CCB National Newsletter: Visions, April 2018







Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter







April 2018



“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”

Photo by June Admiraal on Unsplash




President’s Message++

1 Louise Gillis –

National President

Welcome Spring! As we “spring” forward in time let us spring into action in several ways. It is time to become more active physically now that we have sidewalks that are clear and easier access to travel we can participate in CCB Health & Fitness activities with Ryan as our guide. Ryan can provide individual fitness plans to help improve our physical and mental health so please read the article in this newsletter to find out how to get involved.


Another way to spring forward is through “advocacy”. Advocacy does not stand alone, but rather, it needs people to take action to get things done in a non-aggressive way. That is to say that we work with organizations, industry, government, etc. to help find appropriate solutions to issues at hand. Some concerns that we have been active in working to find solutions for are VIA Rail – to make the train stations and new cars better suited to needs of those traveling with disabilities. We continue to support the need for accessible library materials for persons with print disabilities. We are working on Point of Sale (POS) devices with two other organizations, banks, industry, and businesses. There are a number of drug and therapeutic items that we continue to be active with as well. CCB has been working with WBU to find what the barriers are that prevent individuals from becoming leaders in a global sense as well as in Canada then look for ways to change or reduce the barriers.


There are other initiatives that CCB continues to work on both nationally and at our individual chapter level. If you have items that you need assistance with finding a solution for, you may notify our National Office and they will pass it on to our committee.


By springing into action we can build a stronger and healthier body to help us meet the everyday challenges we face individually as well as an organization. Positive thoughts support and understanding will help us along the way.


Louise Gillis, National President.


CCB Health & Fitness Monthly Update++:



Good day all newsletter readers!  In our attempt to keep you better informed on the CCB Health & Fitness program and all that is happening, we will look to post a monthly update.  Certainly we encourage you to reach out to Ryan Van Praet, the Program Manager, if you have any questions, suggestions for video or podcast topics, or if you want to offer up your abilities as a “local champion” (see below).  So with that, here is a brief update on all things health, fitness and fun!


1) Local Champions

We are still and always looking for local champions to contact Ryan and be added to the list.  Local Champs are essentially ambassadors

to the Health & Fitness programs within their community.  You need no special training or knowledge, just a desire to promote health and fitness and physical activity within your community.  You will convert information about our program and then will pass along any questions or comments from your group, back up to Ryan.  This allows great flow of questions, information, inspiration and networking!  Get on the list today!


2) #eyeammore

The EYE AM MORE campaign is designed to get everyone thinking about who they are as individuals.  Our commonalities are our visual impairments, however we are all unique and capable of great things.  Submit a few words or a short video on who you are MORE than just someone with vision loss.  We can share your story to everyone through our videos or podcasts, inspiring other by how cool you are and getting them to think about what makes them awesome too!  Self-esteem is key to being motivated to be active and aim big!   Email your story or video to Ryan today!



3) Virtual Run

June 1st – Our second ever virtual 5k run/walk is going to be held on Friday June 1st.  Ryan will host his event at about 6pm EST and encourages you to run or walk 5k, with friends, family, your community, at roughly the same time.  Cost is $30 and you get a cool CCB Health & Fitness trucker hat.

Log onto the blog or contact Ryan to get Registration link.  Deadline to ensure a hat is May 6th, but you can register right up until June 1.   WIN a Wahoo Tickr heart rate monitor that interacts with your smart device, or a gift card, if you are the lucky name drawn.


4) “Peercast” to launch

In an attempt to further engage our members and drive discussions on how to live a kick butt lifestyle while dealing with vision loss, we are starting a new show on the Podcast channel.  Currently on “The Canadian Council of the Blind” podcast Ryan hosts the Health & Fitness show but will be starting the Peercast Show very shortly.  An interview style discussion on various topics on living with blindness, how to thrive, how to support each other and more.  It’s all about engagement and this show will be designed to present a topic then wait for your comments and considerations.  Subscribe to the podcast, listen to all the content we have up already, it won’t put you to sleep, we promise!


5) Coaching calls

Ryan is always accepting coaching calls if you need some personalized coaching towards your fitness goal, just shoot him an email or give him a call to set up a time to chat…all FREE to you!


Tons of ways to follow us and contact us.  Please like, follow, subscribe, share and comment on all our social media content.  We want you to engage with us!


Facebook – search “CCB Health & Fitness”

Youtube – search “CCB Health & Fitness”

Podcast – search “The Canadian Council of the Blind”

Twitter – @ccb_healthfit

Email list – email


Newsletter – email Ryan to be added at:

Call: 226-627-2179


Introducing Canadian Assistive Technology Ltd.++:

Canadian Assistive Technology was founded by Steve Barclay and now, after a year of operation employs Ryan Fleury for Technical Support and Rob Mineault for Sales and Marketing Support.  All three were former employees of Aroga Technologies and have many years of experience with assistive technology.  Rob, Ryan, and Steve are also the hosts of the AT Banter Podcast, which offers news and insights about all manners of assistive technology, as well as human interest stories from the community of people who use it.


2Left to right – Ryan Fleury, Rob Mineault, Steve Barclay Picture from



The company focuses primarily on cutting edge technologies for people who are blind or visually impaired, but also carries products for people with physical and communication limitations.


Included in our product lineup are some of the leading manufacturers in the world including:

Ablenet, AI Squared, ALVA, Duxbury Systems, Dolphin, Enhanced Vision Systems, Eschenbach, Freedom Scientific, Handitech, Hartgen Consultancy, HIMS, Humanware, Iris Vision, Innovation Rehabilitation, KNFB, Low Vision International, Optelec, Orcam and Right-Hear.


Our mission is to provide the highest level of service and support for our clients.  We maintain a demo pool of equipment which people can arrange to borrow and try before making a purchasing decision. We offer a 30 day no-questions asked money back guarantee on all of our hardware based low vision aids and we cover all of our products with lifetime toll-free technical support.  We try to ensure that hardware warranty and non-warranty repairs can be conducted in Canada and work with our servicing partner, Chaos Technical Services, owned by Rick Chant another past Aroga veteran.  As part of our standard terms we will also cover all shipping costs for any product we have sold that needs to go in for warranty repair.


We are passionate supporters of Braille and all efforts to promote Braille literacy.  Our free Unified English Braille chart, developed in conjunction with Cay Holbrook and the vision teacher training program at the University of British Columbia, is used as a resource by educators all over the English speaking world.

Our free Low Vision Guide, developed in conjunction with Enhanced Vision Systems is used as an education piece by Optometrists and Ophthalmologists all across the country.  This guide and the Braille chart are also available by download from our website.


If you or a loved one are investigating assistive technology options, please call us and explore our website.  We have many years of experience in helping people find the right solutions for their needs.

Visit or email and phone 1-844-795-8324


Librarians Seek Reading Recommendations++:


Hello, my name is Sabina and I work as a librarian with the National Network for Equitable Library Service, commonly known as NNELS. We produce books in accessible formats for Canadian readers with print disabilities. I am writing to you because we are looking for book recommendations.


Specifically, we are looking for readers’ favourite children’s picture books: either those people read as children, or those they enjoyed in adulthood.


We are looking for these book recommendations because librarians and volunteers have been asking for an easy way to record books for us, and we finally have a way to invite them to do just that. Volunteer-recorded audiobooks are available for free download from our website for any Canadian with a print disability. And who knows where they will go from there: they might be enjoyed by a reader on the other side of the country or on the other side of the world.


In March, we completed a project with support from the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability Component, the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), and others to create twelve recording kits. Each kit contains a headset microphone, a USB key for saving files, and links to online instructions. With a kit, and a deal with a local public library, volunteers can record a book. Kits can be loaned and sent to any library in Canada for the cost of shipping.


These recording kits are not a magic wand that will suddenly turn all the stories into audiobooks. Rather, they are a small piece of a large puzzle. We hope the kits will remind librarians in communities of all sizes about the importance of accessibility, literacy, and reading. And we hope they bring people the joy that comes from learning and making something new.


In a fragile and sometimes fractured world, one of the very best things we can do is make the time to share stories. And as a librarian who loves children’s books, I would argue that what makes us human, and what reminds us of who we might become, can be found in the stories we share with children. We hope these kits are the beginning of something good. Maybe someone in your own community will surprise you with a wonderful recording. Maybe you will read a book that your great-great- grandchild will hear.


We are looking for books that tell the story through the words rather than the illustrations, do not have any chapters, and that are well-written, as these work best for audio recordings. If you have something to recommend, please call 1-888-848-9250, option 5, or email For more information about the project, please visit


We appreciate the significant contribution of the CCB and their support throughout the project.




Script Ability will be coming to a Sobeys location near you soon++:

Please advise our CCB National office of a Sobeys location near you which you would like to carry the equipment to provide this service. This way they can preorder supplies so that when the program is launched the equipment will be available right away. There is no additional cost on your prescription for this service. This is an initiative that CCB has been working with Sobeys to provide to their pharmacy customers (both old& new). For more information, please contact 1-877-304-0908.



GTT Edmonton Meeting Invitation, Google Home Voice Assistant, April 9, 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 Next Edmonton GTT Meeting:

Date: Monday April 9, 7pm to 9pm.

Location: Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 – 83 Street NW, Edmonton. You must enter from the back door. If you arrive late the door may be locked. Please ring the bell to the right of the door.

Theme: Google Home Voice Assistant

During the first half hour Wanda will demonstrate how she and Dave use their Google Home voice assistant speaker to get answers to everyday questions, play songs, make phone calls, and more by simply using their voice.

The remainder of the meeting will be devoted to you. Bring your questions, and any tech you need help with – for example, iPhones, laptops or DAISY players.


Who Should Attend?

Any blind or low vision person who is interested in learning how assistive technologies can help them lead more independent lives.


For More Information contact: or 780.990.8448


Visually impaired singer takes on world++:

There was a great article that was in the Chronicle Herald on CCB Blind Sports Nova Scotia member Tarah Sawler.


3 Tarah Sawler Playing Piano at home from the Chronicle Herald

To read the article, please visit:


The article talks about Tarah’s passion for music and some of her experiences as a straight A first year university student with a visual impairment.


On another note, Tarah will be leading the Nova Scotia Junior girls at the Canadian Junior Goalball Championships in Halifax on April 7 & 8 at the Halifax Independent School.




Support the Opportunity for Workers with Disabilities Act++:


Groups like the CCB work hard to maximize opportunities for people with disabilities. Yet sometimes, government seems to stand in the way. As you know, when people with disabilities start earning income, they not only pay taxes, but also face sharp clawbacks of their income, medication, housing, and other supports — meaning they can lose more than they gain from getting a job, earning a raise, or working more hours.


It is a story Linda Chamberlain knows all too well: “After three decades of battling schizophrenia and homelessness and poverty, Chamberlain finally got a job,” wrote former Toronto Star reporter Catherine Porter. As a reward, the government boosted Linda’s rent almost 500% and cut her disability payment, making her $260 per month poorer because she got a job.

So she had to quit her job and remain poor.

She is not alone. “According to Statistics Canada’s 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability, there were over 650,000 disabled individuals aged 15 to 64 who were not in the labour force at the time of the survey and either used to work or indicated they were capable of working. Of these, roughly 94,000 reported that if they were employed, they felt that they would lose additional support. About 82,300 individuals reported that they expected their income to drop if they worked,” according to Statistics Canada.


The Bill

The Opportunity for Workers with Disabilities Act would allow workers with disabilities to gain more in wages than they lose in clawbacks and taxation. It does this through three steps:


  1. Measurement

The bill would require that Finance Canada calculate how much people with disabilities in each province lose in taxes and benefit clawbacks as a result of each additional $1,000 of income earned up to $30,000.

Calculations of the clawbacks would include lost benefits like income assistance, housing, medications, and so forth, and would use publicly available tax and benefit rules, not any person’s private tax and benefit information.


  1. Action if the calculation finds that people with disabilities are losing more than they gain due to clawbacks, the Finance Minister would have to consider changes to the Working Income Tax Benefit Disability Supplement, the Canada Pension Plan Disability Pension, or any federal tax measure that would ensure people with disabilities always benefit from their work.

If the Minister deemed that provincial taxes and clawbacks were the cause of the problem, he would consult with the province to remedy it.


  1. Enforcement The Opportunity Act would attach another condition to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act requiring provinces to arrange their taxes and transfers so that people with disabilities never lose more than they gain from working.



This bill will only pass with the help of respected organizations like the CCB. So, if you agree that governments should reward rather than punish the work of people with disabilities, please add your voice to the Opportunity Act.


Here are three things you can do to help pass the bill:

Please encourage your local Members of Parliament to vote for the Opportunity Act. And ask your friends, family, and supporters to do the same.

Use #OpportunityAct on social media when endorsing and discussing the bill.


Please email my office a few sentences endorsing the bill that we can use for social media and other communications that will build momentum towards its passage. You can email


Thank you for your help. Together, we can empower Canadians with disabilities to get ahead through their talents and work — because, as Dr. Martin Luther King put it, “all labour has dignity.”



Hon. Pierre Poilievre, P.C., M.P.



World Blind Union Survey++:

The WBU Low Vision Working Group is working on initiatives to encourage more engagement of persons with low vision or partial sight in the work of the WBU and our members.  In order to do that we want to know more about the present situation both for organizations and for individuals who have low vision.


Please visit the below link to complete a survey for individuals who are partially sighted or have low vision. We ask you to encourage as many low vision or partially sighted persons as you can to complete the survey.


The deadline for completing the survey and returning them to us at  is April 30th.


The survey can be found at:


Many thanks for your assistance.

Penny Hartin

Chief Executive Officer and

Chair WBU Low Vision Working Group



In the News


Usability Tester Showcase: Bruce Turner’s Story — Knowbility++:


Fellow CCB GTT Members and Participants–Here’s a story about one of our own, Bruce Turner of the GTT Victoria Chapter.

Bruce Turner’s Story — Knowbility

For several years now, Knowbility has recruited people with disabilities to participate in usability studies. During that time, we’ve added hundreds of people from across the United States and beyond to our AccessWorks user testing panel, which partners testers with disabilities with companies interested in improving the accessibility and usability of their products.


So, when a popular Canadian media company reached out to our AccessWorks team with a request for Canadian testers with different disabilities, we were prepared. Bruce Turner was one of these testers, and we’re proud to share his experience.


Born with retinitis pigmentosa and profoundly deaf, Bruce uses a variety of assistive technologies to get things done. He uses ZoomText, a screen magnification program to change the color scheme on his computer. Bruce prefers his text to be white on a black background.


To be more productive on the phone, Bruce uses a relay service. An operator types what is heard on the line, Bruce reads it, and then he responds. It was with this suite of technology and the marvels of off-the-shelf video conferencing software that Bruce successfully completed the usability study. The retired civil servant credits today’s tech in playing a role in promoting social and economic integration.


“If I didn’t have this technology in front of me I don’t think I would be doing as well as I am,” Bruce said. “This technology I wish the heck I had when I was younger. I like the fact that I can do email, I can go online, I can do my banking, I can talk to people, I can communicate.”


Bruce says he enjoys learning how to accomplish tasks online, for example, the steps that are needed to arrive at a website’s homepage.


“It’s like playing a brand-new game for the first time, not knowing what to do, but simply getting there and getting my feet wet and see what I can do,” Bruce said.


Bruce first heard about AccessWorks via a post on the website of Get Together with Technology (GTT), a program run by the Canadian Council of the Blind. Though at first leery about the program’s claims—that people with disabilities could earn extra money working as usability testers—GTT’s Albert Ruel reassured him that Knowbility could be trusted.


“Bruce did a great job! He provided us with a different perspective. He actually helped us to consider other ways of communicating….and we actually did it….we were so thrilled. We learned so much and as a result, we feel very confident going into it!” Marine Menier, AccessWorks Project Manager, said.


Bruce was born and raised in Kamloops, British Columbia. He graduated from the University of Victoria in 1973 and worked for the Canadian federal government for 35 years. As a child, he attended school alongside people of many different ethnicities and varying abilities. He feels that this has influenced his attitudes towards inclusiveness.


“The way I look at the word inclusiveness is getting along with people who have all kinds of disability,” he said. “People who are blind, people who are low vision, people who are deaf, we all share a little bit of everything.”


He considers Knowbility’s usability tester program a force for good, both for companies that need knowledge about the accessibility of their products and for people with disabilities who want to help make websites more accessible.


“The AccessWorks program also increases the self-esteem of those who participate, and that is an important benefit,” he added.


Now retired, Bruce lives with his wife in Victoria, British Columbia.

In addition to reading online articles from ZDNet and GTT to learn about the latest tech, he enjoys photography, gardening, and taking walks along the Gorge Waterway, a scenic inlet near his home.

By Marine Menier




Deaf-Blind Runner Showcased in the Media:++

Gaston Bedard, marathon runner, was on television on March 27.


The interview took place at the CTV studio, in Ottawa. Gaston chatted about guiding in the Ottawa Race Weekend coming up May 26 and 27, 2018; in which Gaston is registered in the Scotiabank Ottawa Half marathon.


The idea is that everyone can participate, it’s easy to walk, jog and guide. Full participation is everything.


The CTV interview clip is called, Race Weekend for Everyone.

We were third in the CTV interview along with our host Annette.

From left to right, in the interview video:

Michel, Annette, Gaston and Christopher.


Please visit the CTV video clip at:


Gyms must do more to accommodate people with disabilities++:


Advances in modern medicine have led doctors to a better understanding of the benefits of exercise in managing a broad range of chronic conditions, from multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and epilepsy. Unfortunately, traditional gyms aren’t designed with this end use in mind. Sure, there’s bound to be an automatic door opener for people with mobility issues, maybe even a wheelchair lift or a ramp, but that tends to be the extent of the services provided to make fitness accessible to all.


Irony of ironies: Where most gyms fail is in serving people with physical disabilities or chronic medical conditions – in other words, people who, in many cases, literally need to work out to save their lives.


I work for a not-for-profit facility that prides itself on inclusiveness and diversity. Forgive me if I sound a little too Hands Across America, but I love the fact that my gym – our gym – can serve as a home away from home for everyone, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or income.


But of course, even idealistic wonderlands have their blind spots.


A couple of months ago, I had a conversation with a member of our gym that left me feeling like an ignorant fool. This young woman told me about her medical condition, explained how basic movement is painful and how she often has to rely on mobility assistance devices. Her doctor recommended yoga as a gentle means of managing this condition, but our yoga studio is on the second floor of the building, and the elevator doesn’t allow for direct access. She would have to take the stairs in order to participate, which, given her condition, is not an option.


Many physical disabilities are easily identifiable for fitness professionals, as are the solutions to the challenges they pose. Some, however, are harder to identify. Take, for example, the guest that dropped by our gym with an unmarked service dog trained to detect seizures. In Ontario, it’s not required for these sorts of service animals to wear identifying harnesses or vests; if a person has a doctor’s note recommending the use of the animal, and that animal is well-behaved, it’s a violation of their rights to deny them access to services and facilities. Of course, when our members saw someone jogging on our indoor track, furry friend in tow, they assumed this dog was simply a pet. Our staff was equally confused.


Granted, this sort of thing isn’t a common occurrence, but it does illustrate how ill-informed – and ill-prepared – businesses are when it comes to addressing non-physical disabilities.


Thankfully, we have people like Dr. Darren Ezer, co-owner, along with his wife, Lianne, of the Live Well Exercise Clinic in Toronto. Live Well is a medicinal fitness franchise that specializes in small group fitness classes for people with chronic diseases, physical disabilities and mental illnesses.


With 14 locations across British Columbia and Ontario, Live Well is

striving to meet the needs of those who may not feel welcome at commercial gyms by delivering evidence-based exercise programs specific to each individual’s condition in a fun and positive environment.


“We’re very different from places like GoodLife,” Ezer said. “Our members find gyms filled with young, fit people intimidating. We offer a huge service by providing group-based exercise with a peer group that looks familiar and specialized equipment that’s truly accessible.”


A new Live Well location is scheduled to open in Oakville, Ont., this year. It’s my hope that more fitness pros and gym owners will take after this example and begin offering a broad range of programs and services for everyone, not just the young, jacked and tanned.


Otherwise, unifying ideals such as diversity and social inclusion lose their power and become nothing more than buzz words for virtue-signaling poseurs.


As for my gym, I’m happy to report that steps are being taken to ensure the next noble service animal that pays us a visit will be welcomed with open and understanding arms.


Paul Landini is a personal trainer and health educator at the Toronto West End College Street YMCA.


You can follow him on Twitter @mrpaullandini.

By PAUL LANDINI, Globe and Mail




Assistive Technology

Donna’s Low Tech Tips, Identifying Money:++


Hello there, I’m Donna Jodhan and I’d like to talk about IDENTIFYING MONEY and I have some great tips for you re how you can go about dealing with your money.  Dollar bills, coins, and cheques.



There are many different ways to identify bills and it really doesn’t matter how you do it as long as your method works for you.




Here are some tips.

Some individuals prefer to separate bills by denomination, placing them in different sections of their purse or wallet. You can purchase a special                          billfold which has different sections for different bills. You can fold your bills in a special way for easy identification. For example:

-Leave five dollar bills completely unfolded.

– Fold ten dollar bills in half lengthwise.

-Fold twenty dollar bills in half, end to end.

-Fold fifty dollar bills end to end, then lengthwise.

-Fold hundred dollar bills in half and in half again.

-When you receive money from others, ask what each bill is and fold it right away or put it in a special section of your wallet so you will be able to recognize it later.  Take your time, don’t be hurried.


An electronic bank note reader is available (through the CNIB) to identify paper currency. The device is easy to use.

Insert a Canadian bank note, push the button at the front of the device, and the reader will announce by voice (in either English or French) the denomination of the bill.



Coins can be identified by touch.

Select one coin at a time and use a fingernail or your fingertips to feel the different sizes and edges of each coin:

-A dime has a serrated edge.

-A nickel has a smooth edge.

-A quarter has a rough grooved edge and is larger and thicker than a nickel.

-A dollar coin (loonie) has an eleven-sided smooth edge and is larger and thicker than a quarter.

-A two dollar coin (toonie) is larger than a loonie. The edge of the coin alternates from rough to smooth.  The centre of the toonie is gold in color and the outer edge is silver.

A special purse or coin organizer with separate slots for nickels, dimes, and quarters may be a useful item.


Large print/tactile cheques are available from your bank. You may find it helpful to make your own cheque template with sections cut out for date, cheque amount, and so on.


So have fun now with your money!