow-up services during the pandemic.

In response, members of the current research team from the University of Montreal (who include both orientation and mobility specialists and guide dog users with lived experience) will be conducting research to explore the feasibility of remote telerehabilitation services for prospective and current guide dog users, and we are inviting you to participate!

The goal of this study is to explore what client profiles and training tasks would be most suitable for the provision of remote services provided to members of the guide dog community, and to explore the advantages and challenges related to the use of telerehabilitation within this population.

The results of this study will inform the development of recommendations and decision-making tools to help determine which clients, and which orientation and mobility (O&M) tasks, could be safely and optimally addressed through virtual support. While these results will be especially helpful to address the gaps highlighted by guide dog users, insights gained may also help to meet the needs of clients who live in remote and rural regions.

To participate, you should be either a prospective guide dog user (in the process of applying for a guide dog) or a current guide dog user. Additionally, you should be at least 18 years of age, and be able to communicate in either English or French. No previous experience with remote telerehabilitation services is needed. Participation would
involve the completion of a short survey (maximum 30 minutes to complete). The survey will be active until May 31, 2023. If you have any questions about this study or if you are interested in participating, you are very welcome to contact the research team using the below information. Many thanks for your interest and we look forward to hearing from you!

The phone number and email address to contact the research team: (514)343-7962 /[email protected]                                  1-877-304-0968

 [email protected]

Scroll to Top
Skip to content