Guest Post: BLC Newsletter June 2018, a Publication of Braille Literacy Canada

Newsletter ● June 2018

Message from the President

Dear members of Braille Literacy Canada,


I love braille.


I love to read it. Left to right. Right side up. Even upside down or backwards (which is completely possible – trust me!).


I love to read it alone, or when I’m out. Or when I just accidentally happen to stumble upon it in an elevator or on a sign. Or when the electricity fails and I’m the only one able to read to my nieces and nephews. Lights out? No problem. I love the feel of the dots as they run beneath my fingers.


I love the scent of every braille book I’ve ever received. Just like those dusty old print books I remember, these scents tell a story of their own, transporting me back in time to the first place – that library, that corner on the kitchen floor, that classroom – when I first opened its pages and the world was brought to me. Even to this day, decades after I was first introduced to the wonders of Louis Braille, I am in awe that six mere dots could hold the key to every letter, symbol, word, thought, story.


I love electronic braille books, too. The feel of the crisp dots, the sound as each line refreshes to reveal a new secret. I love that, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I can hold thousands of pages – endless possibilities – on one small device.


I love to write braille. I love the loud, clunky, ever reliable, ever present Perkins brailler, with its iconic “ding!” as I reach the end of a line. And the satisfying “punch” as I press the stylus into the paper. I love that – even with all the fabulous technology around me – I can carry this one small tool everywhere, just like a pen and paper, and it will never, ever fail me.


I love braille because it truly is literacy. And that, as I have experienced firsthand, is nothing short of freedom, emancipation, and equality. I love braille, not because it is a replacement for any other format (like audio), but because it is part of the rich tapestry of choices available to me. Braille, however, has transformed me into a reader, a writer, and not one who must rely on others. With these tools in hand, it has made everything possible.


It was at the age of six when I first began learning braille. In those very first days before braille and I knew each other, I saw it as something that set me apart. My Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, with her infinite wisdom and creativity, encouraged me to invite a sighted classmate to those first few lessons. That first year, we made braille Valentine’s Day cards for everyone in my class along with special decoder cards. It became a yearly tradition. I very quickly came to see that – yes, braille did set me apart. But in an immensely positive  way. I wasn’t the odd one out who “needed” braille. I was the luckiest one of all, because I was the only student in the class learning it. Fast forward many years later, I began working as a rehabilitation specialist, teaching braille to children, adults and seniors, and now also as a Ph.D Candidate, where I experience the joy of engaging in meaningful braille related research every day.


I write to you wearing my new cap as President of Braille Literacy Canada, to thank all of you who participated in our recent Annual General Meeting, either in person or virtually, and for putting your trust in your new 2018 BLC board. Our organization is successful not merely due to one person, but because of the many busy working hands – both on and off the board – who collaborate to make BLC what it continues to be today. And with this in mind, I am eager to introduce you to our new 2018 board, which includes:


  • Natalie Martiniello, President
  • Daphne Hitchcock, Vice-President
  • Anthony Tibbs, Treasurer
  • Kim Kilpatrick (Canadian Council of the Blind), Secretary
  • Jen Goulden (Crawford Technologies), Past President
  • Cathy Ausman, Director
  • Rebecca Blaevoet (Tactile Vision Graphics), Director
  • Jessica Blouin (T-Base Communications), Director
  • Jen Jesso, Director
  • Jenn Monks, Director
  • Laurie Moore (W. Ross MacDonald), Director
  • Dwila Nixon, Director
  • Cheryl Roberts-Dupasquier, Director
  • Melanie Romer-Noel (CNIB), Director


I am excited to work with such a talented team of braille readers, transcribers, producers, teachers and researchers for the 2018-2019 BLC year. On a personal note, I want to thank our Past President, Jen Goulden, for her countless years of dedication and commitment to the organization.  We are fortunate that we can continue to benefit from her immense knowledge and experience as she remains on the board as our Past President, and I know she will continue to be an invaluable member of our board. On behalf of all of us, thank you Jen!


In addition to the elections, two proposed bylaw amendments were considered at the AGM. The first proposal (which would have resulted in lifetime members who were “inactive” being excluded from quorum calculations) was tabled and not voted upon. The second proposal (which relaxes term limits on the board so that an individual may remain on the board more than 3 terms but only if they are elected to a different position) was accepted by the members. For more details on each of these proposals, please see the documentation included in the 2018 AGM call or write to us for more information.


Two workshops were also held at the AGM. The first (presented by Kim Kilpatrick and myself) focused on the use of braille displays with iDevices. In the second workshop, Jen Goulden and Anthony Tibbs introduced participants to a freely available braille transcription program developed by the American Printing House for the Blind called “BrailleBlaster” (


We look forward to continuing our tradition of offering braille related teleconferences throughout the year – So let us know what topics you’d like us to feature, and stay tuned!


We are always happy to hear from you! If you have ideas, stories to share, comments, or questions, please feel free to write to me at


Here is to a year full of possibilities, hard work, lots of fun – and most of all – many, many dots!


Yours truly,


Natalie Martiniello

President, Braille Literacy Canada


Membership in BLC


BLC membership coincides with the calendar year. If you are not yet a member or haven’t renewed for 2018, we invite you to visit


If you are a member you can:


  • Have your say: attend the Annual General Meeting
  • Get involved in the work of BLC: join one of our committees
  • Help to promote the use of braille in Canada
  • Participate in teleconferences on braille-related issues (free for members)
  • Receive our bi-monthly newsletter, as well as other communications, directly from BLC
  • Get answers to all your UEB questions: join our UEB listserv by sending an email to


Braille Copies of the BLC Newsletter Now Available Through CELA!

The Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) now offers braille versions of the BLC newsletter upon request. Readers can subscribe by emailing or by calling 1-855-655-2273 and asking to subscribe to the braille copy of the Braille Literacy Canada newsletter. The newsletter will also continue to be published electronically. Thank you to CELA for this partnership!


Calling all braille stories!

By Kim Kilpatrick


In our recent survey of BLC members, you asked for more personal stories about how we use braille in our news letter.  We want to deliver!  In honour of International Literacy Month in September, we will be publishing a special issue of the newsletter devoted to “braille in action” – filled with your personal stories about braille. Help us celebrate braille as literacy and the brilliance of braille! Send us your stories about how you use braille or what braille means to you. Be as creative as you like – stories, letters, poems – we’d love to read it all! We invite submissions from braille readers of all ages (children, adults, seniors!), parents, teachers and anyone else who has a braille story to share! Send your entries  (in English or French) to by August 31st and help us spread the word about the beauty of braille!


Naming the Newsletter

We haven’t received many submissions, so we will keep the contest open and announce a winner for the September issue. Please email your suggestions to Thanks to those of you who have already sent in your ideas!


The Brailler Bounce Initiative


We are continuing to run this program but we do not have braillers available at this time. We will send out an update to BLC members once we have more braillers on hand and are able to take new requests.


Immortalizing the Edie Mourre Scholarship Program: Calling on all members to help us secure the future of this important initiative!

By Anthony Tibbs, BLC Treasurer


Braille Literacy Canada established the Edie Mourre Scholarship Program in 2008 to provide financial support for those seeking certification as a transcriber or proofreader of braille.  The scholarship has been offered annually since that time, as funds have become available.


We have an exciting opportunity this year to make this a permanent and self-sustaining program, but we need your help to make it happen! Between now and November 30th, 2018, every dollar donated to BLC in support of the Edie Mourre Scholarship Program will be matched by a third-party donor (up to $6,500).  That means that if BLC raises $6,500 by November 30th, we will actually have raised $13,000.


The exciting part is that with $13,000 in hand, we will have enough to establish a permanent endowment fund to guarantee that the Edie Mourre Scholarship will be awarded to at least one deserving applicant each and every year.


Consider this – If every single member of BLC raises $100 between now and November 30th, we will have surpassed our goal! Just $100 each! Or $20 a month between July and November. Here are some creative ideas on how to help us get there – If you have other fundraising ideas, we’d love to hear from you!


  • Host a special brunch, lunch, dinner or braille game/braille bingo party at your house. Invite all your friends and ask them to donate $20 (or an amount of your choosing) to attend. Make it a braille themed party if you like!
  • Follow the link below: One of the options is to donate $20 each month between now and November 30th to total $100!
  • Share the link on social media. Spread the word to family, friends and teachers!
  • Give a Coffee – Ask your friends and colleagues to skip one morning coffee and bagel by giving the amount they would typically spend on that meal – and donate it to a good cause instead! Better yet, donate and eat that delicious meal anyway!
  • Kids! Help your child run a lemonade stand – maybe include some braille chocolates for sale too! Check out the Braille Superstore for chocolate braille molds.
  • Braille Read-A-Thon! Students or any supporters obtain pledges from their friends and family members for the number of pages of books that they can read in a month – Raise money while keeping up those braille skills over the summer!
  • Get a local coffeehouse or club to host a poetry slam. Charge admission at the door, and advertise a Poetry Slam night with prizes. To raise awareness, challenge each participating poet to write a poem about your cause and invite braille readers to participate too!
  • Stay tuned for special announcements about other exciting ways you can help, while celebrating braille too!


Donate now:


Email or visit for more information on other methods of donating to BLC and to the Edie Mourre campaign.



BLC Goes to Seeing Beyond the Horizon!

By Daphne Hitchcock


The 15th Biennial Canadian Vision Teachers’ Conference: Seeing Beyond the Horizon was held in Nisku, Alberta last month, May 3-5. Most every province and territory was represented by at least one of the 200 delegates.


A comprehensive line up of keynote speakers and presenters covered a wide range of topics, including cortical vision impairment, technology options, creating accessible materials, Canadian National Standards, budget AT solutions, teaching strategies, youth transitions and much more. It was difficult to decide which session to attend, as there were so many excellent presentations available. Fortunately, the presenter handouts are available for download through accessing this link


Braille Literacy Canada PosterBLC presented at the conference poster session. Delegates could view information and ask questions about BLC activities, who we are, membership benefits and BLC contributions. There was an opportunity to enter a membership draw at the poster session. This attracted additional new members – welcome!


All conference delegates were given an BLC info flyer in their conference bag.  To heighten our BLC profile and support the CVTC conference, BLC donated 3 children’s books in print and braille (UEB) to the Silent Auction.


Towards a simpler contracted French Braille

Originally published in the May 2018 BLC newsletter, authored By Anne Jarry, M.Ed, CVRT/SRDV

Translated into English by Emmanuel Blaevoet


In this column, I will share with you my opinion on the reform of the contracted French Braille code that might be taking place soon.


Personally, I had the pleasure of learning contracted French Braille as an adult after losing my sight at the age of 25 due to juvenile diabetes.  Back in 1986, there was no such thing as computer speech software.  So, Braille was for me the only option to read, write and learn, whether at University, or later on, at work. I have loved the fact that through the discovery of French braille, a whole new world of information and knowledge reached me.


However, considering that the contracted French Braille code contains over 900 symbols, one had to be extremely motivated and focused to learn and master this beautiful but extensive code. Had there been any speech software or audio access to information available to me at the time, would I have chosen to follow this arduous path? Today, less and less people who lose their sight at a later age deliberately choose to learn the contracted French Braille code. Why? Is it really far too difficult to learn over 900 braille symbols? Failing to think carefully on the state of abbreviated French Braille today, we might not be able to keep it a viable option for future blind and visually impaired learners.


We seem to be on the verge of finding a solution today. A process, initiated in 2008 at the same time that the new Uniform French Braille code was adopted, and later implemented in 2010, is the last stage towards the reform of French Braille. For the committee in charge, the positive points are important. They suggest, among other things, a huge reduction of the number of contractions to 103, down from over 900. We could see a greater number of readers and users of contracted French Braille, but also a greater number of teachers would be able to learn it and teach it in return.


All the same, changing a code that has been in effect since 1955 is not welcomed by all long time French braille users. A survey that was held from January to March 2018 gave us insight into the point of view and opinions of French Braille users and readers throughout the whole of Quebec. Following this survey, the members of the Quebec committee will present their report to the international representatives of the whole Francophonie in June 2018.


We will then have to take into account the input and comments of experts from Quebec as well as from the rest of the French speaking world before we can see the adoption of the new code. This extensive task is a necessary step but might require, as often the case, a fair amount of diplomacy and resilience in order to reach a consensual agreement from all parties.


If you would like a copy of all working documents supporting the work of this committee, as well as the documents in their .brf version, please feel free to reach me via email at


It will be my pleasure to provide them on demand.


Looking forward to the opportunity to write the next column and announce the adoption of the new code very soon!


Study on the Experiences of Adults and Seniors who Learn Braille

By Natalie Martiniello


I am seeking participation for a research study that I am conducting through the University of Montreal to better understand the experiences of adults who have learned braille. The results from this study will help us to better understand the facilitators and barriers that adults experience during their braille training, and how to improve the training provided in future. We are seeking participation from people who are blind or who have low vision, are 40 years or older, and who have learned braille sometime within the past 10 years. Participation would involve a single, confidential, anonymous phone interview that will take between 60 and 90 minutes to complete.


If you are interested in participating, we will send you a consent form in advance that will tell you more about the study in either large print, braille or electronic (email) format. You also have the option of requesting a copy of the questionnaire in advance, to give you a better idea of the kind of questions we’ll ask.


The results from this study will help rehabilitation professionals design braille training programs that better meet the needs of adult and senior learners. Please feel free to tell others who may be interested in participating as well. Please feel free to write to me at to learn more. Thank you for your time.


Braille Club at the CNIB Community Hub (GTA) Update

By Karen Brophey


June 8 – with Literacy Staff from Deaf Blind Community Services we kicked off Deaf Blind Awareness month with a Braille Demo table in front of the Hub on Yonge Street! We handed out Braille Activity sheets, let folks try out a Perkins and put their hands on some books. Inside they had a chance to learn how people communicate via Intervenors, two-hand manual, etc. In the kitchen we handed out ice cream cones! (some kids even used fingerspelling to request their choice of flavours).


Coming Up:


  • June 23 – at the Hub’s next party for kids at the Hub (1525 Yonge St.) we’ll demo how to use the Perkins to draw tactile pictures.
  • June 24 – join CNIB walking in Toronto’s Pride Parade – all are welcome! We have 10,000 braille bracelets that we’ll be handing out as we walk!
  • July 7 and 8 – visit the Braille Club at the Maker Festival being held at the Toronto Reference Library (Yonge and Bloor!)
  • September 24 we’ll have a booth at Word on the Street at Toronto’s Harbourfront.


Lots more in the works including presentations and activities for the Braille Conference!


ALL braille enthusiasts are welcome to attend our meetings. Contact for more information!


Low-Cost Refreshable Braille

By Jen Goulden


You may have heard people wrongly claiming that braille is dying but the reality is that it is very much alive. The future of literacy for blind people is more secure now than at any time in the past, thanks in large part to the advent of refreshable braille technology. Whether you use a notetaker on its own or you connect a display to your computer or smartphone you are benefiting from technology that makes braille easier to access than ever before. The only drawback is that the cost to purchase one of these devices has traditionally been significantly more than most people can afford to spend. Thankfully that is beginning to change! In the last couple of years a number of braille devices have been developed. While most of them are still in the testing phase it looks like there will be some affordable options for braille readers in the very near future.


While attending the midterm executive meeting of ICEB in Ireland earlier this year I had a chance to check out a couple of these low-cost devices. The Canute e-reader is a multi-line braille display with a total of 360 cells. The braille is very easy to read and because it refreshes one line at a time you don’t have to wait for the whole page to refresh before you can continue reading. I found that this model is much quieter than previous versions. Although it can be used to read any kind of document it would really be beneficial for material such as music scores, math textbooks and even tactile graphics. For more information please visit


The Braille Me is another device that will soon be available. This 20-cell display has some notetaking capability and can be connected to a computer or paired with an iPhone. The braille is crisp and the display has cursor routing buttons. One thing that is different about the Braille Me is that the keyboard is closer to the front and the braille cells are at the back, which is the opposite of most devices on the market. It also does not contain dots 7 and 8. It does make some noise when the display refreshes, but I believe that the advantages of the Braille Me make it an excellent option for low-cost refreshable braille. For more information please visit


Tips for Transitioning to Post-Secondary Learning

By Betty Nobel


At this time of year, I often think of students transitioning to post secondary learning.  Many students will be excited but a little fearful about going to college or university.  While support varies in different provinces, what students can count on is that the braille and other supports they had access to previously will not be the same as in high school.


What to do?  Here are some ideas.


Get some O&M training on campus.


Use the internet until you are comfortable being online.


Practice scanning printed materials and converting image files to text


Find out about how you can obtain adaptive equipment, including refreshable braille technology, if you need it.


Contact the disability services department and see if you can get a reading list for any of the courses you want to take.  This way, you can sometimes “get ahead of the game.”


Organize financial aid if needed.


Find out about sources for written materials such as Kindle, Ibooks, etc which can be accessed with speech-output and refreshable braille


Make sure you have a membership with Bookshare.


Listen to Ted talks or other podcasts and practice taking notes.


Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.


Remember to acknowledge and appreciate those who assist you and try to find ways to give back to them.


Make sure that you take breaks and find balance in your life.  School is important, but so is your mental health.


And most important…HAVE FUN!


Harry Potter and UEB

By Jen Goulden


What does Harry Potter have to do with UEB, you ask … well, aside from the obvious answer that braille makes it possible for blind people of all ages to read these fabulous books? It’s probably more precise to ask what UEB has to do with Professor Dumbledore.


Based on member feedback, we’ve decided to highlight a UEB-related question in each issue of the newsletter. What better place to start than the magical world of Harry Potter?


Our UEB list recently received a question regarding the use of the “ed” contraction in the word Dumbledore. As we had hoped when setting up this list, there was some discussion back and forth on why the word should or should not be contracted. UEB allows for contraction use that would not have been permitted before, but Duxbury – which is quite reliable about these things – does not contract Dumbledore. So, does the famous fictional professor have a contraction in his last name? Why or why not?


No. According to The Rules of Unified English Braille, groupsigns such as “ed”, “st” and “wh” should not be used when the contraction would bridge two words in a non-hyphenated compound. As a result, the word “boredom” can be contracted but “kettledrum” cannot. If you’re like me and thought that Dumbledore is just a name that J.K. Rowling made up you might be surprised to learn that it can also refer to an insect, some sort of dung beetle. It also happens to be considered a compound word, so the “ed” contraction cannot be used.


If you have code-related questions about UEB and would like to join our list, please sent an email to


If Braille Were Print


In the Winter 2016 issue of Future Reflections, Erin Jepsen wrote a passionate and powerful piece that so eloquently and clearly articulates the importance of braille – that braille is to the blind what print is to the sighted. In it, she addresses head on many of the misconceptions and stereotypes about braille that are voiced through the questions we too often hear from others: Isn’t braille hard to learn? Is braille really needed, now that we have access to so much audio? Jepsen beautifully illustrates that if we replaced the word “braille” with “print” many of these questions would not be asked. And that is the crux of it – braille is literacy!


To read this article and share it with others, go to:


Social Media Updates

Here is a taste of some of the gems posted on the BLC Facebook and Twitter pages over the past few weeks!


Braille Literacy Canada honours Darleen Bogart with the President’s Award:


If Braille Were Print? This article from Future Reflections is a must read:


You may have read recently about a new universal standard for #Braille displays adopted by the USB Implementers Forum. This is an industry body comprising  manufacturers and software developers who wish to move the USB specification forward. Participants include Microsoft, Apple and Google among many others.

Freedom Scientific has been a part of the process that has led to the adoption of this standard. Read more here:


International Council on English Braille Country and Committee reports from the 2018 ICEB mid-term Executive meeting in Dublin are now available:


Check out this great post on how to incorporate #braille and #literacy skills into your blind student’s yoga activities! A great example of how to combine different parts of the expanded core curriculum #braille #ECC #PhysicalLiteracy


Harry Potter fans will know that Dobby the houseelf would like this idea! Braille socks for the visually impaired:


The evolution of #tactile solutions for doing #math. Today, students can use a tactile graphics pad for complex equations:


Tips for promoting #braille in your community:


Graduate student creating digital #braille smartphone app for deafblind users:


Wondering which assistive technology options to use with beginning braille readers


From the International Council on English Braille – UEB UPDATE: New UEB symbol for the check mark/tick (dots 4,146) is approved for use:



Braille Literacy Canada



Guest Post: Blind News Victoria, a Publication of the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind, Summer 2018

Blind News Victoria


A publication of the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind

Vol. 8: Summer 2018



Well here we are almost half way through 2018 and the end of another Pacific Training Centre for the Blind (PTCB) school year.  Here are some of the highlights of the winter-spring term.


  • PTCB celebrated the graduation of 4 students, TJ in January and Ann, Anna and Delores in June.  They have all worked very hard to complete graduation requirements which include cooking a meal for 8, learning Braille and screen reader technology and becoming as independently mobile as their physical limitations would allow.  Congratulations to TJ, Ann, Anna and Delores.  We’re all very proud of your accomplishments. 
  • Our first Home Stay student, after six months of intensive training, has now returned to Chilliwack and is living on her own and planning to attend school this summer and fall.  Please consider becoming a Home Stay host.  It is a very rewarding experience knowing that you have really made a difference in a young blind person’s life.  Contact us if you would like to know more about the Home Stay host’s role.
  • AMI (Accessible Media Inc.) spent two days filming PTC training sessions and doing interviews with both staff and students for a 23 minute documentary which will air on AMI’s Our Community.  We do not know yet when it will be scheduled but will let you know.
  • PTCB has received several awards and grants in the past year including the top ABC Life Literacy Innovation Award which included a grant of $20,000.  Elizabeth travelled to Ontario to accept this award and give a power point presentation about PTCB.


Please consider becoming a member of the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind Society.  Membership is only $5 per year.  The larger the membership, the more successful the Society will be in acquiring grants from the government which are essential to us carrying on the vital work of the PTCB.


To join call Elizabeth at 250-580-4910 or email


You can also join on-line through our website which can be found at





The Butchart Gardens has Nightly live entertainment at 8:00 and fireworks set to music Saturdays at nightfall during the summer.

Highlight: July 27 Victoria Symphony


Go to


for a list of dates and performers.


There is free admission to those with a CNIB card and free admission for your attendant with your Leisure Pass.

The #75 bus takes you right into the grounds



You can find out what’s happening in Victoria between Blind News Victoria newsletters by listening to the live Victoria Community Report on AMI Audio at 7:00 a.m. (repeated at 9:00 a.m.) every fourth Thursday.  The next report will be on Thursday June 28.


AMI Audio can be found at 889 on your television or on line at


If you miss the live report, you can listen on-line to the most recent report.



The Victoria Society for Blind Arts and Culture offers an Arts and Cultural Bursary to its blind members, reimbursing 50% of the cost of an arts or cultural activity up to $50.


For information or to apply, contact Linda Bartram







Theatre SKAM Summer Festival Sunday July 15, 2018

360 Harbour Road, Victoria

Free described event at 2:00 and 4:30

Walk along the Galloping Goose Trail and stop at several venues to take in a short theatrical performance described by Rick Waines, VocalEye live describer.

Note: This event involves 15 – 20 minutes of walking along a level trail and standing at four,   5 to 7 minute performances.


To register for this free described event contact Sierra

Or by phone 250-386-7526


For those booking the 2:00 walk and coming on the bus, a Victoria Society for Blind Arts and Culture member will meet folks at 1:15 at the bus stop on the north side of Esquimalt Road at Harbour Road. 

For those using HandyDart, book your ride to 354 Harbour Road, to arrive by 1:30 and you will be met there and escorted to the event.

Let Sierra know if you wish to be met at either the Esquimalt bus stop or 354 Harbour Road when you book your place

or contact Linda at 250-595-5888




Described tour at the Royal BC Museum (organized by the Victoria Society for Blind Arts and Culture)

Egypt –The Time of Pharaohs

Monday July 23 at 3:30


Admission: Adult (19+) $17.00

Senior (65+) $11.00

Youth (6-18) $11.00

Student (19+ w/ ID) $11.00

Attendant is free if you have a Leisure Pass


For more information about the museum call 250-356-7226 or 1-888-447-7977


For more information about the described tour contact Linda at 250-595-5888





The VIP Singers will be performing in the library courtyard at noon on Tuesday July 24.  Come and enjoy this free lunchtime concert.




The PTCB hopes to organize Kayaking and a picnic in August with Power to BE at Prospect Lake.  If you would like to receive more information as it becomes available, call Linda to register your interest at 250-595-5888.




The PTCB AGM will be held in September on either the afternoon of September 11 or 18so please set aside these dates until we have finalized the date.






The Pacific Training Centre for the Blind (PTCB) is a Canadian grassroots nonprofit charitable service organization founded and run by blind people.  Its training fosters independence, where blind people empower blind people to be employed, independent and free.


The Blind People in Charge Program, provided by the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind, is the only program of its kind in Western Canada that offers regular, intensive rehabilitation to people who are blind or who are losing their vision; it is also the only program that uses an empowering, problem-solving model of instruction, where blind people are the teachers, planners, directors and administrators.


The program involves a collaborative, positive, and empowering approach to blindness, where blind people learn from and teach each other in a supportive, can-do atmosphere. Instructors and mentors teach the skills of independence such as Braille, adaptive technology, cane travel, cooking and other life skills, and develop strategies for coping with blindness and vision loss in a sighted world.


The Blind People in Charge Program held at the Victoria Disability Resource Centre 817a Fort St., runs two days a week from 10:00 – 4:00 and participants are encouraged to attend as full time students (12 hours a week).  Drop in students are also considered.  Teaching takes place in group and one-on-one sessions and participants progress at their own pace.  Past participants have ranged in age from 24 – 88.  Anyone over 18 who is blind or is experiencing significant vision loss may apply including those who are experiencing other challenges.  There is no charge to students; however donations are always welcome.  For more information, or to participate in our program, please contact us.


Phone: 250-580-4910




Guest Post: Podcasts to Go: How to Play Podcasts on your iOS Device – AccessWorld® – June 2018

AccessWorld: Technology and People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired is a monthly periodical for anyone who uses or wants to use assistive technology, provides technology training, has students or clients who use technology, needs to make purchasing decisions, or wants to keep abreast of technological trends and events.
— Read on

Guest Post: Barrier Free Canada Press Release, June 22, 2018

Barrier Free Canada applauds the tabling of the Accessible Canada Act by the

Minister of Science, Sport, and Persons with Disabilities

OTTAWA (June 22, 2018) – Barrier Free Canada/Canada sans barrières (BFC/CSB)

is celebrating the introduction on Wednesday of the long-awaited federal

accessibility legislation, the Accessible Canada Act. It is hoped that the

legislation will help to make accessibility and inclusion a priority for all

federally-regulated and federally-funded organizations.

Over the past several years, BFC/CSB and a myriad of other charitable and

not-for-profit organizations have worked tirelessly holding consultations,

conducting research, and preparing recommendations and advisory reports to

inform the content of this federal legislation.

“Wednesday was a momentous day,” said Donna Jodhan, President and founder of

BFC/CSB. “Canadians with disabilities have long dreamt of the day when

accessibility and inclusion in government services would be clearly

mandated, and we are now one step closer to that full inclusion.”

In 2010, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of

Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), pledging to address the exclusion and

accessibility barriers that people with disabilities face in Canada. The

introduction of this legislation is a tangible step toward making this a

lived reality for Canadians with disabilities.

Legislation exists to protect the rights of Canadians with disabilities

within the federal sector, such as the Canadian Human Rights Code, the

Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the UNCRPD itself. But as Anthony Tibbs,

Treasurer of BFC/CSB and a lawyer with Merchant Law Group explained, “These

tools are reactive and provide remediation for people whose rights have been

denied – but only if the person is willing or able to fight through a court

process. What Canada needs, and what we hope this legislation will offer,

are proactive standards (and meaningful oversight) to prevent the

discrimination from happening and take the enforcement obligation off the

backs of the people who are meant to be protected.”

Jodhan added, “A few years ago I was forced to take the federal government

to Court because government web sites and online services were needlessly

inaccessible to me as a person who is blind. I hope that federal legislation

mandating accessibility will avoid anyone else having to repeat that

adventure in the future.”

BFC/CSB will be reviewing the proposed law in detail in preparation for

hearings anticipated to be held after parliament returns by the committees

tasked with reviewing the legislation.

BFC/CSB is a non-partisan not-for-profit organization that has been

advocating for legislation to ensure accessibility and inclusion for

Canadians with disabilities at both the federal and provincial levels for

more than five years.

# # #

For more information, write to or call Anthony

Tibbs (514-248-7777).

Guest Post: Ford Develops Smart Window Prototype For Blind Passengers — Feel The View!

Ford Develops Smart Window Prototype For Blind Passengers — Feel The View!




By Rahul Nagaraj


May 7, 2018, 12:49 [IST]




Ford has developed a prototype smart window, allowing blind passengers to feel the passing landscape outside.




The ‘Feel The View’ technology was created by an Italian startup, Aedo in collaboration with Ford. The prototype uses vibrations to give a blind or partially-sighted passenger a sense of the scenery outside.




The technology takes pictures of the passing scenery from the outer side of the window. The images captured are then converted into high-contrast black and white pictures.




These monochrome images are then reproduced on the glass using special LEDs. On touching the images, the various shades of grey vibrate at different intensities up to the range of 255. These vibrations allow the blind passengers to touch the scene and rebuild the landscape in their mind.




As the finger moves over the different parts of the image, different intensities of vibrations provide haptic feedback to the person using the technology.




The smart window technology also has an AI voice assistant, which uses the car’s audio system to give the passengers a context of what they are feeling.




A Ford spokesperson stated, “We seek to make people’s lives better and this was a fantastic opportunity to help blind passengers experience a great aspect of driving. The technology is advanced, but the concept is simple – and could turn mundane journeys into truly memorable ones.”




This technology of the Smart Windows is part of Ford’s Advanced Research. The company has no plans of introducing it in the market anytime soon. This might be part of Ford’s autonomous vehicle program to research how a vehicle will interact with its passengers when travelling.


Guest Post: Now listen to Eyes On Success Podcasts on smart home devices

We recently added a new way for listeners to keep up to date with the latest episodes of Eyes On Success.


Now you can listen to Eyes On Success on your Alexa or google smart home devices.  Simply ask Alexa or Google to “play Eyes On Success podcast” and you won’t miss a thing!


We hope listeners enjoy this new capability and pass the word along to their friends.




The Hosts: Peter Torpey and Nancy Goodman Torpey

Check out Eyes On Success (formerly ViewPoints)

A weekly, half hour audio program for people living with vision loss.

Find out more about the show and get links to past episodes at:

Find the podcast on iTunes or use the URL:

Find us on social media at:



Guest Post: Great news! The world’s best print-reading app for the blind and print-disabled is now even better, KNFB Reader Version 3.0, from the National Federation of the Blind and Sensotec NV

, is now available in the Apple App Store.


KNFB Reader 3.0 represents the continued evolution of over forty years of text recognition technology. It now has more features for a wider variety of users than ever.


Since its first release in 2014, KNFB Reader has been allowing users all over the world to get access to print anytime and anywhere. The latest version of this award-winning app sports a new look and feel to help you work better and faster. Navigation within the app is easier, with tabs at the bottom of the home screen to access key functions quickly and easily. The enhanced cloud support for Dropbox, GoogleDrive and OneDrive allows easy access to all your documents when and where you need them.


KNFB Reader 3.0 now reads ebooks and documents in the increasingly popular ePub format, as well as PDFs (image or text, tagged or untagged). This makes it ideal for students and professionals who must read content in multiple formats from multiple sources. The app is also customizable, so that people with different reading needs can tailor its settings to meet those needs. Now able to recognize and read documents in over thirty languages, KNFB Reader 3.0 is a comprehensive reading solution for people who are blind or who have low vision, dyslexia, or other reading differences.


KNFB Reader 3.0 is a free update for existing customers. For new customers, the app is now available for USD $99.


To learn more about KNFB Reader 3.0, visit

If you already have the app and love it, help us spread the word to others. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation about KNFB Reader 3.0. We love to hear from our users. Share your favorite KNFB Reader story with us!


Christopher S. Danielsen, J.D.

Director of Public Relations

200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD 21230

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330 |

Twitter: @rlawyer


MAY 2018

In this issue:
Happy Mother’s Day!
Described Performances and Events:
June 2: Described Tour at the Vancouver Art Gallery
June 3 and 8: Mamma Mia! at the Arts Club Stanley
Coming Up:
July 3: Once at the Arts Club Granville Island
July 22 and Aug 18: As You Like It at Bard on the Beach
Theatre Buddies | Ticket Access | Support | Reminders
We wouldn’t be here without them!

Last month we set a new record for the most Theatre Buddy requests for Misery at the Arts Club Granville Island, plus an out-of-town guest from Toronto. Big thanks to our Theatre Buddies Tal, Avital, Sandy and Rick Lin for taking such good care of them!

I just got back from leading an introductory workshop in dance description with CRIPSiE (Collaborative Radically Integrated Performance Society in Edmonton). It was wonderful to work with such a talented group of creators who are making accessibility and inclusion a part of everything they do. The workshop was held at the Universiade Pavilion at the University of Alberta, a sports stadium covered in bright yellow tiles that has been aptly and affectionately nicknamed “the Butterdome” by the locals.

Back in Vancouver this month, we’re partnering with the Revolver Festival at the Cultch to make the festival more accessible. Join community consultants, Deb Fong and Cathy Browne, as they check out some Low Vision Friendly programming (recommended as accessible without description) at the Cultch. Tickets are $15 with a free companion rate and priority seating when you mention VocalEye, 604-251-1363 (the Reading Series is free!).

June begins with two fabulous events: a described tour of Emily Carr in Dialogue with Mattie Gunterman at the Vancouver Art Gallery on June 2; and two described performances of Mamma Mia at the Arts Club Stanley on June 3 and 8.

Then I fly off to Ottawa to lead a describer/access training at the new Ottawa Art Gallery. The next edition of this newsletter will be out around mid-June with details on accessible and affordable Low Vision Friendly programming at this year’s Indian Summer Festival, updates on our continuing explorations with All Bodies Dance and more described performances.

I will leave you with a photo of the Butterdome and a couple of photos from the Touch Tour of Salt Baby at the Belfry. Big thanks to our volunteers Barbara and Frances, describer/photographer Rick Waines, artistic associate Erin Macklem, Linda Bartram and the Victoria Society for Blind Arts and Culture and all our patrons for another great year of described performances in Victoria. We look forward to spending next season with you!



The Butterdome, Edmonton (above). Patrons at the Touch Tour following Salt Baby at the Belfry (below).


VocalEye is delighted to celebrate BC Access Awareness Day at the Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver on Saturday, June 2 from 3 pm to 5 pm.

Join us for a special Described Tour of Emily Carr in Dialogue with Mattie Gunterman, facilitated by Steph Kirkland, Founder and Executive Director of VocalEye, and Art Educators Marie-France Berard and Lynn Chen. This enhanced Gallery tour is designed for people who are blind and partially sighted; however, all are welcome to attend.

Refreshments and a feedback session will follow the tour. As this is the first Described Tour led by the Gallery, we seek your participation and responses to help us create meaningful and inclusive services for non-visual learners and all visitors with vision loss.

Admission is free. Please register in advance by calling 604-662-4700 or RSVP online.

Sighted guides are available to escort visitors with vision loss to and from the Vancouver Art Gallery for this event. If you require a sighted guide, please arrange when you register by phone (604-662-4700) or email The meet-up location will be at the ticket level of the Burrard Skytrain Station at 2:45 pm. Sighted guides will return visitors to this location at the end of the event at 5 pm or earlier, as needed.

Mamma Mia! One of the most popular musicals of all time, described by Anika Vervecken on Sunday, June 3 at 2 pm and again on Friday, June 8 at 8 pm at the Arts Club Stanley, 2750 Granville Street, Vancouver. Tickets start at $29 for VocalEye users, while they last. Please call the Box Office to purchase at 604-687-1644. VocalEye’s new Ticket Access Program provides rebates for those in financial need. Theatre Buddies are also available to guide members to and from the theatre from a convenient meet-up location. Please contact Donna for more details on both programs: (deadline to book a buddy or a rebate is one week before the described performance).

A daughter’s quest to find her biological father before her wedding brings together three men from her mother’s past. Who will walk her down the aisle? Will she find out before saying “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do”? This summer musical will transport you to a Greek island paradise filled with ABBA-tastic hits like “Dancing Queen,” “The Winner Takes It All,” and “S.O.S.”

Check out ABBA’s 1974 Mamma Mia music video, with original hairdos and white jumpsuits!

Song List
Plot Summary

Once, a captivating do-it-yourself musical, described by Ingrid Turk on Tuesday July 3 at 7:30 pm at the Arts Club Granville Island, 1585 Johnston Street, Vancouver. Tickets start at $29 for VocalEye users, while they last. Please call the Box Office to purchase at 604-687-1644. This performance will be followed by a Talk Back with the cast.
As You Like It, Shakespeare meets the Beatles in this 60’s staging, described on Sun July 22 at 2 pm and Sat August 18 at 7:30 pm at Bard on the Beach, MainStage, 1695 Whyte Avenue, Vanier Park, Vancouver. Bard offers a special ticket rate for VocalEye users. Please call 604-739-0559 to purchase tickets and reserve headsets. Seating on the left side of the audience is recommended for best reception. The matinée performance on Sunday July 22 will be followed by a Touch Tour.


Theatre Buddies are available to guide VocalEye Members, 18 years of age and up, from a designated meet up location to and from selected theatres. To reserve a Buddy in Vancouver, please contact
In Victoria, contact Linda Bartram at 250-595-5888. Buddies must be arranged 3 days in advance.

VocalEye strives to lower barriers for members in financial need by providing rebates to reduce the price of admission to described shows. Members in Vancouver and the lower mainland can apply for assistance by contacting
In Victoria, please contact
VocalEye is now a registered charity (#80166 6702 RR0001) and able to issue tax deductible receipts for monthly donations or individual donations of any size. Please include all your contact information for receipt purposes. VocalEye season supporters are gratefully acknowledged on our website


A complete listing of VocalEye described performances and events can be found on our website.
Tickets must be purchased by calling the theatre’s Box Office unless instructed otherwise.
Be sure to mention VocalEye when booking your tickets to receive any discounts offered and to reserve your headset. Please indicate whether you have partial vision, a guide dog or other seating preferences. Seating options may be limited.
Arrive early to pick up your equipment so you can be seated in time for a sound check. A live pre-show introduction to the set, characters and costumes will begin 10 minutes before curtain.
Our handheld receivers come with a single earpiece that can be worn on the left or right ear, or you can use your own earbuds or headphones. The audio signal is mono, so it will come through on one side only.
VocalEye Memberships are FREE for people with vision loss.
VocalEye Members are eligible for Theatre Buddy assistance, ticket discounts and equipment pickup without a deposit.
VocalEye newsletters are available in your choice of formats: Plain Text or HTML with images. Both include a link at the top to a simple Word Doc format.
Help us spread the word about described performances and arts access for people with vision loss by sharing this newsletter with those in your network.
VocalEye respects your right to privacy. We will not rent, sell or trade our list. Our mailings are intended to inform you of our events, programs, services and fundraising activities. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Thank you for reading through. See you at the theatre!

Images: Boaz Joseph/Surrey Leader, Steph Kirkland, Rick Waines, Shutterstock and the interwebs

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Dear Members:

The Government of Canada has developed a new mobile app as part of their Job Bank. Below is an invitation for you to participate. If you are interested, please try the app and suggest any improvements. Further details on downloading the app and where to submit your comments are outlined below.

(French message follows)

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We are writing to solicit your feedback on a new app the Government of Canada has developed as part of its Job Bank.

The mobile app helps users find employment by providing full access to the job opportunities found on the Job Bank website, and by including mobile features such as GPS location-based searching and push notifications for when new matching jobs become available. It also provides customized job searching with filters such as “persons with disabilities”, “youth” and “Indigenous people”.

The Government of Canada has done testing to help ensure accessibility standards are met and focused on the performance of mobile screen readers (testing: VoiceOver, TalkBack, Zoom, Colour Ratio, etc) and other assistive technology tools.

The Job Bank team is new to the mobile app space and so they invite you to try the app and suggest improvements. You can send your feedback through the in-app Contact Us feature or via this link. Your general feedback on Job Bank’s services to the disability community will also be welcomed on

The app is available on Google Play and the App Store.

Please also share this with your networks and encourage them to use it and to provide feedback.

For more information about how Job Bank services can help people with disabilities find employment and help employers hire persons with disabilities, you can visit:

And, as always, we encourage you to follow @AccessibleGC on Twitter, Accessible Canada on Facebook and follow the hashtag #AccessibleCanada and #AccessAbility for the latest information.


Krista Wilcox
Director General
Office of Disability Issues
Tel: 819-654-5577
Cell: 613-266-5676

Chers amis et collègues,

La présente vise à solliciter vos commentaires sur une nouvelle appli que le gouvernement du Canada a élaborée pour son Guichet-Emplois.

L’appli mobile aide les utilisateurs à trouver un emploi en offrant un accès complet aux possibilités d’emploi qui se trouvent sur le site Web du Guichet‑Emplois et comprend des fonctions mobiles comme la recherche géolocalisée par GPS et des notifications instantanées lorsque de nouveaux emplois correspondants deviennent disponibles. L’appli permet également de faire des recherches d’emploi personnalisées avec des filtres comme « personnes handicapées », « jeunes » et « Autochtones ».

Le gouvernement du Canada a effectué des essais pour s’assurer que les normes d’accessibilité sont respectées et axées sur les performances des lecteurs d’écran mobiles (essais : VoiceOver, TalkBack, Zoom, Colour Ratio, etc.) et d’autres outils de technologie d’assistance.

L’équipe du Guichet-Emplois en est à ses débuts dans l’espace des applications mobiles et vous invite donc à essayer l’application et à suggérer des améliorations. Vous pouvez nous envoyer vos commentaires au moyen de la fonction Contactez-nous de l’appli ou de ce lien. Vous pouvez aussi nous faire part de commentaires généraux sur les services offerts par le Guichet-Emplois à la collectivité des personnes handicapées à l’adresse

L’appli est disponible via Google Play et l’App Store.

Veuillez également partager le présent message sur vos réseaux et encourager vos contacts à l’utiliser et à fournir de la rétroaction.

Pour obtenir de plus amples renseignements sur la façon dont les services du Guichet-Emplois peuvent aider les personnes handicapées à trouver un emploi et aider les employeurs à embaucher des personnes handicapées, visitez

Comme toujours, nous vous encourageons à suivre @AccessibleGC sur Twitter, Canada Accessible sur Facebook et les mots-clic #AccessibleCanada et #AccessAbility pour obtenir les renseignements les plus récents.


Krista Wilcox
Directrice Générale
Bureau de la condition des personnes handicapées
Tel: 819-654-5577
Cell: 613-266-5676

***End of e-mail***


Dar Wournell
National Secretary
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
Toll-Free: 1-800-561-4774

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