Canadian Council of the Blind/GTT $10/Annual Membership Dues for the Year 2019 Are Now Due

December 12, 2018

 

Attention GTT-CCB Participants and Members in Western Canada:

 

Subject: Canadian Council of the Blind $10/Annual Membership Dues for the Year 2019 Are Now Due

 

Dear GTT Participants and Members.  The end of 2018 is fast approaching and a New Year is just around the corner, so I am tasked with the duty of collecting as many membership dues as I can for the GTT Vancouver, Victoria a Nanaimo Chapters.  This call to action is also directed at those who participate in other GTT activities and events like GTTSupport Email List, GTT National Conference Call and the GTTProgram Blog.  If you belong to any other CCB Chapter and have paid your dues through your Chapter as is best done, we thank you for that.

 

As the Get Together with Technology program (GTT) is an initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind, that is the organization to which we submit our annual dues.  So, if you have participated in any of the above noted Chapters, events or activities and wish to re-new, or to establish your CCB membership for the first time please check in with me directly.  You can E-Transfer or Interac $10 to my work email address, or I can be reached at that address and will be happy to make arrangements as best suit you.  Please call or email if you have any questions.

 

Albert Ruel, GTT Coordinator

iPhone: +1-250-240-2343 (call or text:

Albert.GTT@CCBNational.net

 

In order to complete your membership, especially if it’s your first time I’ll need the following information;

 

Name:

Phone Number:

Email Address:

Mailing Address:

Degree of Vision Loss:

Date of Birth:

 

Thx, Albert

 

***

 

Albert A. Ruel

From an Island in The Pacific

Parksville BC, Canada

Albert.GTT@CCBNational.net

iPhone: +1-250-240-2343

 

Life is a journey not a destination, enjoy the trip.

 

 

 

CCB National Newsletter, Visions, December 2018

A person in a warm sweater holds a textured christmas tree ball in their hands
Bell offers the Doro 824C and 824. These smartphones are designed with accessibility in mind. With your purchase of a Doro mobile device, you’ll also receive
a free pair of AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones.

Click this message to learn more.
VISIONS
Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter
December 2018
“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”
Canadian Council of the Blind Logo
President’s Message++
1Louise Gillis – CCB National President
63
A portrait of Louise Gillis
As many of us have experienced winter rather early this year it seems today happens to be a bright, sunny and slightly warmer day more typical of the season.
I hope that this continues for everyone so that we can enjoy a bit of family time as we prepare for the holiday season.
We continue to be very busy in many areas with a variety of CCB programs. GTT has been posting a lot of great information to assist in mobility, new apps
and some simple ideas to make life easier for those living with vision loss. Thank you to all the leaders working with GTT to continue to make it a successful
program.
The Canadian Senate sitting in session.
This has been a busy month with the
Accessible Canada Act which has now moved
through the third reading unanimously and on
to the Senate for consideration and hopefully
approval. We have sent in a written
submission to the Standing Committee as did
many other organizations of persons with disabilities. The Act, as it stands now does
not give time lines and some other concerns expressed by varying organizations, for a
fully accessible Canada by a specific date but what it has is standards for regulations
for federally run agencies which will have to comply with the Act. You can check out on
the “HUMA” website many of the submissions and the progress of Bill C-81.
http://www.ourcommons.ca/Committees/en/HUMA/StudyActivity?studyActivityId=10268658
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is busy making changes to regulations for air, rail and ferry services under federal jurisdiction. For those who
have computer access you can go on their website to follow what is transpiring. This is also taking place with CRTC as well for communications. The changes
are being made to comply with the anticipated Accessible Canada Act. CCB has been involved in providing input and submissions to both agencies. Thank you
to Kim Kilpatrick and Shelly Morris on their work with CRTC. Several CCB members have been working with rail, air and ferry services and thank you all
for your input.
414
We have recently completed a submission to Canadian Agency on Drugs and Technology (CADTH) for a new treatment (eye drops) for Glaucoma. It is the first
of its kind also there has not been any new drops in many years. What is CADTH? CADTH is an independent, not-for-profit organization responsible for providing
Canada’s health care decision-makers with objective evidence to help make informed decisions about the optimal use of drugs and medical devices in our
health care system. Created in 1989 by Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial governments, CADTH was born from the idea that Canada needs a coordinated
approach to assessing health technologies. The result was an organization that harnesses Canadian expertise from every region and produces evidence-informed
solutions that benefit patients in jurisdictions across the country.
CCB continues to work with Best Medicines Coalition, FFB, CNIB, and others to ensure that Canadians get the best care possible not only eye care but other
disease processes that many of our members may be dealing with in their lives health promotion and illness prevention.
The Mobile Eye Clinic continues to check children in the Ottawa region schools. Results still show that approximately twenty five percent of children attending
have previous undetected eye concerns needing further follow-up.
ll our committees have been very active over the fall. It takes a lot of time and important work to complete items as we make our way through to ensure
everything meets requirements that are set for compliance. Thank you for the work of the committee members for their great work and time commitment.
690
It is now time to enjoy holiday festivities with families and friends. As our country is made up of a vast number of nationalities I would like to wish
everyone a time of enjoyment, relaxation, spending time with fellow workers or neighbours as we will soon will be moving into a new year with lots of hope
for continued strength and growth.
Best wishes for the holidays and Happy New Year to all.
Louise Gillis, National President
Two grey pencils on a yellow background, behind the word Announcements.
Announcements
‘EXPERIENCE’ EXPO 2019++:
Ad for Experience Expo 2019 Saturday February 2 10am to 4pm, at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre 750 Spadina Ave. Toronto, ON. For more information
please visit http://www.ccbtorontovisionaries.ca
785
Thank-you!++
CCB would like to acknowledge and thank Ken Christie, from the Windsor Low Vision Chapter in Ontario for his many years of support and activity within
the Council. Ken joined CCB in 2005, after having volunteered with CNIB for over 25 years. He was already quite active in the blind bowling community,
and decided to bring his enthusiasm for bowling and community engagement to CCB. Ken pulled together the communities of Sarnia, Chatham and Windsor to
bowl, and each May, he would organize a tournament followed by a banquet. He worked closely with the local Lions Club, who ended up cosponsoring the bowling
tournament. Ken and the Windsor chapter could also always count on lots of support from his wife, Catherine, who volunteered to drive members to meetings
and help organize fundraising activities. Ken will be turning 89 years old in January, and he has decided it’s time to take a step back from his active
role in the chapter and reflect on the wonderful times he spent with the chapter members in CCB.
Two hands hold a card that says “thank you” over a bouquet of tulips.
Jim Tokos adds:
Two people shaking hands
Ken was a mentor to me, as when I first joined the Ontario Board, Ken, along with Don Grant, Theresa Dupuis, Doug Ayers, to name a few, always encouraged
me to move forward, and how can you not be motivated to succeed when you are surrounded by such wonderful and devoted persons.”
I have also been fortunate enough to know Ken quite well over the past and upon request from Ken have spoken to the Windsor Low Vision Chapter on many
occasions. Ken will certainly be missed as he touched a lot of hearts, and Ken and Kay, what more can the Council say but Thank You for your outstanding
service to the CCB.
CCB Toronto Ski Hawks Ski Club Chapter at the
Toronto Ski and Snowboard show.++:
In late October the Ski Hawks had an exhibit at the Ski and Snowboard show. This was the first time in many years that we have been at the show.
2CCB Toronto Ski Hawks Ski Club Chapter at the Toronto Ski and Snowboard Show.
1154
Some members of CCB Toronto Ski Hawks Ski Club Chapter at their booth at the Toronto Ski and Snowboard Show.
Over the course of the 4 day show the booth was staffed, in rotating shifts, by 9 of our blind skiers and several volunteer ski guides. Many of the visitors
to our booth were truly amazed that blind people actually ski downhill.
Of particular interest was our short video that describes how we ski with a guide. At the very least it definitely raised awareness that people with low
vision or no vision can be skiers.
One of our goals at the show was to recruit volunteers to be trained as guides and this was indeed a success! The other was to get some form of sponsorship
from the ski industry, we are currently pursuing some leads from the show.
3 Kelsey Serwa posing with her Gold Medal
Kelsey Serwa poses with as if she’s biting her gold medal
The highlight of the show for our blind skiers was when they had a visit with Kelsey Serwa winner of the gold medal in ladies ski cross at the 2018 winter
Olympics in Pyeongchang. Not only did they have the opportunity to ask her questions but also got to hold her gold medal and discovered that the edge was
inscribed in Braille.
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Submitted by Chris Wyvill
The Situation of Blind and Partially Sighted Persons
in Accessing their Human Rights – from the World
Blind Union
Persistent cultural, social, legal, physical and institutional barriers pose
restrictions to the full inclusion of visually impaired persons in society in all
areas of private and public life, including education; employment; health
care; cultural, recreational, sporting and leisure activities; and political
participation. They face huge barriers to personal mobility owing to lack of
accessibility. Poor access to justice limits their access to communications
and compounds their isolation and exclusion.
Unemployment of persons with visual
disabilities is a significant challenge and they
remain the poorest of the poor, unable to
compete with the labour market. Therefore,
disaggregation of data by disability, sex and age
is fundamental for understanding the situation of
blind and partially sighted persons and
informing policies to ensure their effective
inclusion and the full realization of their human
rights.
Black and White image of a homeless man from Melbourne, Australia
While significant progress has been made towards the inclusion of bind and partially sighted persons in the international human rights and development
frameworks, concerted advocacy efforts are still needed to ensure that these commitments are translated into an enabling environment that mobilizes stakeholders,
enhances participation of organizations of persons with disabilities and strengthen political will and the capacity of governments to implement to 2030
Agenda in line with all the UN International human rights instruments, together with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
This requires constant attention to ensure that human rights mechanisms uphold the highest CRPD standards and facilitating interconnections and consistency
of these mechanisms with normative development frameworks.
A woman wearing glasses lookes for a book on a bookself
We further celebrate the adoption and ratification of
the Marrakesh Treaty that calls upon researchers,
publishers, and the academia in line with the
intellectual property rights to ensure that persons with
visual disabilities receive and access information in
accessible formats of braille, large print, audio and
electronic formats. We celebrate this achievement,
but we call upon states to ratify this instrument and
domesticate it into their legal framework to ensure
that the obligations spelt under the treaty are met.
However, this is still a big challenge by many states, as this goal has not
been adequately implemented. This poses a barrier to our participation as
blind and partially sighted persons on an equal basis with others.
We advocate for the availability of resources to accommodate the different needs for blind and partially sighted persons. We appeal to governments and
international agencies to provide consistent statistical data for persons with visual disabilities to provide evidence during planning, budgeting, programming,
policy development and implementation.
4 people work with various graphs in the middle of a conference table.
We further request governments and development partners to promote the full and effective participation of persons with visual disabilities by ensuring
that their organizations and their representatives are permanently consulted on contentious issues and rights affecting them during development processes.

Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities
From:
Employment and Social Development Canada
News release
December 3, 2018 Ottawa, Ontario
Employment and Social Development Canada
The Government of Canada is working to create a truly accessible Canada. Today, as part of these efforts, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of
Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, along with the ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Canadian Heritage, announced that, with the
support of all provinces and territories, Canada has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Accession to the Optional Protocol means that Canadians will have additional recourse to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities, if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated.
Along with the proposed Accessible Canada Act, which was recently adopted by the House of Commons and is now before the Senate, today’s announcement shows
that the Government of Canada is taking another step towards creating a barrier-free Canada.
A fisheye photograph of the United Nations in session
Recently released data from Statistics Canada reinforce the importance of a more inclusive and accessible Canada. The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities
shows that the prevalence of disabilities among Canadians is greater than many realize, with 22% of Canadians identifying as having a disability. The new
data will be used by the federal government to help build a more inclusive society that benefits all people in Canada – especially persons with disabilities
– through the realization of a Canada without barriers.
Quick facts
list of 2 items
• The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) is an international human rights instrument that requires
State Parties to the Convention to promote, protect and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. Canada ratified the Convention in 2010.
• The Optional Protocol establishes two procedures. The first is a complaint procedure that allows individuals and groups to take complaints to the UN
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the case of an alleged violation of their rights under the Convention. The second is an inquiry
procedure that allows the Committee to inquire into allegations of grave or systematic violations of the Convention by a State Party.
list end
The members of the UN CRPD Committee
list of 7 items
• The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention by States
Parties.
• As of November 2018, there are 177 States Parties to the
Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities, with 93 States Parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention.
• Under Bill C-81, approximately $290 million over six years would serve to further the objectives of the proposed legislation.
• One in five people—22 percent of the Canadian population aged 15 years and over, or about 6.2 million individuals—had one or more disabilities, according
to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities.
• The survey also reports that people with severe disabilities aged 25 to 64 years are more likely to be living in poverty than their counterparts without
disabilities (17 percent) or with milder disabilities (23 percent).
list end
4The members of the UN CRPD Committee
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Close-up of colorful lines of code on a computer screen
Assistive Technology
Donna’s Low Tech Tips++
Meet the Talking First Aid Kit
Carl Augusto of the American Foundation for the Blind Blog posted the following about this great product.
I think it’s always important to keep safety in mind, so I thought I’d let you
know about a new product from Intelligent First Aid, the First Aid “talking”
Kit. The Kit includes nine injury-specific packs to help treat common injuries,
including Bleeding, Head & Spine Injury, and Shock. The packs are
individually labeled and color-coded, which I love because it would help
someone with low vision easily distinguish the packs. The best part, though,
is that with the press of a button, the audio component attached to each
card provides step-by-step instructions to manage the wound. Situations
often become chaotic when a loved one, an acquaintance, or even you,
experiences a minor injury.
With this tool, people with low vision can remain calm and have an idea of how to handle things without worrying about reading any print.
Check out the Intelligent First Aid website to purchase the product or get more information:
http://www.intelligentfirstaid.com/index.php
The site even allows you to listen to a sample of the audio component of the kit.
To contact Donna, send her an email at
info@sterlingcreations.ca
A person having their knee bandaged.
The edges of newspapers as a background to In the News
In
the
News
Disability Advocates Criticize Lack of Teeth in New
Manitoba Accessibility Regulations++
A new law is now in force for Manitoba businesses, but don’t expect a bylaw officer to show up at your door any time soon.
As of Nov 1, businesses and organizations in Manitoba should be following the letter of the law when it comes to providing accessibility for Manitobans
with disabilities.
The Customer Service Standard Regulation is the first of five areas to come into force under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, which passed in December
2013, but at this point, officials are more interested in educating the public than imposing penalties on businesses.
A couple walk down a sidewalk by several stores.
“We would take concerns and educate and support those organizations into complying with legislation. Turning to the stiffer penalties would be more of
a last resort for us,” said Jay Rodgers, deputy minister for the Department of Families.
‘Never a ramp’
That means that it could be a while before Megan Clarke can roll into one of her favourite restaurants in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.
When the restaurant first showed up a few years ago, she was excited about trying it out, only to find that a small lip in the sidewalk created a barrier
for her wheelchair. Clarke waited outside while her friend went into the restaurant to order and bring the matter to the owner’s attention.
“[The owner] said ‘We’ll get a ramp made,’ so for the course of the summer,
we went back and there was never a ramp, never a ramp, and then one day
my friend went in to talk to him and his response was, ‘Well, we don’t have
the ramp made yet, but she can have free dessert any time she comes,’ and
I was like, well, that’s the last time I’m going to come to your place,” said
Clarke.
Under the Customer Service Standard Regulation, any business or organization with one or more employees in Manitoba must provide its goods and services
in a barrier-free way.
A pink sign showing the direction for a step free route
The regulations cover everything from training staff to the built environment, but don’t prescribe specific measures, such as the installation of ramps
at doors with raised entryways.
“Our expectation, I think, would be that if the building is physically inaccessible that there might be other ways of offering the service to the customer,
whether it means coming out and meeting someone at the front or doing business over the phone. Our point would be that the alternative ways of accessing
the service need to be communicated broadly to the public,” said Rodgers.
Documentation required
The regulations also require every business with 20 or more employees to document customer service policies and procedures, and either post them publicly
or provide them on request, so those living with disabilities understand how the business is working toward eliminating barriers.
However, there are no clear guidelines for enforcing the standards, so businesses will be unlikely to comply, advocates say.
“Without effective enforcement, a law is a voluntary law, and a voluntary
law is really not very much of a law at all,” said David Lepofsky, a lawyer
and disability rights advocate who was highly influential in the creation of
Ontario’s accessibility laws.
Legislators in Manitoba looked at the Ontarians with Disabilities Act while creating Manitoba’s legislation, but Lepofsky warns poor enforcement means
Ontario’s law has failed in many areas.
A low shot of a tactile strip at a subway station
“We revealed through Freedom of Information Act applications and otherwise that [officials] were aware of rampant violations and yet deployed a paltry
number of enforcement staff and a paltry number of audits and therefore did a really ineffective job of enforcing [the act],” Lepofsky said.
Slow rollout
Manitoba is considering using its existing bylaw enforcement officers, such as those operating under Workplace Safety and Health, to enforce the act, Rodgers
said.
It’s a step above what Ontario is doing, Lepofsky said, but he is critical of the lack of a solid plan for enforcement.
“This law was passed half a decade ago in Manitoba and half a decade is more than enough time to plan to get something like this set up,” he said. “The
Manitoba government has had ample opportunity to contact Ontario, find out what they’ve learned, get this designed, get it up and running. They shouldn’t
just be looking at it now.”
Complaints and concerns
Bringing businesses into compliance with the act will take time, despite the
November 1 deadline, Rodgers said. Complaints and concerns about
business compliance should be directed to the Disabilities Issues Office, he
said. It is up to him as director to determine whether a complaint is
reasonable or not.
Despite the slow rollout, Clarke remains optimistic about what the act could mean for her. Already she is seeing small changes in her neighbourhood, such
as the addition of accessible buttons on an automatic door at her local Starbucks.
A push to open accessibility button for a door
“Whether it’s coffee or groceries or clothing or getting my hair cut, whatever service I’m going to, I’m going to be able to just go in and live my life.
That’s what it’s all about. It’s just access,” she said.
By Kim Kaschor, CBC
Guide Dog Users, Inc. Publishes Handbook to Help
People Who Are Blind Decide if the Guide Dog
Lifestyle is Right for them++
Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI), the largest membership and advocacy
organization representing guide dog handlers in the United States, is
pleased to announce the recent publication of a revised handbook for
perspective guide dog users which shares comprehensive information about
acquiring and using a guide dog for safe and independent travel.
A yellow lab sitting in leaves.
The guide, 90 pages in length, and available in e-book and print formats, “A Handbook for the Prospective Guide Dog Handler,” 4th Edition, updates a GDUI
publication, called “Making Impressions,” which GDUI members wrote and published a quarter of a century ago. The original manual assisted countless guide
dog users with applying for training with and adjusting to working with guide dogs. Many of those original readers are now working successfully with a
third or fourth or even an eighth, or tenth guide dog. Realizing how well their original publication had served guide dog users all over the country and
beyond, GDUI has spent the past several years updating the manual to reflect changes in guide dog training methodologies, growth in the community of guide
dog users, changes in the number of schools now available to provide training and dogs, and evolving attitudes among the public concerning acceptance of
guide dogs as reliable and respected aids for blind and visually impaired people who choose dogs for independent travel.
The informative handbook answers questions not only for the prospective guide dog team, but also for families of people who are blind, blindness rehabilitation
professionals and educators, and the general public.
Part One, Section One sets the stage with heartfelt accounts from many guide dog users who can speak with authority about the guide dog lifestyle which
pairs humans and canines in a relationship, unlike few others, that involves a 24-hour daily bond between dogs and their owners.
Then the handbook covers the whole process of deciding whether a guide
dog is the right choice for mobility and safety, choosing and applying to a
training program, learning to become a guide dog handler, returning home,
and spending the next several years bonding with a dog who is likely to
become an indispensable assistant and treasured companion.
Kim Kilpatrick relaxing on the floor with her guide dog Tulia
The manual outlines the indispensable support that an organization like GDUI can provide to guide dog users during times when their partnership can pose
uniquely stressful challenges, for example, when a guide dog team experiences denial of transit in a taxicab, or exclusion from a restaurant or other public
venue, when a treasured guide dog becomes ill or passes away, or when family or friends don’t understand how the team functions safely and independently.

5Kim and her guide dog Tulia
4087
GDUI encourages readers and members to share the handbook with family, friends, colleagues, blindness and disability advocacy organizations, and other
guide and service dog handlers. “A Handbook for the Prospective Guide Dog Handler” is available as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com, Smashwords,
and other online sellers. Visit this link for further information and to explore options for purchase:
http://www.dldbooks.com/GDUIHandbook/.
I live with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Here’s
which one you should pick++
Sure, you could chose a smart speaker based on sound or price. The go-to gadget gift of the season is available from Amazon, Apple and Google with better
acoustics, new touch screens and deep holiday discounts.
But you’re not just buying a talking jukebox. Alexa, Siri and Google
Assistant also want to adjust the thermostat, fill your picture frame or even
microwave your popcorn. Each artificial intelligence assistant has its own
ways of running a home. You’re choosing which tribe is yours.
Four people hanging out and dancing during a sunset.
I call it a tribe because each has a distinct culture — and demands loyalty. This decision will shape how you get information, what appliances you purchase,
where you shop and how you protect your privacy. One in 10 Americans plan to buy a smart speaker this year, according to the Consumer Technology Association.
And Amazon says its Echo Dot is the bestselling speaker, ever.
The last time we had to choose a tech tribe like this was when smartphones arrived. Did you go iPhone, Android, or cling to a BlackBerry? A decade later,
it’s increasingly hard to fathom switching between iPhone and Android. (A recent Match.com survey found iPhone and Android people don’t even like dating
one another.)
Now imagine how hard it will be to change
when you’ve literally wired stuff into your
walls.
Looking into a living room through an arch way at a blue armchair
In my test lab — I mean, living room — an Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod sit side by side, and the voice AIs battle it out to run my home like
genies in high-tech bottles. Here’s the shorthand I’ve learned: Alexa is for accessibility. Google Assistant is for brainpower. And Siri is for security.

Amazon’s aggressive expansion makes Alexa the one I recommend, and use, the most. Google’s Assistant is coming from behind, matching feature by feature
— and Siri, the original voice assistant, feels held back by Apple’s focus on privacy and its software shortcomings. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington
Post, but I review all tech with the same critical eye.)
Smart speakers are building the smart home that you never knew you needed. Inside the audio equipment, they’re home hub computers that work alongside smartphone
apps to connect and control disparate devices and services. Now with a speaker and the right connected gizmo, you can walk into a room and turn on the
lights without touching a button. Or control the TV without a remote. Amazon even sells an Alexa-operated microwave that cooks, tracks and reorders popcorn.

A modern lamp with a small house pant and decorative orb
But home assistants can also be Trojan horses for a specific set of devices and services that favour one company over another.
My buddy Matt recently asked me to help him
pick speakers and appliances for a big remodel.
He loves the Google Assistant on his Android phone, so selecting his tribe
should be easy, right? Hardly: He wanted to put Sonos speakers all around
the house, but they take voice commands directly via Alexa. (Sonos says
Google Assistant support is coming, though it’s been promising that for a
year.)
Figuring out which connected doodads are compatible can be like solving a 10,000-piece puzzle. The best smart home gadgets (like Lutron Caseta and Philips
Hue lights) work across all three tribes, but sometimes alliances and technical concerns make appliance makers take sides.
One man explaining something to a second man. Both are smiling and laughing.
Each AI has its limitations. They’re not all equally skilled at understanding accents — Southerners are misunderstood more with Google and Midwesterners
with Alexa. The price of ownership with some is letting a company surveil what goes on in your house. You can try, like me, to live with more than one,
but you’re left with a patchwork that won’t win you any favours with family.
How do you find your AI tribe? Here’s how I differentiate them.
Alexa
Supported smart home devices: Over 20,000.
Who loves it: Families who buy lots through Amazon and experiment with new gizmos.
The good: Alexa knows how to operate the most stuff, thanks to Amazon’s
superior deal making. The only connected things it can’t run in my house
are the app-operated garage door and some facets of my TV. Amazon also
has been successful at spawning new connected gadgets: Alexa’s voice
and microphone are built into more than 100 non-Amazon devices. And
Amazon recently announced plans to offer appliance makers a chip that lets
Alexa users voice command inexpensive everyday things, from wall plugs to
fans.
Alexa has also mastered some of the little details of home life. It will confirm a request to turn off the lights without repeating your command — super
helpful when someone nearby is napping.
An Amazon Echo Dot which is on and sitting on top of a pile of books
The bad: Alexa grows smarter by the week, but it can be a stickler about using specific syntax. It also has the weakest relationship with your phone, the
most important piece of technology for most people today. Amazon has bolstered a companion Alexa app for phones, making it better for communicating and
setting up smart home routines, but I still find it the most confusing of the lot.
Amazon doesn’t always show the highest concern for our privacy. This spring, when Alexa inadvertently recorded a family’s private conversations and sent
it to a contact, Amazon’s response boiled down to ‘whoopsie.’ And it records and keeps every conversation you have with the AI — including every bag of
popcorn it microwaves. (Amazon says it doesn’t use our queries to sell us stuff beyond making recommendations based on song and product searches).
Some love Alexa’s ability to order products by voice. But as long as Alexa runs your house, you’ll always be stuck buying those goods from Amazon. (That
microwave will only ever order popcorn from Amazon.) The coming generation of appliances built with the Alexa chip inside could similarly trap you forever
into Amazon-land.
Google Assistant
Supported smart home devices: Over 10,000.
Who loves it: People who are deep into Google’s services.
The good: Google Assistant comes the closest to having a conversation with an actual human helper. You don’t have to use exact language to make things
happen or get useful answers. Its intelligence can also be delightfully personal: It’s pretty good at differentiating the voices of family members. And
on the new Home Hub device with a screen, Assistant curates a highlights-only show from your Google Photos collection.
While Android phone owners are more likely to use lots of Assistant-friendly Google services, the Assistant doesn’t particularly care what kind of phone
you use — its simple companion apps work on iOS and Android.
A coral coloured Google home mini on a grey desk
And Google is neck and neck with Alexa on many of the nuances: Night mode reduces the volume of answers at night, and it can even require Junior to say
“pretty please.”
The bad: As a relative newcomer to the smart home, Google has been catching up fast. But in my house, it still can’t fully control my Ring doorbell or
send music to my Sonos speakers. And I’m not convinced that Google has Amazon’s negotiating sway, or the influence to bring the next generation of connected
things online.
The bigger problem is privacy. Google’s endgame is always getting you to
spend more time with its services, so it can gather more data to target ads
at you. Like Alexa, Google Assistant keeps a recording of all your queries —
every time you ask it to turn off the lights. Google treats this kind of like your
Web search history, and uses it to target ads elsewhere. (Thankfully, It still
keeps data from its Nest thermostat and home security division separate.)
The potential upside is that when Google discovers your habits in all that data, it might be able to better automate your home — like what time all the
lights should be off.
Siri
Supported smart home devices: Hundreds.
Who loves it: Privacy buffs and all-Apple households.
The good: Apple means business on security and privacy. Any device that wants to connect to HomeKit, its smart home software that works with Siri on the
HomePod and iPhone, requires special encryption.
An Apple HomePod sitting on a table
What’s more, your data is not attached to a personal profile, which aside from protecting your privacy also means that Apple is not using your home activity
to sell or advertise things. (While other smart speakers keep recordings and transcriptions of what you say, Siri controls devices by making a request
to its system through a random identifier, which cannot be tied to a specific user.)
And Apple is pretty good at keeping the smart home simple. Setting up a smart home device is mostly just scanning a special code. Even creating routines,
in which multiple accessories work in combination with a single command, is easier in the Siri’s companion Home app than with competitors.
The bad: You have to live in an all-Apple device world to reap these
benefits. Siri’s a pretty good DJ, but only if you subscribe to Apple Music.
You’re stuck with the HomePod as the one-size-fits-all smart speaker, and
Siri still isn’t as competent as her AI competitors.
And Apple’s security-first approach has kept too many appliance makers from joining its ecosystem. Sure, it’s quality not quantity, but Siri still can’t
interact with my Nest thermostat or Ring doorbell, just to name two. Apple did recently loosen up a tad: starting with Belkin Wemo’s Mini Smart Plug and
Dimmer, it no longer requires special hardware for authentication — that can now happen via software. The move should make it simpler to make new products

Siri compatible, and allow it access to existing ones.
By Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Washington Post
An elephant standing among grass.
REMINDERS
DON’T FORGET DONATIONS!++
Donations Received in the office in 2018 are the only ones that can be receipted for 2018. Remember to send those donations now if you want receipts for
the current year.
Membership Madness++
Hi Everyone! Becky from the office here. All chapters should have received their membership packages. The rebate time has passed, but there is still time
to get your chapters membership in for 2019!
All 2019 Memberships Due – December 28, 2018
WCW Orders and Insurance Requests Due – January 4, 2019
5969
http://www.ccbnational.net
1-877-304-0968
ccb@ccbnational.net

Message from CCB President: Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

News release

December 3, 2018         Ottawa, Ontario                   Employment and Social Development Canada

The Government of Canada is working to create a truly accessible Canada. Today, as part of these efforts, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, along with the ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Canadian Heritage, announced that, with the support of all provinces and territories, Canada has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Accession to the Optional Protocol means that Canadians will have additional recourse to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated.

Along with the proposed Accessible Canada Act, which was recently adopted by the House of Commons and is now before the Senate, today’s announcement shows that the Government of Canada is taking another step towards creating a barrier-free Canada.

Recently released data from Statistics Canada reinforce the importance of a more inclusive and accessible Canada. The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities shows that the prevalence of disabilities among Canadians is greater than many realize, with 22% of Canadians identifying as having a disability. The new data will be used by the federal government to help build a more inclusive society that benefits all people in Canada – especially persons with disabilities – through the realization of a Canada without barriers.

Quotes

“Over the last year, our government has taken important steps to help realize a barrier-free Canada. Today, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we celebrate those accomplishments and look towards the future of accessibility in Canada with optimism. Canada’s accession to the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities builds on our work and sends a clear message that we are committed to the rights of persons with disabilities and committed to giving all Canadians a fair chance at success.”
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility

“Canada joining this UN convention is about protecting and promoting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. As a country, we need to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities and enjoys the same rights. Today is a step forward to making that goal a reality.”
– The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I am proud that the Government of Canada is taking this step to advance the rights of persons with disabilities. Enabling the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to consider complaints of violations of rights under the Convention is an important way to strengthen and protect the human rights of Canadians with disabilities.”
– The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“Promoting and advancing human rights for everyone is a fundamental part of our Canadian identity. It is important that federal, provincial and territorial governments continue to work together to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities. I am proud of the intergovernmental consultation held in support of Canada’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and I look forward to driving further change.”
The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism

“This announcement regarding the Optional Protocol, along with this government’s intention to pass the proposed Accessible Canada Act, sends a strong message to Canadians with and without disabilities that this government truly believes in inclusion and equality for all. This is one positive step to ensuring that Canadians with intellectual disabilities have their voices heard and that we are one step closer to ensuring we are not the left behind of the left behind.”
–  Kory Earle, President, People First of Canada

Quick facts

The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) is an international human rights instrument that requires State Parties to the Convention to promote, protect and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. Canada ratified the Convention in 2010.

The Optional Protocol establishes two procedures. The first is a complaint procedure that allows individuals and groups to take complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the case of an alleged violation of their rights under the Convention. The second is an inquiry procedure that allows the Committee to inquire into allegations of grave or systematic violations of the Convention by a State Party.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention by States Parties.

As of November 2018, there are 177 States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with 93 States Parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

Under Bill C-81, approximately $290 million over six years would serve to further the objectives of the proposed legislation.

One in five people—22 percent of the Canadian population aged 15 years and over, or about 6.2 million individuals—had one or more disabilities, according to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities.

The survey also reports that people with severe disabilities aged 25 to 64 years are more likely to be living in poverty than their counterparts without disabilities (17 percent) or with milder disabilities (23 percent).

Related products

Associated links

Contacts

Ashley Michnowski
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough
819-997-5421
ashley.michnowski@canada.ca

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
Follow us on Twitter

 

Louise

 

Louise Gillis

National President

The Canadian Council of the Blind

20 James St. Suite 100

Ottawa, ON. K2P 0T6

1-877-3040968

613-567-0311

(902)304-1276

ccbpresident@ccbnational.net

www.ccbnational.net

 

 

CCB National Newsletter, Visions, September 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

VISIONS

Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 2018

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

President’s Message++

1Louise Gillis – CCB National President

I hope that all have had a great summer with lots of sunshine, activities with families and friends and now fired up to begin the fall season of CCB activities. I am aware that there have been many wild fires in several provinces and hoping no one has been affected.

 

As noted in the newsletter below we are all very saddened on the untimely passing of Michelle Anfinson. Michelle will be missed greatly by her family and friends in Regina and also by the many curlers she has assisted over the years at all the curling championship events that Team Saskatchewan attended. Our condolences to all her family at this difficult time.

 

Over the summer members of our committees have continued to do some work. In regard to advocacy we have been asked by CNIB to provide input on Wednesday, September 19, they have extended an invitation to our members to participate in a teleconference call hosted by CNIB. The most important items are – Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Non-Signalized Pedestrian Crossings. Contact Lui Greco, National Manager of Advocacy CNIB: lui.greco@cnib.ca. See more info in this newsletter.

 

Also, it is time to talk to your local Members of Parliament to ensure Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada passes through the legislature this fall keeping in mind any thoughts you may have for improvement to the act into the future.

 

As we realize that making Point of Sale (POS) devices more fully accessible does not exist alone within any one sector of either the disability community or the financial/payment services industry. Therefore it is necessary to do this collaboratively by bringig together payment processors, banks, stakeholders from within the disability community to move this initiative forward. This is a process that we are working on with other disability organizations.

 

A letter has been sent on behalf of CCB to The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, Government of Canada regarding the recent news on Greyhound services. This service affects all of Canada and is very important to our community.

 

The Bylaws committee continued to meet over the summer and will increase meeting times during the fall season. Also, the membership committee will be in full force in September.

 

It is now time to be thinking of what our chapters will be planning for 2019 in celebration of our 75th anniversary. CCB is becoming a more active organization in the prevention of blindness as well as developing programs for those of us with vision loss so we have lots to celebrate.

 

Enjoy this edition of Visions.

Louise Gillis, National President.

 

 

 

 

Announcements

 

CCB HEATH & FITNESS++

September Challenge!

 

After a successful 150 challenge in July, where we focused on getting everyone a bit more aware of how much activity they are doing…we want to launch our September Challenge.

 

Being healthy is a balance of many factors, being active, living as stress free as possible and being mindful of what we are eating.

 

For September we would love you to join our challenge and take part in “mindful eating”.  We don’t want you to count calories but what we do want you to try and do, is to write down what you eat on a daily basis.

 

Keep a list on your phone, on the fridge, wherever is easy and convenient.  The goal is to take an honest look at what we eat/drink on a daily basis.

 

Don’t judge yourself too harshly if you see a trend of maybe a bit of unhealthy eating, but rather use it as a motivator to introduce healthier choices.

 

If you already eat well, great, keep it rolling!

 

How do you know if you are eating well?

Best to keep tabs on our podcast, Facebook and Youtube channels and subscribe to our email list.  Here we will continue the discussion and give tips/ideas on best ways to eat more mindfully.

 

See below on ways to keep track of all we do!

 

HOW ARE WE DOING AFTER 1 YEAR?!!

CCB Health & Fitness is turning 1 year old!  Roughly a year ago we transitioned from our successful local Trust Your Buddy Program, over to our Nationally reaching health & fitness education program.

We want to get your opinion and thoughts on where we are now and what we can do better!

 

Some questions to consider and provide your feedback on:

  1. a) Have you learned anything in the past year?
  2. b) Do you find it easy to follow us and consume all the content we are putting out there?
  3. c) How do you best keep track of us? Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Podcast, Email list, Blog, Newsletter?
  4. d) What would you like to see Health & Fitness do either Nationally, Provincially, Locally, on an Individual basis or with chapters?

 

We NEED YOUR HELP!  In order to grow and to serve the CCB membership better, we want your honest feedback.

Ryan is excited for open, honest feedback….don’t worry you won’t hurt his feelings!

 

Simply email Ryan and let us know how the program has affected you, how you would like to see it grow AND any other programming you’d like to see us take on?

 

Do you need more info on general topics? Things like employment, travel, general coping skills, socialization, or life skills?   Perhaps we can incorporate this if the feedback shows a need.

The CCB is here to help you live your best life….so let us know how we can do better.

 

Thanks in advance!!

All the contact info is below.

RYAN VAN PRAET (R. Kin)

CCB Health & Fitness

National Program Manager & Coach

ccb.healthandfitness@gmail.com <mailto:ccb.healthandfitness@gmail.com>

226-627-2179

 

 

Go to our page: https://ccbhealthandfitness.wordpress.com

to find links to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Podcast & Email Chat List

 

Get Together with Technology (GTT) Victoria++

A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

in Partnership with The Greater Victoria Public Library

 

Theme: Tom’s NFB Tech Round-up – Accessible Voting in the Fall

 

Date: September 5, 2018

Time: 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Where: Community Room, GVPL, Main Branch 735 Broughton St

 

First Hour:

Tom Dekker will give us 2 or 3 wonderful technology nuggets he picked-up/learned at the NFB Convention in July, then we’ll discuss the accessibility of the upcoming fall referendum on Proportional Representation and the Province-wide Civic Elections.

 

Second Hour:

During the second hour Corry Stuive, Albert Ruel and Tom Dekker will lead the group in discussion on any other assistive tech topic participants want to raise.  Please bring to the meeting all your other assistive technology questions, nuggets and frustrations for discussion with the group.

 

For More Information:

Contact Albert Ruel at 250-240-2343, or email us at GTT.Victoria@Gmail.com

 

 

News from the Hill++:

We at CCB are very pleased to see Minister Carla Qualtrough be appointed to the accessibility portfolio. The appointment of Minister Qualtrough to this portfolio bodes well for the country. Accessibility is a top priority not only for individual provinces but for the country as a whole. Congratulations!

 

 

 

 

 

Golfing for the Blind++

Our very own British Columbia Blind Golfer from Langley, B.C., George Thirkill, Won the Overall championship at the Western Canadian Blind Golf Championships in Winnipeg the week of July 9th to 12th. There were 21 players from all over Canada.

The championship consisted of 2 rounds Stableford matches with 4 divisions.

B1 –B2 – B3 & Seniors. The weather was some sun with winds on both days and some rain. The course was very challenging for a Blind golfer, but they managed to get some assistance from their guides on some of the tricky holes.  By the way, I was George’s Coach and guide.   George shot a 91 on the first day and a score of 85 on the second day, due to some excellent putting to win by 2 strokes.  The junior winner B3, Keifer Jones, 24yrs old from Calgary, shot a 75 & 76 to take the Junior division. Keifer is the top blind golfer in the world.  George represents Blind Golf

2Gerry Nelson, George Thrikill, and Darren Douma

British Columbia and at age 79 is the Top senior golfer in the world.  George along with our other top golfer from B.C., Darren Douma (member of the CCB VIBE Creston Chapter), from Creston, will be heading to Rome, Italy this year to compete in the World Blind matches and Team play competition representing Canada.

 

Gerry Nelson, President of Blind Golf Canada, said we are always looking for people that are visually impaired or Blind, or Disabled to come out and learn how to golf.  We have a Blind Training facility at the National Golf Academy in Langley at the Tall Timbers Golf Course and we can be reached at Nitrogolf@shaw.ca.  There is No Cost for the blind or disabled.

 

 

Chapter News++:

Members and friends of the Pembroke White Cane Club gather to celebrate two important birthdays.

 

The Pembroke CCB White Cane Club held a Birthday Party for two of our senior members on August 15th at a popular local bake shop. The two guests of honour were George Foss, who will celebrate his 95th Birthday in September, and Marion Jackson, who turned a young 93 on the 15th of August. Both are active members of our club providing wisdom mixed with humour to the group.     Of course there was a very yummy cake served up with a choice of beverage.

 

Lots of laughs with numerous photos taken, including this group shot.

As we all departed we all agreed that we should do this more often.

A big thank you to the staff at the bake shop.

3Members of the CCB Pembroke White Cane Club

Submitted by Gerry Frketich on behalf of the CCB Pembroke White Cane Club.

 

 

In Memory++:

On the morning of August 10, 2018 Michell Anfinson lost her fight with cancer, at the age of 46.  Michelle was very active in the CCB Regina Chapter, the Saskatchewan Team for the CVICC, and the Western Bonspiels.

She will be missed, and our thoughts are with Marv and the rest of their family.

 

Assistive Technology

 

Demo of Accessible Audible Traffic Signal in Peterborough Ontario++:

 

Devon Wilkins interviewed a CNIB/Vision Rehabilitation Ontario Orientation and Mobility Specialist as they demonstrate the use of an accessible Peterborough intersection. Wach here: https. //www.dropbox.com/s/s966rq25bwdxfm1/Audible%20Traffic%20Signals.mp3?dl=0

 

CCB Tech Articles, Donna’s Low Tech Tips: Cleaning & laundry++:

 

Today, I’d like to talk about cleaning & laundry.

 

Wear an apron with large pockets when cleaning. The pockets may be used to hold cleaning materials such as a dust cloth and polish, or may be used to hold small items you pick up along the way and plan to return to their original storage places.  Likewise, put cleaning materials in a basket or bucket and carry it around the house with you so all materials will be handy as needed.

 

Avoid spot cleaning!  Clean the whole surface to ensure no spots are missed.  When cleaning counters, start at one end and work to the other in overlapping strips.  Use your free hand to check areas just cleaned for extra stubborn spots.  Also work in overlapping strips when dusting, vacuuming, washing floors, etc.  In large areas, you may find it helpful to divide the surface into sections such as halves or quarters, with overlapping boundaries.  Use pieces of furniture (for example, a chair in the middle of the kitchen floor), or use permanent fixtures to mark the boundaries of each section you are cleaning.

Transfer liquid cleaners into containers with pumps for easy use.

Containers can be filled with a funnel.  Remember that flat-sided bottles upset easily.

 

To fill a steam iron use a turkey baster, a funnel, or a squirt bottle.

 

Safety pins or Sock Tuckers (available in department stores) can be used to keep socks in pairs during washing and drying.  Some people find it helpful to buy socks in different colors, patterns or textures for sorting purposes.

 

Wash small items in a pillow case or small mesh laundry bag to keep them from getting lost.

 

To measure laundry detergent use the scoop provided. Avoid pouring directly from the box.

 

 

 

 

                Advocacy

 

 

 

Let’s Get It Out There++:

Tele Town Hall Committee Consultations

 

The goal of the “Let’s Get It Out There” project was to take a holistic view of issues around advocacy, respect and working more closely together. Although there have been previous efforts at coalition building, this was an opportunity through a Tele Town Hall consultation process to receive feedback and suggestions at a grass roots level.  See the Tele Town Hall Committee Mission Statement appended to this report.

 

In Canada, our history of people who are blind, partially sighted and deafblind working together is not that different from other countries. The main thing that makes Canada different is the small population spread over a vast distance that makes ongoing collaboration and communications difficult. When looking at advocacy, we have many different organizations and individuals working on issues sometimes together, but very often in isolation not knowing or trusting what each other is doing. Even today with more communications options available, because of accessibility issues of some current technology and the lack of assistive technology training, many times we are not aware of what each other are doing.

 

Although this discussion was meant to cover all ages, economics and other demographics, no effort was put into ensuring that all were adequately represented.  To recruit participants the communications avenues employed were through discussion mailing lists, Facebook Groups, Twitter feeds and newsletters known by the committee members and the organizations they interact with.  In short, we relied on word of mouth to promote the Tele Town Hall meetings, and by copying representatives of the blindness, low vision and deafblind organizations on our radar it was hoped that news of this initiative would be circulated to their respective networks.  It was noted that the first meeting had the largest number of participants, with numbers decreasing as we moved into the final two gatherings.

 

This report looks at the discussion that occurred during each of the town hall meetings and attempts to put forward some suggestions and challenges to individuals and organizations working in the sector and what that might look like. It should be noted that even though the role of service providers like CNIB was not the main goal of this discussion, it does factor into the ongoing relationships between people and organizations representing people who are blind, partially sighted and deafblind.

 

Here is a link to download the final report in MS Word format.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/v7pb3krn6lxzhks/Tele%20Town%2Hall%20Final%20Report%20Protected%202018Aug17.docx?dl=0

 

 

 

 

 

Pedestrian Crossings and Accessibility++:

The emergence of new traffic signaling devices at a growing number of intersections are creating concern for pedestrians with sight loss. When is it safe to begin a crossing, how will marked cross walks be delineated and will drivers know how to respond to new signaling mechanisms?

In recent months, CNIB has witnessed a growing number of requests for advocacy support to address concerns regarding these new or different devices.

 

Clearing our Path, online since 2016, has been CNIB’s go to resource on accessible environments since it was first published in 1999. The guidelines under review for this project can be found at:

http://www.clearingourpath.ca/4.2.0-street-crossings_e.php

 

This section of Clearing Our path contains guidelines on:

  1. Curb Ramps and Depressed Curbs
  2. Islands
  3. Raised Pedestrian Crossings

*4.    **Accessible Pedestrian Signals*

  1. Roundabouts

*6.    **Non-Signalized Pedestrian Crossings*

 

*Of these, items 4 and 6 will be the primary focus of this initiative.*

 

Request for input

A working group has been struck to consider these as well as other issues surrounding accessible pedestrian signals and intersection design.

 

On Wednesday, September 19, we would like to extend an invitation to your members to participate in a teleconference call hosted by CNIB.

 

The questions we would like to have feedback for include:

  1. What are some of the new intersection and mid-block crossings tactics, structures, or devices being adopted in your area at either controlled or non-controlled intersections?

 

  1. What are any accessibility challenges posed by these tactics, structures or devices?

 

  1. What recommendations would you have that would better ensure accessibility and safety for pedestrians who are blind, deafblind or who have sight loss;

 

  1. Any additional information you wish to share relevant to Audible Pedestrian Signals, pedestrian intersections and mid-block crossings?

 

Comments from this conversation will be collected and reviewed by a national working group and any comments for change will be reflected in the sections of clearing our path sited above.

Alternatively, any written comments or suggestions would also be appreciated. These should be sent to lui.greco@cnib.ca no later than September 28.

Submitted by Lui Greco, National Manager of Advocacy

CNIB

 

 

 

Visually-impaired Victorians need design change to life-threatening bike lanes++:

 

Support our BC Human Rights case to insist that the City change its ill-conceived, life-threatening design of floating bus stops, such as along Pandora Street, that require transit users to cross a separated bike lane to get on or off buses in Victoria, BC.

 

The blind/ visually impaired have already experienced several serious incidents in Victoria (ones we know of) while crossing bike lanes. Imagine the sudden whiz of a bike past you and your guide dog’s nose or tires screeching in front of you as you step out to cross a bike lane.

 

No one wants to see the inevitable–a crash causing bodily injuries or death as a result of the City not changing this dangerous inaccessible design. Imagine your sense of confidence shaken by uncertainty and fear, knowing you cannot hear oncoming bikes as you step out to cross a bike lane. It’s Russian Roulette.

 

People ask: What’s the difference between crossing a bike lane versus crossing a street as a blind or visually-impaired person? We cross city street intersections all the time by listening to traffic flow and pedestrian signals. Vehicle traffic on roads can be heard. Bikes, on the other hand, are silent, stealthily silent, so you cannot judge when it’s safe to cross a bike lane.

 

For more information on this initiative, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/cfb-bike-lanes

 

 

In the News

 

How Running Can Help Protect Your Eyesight++:

 

Find out how many miles a week you should log to reap the benefits.

 

Your heart isn’t the only organ that can benefit from regular running: The more fit and active you are, the less likely you are to develop glaucoma, a serious eye disease that can damage your optic nerve and even lead to blindness, new research set to be published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise finds.

 

In the study researchers analyzed data from more than 9,500 people between ages 40 and 81 enrolled in a long-term study at the famous Cooper Clinic in Dallas. The researchers compared the subjects’ aerobic fitness (measured by treadmill tests) and weekly amount of exercise (reported by the subjects) to how many of them developed incident glaucoma during a nearly six-year follow-up period. The researchers specifically looked at incident glaucoma, the more common form of the condition, rather than traumatic glaucoma, which is caused by direct injury to the eye.

 

The researchers found that those who were the most active and the fittest had only half the risk of developing glaucoma as the least-active, less-fit group. Running 10 miles per week at a 10-minute mile pace would be enough to rank in the study’s fittest, most-active category.

 

This isn’t the first time scientists discovered a vision benefit to running.

This new research builds on a study published in 2009. In that study, which involved only runners, those with the highest mileage and best 10K times had the lowest rate of glaucoma, compared to lower-mileage and/or slower runners. The new study strengthens the pro-running evidence by including sedentary people as well as casual exercisers who are less active and fit than runners, and by showing that modest mileage appears to bring significant eye-health benefits.

So why might running lower your risk for glaucoma?

As the new study states, “intraocular pressure is the primary modifiable risk factor for glaucoma.” When pressure in your eye is too high, it can damage the optic nerve in your eye, potentially leading to glaucoma.

 

Other studies have found that a single workout reduces intraocular pressure, which the reduction is greater following more intense workouts, and that higher levels of fitness are associated with lower underlying intraocular pressure. Taken together, these findings suggest that exercise that’s frequent and intense enough to boost fitness, such as regular running, should lower intraocular pressure enough to make a significant difference.

 

And the glaucoma reduction might not be the only eye-related benefit to

running: Separate research by the 2009 study authors found that the more people ran, the less likely they were to develop cataracts during a six-year follow-up period.

 

Although few people probably take up running to help their eyes, you have to love research like this that shows just how profoundly regular running improves nearly all aspects of your health.

By Scott Douglas

 

On-line Training++:

Please find info below about some free online training courses coming in the next couple of months.  Explanations and descriptions are below.  Matt’s email is at the bottom of the message.

 

Hi everyone, first off, please share this with others, as I’ll explain later on in the message. Many of you may remember, or may have taken, the iPad training course I offered this past spring. I was really humbled and appreciative of all the positive feedback from that course, and I felt that the response to it was overwhelming.

 

I’m now excited to announce that I will be offering more free training courses for 2018-19 training season.

 

First off, I’ll be offering four major courses over the next year. They are as follows:

 

Replacing Your Traditional TV with Apple TV: four sessions, one session per week, beginning Tuesday, October 2, 2018

 

Living the Connected Digital Life: Four sessions, one session per week, beginning Tuesday, October 30, 2018

 

Learn Voiceover In and Out: eight sessions, two per week, beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019

 

Learning Voiceover In and Out, Section B: Eight Sessions, two per week, beginning Tuesday, February 19, 2019

 

IPad for All Computing: 12 Sessions, two per week, beginning Tuesday, April 16, 2019

 

The courses which have two days per week will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All courses will be held in the afternoon, with exact start times to be decided. Plan on somewhere around 2PM or 2:30 PM Eastern.

Sessions will last for two hours.

 

As with prior courses, each course is completely free and is available to everyone, sighted and non-sighted alike. As before, courses will be held in Zoom, with an accompanying set of materials, offered as iTunes U courses, with the exception of the Apple TV and Connected Digital Life courses, which will require only small handouts rather than complete iTunes U courses.

 

I’ll provide descriptions of each course below. What I’d love is if people would start sharing this with your friends, family, co-workers, etc, and on any other relevant lists you may belong to.

Additionally, please let me know which courses interest you.

 

The Apple TV course was sort of requested by several participants in this year’s iPad course. It will be designed to offer participants an overview of what the Apple TV can do and how to use it. We will then get into various options for making the Apple TV your complete living room device, cutting the cord, streaming, etc. what about local channels? How about sports? What does it cost? How many people can watch at the same time?

On and on. We’ll answer all the questions we can, with a particular emphasis on Voiceover use as well. You do not need to own an Apple TV to benefit from this course. Even if you are just mildly interested in it and want to explore what’s out there, we’d love for you to join.

 

The Connected Digital Life will explore in-depth how to make all your devices work for you no matter where you are. We will spend lots of time on all the iCloud features and services, such as iCloud Photo Library, iTunes in the CLoud, iCloud Drive, and many more. We’ll discuss iCloud Keychain for password and credit card autofill, Apple Pay, continuity, multiple devices together, HomeKit and home automation devices, and much more. Anyone with an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV, Apple Watch, HomePod, Mac, or any combination of these devices should benefit from this course.

 

The Voiceover In and Out course is something I believe many are looking for. You’ll notice I’m offering two sections. This is because I intentionally want to keep enrollment small and look at the students to best tailor the course to individual needs. This will be perfect for anyone who has never used an Apple device and wants to learn about it, or anyone who has just gotten their first Apple device. Additionally, those who have been using Apple products for years but want further Voiceover help will also benefit. Finally, if you struggle with certain gestures, fingering, or just want advance tips and tricks, this course is for you as well. Note that as of right now, this course will primarily focus on Apple iOS including iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, TVOS, Watch OS, and HomePod. Though we wil indeed explore keyboard commands and Braille displays, our primary mode of using these devices will be gestures. My most recent certifications are on the iOS side of things, and that’s what I use, so I’d prefer to not do Mac OS for now.

 

Finally, for the iPad course. You’ll notice I’ve renamed it. You’ll also notice that it’s longer than the one we did this past spring – 12 sessions instead of 8. This is because I really want to go deeper. We will be spending minimal time on learning Voiceover. If you want that, choose both this iPad course as well as the Voiceover course. In this course, we’ll do what we did last time, except much more involved. Instead of just talking for a short time about Messages, we’ll practice sending and receiving messages, use screen effects and iMessage apps, attach photos, record audio messages, and more. Instead of just discussing the calendar, we’ll create test events, modify events, use features like travel time, shared calendars, and much more. We’ll actually create short movies in Apple Clips, view a Keynote presentation together, and we will spend one whole session on file management and two entire sessions on nothing but Pages.

 

This course is for everyone, though having an iPad is strongly suggested, though you will be able to complete most of the course on your phone. We will have a prerequisite this time though – a strong familiarity with Voiceover. If you do not feel comfortable with Voiceover but would like to take this course, just also take the Voiceover In and Out course, and you’ll be fine. Even if you took the 2018 iPad course, you may wish to take the 2019 one, as it will as I’ve stated, go much deeper.

 

Again, please contact me with any questions, and please let me know which courses you’d like to take, and please share. Even though some of these are quite a ways off in the calendar yet, please start letting me know what you’d like, because creating course materials and course structure will be much better the more time I have. Shortly I will respond to those who have actually chosen specific courses, and I’ll keep in touch with you from now through the start of the courses. Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing from you. Take care.

I can be reached at m.jvollbrecht@comcast.net

 

REMINDERS

 

Hi Everyone!  Becky from the office here.  Membership season is here!  Here are the important dates that are listed in the package.

 

Early Bird Draw – November 2, 2018

Chapter Rebate Deadline – December 7, 2018

All 2019 Memberships Due – December 28, 2018

White Cane Week Orders Due – January 4, 2019

WCW Insurance Requests Due – January 4, 2019

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

 

DON’T FORGET!

Donations Received in the office in 2018 are the only ones that can be receipted for 2018.  Remember to send those donations if for your receipts.

 

 

 

www.ccbnational.net                 1-877-304-0968

ccb@ccbnational.net

CCB National Newsletter: January 2018

 

 

 

 

CCB National Newsletter January 2018

Happy New Year from CCB!

 

Announcements

President’s Message ++

“Happy New Year to all”

 

As we begin 2018 chapters across the country are busily preparing for White Cane Week. I hope that stormy weather will not cause any disruptions in plans for special events.

 

CCB will continue our working relationships with organizations of and for the blind as well as other disability groups so that we can help in the prevention of blindness and improve the quality of the lives of individuals already experiencing vision loss so they can lead a comfortable and productive lifestyle. Working together with other groups such as (but not limited too) CELA, IFA, BMC, and CTA we are better able to get a voice to make a difference for everyone. We will continue to send support letters for a variety of Patient Groups in their efforts because many of the particular diseases they represent are diseases that our members often re battling as well as blindness so it helps the common good for all.

An example would be a letter of support for when Cannabis becomes legalized latter this year there will be a tax all products. This can be an added burden for those who will be using it through prescriptions for medical reasons, other prescription drugs are not taxable could prevent people who really need this type of pain relief to not be able to afford the prescription. While this can be a controversial issue it CCB is supporting the proper medical use of cannabis only not the recreational usage.

In February, expect to see a new look to our monthly newsletter. We hope to reach a larger population and hence increase membership.

 

A special Thank You to all our sponsors and donors throughout the year for aiding in promoting our programs and making it possible for more persons with vision loss to enjoy using these programs as well.

 

Keep well through the coming year and check out our CCB Health and Fitness program.

Louise Gillis, National President

 

White Cane Week 2018++

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!

 

 

A Proclamation from British Columbia++

Thanks to the hard work of the Canadian Council of the Blind members in the British Columbia/Yukon Division the province of British Columbia has proclaimed that February 4 to 10, 2018 shall be known as White Cane Week.

 

 

 

CCB Blind Sports Nova Scotia Chapter Update – December, 2017++:

*Tandem Bike Club *

With excellent cycling weather, the Tandem Bike Club saw a high level of participation! Plenty of individuals loaned tandem bikes throughout the summer and well into October.

New stokers (riders with vision loss) rode with us, we trained new volunteer pilots and returning volunteers who were keen to help us make cycling accessible in Halifax & surrounding areas.

 

We had a blast getting out for a number of group bike rides, including a few rides over 40 kilometres from Halifax to the Bike and Bean restaurant in Tantallon and back.

 

Sighted cyclists, family & friends, also joined for the fun & outdoor exercise, and we made new friends on the trails.

 

*Running, Walking, & Guide Bunnies *

At least 10 runners & walkers with vision loss participated in events at the 13th Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon. The Blue Nose also serves as one of our chapter’s main fund raising events each year.

 

Stephanie Berry, a CCB Blind Sports NS member raced her first half-marathon at this year’s Army Run in Ottawa. She placed 2nd in the visually impaired category – Congratulations!

 

Jennie Bovard, CCB Blind Sports NS member & Communications Director and CCB NS Division Advocacy Officer, took on 5 races this season, with highlights including 6th in her division (of 60) at the Navy 5 kilometre race and 19th (of 117) in her division at the Legs for Literacy 10 kilometre road race.

 

We’re extremely grateful to the Guide Bunnies, a sub-group of the White Rabbit Pacing non-profit, whose guide runners have made it possible for Nova Scotians with vision loss to participate in races alongside sighted peers & achieve new milestones. We can’t wait for next season! Check guidebunnies.wixsite.com or email pacebunnies@gmail.com to learn more about them.

 

*Goalball’s Back*

We’re elated to witness such growth in the sport of goalball throughout Nova Scotia!

 

The goalball season may have just begun, but we’ve never stopped holding demonstrations for at schools, universities, and community events. Through these event’s, we’ve grown awareness & participation, and inspired our sighted peers to join on the level playing field that is the goalball court.

 

*Weekly goalball programs are up & running: *

– Junior goalball programs in New Minas, Antigonish, and Halifax

– APSEA youth goalball

– Recreational goalball (all ages, all levels, co-ed) in Halifax

– Junior goalball in Halifax

– Senior men & women’s goalball in Halifax

 

*3rd Annual Nova Scotia Open Goalball Tournament:*

Thanks to the support & dedication of donors, volunteers, coaches, officials, athletes, and our community, we hosted another successful international tournament in Halifax, the only event of its kind in Atlantic Canada!

 

Elite and developing athletes from the USA and Canada went head to head in a well-attended, live streamed, event that saw great competition and even media attention.

 

*Here’s how the standings shook out*

1 Turnstone (USA)

2 California Crown

3 Nova Scotia

4 Quebec

5 Ontario All Black

6 Atlantic Ship Recs

 

*Coming up…*

*Give Spinning a Spin*

With cycling season over, the Tandem Bike Club offers a free introductory indoor spin class for anyone with vision loss. A great way to stay active during the winter months, the event will take place Sunday, December 17th and will be hosted by long-time volunteer tandem bike pilot, Jim.

 

*18th Montreal Goalball Tournament *

January 26th to 28th, 2018, the Nova Scotia men’s goalball team will compete alongside athletes from across North America.

 

Assistive Technology

Tech Article: Apps That Assist Beginners with Learning Voice over Gestures++:

Here are some recommendations for apps that might help new iPhone users learn the iPhone gestures.

 

These are four apps I think are helpful in learning the VoiceOver gestures of the iPhone.  They are all free, I think.

 

The Blindfold Bop one is free, however limited in how many times you can use it, so I purchased it for about $6 which allows me unlimited use of the app.

 

Below I have provided a link to the entire list of iFocus MP3 files in my Dropbox folder.  It is a Zipped file that you can download to your computer.

 

  1. VO Starter, is an app that is text based and explains the Voice Over gestures well in a well organized fashion. It’s a great manual for learning what’s possible.
  2. Blindfold Bop, is a game based tutorial that gets you to practice gestures with ever increasing speeds and complexity.
  3. VO Tutorial, is an app that works the user through several games requiring that gestures be performed in order to work through the game. It’s great for beginners.
  4. VO Lab, I found this one less helpful as it gets the user to turn off VO and use a self-voicing voice. It might be too confusing for beginners. I don’t like it, but it’s possible that others will learn from it so I included it.

 

Of course, VO Calendar is a great way to use the Calendar with an accessible and usable overlay on the native on board Calendar app.

 

iFocus MP3 Zipped File (nearly 3GB):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/nytxnwzs544p4on/ifocus%20MP3%20Files.zip?dl=1

By Albert Ruel, GTT West Coordinator

 

Some Tips to help better Utilize the Safari Web browser++:

Safari for iPhone and iPad is an incredibly capable mobile web browser despite its simple, straightforward user interface. It is the browser of choice on iOS, in large part because it is the one pre-installed, but very few people know everything you can do with Safari.

 

Much of Safari’s advanced functionality is hidden behind “long-pres gestures” that most people do not know exist.

 

Long press on the Bookmarks button

On Safari for iPhone and iPad, the normal way to add a bookmark for a webpage is to press the Share toolbar button and scroll through the activity pop-up to select the Add Bookmark option. Using a long-press, you can do the same thing more quickly.

 

Long-press on the Bookmarks button (which tapping on normally takes you to view your bookmarks) and a new action menu appears. The modal features options to Add Bookmark or Add to Reading List. Saving to Reading List is immediate, whilst tapping the bookmark option will open the usual options view to confirm the name and Favorites folder location.

 

In the News

Engineers are helping the blind ‘see’ fireworks++:

It is almost that time of the year again, the moment that sees out the old and welcomes in the new, on New Year’s Eve. In the seconds that take 23:59 in 2017 to 00:00 in 2018, bursts of fiery light will appear in the night skies around the world as displays of fireworks are triggered.

 

Some of the world’s grandest fireworks happen on Australia’s Sydney Harbor, on the United Kingdom’s London Eye, on France’s Eiffel Tower in Paris, and  on Brazil’s Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, to name a few.

 

Nothing dazzles crowds quite like fireworks displays. They are, after all, a marvel of chemical engineering. There is a visceral excitement felt by many when fireworks burst into the sky as a New Year dawns.

 

However, for visually impaired members of our global population, enjoying a fireworks display is limited to the reverberating explosions alone. The engineers and researchers at Disney Parks and Resorts have worked to find a solution.

 

The company is world renowned for its firework displays; in fact they are the largest consumer of fireworks in the world. A former Product Designer at Disney Consumer Products, Ben Suarez, says Disney uses up to US$50,000 of fireworks per show at their resorts. It is estimated that the resorts collectively blow up $50 million worth of fireworks every year.

 

Feeling Fireworks

Researchers at Disney are developing a technology that would allow visually impaired patrons to experience the fireworks at their parks in a new way; by feeling them. A flexible screen is set up, with water jets positioned behind it. By placing their hands against the screen they feel a representation of a firework exploding outwardly.

 

To further improve the experience, a Microsoft Kinect camera array is set up, for the purposes of tracking users’ hands. Once a user’s hands are up against the flexible screen, the jets are activated through the Kinect sensor and a personalized ‘fireworks explosion’ is performed for the user.

 

Disney’s researchers are experimenting with a variety of nozzles on the water jets to produce varied patterns and thus a breadth of tactile experience. Using an Arduino-based computer, the engineers control the amount of water the pump emits and can control the direction of the nozzles. The researchers have also found that they can produce the experience inexpensively. They write:

“Our approach is low-cost and scales well, and allows for dynamic tactile effects to be rendered with high spatial resolution.”

 

The rise and development of haptic technology will enable an increasing number of tactile experiences in the near future. Haptic feedback is something engineers are embedding in technology to make humans feel like their interactions with technology are more genuine.

 

Disney believes that the technology could be adapted to other industries. The researchers write:

“Beyond the specific application, the technology represents a novel and cost-effective approach for making large scalable tactile displays, with the potential for wider use.”

 

Disney’s investment in fireworks goes further. According to former Disney & NBC Product Designer Ben Suarez the company has invested millions into “developing new fireworks that left minimal amounts of smoke”, after the smell of their many fiery displays agitated crowds.

 

A festive season is, after all, for everyone. It is commendable that Disney has used their engineering expertise to ensure this gladness is spread a little more widely.

 

By Quintus Potgieter

 

 

OC Transpo fined $25K for failing to call out bus stops++:

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has hit OC Transpo in Ottawa with a hefty fine after enforcement officers discovered major stops were not being called out on three trips.

 

A CTA enforcement officer checked buses on routes 4, 7 and 62 on the afternoon of Nov. 14, following a CBC report about problems with OC Transpo’s Next Stop Announcement System, and found a failure to call stops on all three buses.

 

Visually impaired riders had previously told CBC that stops were not being called out consistently, a problem that was supposed to be solved by the automated system of visual and audio alerts.

 

The $12-million system, which CCB actively advocated for, was installed in late 2010 following a complaint to the CTA by Terrance Green, a blind user of OC Transpo who said drivers were failing to call stops as required by OC Transpo’s own policy.

 

Green told CBC in November that problems with the system were ongoing, but his concerns seemed to come as a surprise to OC Transpo’s director of customer systems and planning, who said he believed the system was “working consistently, for everyone’s benefit.”

 

Pat Scrimgeour said OC Transpo’s staff inspectors had been monitoring the system and found it was functioning properly about 98 per cent of the time.

 

The transit agency learned about the fine on Monday and will review what happened on those routes, according to Troy Charter, OC Transpo’s director of transit operations. He said it was too soon to say whether the agency would request a review of the decision.

 

“We need to gather our facts and look at what occurred,” Charter said. “We need to sit down and review our maintenance logs, look at those specific buses, see if there were operator or customer reports, review the downloads . Essentially we need to do our investigation to look at what occurred.”

 

If the automated system is not functioning, drivers are required to call out the stops to comply with the earlier ruling by the Canadian Transportation Agency.

But Charter noted, if the automated system is not working, drivers on busy routes with crowded buses may not be able to hear it, and so may not know they need to be calling out the stops.

 

The deadline to pay the $25,000 fine is Jan. 23.

CBC News, December 19, 2017

 

Friends help blind woman in difficult task of finding a job++:

Tepi Hughes was found as a toddler in the rubble of her famine-torn home-city of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She spent 10 years in an orphanage during the Bangladesh genocide of the 1970s.

 

At seven, she contracted smallpox, and unlike 300 million people worldwide, Hughes didn’t die of one of the most feared diseases. She did go blind, though.

Life changed at 11 when she was adopted by a Canadian family.

Her formal education finally began when the new family registered her in Grade 4 with the W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind in Ontario.

For nine years, like hundreds of other blind students — Hughes experienced abuse. A class-action lawsuit recently reached a settlement in dealing with the abundance of claims. Of larger consequence to Hughes was the school’s decision to place her in a “learning disability class” where she did not obtain literacy skills.

 

Hughes thinks the school’s decision was based on her limited ability to speak English and remembers that time as the moment grade school ended — with less than two years of formal education.

 

Hughes, in her 50s now, has spent more than 40 years in Canada. Like many working-age blind people, she lives below the poverty line. She does her best to make a home as an independent woman with a good network of friends, many from the Canadian Federation of the Blind — an organization that promotes independence. Hughes describes the CFB as: “A group of friends who travels to conferences, meets monthly, practises cane skills and enjoys each other’s company.”

 

“We all believe a blind person can do anything they set their mind to,” she says.

The only thing I knew about the Bangladesh genocide was that George Harrison and Ravi Shankar had organized benefit concerts. I googled and learned of an estimated three million people, brutally murdered by the West Pakistan military in what was then East Pakistan.

 

I wondered: How does a person heal from that foundation?

In his latest book, Waiting for First Light, former Canadian general Romeo Dallaire describes the ongoing healing process from his painful experience in Rwanda.

 

Dallaire is white and tall and handsome and brilliant and powerful and a trained soldier. He has position power and political power as an esteemed Canadian three-star general and senator. He is an author of three extraordinary books. He has a hard-earned international reputation and a supportive family and influential friends. And yet, even with tremendous supports, dealing with his experience of genocide nearly destroyed him, as it has done to many other combat professionals.

 

I am grateful to Dallaire for his courage in helping all of us to understand. But I am afraid for my friend. A small, blind woman, who grew up in an orphanage surrounded by genocide, has few such support privileges.

 

And yet, Hughes has an uncommon vitality and light-heartedness.

I met Hughes a few times at Christmas parties for the Canadian Federation of the Blind and remembered a jovial character. I am not a member of that community, but an ally and supporter of their work.

 

In the summer of 2016, a mutual friend asked me to accompany Hughes as a “sight guide” while she volunteered at the Mustard Seed Street Church’s food bank. It wasn’t until Hughes and I volunteered together that we got to know each other better. For five days we scooped rice and oatmeal and other staples out of 50-pound sacks and into little plastic bags to be distributed in family food hampers.

 

Hughes worked hard, kept the work space organized, and was thorough in completing her tasks — not too surprising, as she had wrapped candy for a local chocolate factory for 10 years until she was laid off.

She had an easy way of connecting with people in the busy warehouse. If someone walked by, she would call out a friendly “hello.” The next time that person went by, they would say hi, and while Hughes was sorting fruit she would jokingly ask if they wanted to have a blueberry fight.

On her last day, several co-workers said how much they enjoyed working together, and the food bank organizers thanked her for the help. I came away with a nagging feeling that Hughes was underutilized.

 

She told me she wanted to get a part-time, minimum-wage job to supplement a disability income. I figured that would not be too hard, and offered to help with what I thought would be a two-month search.

We arranged to meet every Tuesday morning to strategize and job-hunt.

 

According to the job-hunter’s guide, What Colour Is Your Parachute 2017, circulating traditional resumés nets a four per cent success rate, while forwarding a letter of introduction to specific businesses nets an 86 per cent success rate. We decided to hand-deliver 30 tailored letters to selected businesses in the first few weeks.

 

We reached out in every which way, and made use of local support agencies.

Potential employers at businesses or job fairs frequently saw Hughes as a blind person — and nothing more. Imagine being seen as a sighted person — and nothing more.

Rejections were always, nice, polite, gracious and swift.

With an outgoing personality and disarming charm, Hughes would make a great receptionist, I thought. But I also knew I would not likely convince anyone of that truth.

Fifteen months later, Hughes still does not have a part-time, minimum-wage job that would provide some small income and some large sense of purpose as a working person. Luckily, at the start of our job-hunting saga, we agreed on a “never give up” motto.

We were in a coffee shop on Foul Bay Road recently when two construction workers came in.

“I remember you. You’re Tepi,” one said. “I worked on your street last year.” Hughes listened and then said: “You guys did an amazing job of fixing that sidewalk. People who use wheelchairs in my building are safer now.”

It was a scene I have witnessed frequently. She might not have received a formal education, but Hughes has a PhD in the art of being friendly.

These days, Hughes, another CFB friend, Doris Belusic, and I meet on Tuesday mornings for breakfast, a good chat and, always, a laugh. Beth Cowin, an employment counsellor at Phoenix Human Services is also a supporter and equally determined to help Hughes find a paying job. It is taking longer than she expected, but Cowin is tenacious and not prepared to give up, either.

We are learning that in 2017, many employers in Canada still see blind applicants as helpless and dependent. Hence the 90 per cent unemployment rate for working-age blind people. What a crazy waste of talent!

 

As ridiculous as it sounds, after surviving genocide, smallpox, blindness, a childhood in an orphanage, a scandalous education system in Ontario and decades of financial challenge while managing a poverty-level existence, Hughes’ biggest challenge of all might be to find an employer in Victoria who will recognize possibility in her strengths — and hire her.

And then her friends will throw a party.

By Thelma Fayle, for Times Colonist

 

A Gifted Artist Finds Success, Despite Being Deaf and Blind++:

For years, Kelly Brown sat in the corner of a dimly lit Wynnewood warehouse stuffing envelopes. Doing bulk mailings was typical of the work at Lower Merion Vocational Training Center and other state-supported programs for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. Deaf and blind from birth, Brown performed the simplified, repetitive tasks assigned to her and her co-workers. She didn’t complain; she was paid a stipend, and the steady job gave structure to her days.

 

Brown was considered unremarkable-except for the ropes. Somewhere along the way, she learned to crochet, and during her breaks, she made long, thick, multicolored ropes. Brown did this so often that the ropes crowded her workspace. Not having any use for them, the staff put the ropes in trash bags and stashed them in a spare room. That’s where Stephanie Petro found them years later. From the black plastic bags, she pulled crocheted rainbows of pink, blue and yellow yarn. Petro didn’t see trash. She saw art.

A former social worker with a B.F.A. in painting, Petro was part of a team assembled by Lori Bartol in 2009 to transform the mail house into the Center for Creative Works. Working under the auspices of Pennsylvania’s Resources for Human Development, the center still serves people with intellectual disabilities. But Bartol doesn’t focus on providing traditional therapies.

“We make art,” Bartol says. “We’re not here to fix anyone. We’re here to mentor and support them. Your identity isn’t your disability. Your identity is that of an artist.”

 

It’s tough to say what Brown thought her identity was, or if she thought about it at all. But Petro had a hunch that Brown was filled with creativity. “I gave her a box of fiber materials, each with a different feeling, and off she went,” Petro says.

 

“Everything I put in front of her-rubber bands, tape, coffee filters, feathers-she turned into art.”

It was slow going at first. Deaf-blind people like Brown communicate through touch sign language. A branch of American Sign Language, touch sign is also called tactile sign or hand-over-hand sign. The deaf-blind person places their hands over those of the person making the signs. Movements can be felt; words can be spelled.

This is how Helen Keller learned to communicate with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, the woman who brought her out of darkness and silence to become one of history’s most inspiring role models.

 

But Petro didn’t know sign language. On her own time and dime, she took classes to learn sign language and touch sign.

Next, she gave Brown clay, then a loom, then a wide variety of textiles.

Petro scoured flea markets, yard sales and dollar stores for lampshades, metal frames, colored beads, leis made of plastic flowers, tinsel, and acres of yarn. Most of these objects are used, discarded or on sale because no one sees uses for them.

They may be sitting in dark corners of attics, garages and stores, waiting perhaps for someone to bring them to life.

Brown has done just that, resurrecting the materials into upcycled art. Her vividly colored, multi-textured pieces of fiber art have been displayed and sold at the St. Louis Outsider Art Fair, Grounds For Sculpture in Trenton, and galleries in and around Philadelphia.

 

Bartol wants that kind of success for all of the 85 artists at the Center for Creative Works-and they are making progress. In the past three years, their pieces have netted more than $50,000 in sales.

“My teachers are really good at recognizing things that are technically part of [the artists’] disabilities, but turning them into the informing piece of their art,”

Bartol says. “Kelly’s tapestries are so textural. The first thing you want to do is touch them. That comes directly out of the fact that she works as a blind person.”

 

Fame itself doesn’t matter to Brown or Petro or Bartol. What they need, Bartol explains, are sales of art to keep the Center for Creative Works running. For each piece sold, the artist gets 60 percent and the center retains 40 percent. Bartol uses that money to provide a never-ending supply of materials for artists who are as creatively voracious as Brown.

 

To boost sales, Bartol wants to open a small retail space that would function as the center’s gallery and a community space where artists could teach classes. Bartol already made headway with that concept. Last fall, six of the center’s artists taught at Moore College of Art & Design. “They have the necessary skills,” Bartol says. “But no one ever considered putting them in front of a class to teach.”

 

Everything the center does jibes with Bartol’s philosophy that the center’s studio residents are artists first and foremost.

“What may be a disability for life is not a disability for artwork,” she says. “It just happens to be who you are, so run with it.

Make art with it. If you’re in a room with people who have no disability at all and take a poll to see how many have artistic sensibilities, the answer is probably none at all. Art isn’t tied to an IQ or intellect. It comes from your soul.”

 

To learn more about Brown’s work, visit

http://www.centerforcreativeworks.org&lt;http://www.centerforcreativeworks.org

By Melissa Jacobs