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The Blind Canadians Blog

Election accessibility (town hall report): What to expect in the 2015 federal elections

On Saturday, February 28th, 2015, AMI, Elections Canada, and AEBC presented a town hall discussion on the accessibility of federal elections. We were joined by Marc Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, who is ultimately responsible to parliament for the operation of the Elections Canada regime.

The purpose of this discussion was primarily to gain an understanding of the issues that continue to face our community, and to gain an understanding of the problem from Elections Canada's perspective. There were more than 50 participants registered for the call, and AEBC was certainly well represented with many of our members having an opportunity to speak and share their point of view.

Disability Alliance BC seeks nominations for "Outstanding Employer of the Year Award" - Deadline Feb 27!

Nominations are now open for Disability Alliance BC’s (DABC) 2015 annual Outstanding Employer of the Year Award. This is their second annual Award. Last year’s winners were Starbucks (1500 West 2nd) and the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS).

If you know of an employer who goes that extra mile to ensure people with disabilities are gainfully employed, please consider making a nomination.

This Award recognizes a BC employer who has demonstrated excellence in the hiring and employing of people with disabilities.

Making tax time accessible to all Canadians!

This article has been posted for the benefit of the community on behalf of the Canada Revenue Agency. Please contact CRA for further information.

Canadians with disabilities and those who live with them know that, over a lifetime, the costs of overcoming barriers can really add up. That’s why the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers credits and benefits for Canadians with disabilities and their caregivers to help offset these costs—from childhood through the school years to the workforce to retirement.

Now Imagine the Blind Business Owner...

As a founder, and now retired entrepreneur, I know all too well that growth potential for business depends on the availability of accessible information regarding regulatory and policy changes, and also may be the difference between success and failure. In the beginning, as a person who is blind, the journey of starting and growing a business was a daunting task filled with pitfalls and many information challenges. I encountered more than my fair share of people who could not believe that a blind woman could succeed. I was troubled by the attitude of many people with respect to their consistent belief that blindness prevented me from being successful, which created needless attitudinal barriers.

World Braille Day 2015 -- In honour of the dots!

This day (January 4th) marks the birthday of one Louis Braille who, in 1824, at the age of 15, devised the tactile code now known as braille, used by those who are blind to read and write in much the same way as the sighted use print and handwriting.

  • Braille is critical for students who are learning to read and write and who will not otherwise gain the same appreciation for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Braille is critical for those who work: research has shown that among those who are blind, the vast majority of those who are employed are also braille users.

Braille Literacy Canada's "The Big Brailler Bounce Initiative"

Braille Literacy Canada has set out to uncover all the missing and disused Perkins braillers, with a view to re-homing them to new owners who need them.

  • If you have a Perkins braille under your bed or in storage somewhere that you are not using, donate it and give it a new life! If it needs repair or servicing, BLC will see that that is taken care of before it is re-homed.
  • If you need a brailler or know someone who does, you can add your name to the list of those wanting braillers and one will be sent your way when it becomes available.

In either case, e-mail Jen Goulden (info@blc-lbc.ca) for assistance.

For more information, see http://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/en/about-us/events.

President's Report - January 2015

Hello, AEBC!

A new year is upon us and our future is bright. While AEBC has to some extent been a bit dormant over the past year or two, a number of exciting things are happening and are in the works that will put us back on the map and get us moving in the right direction.

We will be launching some new "campaigns" over the next few months that aim to generate public attention and to get members involved.

Here's an update for you on what we've been "up to" at the national level over the past few months and what we have brewing.

Regards,
Anthony Tibbs
President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

A. Announcements and Reminders

1.

Independence and Peer Mentoring

I think often about the road I've used to get to where I am, and mostly I think about it from a place of gratitude. I know and understand that along the way I've tripped over many hurtles and that I've come across people who were less than helpful or supportive, and yet I'm amazed at how easy it is for me to remain focussed on those events, people and organizations who have helped by setting down the smooth paving stones that make up my path in life.

I'm quick to acknowledge that some professionals like Phil Crowson, Kay Finley, Pat Robertson, Larry Bieberly and Julie Beland provided the early guidance and skill development I needed, and for them I remain ever grateful.

Engage with us on Facebook and Twitter!

The AEBC Communications Committee is working on expanding our reach to engage as many people as possible and share our news and plans about matters important to us such as,the upcoming AGM and Conference in Halifax. Sharing our message with potential new members, sponsors, donors and more will increase our influence on issues and opportunities that may be of interest to all of us.

In that respect, I am requesting that for those of us with twitter accounts to please visit Twitter and follow @blindcanadians and @AEBC_Halifax.

Our request is that you follow to help us increase our reach and engagement.

We will follow you back.

If there are Chapters which also have twitter and/or FaceBook accounts, please adv

From the Montreal chapter: What is advocacy?

Here is a Wiktionary definition of advocacy and a few words about advocacy and advocating. Hope you like it and I will look forward to your comments about them. If you could send me any topics I would be happy to relate what I know about what we have done about them up to now.

Advocacy

  • the profession of an advocate
  • the act of arguing in favour of, or supporting something
  • the practice of supporting someone to make their voice heard

For the most part, as chapter members of a national organization we will be engaged in self-advocacy or supporting collective advocacy. Often, national issues will involve our collective voice to amend existing legislation or to require new legislation for the benefit of anyone experiencing vision loss.

Canadian Human Rights Museum set to open in Winnipeg (September 20, 2014)

In January 2013, Stuart Murray CEO of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) announced the Museum had embraced an approach to inclusive design that would set new standards for universal accessibility. I doubt this bold commitment would have been realized if it weren't for the extensive and ongoing involvement of the Council of Canadians With Disabilities (CCD), and other disability experts.

Is AMI becoming the new CNIB of our lives?

Is AMI becoming the new CNIB in our lives, somewhat more open to our input than CNIB ever has been it is true, but yet another huge separate empire that is considered the source of expertise on blindness and all matters concerning accessing described programming?

I have believed from its inception that its very presence would and will be used by regular broadcasters and the CRTC to drag their feet, push back, or sluff our aspirations over to AMI, to slow down progress. Nothing has changed my views.

Tactalis "tactile computer"?

While monitoring the AEBC twitter feed, I noticed a tweet from @Tactalis wondering what we 'thought' of their new tactile computer project. Basic information about the tactile computer is available on the IndieGoGo fundraising page for the project, where the company behind the initiative is working to raise $40,000 toward the project, which will be used for the first production run aimed at getting "tactile computers" into classrooms.

They describe it as follows:

Our groundbreaking platform embeds an array of switchable magnets beneath any LCD panel to instantly create tangible reproductions of images that are normally displayed only as pixels of light.

Think you might be interested in blogging?

We are always looking for new, regular contributors to the AEBC blog, and you needn't be an expert to do it! While blog posts to the AEBC blog must have some connection to the organization and its objectives, there are a hundred and one different ways to achieve that goal. Perhaps a particular article or event resonates strongly with you and you want to share your perspective, or perhaps there is a theme that you'd like to regularly write about. Whatever the circumstances, we invite contributions from everyone.

If you are a regular writer, we can set you up with your own account and provide instructions on how to directly write and post blogs. For more occasional writers, or for those who aren't very comfortable with the web site, there's an easier way.

Massage

My youngest son teaches English in Korea. He has recently resigned a contract for yet another year, this will be his 5th year working in Korea. He enjoys teaching and enjoys the travel opportunities living abroad affords him. He loves the young woman he met in Korea and that is the reason he has chosen to stay. She is absolutely lovely, she loves my son and my son loves her.

My son, and his girlfriend arrived a week ago for a 10 day visit. I have met his girlfriend twice before, the first time when the ex and I visited our son in Seoul and the second time when our son brought her to Canada. When I visited Korea I left my dog guide with another son and used my cane.

Reflections on the CRTC "Let's Talk TV" submissions

Attached are some of the disability related submissions to the CRTC Lets Talk TV Phase Three process that I could find on their website. They are all in the public domain.

In my opinion, these submissions are a good real time indicator of broadcasting and BDU issues of concern to some individuals and groups of and for persons with disabilities.

Arts and my imagination

I read an article in “The Atlantic” recently entitled “Disability Is Not Just a Metaphor”. The author, Christopher Shinn, comments on “able-bodied actors playing disabled characters”.

Shinn states, “We are not witnessing the actual pain and struggle of real disabled human beings; it is all make believe.”

I understand that actors who self identify as persons with disabilities find few opportunities. Shinn’s comments that the obvious absence of people with real disabilities lessens the potential power of works about disability concerns me. All art is make believe. Prose, poetry, theatre, painting, sculpture, they all force us to suspend our individual “real” and step into our imaginations.

Words

I was out for lunch with a high school friend last week. I finished high school many, many years ago and she and I have maintained a friendship through marriages, children, career changes, divorce and rebuilds, and aging parents. As always, we shared stories, we laughed and we bragged about our children.

We had just finished lunch and were enjoying coffee when a man approached our table and said hello to my friend. It turns out he attended our high school as well. I have not seen him for years but my friend has kept up with him. She hugged him and asked if he remembered me.

There it was ....... that awkward moment of silence. “Oh, yes,” he said. “I remember you. How are you doing? I heard you had gone bl........”

“Yes,” I answered. “I am blind.

Weeding

It’s Mine!!!!

Those of you who have followed my blog know that I have been in this house for a year. This is my first Spring!!!!!! It is absolutely lovely!!!!! I have spent many, many hours in my gardens.

The previous owners created low maintenance perennial gardens. Low manintenance perennial gardens still need to be weeded. Here I am, on my hands and my kness, running my hands over the dirt. At this point, the plants I want to flourish are above elbow height and those I don’t want to flourish are still thumb height. That is the gauage I use. I pull out everything thumb height or lower. If a weed is above elbow height, I have a couple of sighted friends armed with spades, weed spray or pruners.

Choosing a Customer Focused Relationship whith Service Providers

There are a number of organizations in the public, nonprofit, and private sector providing services to blind, deafblind and partially sighted people throughout Canada.

With so many new accessible technologies being introduced that enable our community with access to information anytime and anywhere, , greater numbers of blind people can be found online and connecting with others who share a common vision and interest in the benefits of accessibility as the means of joining, participating and contributing to the social and economic life of Canada.

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