Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter
“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”
As you receive this message everyone will be busy working on White Cane Week events. The fact we live in Canada with very changeable weather it is difficult for some events to take place on their scheduled day so please don’t let that deter you. This is one week that we place emphasis on our “ABILITIES not disabilities” which we live with all year and so should our events.
As persons living with vision loss we are capable of great accomplishments. Some of us are not as able as others, and that is when we can offer support and guidance to assist those in need in reaching their goals. Programs such as GTT and CCB Health & Fitness are great examples of this type of peer support and mentoring, while at the same time learning new technology, exercise, eating better and therefore leading a much happier life. When the community sees people with vision loss becoming more active it often encourages them to improve their lifestyle.
CCB is very active with many other organizations across Canada and internationally as I have mentioned before. We will continue working with these groups for some time well into the future.
One of the major undertakings for this year will be to ensure our By Laws are in compliance with the Canada Not for Profit Act. Our committee will be busy reviewing and getting the changes made as needed with input from the membership.
As we begin this New Year we will work together in a positive way to make Canada a more accessible country for everyone. In August the IFA 14th Global Convention on Ageing will be held in Canada. CCB will be presenting a paper on Eye Health and the importance of eye exams/care which is an important example of working with other groups to improve care and prevent illness – all part of our mandate.
Enjoy the many articles of interest in this edition of the CCB Newsletter.
Louise Gillis, National President
The New Newsletter++
Welcome to VISIONS our exciting new newsletter. I’m sure you’ve noticed this has a very different layout to what we were doing before. We are now accepting pictures with your article submissions. Not all pictures will be published in the newsletter, but they are very welcome. If you do submit pictures, please let us know who is in them so we can have accurate alt text and captions. The headings in word will be done the same as they have been recently to make everything as readable as possible. Word and pdf versions will be emailed out and on our website. Thank you all for your help as we move forward with this beautiful new format.
It’s time to have your say++
On March 10, 2018 the Tele Town Hall organizing team will be hosting its fifth and final Tele Town Hall. Like the previous four; this will be open to participants across Canada.
Date and start times across Canada
Date: March 10, 2018
Times: 10:00 am Pacific
11:00 am Mountain
1:00 pm Eastern
2:00 pm Atlantic
2:30 in Newfoundland
This meeting will last no longer than two hours.
Moderator: Jane Blaine.
In the summer of 2016, we the Tele Town Hall organizing team embarked on a journey to facilitate a number of Tele Town Halls across Canada with the mission to give participants an opportunity to share their views on a variety of topics related to the current state of blindness rehabilitation and consumerism in Canada.
As a non-biased team, we felt strongly that we were in a position to facilitate these Town Halls and at the end of it all to present a report to participants and other stakeholders.
Let’s get it out there
Our first two Tele Town Halls held at the end of October 2016 and in early March 2017 invited participants to share their views on the following:
* The present state of the consumer movement in Canada
* What if anything should we be doing to affect change
* What would be a logical and reasonable path to pursue if change was desired?
* Who could be involved?
* How could this be accomplished and
* What mechanisms could be used in order to accomplish this?
Advocacy without borders
Our third Tele Town Hall held in October 2017 gave participants an opportunity to hear about how rehabilitation services and consumer movements operate in New Zealand and Australia thanks to two guest speakers who shared their views with us.
They were Martine Abel Williamson; treasurer of the World Blind Union and well known advocate from New Zealand and Fran Cutler; a well-known advocate who works both in Australia and Canada splitting her time equally between both countries.
Our fourth Tele Town Hall held in November 2017 gave participants an opportunity to hear from guest speakers from the United States. In similar fashion to our third Tele Town Hall; we featured high profile speakers who shared their views on the state of rehabilitation services and consumer movements in the United States.
They were Mitch Pomerantz; A past president of the American Council of the Blind and an active advocate in the development of the Americans with disabilities Act, and John Panarese; a well-known trainer in Apple products and an active advocate in helping others to gain equal access to training opportunities.
Now it is time to have your final say in this series
The fifth and final Tele Town Hall will give participants an opportunity to have their say and in so doing to help shape the future of our consumer advocacy movement in Canada. Based on comments and suggestions garnered from previous Tele Town Halls, many participants do not believe that living with the status quo is a viable option. Accordingly, we would like to preface the discussions of this final Tele Town Hall with a list of questions meant to help you formulate some thoughts before attending. Also, reading the notes taken during the previous 4 Tele Town Hall meetings might help us all chart a path, and those links are found below our list of “thought provoking” questions.
How well do current blindness/low vision rehabilitation service organizations in Canada serve your needs, or how do they not serve your needs as the case may be?
How well do current blindness/low vision advocacy/social/support organizations in Canada serve your needs, or how are they not serving your needs as the case may be? IE, are you personally happy with the existing consumer advocacy and support movements in Canada?
If not, what will make them more responsive to blind Canadians needs, and flexible enough to move with emerging societal demands
What strategies are required if we’re to strengthen the voice of blind Canadians with Governments, employers and communities? IE, do blind Canadians need one single strong voice in order to advance our needs?
What strategies can blind Canadians employ to amplify their voices in order to be better heard within Canadian organizations “of” and “for” the blind? IE, do blind Canadians want to be more involved in driving the organizations that provide rehabilitation services in Canada?
All Four Sets of Tele Town Hall Notes can be downloaded from:
To register as a participant please email
And you will receive an acknowledgment of your email.
An electronic copy of the rules of engagement will be sent to you during the week of March 04.
We thank you!
Donna Jodhan, Richard Marion, Robin East, Anthony Tibbs, Albert Ruel, Louise Gillis, Pat Seed, Jane Blaine, Melanie Marsden, Kim Kilpatrick, Leo Bissonnette, Paul Edwards
White Cane Week++
Get ready for another fun and exciting awareness week from February 4 to 10. Events include our annual AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship and countless local activities. Please visit the CCB website to keep yourself updated on the many exciting events that will be taking place this year across the country. And stay tuned for reports on events in upcoming newsletters!
CCB Celebrates its 15th Annual White Cane Week++
This year marks the CCB’s 15th annual celebration of White Cane Week (WCW). Each year, during the first full week of February, the Council recognizes the ability of Canadians who are blind or have low vision through a week long, national celebration. This celebration, WCW, aims to bring awareness and an appreciation to issues of accessibility, health and inclusion.
Across Canada, there are WCW initiatives on both the local, provincial and national levels. CCB Divisions and Chapters plan, promote and deliver WCW event activities within their communities. There are sports competitions, hands-on demonstrations, open houses, an Expo and tours, amongst other events, taking place to promote and raise awareness of the White Cane as a symbol of “ability not disability”. Each event is unique to the chapter and community where it is being held. Each is built around a framework of promoting chapter activities, membership, and to raise awareness of the chapter, the CCB and its programs within these local communities.
Some White Cane Week Highlights: February 4-10, 2018
CCB Toronto Visionaries Chapter Holds 3rd Annual ‘Experience’ Expo:
This year’s, ‘Experience’ Expo is being held, from 10am to 4pm, on Saturday February 3, at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, at Bloor and Spadina, in downtown Toronto. Improving on last year’s event, ‘Experience’ Expo 2018 is already an incredible success, with sold out floor space and a 35% increase in exhibitors.
‘Experience’ Expo is in its third year and is Canada’s only expo dedicated to the blind and those with vision loss. A hands-on, interactive exposition in which exhibitors share their ‘experience’, providing creative, adoptive solutions to all aspects of life with vision loss. Through interactive demonstrations and activities, visitors can ‘experience’ new ways to overcome barriers, gain independence and live a full rich life. So come out to ‘Experience’ Expo and explore the possibilities.
Please visit our website at http://www.ccbtorontovisionaries.ca/WCW.php
CCB’s AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship; (CVICC)
This National Championship takes place each year in Ottawa, at the historic Ottawa Curling Club. The curling event brings together teams, from coast to coast, for the 5 day, tournament. The CVICC runs Monday through Friday of WCW. The Championship final will take place at 1:00pm, Friday February 9th followed by closing ceremonies by way of the CVICC Awards Banquet that evening. Here participating curlers are recognized, as champions, as all-stars and are rewarded with their hard fought and well-earned medals.
3 Brian Lechelt from Team Canada (Kelowna) throws his rock while Team Ontario watches
CCB 2018 Person of the Year Award Recipient:
The Canadian Council of the Blind is extremely pleased to announce its 2018 Person of the Year is the Honourable Dr. Asha Seth. The retired Senator, Dr. Seth will receive her Award on Friday, February 9th at the Councils award dinner at the Ottawa Curling Club.
The honourable Dr. Seth is a visionary leader, trail blazing a path for many to emulate. Through it all, it is her commitment to helping others that shines brightest among her accomplishments. Please refer to the full story in White Cane Magazine available, in digital form, on the CCB website at www.ccbnational.net
CCB 2018 President’s Award Recipient:
The Canadian Council of the Blind’s President’s award is given annually to an individual or organization that, in their work or service, with or for the blind and partially sighted, have made a real; difference in improving the quality of life of our community in Canada.
This year’s recipient is the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) in recognition of its hard work on behalf of patient advocacy. Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the IFA, will attend the awards dinner, at the Ottawa Curling Club, on Friday February 9th and receive the President’s Award, on behalf of the Federation. The full story can be found in White Cane Magazine available, in digital form, on the CCB website at www.ccbnational.net
GTT Prince Edward Island Meeting Invitation, General Discussion and Brainstorming Session, February 28, 2018++
You are invited! Blind and low vision GTT participants meet monthly to learn about and share their experiences using assistive technologies in their daily lives at home, school, or at work.
Agenda for the first Prince Edward Island Conference Call GTT Meeting:
Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, Prince Edward Island Time.
Location: CCB Toll Free Conference Number.
Passcode is 5670311#
Smart Phone users can tap on the below number to have the passcode dialed automatically following the toll free number:
Theme: •Brainstorming for the first, and future meetings of GTT and the CCB Assistive Technology Program on Prince Edward Island.
- Albert Ruel and Sandra Poirier will lead a brainstorming session regarding future content and format for GTT Newfoundland meetings
Some are curious about the kinds of topics or technologies that may be discussed in future meetings. Here are a few potential topics:
- Talking books, talking book machines and accessible Libraries: How do I get started; where do I ask my questions; what do I do to find books I will like?
- What types of magnification technology will help me access vital text in my home?
- How can we who are living with Low and no vision get access to vital information?
- Smart phones, which one is best, how much are they and who will help me learn how to use one?
- Is a computer actually needed in my life, and if so who’s going to help me pick one out or learn how to use it?
- Is the internet a safe place to get information I need?
- Hey Google, Alexa, what are these smart speakers we keep hearing about, is that something I need or want?
Who Should Attend:
Any blind or low vision person who is interested in learning how assistive technologies can help them lead more independent lives.
- Anyone interested in contributing to the future of the Prince Edward Island GTT group by sharing ideas for future meetings to discuss other blind or low vision assistive devices.
For More Information contact:
Inclusion – There’s an App for That!
New Technology Improves Interior Navigation for Everyone++
Vancouver, BC, February 9, 2018.
As part of CCB White Cane Week and in collaboration with the Vancouver Central Library, Right-Hear Accessible Solutions from Israel and Canadian Assistive Technology, the CCB and Gateway Navigation CCC Limited are pleased to present the first indoor audio navigation experience of its kind in Canada. Corry Stuive, representing the CCB and advisor for the Beacon Navigation Project, explains, “Accessibility and inclusion is not just about putting braille on signs, but giving the blind the equal opportunity to hear the information in the same way a sighted person can read them. This technology creates real inclusion and independence.”
Steve Barclay, President, Canadian Assistive Technology, describes how the BLE (Bluetooth low energy) beacon was deployed at the Vancouver Central Library, “We placed nine of these beacons at decision-making points such as entrances, stairs and elevators around the Vancouver Central Library. This created nine accessibility zones that provide orientation information. The technology builds an audio road map that any individual with a smartphone and the free Right-Hear app can use to orientate themselves to their immediate surroundings and assist them in navigating the indoor venue independently. The service can be accessed in multiple languages.” Right-Hear
Jim Taggart, Director of Gateway and advocate for social sustainability within the architectural profession, summarizes the Project’s focus, “We are dedicated to improving the accessibility of interior spaces for members of the blind and visually impaired community in Canada. Just as smart phone-based GPS has made exterior navigation easier for everyone, so Gateway imagines a wireless, technology-based network that will make complex buildings, such as airports, transit hubs, shopping malls and public buildings accessible to all those who cannot read signage or interpret other wayfinding cues.”
Mike May, recently appointed Executive Director at Envision, Inc., will be adding his vast experience and knowledge to the panel to discuss the importance of creating accessible and inclusive smart cities. The American Foundation for the Blind recognizes Mike’s past and current contributions as a pioneer and leader in the accessible technology sector. Mike describes one of his current projects at Envision, Inc., “One of the many exciting projects being undertaken by Envision is using proximity beacons to create smart and accessible bus stops. This will help to connect people with real-time digital technology supported by location based services that will assist all commuters, including blind or visually impaired to travel safely and independently.”
David Brun, Founder Gateway Navigation CCC Limited, reflects, “Working in banking for twenty-years and a life time adjusting to sight loss has reinforced to me the importance of accessibility, inclusion, training and employment so that visually impaired people can fully engage in our society. That has become both Gateway’s mission and its passion. Over the last several years, Gateway has participated in discussions with many individuals and organizations to implement the proximity beacon technology into public buildings and spaces in Canada. We are extremely excited to be launching the Beacon Navigation Project in Vancouver and are committed to promoting accessibility, inclusion, training and employment for blind and disabled people.” For more information visit www.gnc3.com
Beacon Navigation Project
Albert Ruel, CCB
Toll Free Tel: 1-877-304-0968 Ext. 550
David Brun, Gateway Navigation CCC Limited
CCB Access & Awareness NS Chapter – Three Members Receive Nova Scotia Human Rights Awards++
On December 8, 2017, Access & Awareness NS Chapter members, Barry Abbott, Barbara Legay (posthumously) and Chapter Chair Pat Gates, who were three members of a group of approximately 20 people with disabilities, were presented with Nova Scotia Human Rights Awards at a celebration held in Halifax. They were part of a group called the “Bill 59 Community Alliance” which worked closely with the provincial government to bring about accessibility legislation for all Nova Scotians. Bill 59: “An Accessibility Act” was proclaimed in September 2017 after several months of hard work by all involved. Nova Scotia is proud to be the third province in Canada to have accessibility legislation and our Chapter is proud to have three of our members play a role in bringing this legislation to our province.
Submitted by James Hubley, Access & Awareness NS Chapter
Seeking members for the CCB Mysteries chapter++
How would you like to be a part of a brand new chapter whose mission is to plan dinner mystery evenings where audiences get to help catch the killer and pronounce sentence as well?
Affordable, filled with excitement and fun and you never know what comes next? Please read on.
We invite persons from coast to coast to join! We plan to hold these events in cities across Canada and here is where you can be a part of the action!
Our first event is taking place in Toronto on February 23 and doors open at 5:45 pm.
A dinner, game show, mystery, and o yes! door prizes!
Want more info? Email email@example.com or call 416 491 7711.
The CCB National Advocacy Committee has taken on the project of promoting the use of Script Talk by both our members and pharmacists across Canada. We hope that our advocacy work will ultimately result in all pharmacies adopting a uniform, accessible and equitable system across the country.
An important step in this process is to learn information about the pharmacies you are using in your home area. With this information we will then contact the major chains to provide information on Script Talk and to work towards the adoption of the Script Talk system.
Please send your information to:
Submitted by Pat Gates, Chair, CCB National Advocacy Committee
Helpful Info from the CCB National Advocacy Committee++
The CCB National Advocacy Committee, at the request of a CCB member, undertook to write to the Federal Government Minister responsible for passports regarding a concern about accessibility at a Federal service location in the member’s area. While renewing his passport, he noted that a blind person or someone with low vision would not know when their number was shown on the screen and therefore might miss their turn at the service desk. There was no audio announcement of numbers for those waiting in the queue. We asked the Minister what could be done at any Federal service location to make it accessible.
The response from the Minister’s Office stated that any Canadian requiring adaptive services at a passport office should make themselves known to a representative in that office immediately upon arrival and let them know that they require personalized assistance. Persons requiring adaptive service would be given comprehensive, personalized assistance in order to remove any barriers.
Submitted by Pat Gates, Chair
On behalf of the CCB National Advocacy Committee
The CCB CK (Chatham-Kent, ON) Chapter held a successful trivia/potluck day on January 27th. Also, the chapter now offers a peer support program, which takes place every third Wednesday of every month at 1:30 PM until 3 PM at the United Way building of Chatham Kent.
For more information, please contact Markus McCracken, Co Coordinator,
CCB Chatham-Kent Chapter
firstname.lastname@example.org 519 784 3416
International Federation on Aging (IFA) Calling for Additional Abstracts++
Due to the demand to present at the IFA 14th Global Conference on Ageing (https://www.ifa2018.com) additional rooms have now been confirmed to facilitate additional abstract submissions. In order to balance the program, the IFA is highly interested in abstracts under the themes/subtheme: Combating Ageism; Toward Healthy Ageing; and Addressing Inequalities.
Further abstracts under the theme of Age-Friendly Environments are also welcome. The new deadline for additional abstracts is 6 April 2018.
With a conference program that will stimulate, educate and inform, join us in Toronto in August 2018 and take a few extra days to explore our city and region (https://www.ifa2018.com/location/about-toronto/)
Get Together with Technology (GTT) Top Ten Apps of 2017++
Here are the Top Ten Apps of 2017 as surveyed late in the year through the GTTProgram Blog, GTTSupport Email List and GTTProgram Facebook Group participants. This was not a scientific survey, so might be considered by some to be a “Fake List”. Be that as it may, your friendly GTT Group has likely had a hand in the results, and all of you are encouraged to submit your favourites for the 2018 list as we roll into November/December.
In order to do so, please stay in touch and participate with GTT groups where ever they gather throughout 2018 by following us at: www.GTTProgram.WordPress.com
Of course, none of the below iDevice, Android, PC or Mac apps are usable by blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted users if the operating system, screen reader and/or magnifier apps aren’t mastered first. To learn more about how you might gain the skills you need for mastering the above, get involved with a GTT group or conference call near you and ask your questions. You can also sign up for the GTTSupport email list for this very purpose by sending a blank email message to, GTTSupport+Subscribe@Groups.io
Favourite Apps Listed according to the votes submitted:
Top 10 iOS Apps:
- Seeing AI, a free app By Microsoft Corporation.
- Native iOS Mail, a free email client built into every Apple device.
- Voice Dream Reader, a paid app By Voice Dream LLC.
- Nearby Explorer, a paid app By American Printing House for the Blind (APH).
- TuneIn Radio, a free app By TuneIn.
- Native iOS Reminders, a free app built into every Apple device.
- Transit, a free app By Transit App, Inc.
- VO Calendar, a paid app By Devista B.V.
- Bank, free apps by a variety of Canadian Banks.
- CBC Radio/News, free apps by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Top 10 PC Apps:
- MS Office, a paid word processing, email and spreadsheet suite of apps by Microsoft Corporation.
- Audacity, a free, open source multi-track recording and editing app.
- Firefox, a free open source web browser by Mozilla.
- Humanware Companion, a free VR Stream companion app by Humanware.
- JAWS, a paid screen reading app by Freedom Scientific.
- Notepad, a free Native app by Microsoft Corporation.
- NVDA, a free screen reading app by NVAccess.
- Openbook, a paid scan and read app by Freedom Scientific.
- Chicken Nugget, a paid Twitter app by Accessible Apps.
- GoldWave, a paid audio editing, recording and conversion app by GoldWave Inc.
Top 8 Mac Apps:
- Amadeus pro, a paid Audio editor / sound and voice recorder app by HairerSoft.
- Dropbox, a free cloud based file storage app by Dropbox.
- Facetime, a free iOS communications app by Apple.
- Skype, a free communications app by Microsoft Corporation.
- Twitterrific, a paid Twitter Client By The Iconfactory.
- Native Mail app, a free iOS email app by Apple.
- Twitter for mac, a free twitter client By Twitter, Inc.
- Audacity, a free, open source multi-track recording and editing app.
Top 4 Android Apps:
- Aqua mail, a free email client by MobiSystems.
- Amazing mp3 recorder, a free memo and call recorder by StereoMatch.
- Nearby explorer, a paid app By American Printing House for the Blind (APH).
- Podcast addict, a free Podcast player by Xavier Guillemane.
Respectfully submitted by Albert A. Ruel, GTT Coordinator
For more information please contact your GTT Coordinators:
1-877-304-0968 ext. 513
How to Use Headings to Organize a Document++
Using good heading structure helps people without eyesight to understand how the document is organized. Screen reader and Braille users can also jump between headings, which makes navigation much more efficient than if there are no headings.
Making text larger and bold does not make it a heading. In order to convert text to a heading in Microsoft Word, you must use the built-in Heading styles like “Heading 1” and “Heading 2”, available under Styles in the Home tab of the Ribbon in Office versions 2010 and higher.
Headings should form an outline, using the “Heading 1” style for the main heading, and “Heading 2” for sub-headings. If there are additional levels of headings within the document’s outline, using “Heading 3”, “Heading 4”, etc.
Instructions on How to Add Headings to a Document, by Albert Ruel:
To create section headings in your documents, do the following:
- Highlight the text you wish to turn into a Heading. Note, the entire paragraph will be turned into a Heading if the text you wish to use isn’t on its own line. For example: The Contacts Section of a document might be created as follows;
For more information contact:
Sally, Sue, Bill or Jack at 1-888-555-1234.
If the names of the individuals were left on the same line as the Heading, it too would have been marked as a Level 1 Heading. For screen reader users it is cumbersome to hear an entire paragraph read as a Heading, so keep those bits of text short.
- To create a level 1 Heading with the selected text, hold down the Alt and Control keys and press the number 1 on the number row. Conversely, levels 2 and 3 can be created as above, and Levels 4, 5 and 6 Headings can only be created by accessing the Styles Sheet in the Ribbons.
To Use Headings when reading text with a screen reader:
- To list all the Headings in a document or email message, hold down the Insert key while pressing the F6 key.
- Arrow through the list to read each Heading, or use First Letter command to locate a specific Heading. Note, your screen reader will announce after each Heading the corresponding number of the Heading.
- Press the Enter key on the Heading you wish to access and your cursor will be placed at that location within the document, web page or email message.
Using the letter H for accessing Headings in MS Word:
- Hold down the Insert key while pressing the letter Z to turn Quick Keys on. This action takes you out of edit mode and allows you to press the letter H to move from one Heading to the next, or Shift H to move backward from Heading to Heading.
- Once you have located the desired Heading and want to return to edit mode you will hold down the Insert key while pressing the letter Z again to turn Quick Keys off.
Note: pressing the letter H will navigate all the Headings in a document in the order they appear, and using Shift H will have you accessing them in reverse order.
An additional means of accessing Headings:
- To access the Level 1 Headings, press the number 1 on the number row.
This will take you to the first occurrence of a Level 1 Heading, and pressing it again will take you to the next occurrence. Shift number 1 will move the cursor backward through the Level 1 Headings.
- Once a Level 1 Heading is located, pressing the number 2 on the number row will have the cursor landing on the first Level 2 Heading found below that Level 1 Heading.
- Once the desired section of a Web Page, MS Word document or Email message is found, you can press your down arrow keys to read the text found below that Heading.
- If the desired Heading is also marked as a Link, pressing the Enter key will activate the Link.
Note: Don’t forget to hold down the Insert key while pressing the letter Z to turn Quick Keys off and return to edit mode. Quick Keys is only needed in MS Word or when creating an Outlook email message. It is not needed on the web or when reading an email message because edit mode is not turned on when doing those functions.
In June 2017, CNIB opened a Community Hub in Toronto – the first of its kind in the province – for people that are blind or partially sighted. Located at 1525 Yonge Street (just north of St. Clair) The Hub is an innovative, accessible space where community members with sight loss can come for social and emotional support, learn new skills, take part in exciting Foundation Programs and thrive in an engaging space.
The space was designed and developed in close consultation with our program participants, volunteers and staff. Considerations ranging from the colour of the chairs (multi-coloured) and walls (white) to the accessibility of the furniture all went into the design of the space.
The building itself includes the following features:
- Custom made furniture by Carol Kaifosh & Siobhan Allman at POCKIT Studio. The furniture was designed to be durable, collapsible, portable and accessible.
- An accessible kitchen (donated by Mattamy Homes and The Brick) with tactile pieces and braille signage
- Wayfinding floor strips and photo luminescent stair/handrail markings from Kinesik Engineering Products Inc.
- Plexiglas panels under the stairwell to prevent dog paws and white canes from getting caught
- An elevator and accessible washroom
- Tactile artwork on the walls with braille created by Kate Ramos
- A graffiti wall mural created by artist Leyland Adams
- A virtual reality room and tech hub where community members, both those with sight loss and with full vision, can simulate various situations with sight loss and learn more about assistive technology
- A Doggy Bar where “K9 staff,” volunteers and guides can enjoy a tasty treat
- A “No-Office” community space where staff and volunteers can create and share ideas in an inclusive atmosphere
Design considerations are ongoing as we continue to grow in our space and learn from our staff, volunteers and program participants.
The Hub offers specialized life-enhancing programs designed to help people with sight loss smash barriers in many areas such as access, employment, education, leadership and research & technology.
For more information about Community Hub and to check out our programs, please visit: http://www.cnib.ca/en/ontario/gta/Pages/default.aspx
In the News
Blind B.C. woman’s access to audio books threatened by political flap++
A woman who is legally blind has launched a petition to try to get the provincial government to fund an online audiobook library that she will no longer have access to at the end of this month.
Taeshim Youn, 31, has collected 100 signatures at change.org to try to maintain access for her and other print-disabled British Columbians to a collection of 540,000 audiobook titles at the Centre for Equitable Library Access.
That includes The Books of Pellinor fantasy series that she’s listening to, her form of literary entertainment since she lost her sight after being paralyzed by an autoimmune disorder in 2006.
“I usually listen to it at night and sometimes during the day,” said Youn. “I’m bed-bound and I don’t go out as much. And when I do, I get around by wheelchair.”
Listening to books read by professional narrators is “is like watching a good movie, but better because there’s so much to it.”
Youn also wrote a letter to her Port Moody MLA, the NDP’s Rick Glumac, urging him to ensure B.C funds the national service that all provinces, except for B.C., Manitoba and Nunavut, pay for.
“You, as part of my B.C. government, have a responsibility to fund library services for people with sight loss, just like you do for sighted citizens,” she said in her letter.
“Someone has to speak up,” said Youn by phone. “I’m hoping this will help.”
CELA was formed as a non-profit, publicly funded organization in 2014 to provide the books, magazines and newspapers the Canadian National Institute for the Blind had for years provided by license to public libraries.
CNIB gave up control of the library because it was more appropriate for the government as opposed to a charity to be providing an audio library for the print-disabled, said CELA executive director Michael Ciccone.
Almost all provincial and territorial governments agreed to fund the library, but in B.C. the support came instead from public libraries. In B.C., 17 libraries in heavily populated parts of the province pay for CELA, providing access to 80 per cent of the population, said Ciccone.
CNIB had agreed to pay for access for the users in the remaining 20 per cent of the province until public funding could be secured. There are about 2,500 users of the service, he said.
The bridge funding for the service expires at the end of this month, leaving about 240 users, including Youn, without access to CELA. The library in Port Moody, where she lives, is one of the libraries that doesn’t fund CELA.
Ciccone said CELA is in talks with the provincial education ministry and is hopeful it will be funded before the end of January.
But the education ministry, in an emailed statement, said the province already funds a competing audio library called the National Network for Equitable Library Services, available through every public library in B.C.
Annual funding for NNELS in B.C. is $115,000, it said.
Ciccone said its requesting $132,000 a year to fund CELA.
NNELS, which was also formed in 2014 through the B.C. Libraries Co-operative, has 30,000 titles.
Former NNELS executive director Ben Hyman said print-disabled citizens, which includes those with vision disabilities as well as those with dyslexia or those with difficulties holding books, are better served by the two services because it offers them choice.
NNELS’s collection is growing and it will attempt to obtain special-order books, said Hyman.
He also said NNELS, which is funded by eight provinces (excluding Ontario and Quebec) has a different approach to its collection, choosing not to pay for “big-batch licensing deals” as CELA does.
He said NNELS is run through a “different philosophy,” which will enable it to build a sustainable collection that will be broadly available to what’s expected to be a growing proportion of print-disabled users.
By Susan Lazaruk