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The Blind Canadians Blog

Being the Object of Prayer

If you’re blind, you’re no stranger to the experience of having a religious zealot approach you to tell you that they’re going to pray for you, and that God will listen to their prayers, and give you your sight back. Such encounters used to irritate the hell out of me, but no longer. As someone who starts off with a deep theoretical interest in religion and its expression, I’ve come to view these experiences as an opportunity for a little informal research, and scope for entertainment.

Membership Renewal & Toronto IDPwD Event

Dear Current and Former AEBC Members:

When I returned from working overseas in 2009, I went to the usual service providers to upgrade my mobility, computer and independent living skills, including employment agencies to get back into the Toronto work force. After experiencing barriers and marginalization, I wanted to join a group making changes for the better for our community. That is how I started coming to AEBC meetings five years ago.

Learning and working together with like-minded blind, deafblind and partially sighted grassroots activists help all of us to hone our knowledge and skills in speaking up at public meetings, speaking to our elected representatives, and speaking about issues concerning us.

Service tip: Say goodbye to the CNIB Library website

Hello Everyone,

In August the Accessible Information and Copyright Committee posted documents providing members with information about CELA and NNELS services.

We want to share one important update from the CELA September “OpenBook Newsletter”.

Read on!

Service tip: Say goodbye to the CNIB Library website

It’s time to update your bookmarks! If you are still using the CNIB Library website to access CELA services, please note that as of October 15, 2016 that site will no longer be active and all library services will be fully transitioned to the CELA website. Please make sure you update your bookmarks today to use instead of Your account number and password remain the same as for the CNIB Library.

Travelling as A Blind Uber Rider in Canada

For those who have been unsure about trying out Uber or how well it works. I want to assure you that it is a fantastic service. As a blind person, I don’t drive and therefore only have public transit, taxis and the good will of others as transport options. It is great to have other choices. Signing up was straight forward and like any other app. There is an Uber app for both iOS and Android. Both are accessible if not intuitive.

I have used Uber a dozen or so times this year. I can’t speak to guide dog access but I have had extremely excellent service every time.

There are 3 categories of Uber in Ottawa - , the city I live in:

  1. Uber X = standard Uber
  2. Uber XL = van

Apps and other resources to help students with course and assignment readings


Back to school means lots of reading, as all students know! The purpose of this blog post is to provide you with info on programs, apps and resources that will enable you to do the reading you have to do for courses and assignments.

The list of resources, found below, is the result of the collective work of:

  • Kim Kilpatrick, GTT Coordinator
  • Rebecca Jackson, GTT, Summer Student Project
  • Albert Ruel, GTT Coordinator
  • Leo Bissonnette, AEBC National Board Member,

Our compiled list is not exhaustive.

AEBC/CCB Joint National Conference Call: NNELS Detailed Notes, July 27, 2016

August 31, 2016

(The following are detailed notes from the CCB and AEBC National Call which took place on July 27, 2016)

Dear program supporters,

On July 27, 2016, we held the national conference call regarding library services. The national conference call was sponsored by the Canadian Council of the Blind’s Get Together with Technology Program (GTT) and AEBC’s Accessible Information and Copyright Committee

The topic of the call was “Canadian Library Services: Who provides it, what do they provide, how does it work and what does the future look like?” Mr. Leo Bissonnette, AEBC National Board Member, and Mr.

AEBC/CCB National Conference Call: CELA Detailed Notes, July 27, 2016

August 31, 2016

(The following are detailed notes from the CCB and AEBC National Call which took place on July 27, 2016)

Dear program supporters,

On July 27, 2016, we held the national conference call regarding library services.


It was a warm and sunny spring day in June 2016 in Ottawa as I made my way to the centre Block on Parliament Hill high above the Ottawa River. Crowned by The Peace Tower, it is gothic revival architecture that both memorializes our past as a young and evolving parliamentary democracy and marks our path to a modern digital future with the means to enable all of us.

The sound of voices in the cavernous Centre Block Rotunda makes me feel so small, yet still significant… simply because I am there and open to all that unites us to each other.

Human rights vs accessibility legislation: One does not equal the other

While the aims of human rights legislation such as Ontario's Human Rights Code may seem to be aligned with those of accessibility-specific legislation such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the reality is that these are two very different schemes. While a violation of one may well be a violation of the other, this does not necessarily mean that complaints under both can be addressed together, or that the Human Rights Tribunal will give any credence to violations of the AODA.

A recently reported case from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (Clipperton-Boyer v McDonalds Restaurants of Canada Limited, 2016 HRTO 967 (CanLII)) makes two points that advocates must bear in mind when pursuing matters through the Tribunal.

Notes from June 13 meeting of the Ottawa Gatineau chapter of AEBC

On June 13 members of the community of people who are blind, deafblind, and partially sighted met to hear from OC Transpo about the Light Rapid Transit System that is being created in the city of Ottawa. The notes follow, they are prepared by staff who presented during this meeting. Recap of Questions and Answers

Q1. What is it going to be like to travel on the new O-Train Confederation Line?

The O-Train Confederation Line is a fully-electric light rail transit system, also called an LRT. It extends 12.5 kilometres from Tunney’s Pasture Station to Blair Station, and includes a 2.5 kilometre tunnel through the downtown core. There are 13 stations on the Confederation Line – nine above-ground stations and four underground stations.

Resources for Free & Low-Cost Accessibility Solutions: PC, iPhone/iPad, MAC and Android

During the 2016 AEBC National conference, the Access to Information and Copyright committee held a panel presentation about free and inexpensive accessibility software and built-in accessibility solutions based on universal design.

Below, you will find a list of compiled resources that may be of interest to those who would like to learn more about the solutions that were discussed. This is by no means an exhaustive or complete list, but we thank all those who submitted resources and hope that this list is helpful.

The Power of Access & Choice: Braille in the 21st century

NOTE: Are you a braille user, blindness professional, braille transcriber or parent of a braille reader? Want to stay informed about the exciting braille developments described below and more? Check out Braille Literacy Canada.

Nowhere in history is there an invention as pervasive and influential as the printed word. Print is everywhere, yet we often take its power for granted.

In school, learning to read and write is the backbone for later success, inclusion and societal participation. Arguably, the most liberating aspect of the modern age is the power of choice: we can often choose to access information electronically or in print, depending on what is most ideal for the situation at hand. But what about those who do not read print?

Non-Consensual Touching Seems to Depend On Who's Being Touched

I place the highest value on the impulse to help. One of my favourite things about my neighbourhood is that people ask me if I need help all the time. It never ever irritates me; it makes me happy. 19 times out of 20 I don’t, and I decline with a friendly word of thanks. In many other parts of the city however, I’m regularly physically accosted by well-meaning busybodies who haven’t learned to use their words. It’s not just me of course; most other blind people I know have the same problem. There’s a depressing distance between the good intentions of strangers who grab me on the street or in the subway, assuming I need help when I don’t, and the anger I often feel at being touched without consent.

People want to help. People want to make my unimaginable life a little easier.

Live Audio Description: What's Really Going On

I feel very fortunate to have the luxury of being an audio description snob. Now, if a movie or TV show doesn’t offer AD, I think three times about whether I want to bother with it. But audio description isn’t just for the movie theater or TV anymore. Increasingly, it’s becoming possible for blind and visually impaired people do access description for a wider range of cultural experiences like stage productions, art and museum exhibits, and sporting events. Recently, I had the chance to experience some live audio description that expanded my perception of my home city.

I like living in a city, especially one as diverse as Toronto. That said, I think of my affection mostly in practical terms: where can I go? What can I do? Who can I meet?

AEBC Telecommunications (CRTC) Committee Review of Bell's DORO 824C Cellular Phone

The AEBC Telecommunications (CRTC) Committee is pleased to share a detailed review of the DORO 824C Bell phone carried out by Ronald Pelletier, an active member in the Greater Montreal Chapter.

Ron’s report is detailed and offers an important perspective.

The phone is still under development and will no doubt add features and improvements.

Bell’s willingness to work with us by providing a phone for an extensive evaluation underlines Bell’s commitment to accessibility.

I urge members to read Ron’s evaluation, below.

I thank Ron for his detailed work on this project.

Leo A. Bissonnette, Ph.D.

DORO 824C FROM BELL (Evaluated by Ron Pelletier)

NOTE: This evaluation was made from the perspective of a totally blind person.

One member's recap of the Montreal conference

My name is Sharie Clarke and I am from the Montreal Chapter of the AEBC. I attended the AEBC 2016 AGM in Montreal. It was my first time at an AGM and over all, despite a few hick-ups; I found it a wonderful experience. There is something to be said for the sense of community I found there that is usually more difficult to grasp. I especially enjoyed feeling, for the first time, like I was part of a larger organization. So often, I find myself so hyper-focused on the causes of my chapter that I tend to lose site of the broader picture of the entire organization. I was very pleased to attend all three days and to take part in all they had to offer.

My only regret is my late arrival on Friday, because I heard the Friday morning workshops were quite good.

AEBC Ottawa Chapter meeting with City of Ottawa on transportation issues

On Dec 7 2015, the Ottawa Chapter of the AEBC hosted a very informative and successful first meeting with the city. 3 Representatives of the city (Tom, Randy, and Phil), joined a group of approximately 20 community members along with the Chapter Board to review and explore topics of mutual interest. Unfortunately, representation was not present from the Light Rail Transport (LRT) or customer Service areas and it is hoped this will be rectified in the summer 2016 meeting.

Discussions included bus announcements, universal design, the current LRT construction, installation of pulsing and audible lights, roundabouts, and the increased presence of bike lanes within the CITY.

Over The Rainbow Bridge - A Celebration of life for Nayttor Tayttor (November 22, 2002 - August 21, 2015)

This was written by Nate and Louise Johnson.

I was born on November 22, 2002 at GDB California Campus. I joined my puppy family in February of 2003, and enjoyed my time there. I was very well loved and learned a lot with my puppy family.

I arrived back at GDB's California Campus for my formal training in February 2004. My trainer was Darren Walsh who was an apprentice at that time. I learned slowly, but I never forgot what I learned. My training at GDB was longer than other guides. I became ready for class when I understood what was required of me, as a guide dog.

The first time I was partnered in class, it didn’t work out for the two of us. I went back to the kennels to wait for my perfect match.

Back to School? Access thousands of accessible books through Bookshare!

Students who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted often require access to material in alternative, accessible formats. There are many resources available out there, and the AEBC, including its Access to Information Committee, is on a mission to spread the word about some of them!

This blog post will tell you a bit about Bookshare, a provider of accessible online formats for thousands of books.

Federal Legislation to Implement UN Disability Rights Convention: Nothing About Us Without Us (CCD press release)

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities has released the below press release, calling on the government to fully implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Canada is a signatory to the same, but that has not removed the barriers that Canadains with disabilities face (or prevented the introduction of new ones!).

September 9, 2015 -- Building on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), supported by all political parties and jurisdictions, and given that Canadians with disabilities continue to experience barriers and discrimination, the Government of Canada must take new and concrete action to implement the CRPD.


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