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The Blind Canadians Blog

I See Books Differently (#IAmYourCustomer)

I remember my very first online shopping experience in 2005. I was exploring the choices available in the digital world for books. Although downloads of audio books had already become available, I was shopping for reading materials on CD from commercial booksellers, as I wanted to share the joy of listening with my brother Peter, who was at that time loosing his fight with cancer.

My first stop was at a well known online book store, where I added almost $300 worth of audio books to my shopping cart.

Seeing ourselves as "customers" (#IAmYourCustomer)

Sometimes sitting around a kitchen table produces amazing results. This is exactly what happened one day recently when AEBC members Sharlyn and Deanna got together around Sharlyn's kitchen table - the new AEBC's "I Am Your Customer" campaign was the result.

We have come to see ourselves as "consumers," and this is a positive development, as a growing number of us now have developed heightened expectations of the extent and quality of services that are available to us.

Greyhound Bus Online Ticket Purchase (#IAmYourCustomer)

Recently I attempted to purchase a Greyhound ticket for a trip I was planning. I appreciated the fact that it could be done online using my credit card, then printed and stowed away in my suitcase for convenience. What a wonderful way to ensure that they’ll have a seat for me when I arrive at the bus depot, and for me to be organized so as to reduce my stress levels during the trip.

I was planning to take this trip without a sighted guide, and as I’m totally blind it was important to me to have all my ducks in a row. Sadly, my repeated attempts to complete the transaction on my Windows 8.1 PC computer or my iPhone 6 failed. Some of the fields wouldn’t allow me to access them with the help of the screen reading technology I use to access both of the above noted online devices.

My cell phone bill in braille ... or not. (#IAmYourCustomer)

My journey started when I purchased my very first iPhone in May of 2012 after putting my old Nokia 6682 to rest. I spent two hours in the local Roger's store, playing around with mobile phones to see what would suit my needs as someone who is totally blind. The 4S was the newest mobile phone that I wanted so bad; it felt great holding a 'somewhat' accessible device in my hand that was further advanced than my Nokia. Sold!

The Customer Service Representative was great. He set up my phone, transferring my contacts to my new iPhone and making sure that Voiceover and Siri was turned on. I think I taught the Customer Representative a lot that day using Voiceover with an iPhone.

I walked out of Roger's very excited - almost like a child in a candy store.

Even after Fretz v BDO Canada LLP, people with disabilities retain the right to request accommodations that meet their needs

A decision a few months back of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”), Fretz v BDO Canada LLP, 2014 HRTO 1288, has attracted the attention of employer-focused law firms and commentators, while also raising eyebrows within organizations supporting persons with disabilities.

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.

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