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The Blind Canadians Blog

Braille: Historical Experience, Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities

For World Braille Day 2023

By Vangelis Nikias

For many blind persons all over the world, braille is the equivalent of the Gutenberg Press. For some time, educators, parents and other allies have also developed a strong appreciation for the benefits the braille system of reading and writing brings to the blind and society more broadly. We have Louis Braille to thank for this gift, the gift of literacy. When I think of the literacy of the blind, I always remember the story shared by a blind man. The man was attempting to immigrate to Canada from an English-speaking country. He already had a university degree. Because, however, being totally blind, he could not read printed letters, the immigration official who interviewed him told him he had to be classified as illiterate.

AEBC Equalizer Issue 15, December 2022

Equalizer December 2022 Issue

Download Braille Version (BRF); Download Word Version; Download Daisy Version; Download Audio Version

Welcome to the fifteenth issue of the Equalizer, December 2022!

You can navigate this newsletter by headings, which will move through the various articles and their subsections. How did you like this issue and the various formats available—Braille, Daisy, Word and audio?

2022 Board Operational Plan

November 14 2022

Assessment of AEBC’s Current Situation

AEBC serves: Blind, deafblind and partially sighted Canadians.

Our internal stakeholders are:
Staff – part-time contracted national bookkeeper
Registered members: BC Affiliate – 52; Halifax – 11; Ottawa – 28; Toronto – 44; no affiliation – 48; total 183
involved members– National level: (approximately 25). This figure is higher at the chapter/affiliate involvement level.

Involved members :

• Serve on national, chapter/affiliate boards
• Serve on committees
• Volunteer for special national projects
• Serve as AEBC representatives to external bodies/committees
• Fund raise at the national level
They contribute between 5 and 120 volunteer hours a month.

From the President’s Residence, The Difference We Make


Welcome to the end of my second year as your President. It was a much calmer year, but it was still one full of accomplishments. In fact, we made some real progress towards inclusion in society.

Before I begin my delineation of our accomplishments, I want to give thanks to my fellow Board members. They kept me, and the organization, grounded. They were always ready to have honest discussions—we didn’t always find consensus, but we always found a way to move forward. The upcoming elections are bittersweet—I am losing Minette Samaroo and Peter Field. I will miss both of you—and if you really want to get rid of me you’d better change your phone numbers!

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians’ 30th Anniversary theme: "Our history, our vision, our guide; forging the roadmap into our future."

How old were you when our organization was born?

In 1992, when Paul and Mary Ellen Gabias successfully birthed the National Federation of the Blind: Advocates for Equality, which was modeled after the National Federation of the Blind in the US, I was married with two preteen girls. My husband and I were both working full-time, and I was volunteering for a provincial cross-disability organization in Alberta. The articles of incorporation for the new organization were signed in June that year.

For Paul and Mary Ellen, bringing their dream to fruition was analogous to building a house from the ground up requiring a plan, a strong foundation, bricks and mortar for building, and resources to make NFB:AE a sustainable reality.

A Memory of John Rae from Thunder Bay

A very special friend and an even more special human being had a memorial service Thursday, for reasons I am not going to share I was unable to attend.

I first heard of John Rae when as president of OPSEU Local 714, I attended Members with Disability caucus meeting at OPSEU Convention. He always seemed to have another meeting or event he had to be at. I finally met him in person when a group of us got together to do a proposal for the formation of OPSEUs Disability Rights Caucus (DRC). It didn’t take long to find out just how busy John was.

Canadian Human Rights Commission Remembers John Rae

April 25, 2022
To the family of the late John Rae
c/o Marcia Yale
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
PO Box 20262, RPO Town Centre
Kelowna, British Columbia
V1Y 9H2
Dear Ms. Yale:

It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of John Rae. On our own behalf, and on behalf of the entire team at the Canadian Human Rights Commission, many of whom shared our great pleasure of knowing and working with John, please accept our most sincere condolences, which we hope you can extend to John’s family, friends, colleagues and loved ones.

In Gratitude & Song, Remembering John Rae

Thanks for the kind invitation (to the celebration of life). Sadly, I will be on the road, where John would have wanted me to be: Making music and giving concerts.

John and I met at a pub concert I gave in Toronto, back in 2008 or so. He was a mensch! He followed my career and corresponded via email regularly ever after. And took in a good couple dozen shows between in-person and on-line events. We were just writing to each within the last month.

He never let the distance between Chicago and Toronto be a deterrent to friendship or community. He was keenly aware that community is what we make of it, and about our commitment to those whom we consider our community. He remained committed to our friendship, especially during the Pandemic.

Members' Memories of John rae

The passing of John Ray is very sad news. He was a champion and an advocate fighting always for ensuring equality and justice for all  -especially  the visually impaired and the blind population.He was one of the founding persons of the AEBC and maintained a strong ties with this organization. He was interested in all subjects from sports to culture and history. He will be sorely missed.

Tom Teranishi

Vancouver, BC

This is truly sad news.  John taught many of us the meaning of advocacy and the sense of justice that motivated him to work so hard is something we will all remember.

Alan Conway

John loved Bluegrass music. Sometimes when he’d come to Ottawa, we’d go off to Pressed cafe for dinner and a concert.

In Memory of John Rae An Unmistakable Voice for Equality Has Gone Silent

April 9, 2022

By David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Twitter: @davidlepofsky

On April 8, 2022, Canada's disability community and indeed, all of Canada, lost a strong, passionate, unwavering and utterly unmistakable voice for equality, accessibility, and full inclusion for people with disabilities. John Rae's sudden, unforeseen and untimely death, caught us all by wrenching and painful surprise. That is because we cannot imagine the trenches where we wage the battle for equality with disabilities, without the thundering blasts of John Rae's voice, launching salvo after salvo at the forces of the status quo, mired in the frustrating mud of intransigence.

Liberals answer our pre-election questions

It is well recognized that there are barriers in Canadian society that people with disabilities are facing on a daily basis. People who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted face barriers such as transportation accessibility, access to the built environment and access to print materials. What is your party prepared to do to reduce and eliminate these barriers? The Liberal Party of Canada believes disability inclusion benefits everyone. When Canadians with disabilities have equal opportunities to contribute to their communities, to have the same quality of service from their government, to work, and to enjoy the same quality of life and choices as everyone else, we build a stronger country.

Progressive Conservative Party answers our pre-election questions

  1. It is well recognized that there are barriers in Canadian society that people with disabilities are facing on a daily basis. People who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted face barriers such as transportation accessibility, access to the built environment and access to print materials. What is your party prepared to do to reduce and eliminate these barriers? Canada’s Conservatives are committed to boosting the Enabling Accessibility Fund. We will provide an additional $80 million per year through the fund to provide: • Additional incentives for small businesses and community projects to improve accessibility. • Grants and support for all types of accessibility equipment that disabled Canadians need to work.

New Democrats respond to AEBC's questions to federal parties, Election 2021

  1. It is well recognized that there are barriers in Canadian society that people with disabilities are facing on a daily basis. People who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted face barriers such as transportation accessibility, access to the built environment and access to print materials. What is your party prepared to do to reduce and eliminate these barriers? We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally with the power to make accessibility standards in a timely manner. We will also ensure that these accessibility standards are vigorously enforced.

AEBC Equalizer

From the Editors

Hello, and welcome to the second edition of The Equalizer!

Were you a member of the AEBC when we officially changed our name from National Federation of The Blind: Advocates for Equality? At that time, we still wanted to maintain the word equality somehow, so instead of trying to squeeze it into our new name, which was quite long enough, we decided to employ the tag line: “Key to Equality.”

The tag line has since been dropped, but being equal with our sighted counterparts remains dear to many of our hearts. The two committee members who hadn’t submitted names for the newsletter checked out the ones that were submitted and chose “The Equalizer”. Did you know that, in the days of the Wild West, an “equalizer” referred to a gun.

What is Universal Design?

As the two parallel trends of globalization, technology innovation and human rights advocacy, draw closer together the push-pull effect on the digital divide is creating unintentional barriers. With corporate ambitions and service provider focus on delivery on one side of the divide, and marginalized citizens and policy makers on the other side. Societal inclusion is not just about enabling technologies and accessible services, but rather should be more about effective design around real life experiences. That is, education, skills development, and social behaviour must be an inclusive interactive engagement, so as to understand and remove real barriers to close the digital divide.

Welcome to our first quarterly newsletter

From the Editors

Welcome to the first issue of our quarterly newsletter

We are looking for a name for the newsletter. If yours is selected, you get bragging rights. Send in your suggestions by Saturday, November 24 to The name selected will be announced on December 3, 2018.

In future issues, we hope to include a column called "AEBC and You", which will include stories about advocacy efforts that you are undertaking, and a word or two from our partner organizations.

From the President's Residence

Greetings from your president:

I am pleased to have the opportunity to share a bid of information with you via our first edition of AEBC's Quarterly newsletter.

Let's Talk About A Digital Canada

Join me at the AEBC AGM 2018 on April 29 to discuss the AEBC advocacy role in the Canadian Digital Strategy. Review the fifteen Strategy Principles below, and reflect on the three discussion questions in preparation for our interactive session.

Join the discussion on how to make government better

Open Government is about making government more accessible to everyone. This means giving greater access to government data and information to the Canadian public and the businesses community. The Directive on Open Government is Canada’s "open by default" policy, providing clear and mandatory requirements to departments which will ensure that Canadians get access the most government information and data possible.

Global Trends and the Impact on Prosperity

The digital revolution and the social rights movement are disrupting the traditional business models, and having an impact on the way we interact with machines and each other. These two global trends are rapidly merging together to form a new era of artificial inteligence that will enable all people to share in the economic prosperity. As organizations become more diverse and more automated, business leaders struggle in making effective decisions with accurate and current information. The driving forces behind rapid societal changes are shaping cultural attitudes and business strategies, but only those who understand the global trends will remain competitive and sustain market growth.

Digital Design Without Inclusive Accessibility Is Blind

Going Digital


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