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Talk to the President - June 2011

Dear AEBC Members:

I hope that you are all doing well and that you are enjoying some of the nice weather that we have been having thus far for this spring and early summer.

As I promised in my speech to you on May 21st, one of my commitments is to increase communication between your board and you and to that end, each month I will be writing to you to give you an update on some of our activities.

I will also have a question for you - one which I hope will stimulate some good old fashioned discussion and I would also like you to write to me with your own questions. Tell me what is on your mind and what you would like me to know more about. So, without much more ado, here is my update to you.

I have been very busy since becoming your president. I have a lot to learn but I have a very enthusiastic board standing with me and we hope to bring you good news on a regular basis.

On June 8th, I, along with Richard Marion attended a teleconference call on the library which was chaired by the CNIB. In this meeting, the CNIB brought us up to date on their present efforts with regard to the library. There is not much new to report here except to tell you that they are still standing by their previous statements that they wish to see the library be set up under an NGO. Other organizations were there as well. Cathy Moore chaired this meeting and she also told us that it did not appear that the government was interested in getting involved in the setting up of a library service for print-disabled Canadians.

I am acutely aware of the great passion that our members have towards this topic and to that end, I am working to develop a way whereby you will be able to have your say directly to John Rafferty and the CNIB. I am very committed to ensuring that our members are able to voice their opinions to the CNIB and I hope that when I unveil our plan, you would be in favor of supporting your board in this effort. I will be in a better position to tell you more about this sometime in August.

Your board continues to work on the priority issues that you identified to us a year ago: library, point of sale and household products, and website accessibility. Board members have been appointed to each committee.

In addition, board members continue to attend important meetings; teleconferences for BCE and the CRTC were attended in June and I hope to tell you a bit more about what went on at these two teleconferences in my next report.

The coalition will not be meeting during the summer. The next meeting is scheduled for September. I note here that in May, Robin East was re-elected as chair of the coalition for another one year term.

Your board has established two specific communications committees. The first will be dealing with internal communications - matters that are related to the concerns of our members. The second will be dealing with external communications - reaching out to other organizations in order to form collaborative relationships.

I am hoping to develop a plan whereby we can spread the word about the AEBC to such sources as university radio stations and through public announcements. Maybe you have an idea that you would like to share with us on this?

As one of my passions, that being to get kids more involved in the joys of advocacy, I have contacted the organizers of the Score camp in Toronto and they have agreed to let us make a presentation to their young students sometime in early August. It is hoped that we could do this annually. Cindy Ferguson will be speaking to the Score students for this time around. I also have plans to ask the Brantford chapter to help set up a meeting for me to speak to the students in Brantford sometime in the fall.

I am also hoping to meet with some interested members to discuss how we can kick start some sort of fundraising campaign. This continues to be a challenging area for the AEBC but as promised in my speech, I will be doing my best to address this area of concern. Hopefully some time towards the end of August, I will start this arduous task.

Sometime in the fall, we will be going to court to defend against the appeal that the government has mounted against our charter challenge. Rumor has it that there are some groups that are planning to seek intervener's status in this case. The court dates should be known sometime in July and the three day session will be held in Toronto in front of three judges. I am counting on your support to show everyone that we will not be backing down on this matter.

Melanie and Brian Moore, along with Ken Barwick, are going to host a barbecue on July 9th at the home of the Moore’s, and attempts are going to be made to establish a Hamilton chapter. I'd like to personally thank Melanie and Brian and Ken for taking up this challenge. 

Plans are on the way for the Ottawa chapter to be resurrected and hopefully, I should have something more to report in September.

As another promise that I made to you in my speech; that being to communicate more closely with the chapters, I will be seeking a teleconference meeting with all chapter presidents towards the end of September.

Now it's time for me to ask you my question of the month.

What can we as an organization do in order to promote more recreational sports for blind and partially sighted persons? Do you think that more needs to be done or are you happy with what you presently have access to?

How important is it to you to be able to have access to recreational sports? Recreational sports can include both outdoor sports as well as indoor events and include anything from skiing, skating, cycling, etc. to learning to play any sort of card game, dominoes, scrabble, etc.

To this end, I have been told that Susan Pinder and Lynda Spinney of the Toronto chapter are interested to start a club to enable persons who are blind and partially-sighted to learn how to play card games and participate in such. The club would be for beginners and active players.

Tell us what you think.

I wish you a very delightful July and if you have a moment, please drop me a line and talk to me about anything.

With very best wishes for a happy Canada Day!

Donna Jodhan, your National President


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