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Talk to the President - October 2011

Dear fellow AEBC members:

I hope that everyone has had a great October and that with the fast approaching holiday season, we are all getting ready to raise our glasses in toast to each other's successes and accomplishments. I would like to thank those of you who have taken the time to send me your feedback for it is only with you and through you that the AEBC will be able to forge ahead. This month as always I have a question for you at the end of my update and I look forward to receiving your comments.

I'd like to start with one of my favorite quotations: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." John F. Kennedy

October was no less busy a month than previous months. Your board continued to toil away at their tasks and I am happy to say that they were happy as well with their progress. Everyone pulled together to accomplish something or other. Your second vice president Rajesh Malik teamed up with your secretary Cindy Ferguson and your director Marc Workman to put the finishing touches on a huge project. Throughout the summer, these three hard working board members along with Chris Chamberlin, president of Frontier Computing worked as a CBM Review committee to map out a new and exciting future for the CBM. Here are the details.

New and exciting changes are coming to the CBM!

The CBM Review Committee has made several recommendations which the board has adopted because it believes that they will help to make the CBM more of a going concern rather than a stagnant edition. At the best of times, change is always difficult to deal with but we are confident that you will want to be a part of this new era for the CBM.

The AEBC will still have a publication but it will now be in the form of an online version with braille and audio still available.

Members will now be able to play a greater role in their very own new and improved CBM.

The committee felt that change was necessary at this time and decided to do it now because of the upcoming expiration of the present contract with the publisher and in addition, it was becoming more difficult to deal with the publisher.

The CBM Review Committee spent all summer interviewing several members and the common consensus was as follows:
• Many felt that the content was outdated by the time it reached them.
• Most of the content had already been published on the Internet.
• No one really knew how many read it.

The CBM Review committee also took into consideration such factors as having to keep up with changes in technology, changing habits of readers, a push towards greater communication with members, and efficiency along with financial constraints.

The recommendations are:
• The CBM will no longer be published in print.
• It will be replaced by an online publication.
• Members will have the chance to blog and comment on issues relevant to our community.
• Members can still submit their articles for publication.
• Alternate formats will be available upon request.

We are aiming for an early in the New Year launch but in the meantime your director Marc Workman will be busy getting the blogging section ready as it will be a major part of our new initiative.

Marc invites you to email him at mworkman@blindcanadians.ca if you would like to become a part of this new and exciting era for the CBM.

The board joins the CBM Review Committee in thanking the CBM committee; Brenda, Sarah, and others for all of their hard work and dedication over the years and look forward to others joining them in this new stage of the CBM.

Not to be outdone, your director Amal Haddad has willingly agreed to head up the fund raising committee and she will be calling on others to help tackle a very challenging circumstance; how to find ways to help the AEBC climb out of its present financial woes. Amal has already gotten off to a flying start and this is not all. She is making noises on the point of sale committee and has already put out emails seeking feedback from members on their experiences with point of sale keypads. So if you have any feedback on either of Amal's two initiatives or better still, if you would like to help her make a difference, then please contact her at a.haddad@rogers.com.

Your director Marc Workman is also preparing to attend a very important teleconference on November 01 on behalf of the AEBC and here are the details:
There will be a meeting with interested parties in preparation for the meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), November 21 - December 2, 2011.

During that period, in addition to the SCCR 23 meeting, there will be an Informal Consultations on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations, Nov. 26 and 27, and the Preparatory Committee of the Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. The diplomatic conference will be held in June or July 2012.

Some of the items on this agenda include:
• Protection of audiovisual performances
• Protection of the rights of broadcasting organizations
• Exceptions and Limitations (in particular limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives and the instrument to facilitate access by those with print disabilities)

We look forward to hearing from Marc after this meeting.

Now, here is what our national secretary Cindy Ferguson was up to on Oct 22 and her news flash is below:

On Saturday, October 22, I was invited to participate in a live audio description pilot at Stratford Shakespeare Festival Theatre. The Theatre tested a live audio description service for a matinee performance of Camelot with a group of visually impaired and blind guests, with an opportunity for the participants to provide feedback about the experience. The Festival Theatre hopes to fully roll out this service in 2012.

Each guest was provided with a wireless receiver and headset, allowing guests to sit anywhere in the house. Fifteen minutes before the start of the play the description began with an introduction, thorough and vivid descriptions of the set, the appearance of the actors, costumes, scenes and actions. During intermission, the describer provided background information on the theatre, the production, and the cast. Natural pauses in dialogue were used to provide descriptions of the essential visual elements such as actions, entrances and exits of characters, facial expressions, body language, lighting, costumes, etc.

The production was a success and the post-performance feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with a few suggestions for improvements. Stratford is committed to moving this program forward and has asked the guests for continued involvement in further testing and describer training. I know many of you have opportunities to attend audio described performances. I would like you hear your comments / opinions / criticisms / suggestions about audio described theatre. Please send them along to me at cferguson@blindcanadians.ca.

The friends of the CNIB meeting took place on October 15/ 16 and I am sure that you have been reading each other's comments on the list. I personally would like to thank Richard Marion for having attended on behalf of the AEBC. I am acutely aware of the passion and opinions of our members and all that I ask of everyone is that we find ways to channel our energies in to positive thinking and ways to bring about progressive change for each other and for our kids of the future. If we can just find ways to turn our energies away from things that we do not like and instead channel them into things that we would like to see happen then just think how much further ahead we could be!

I can only echo the sentiments of Devon Wilkins where she asks that we become a part of the solution rather than remaining a part of the problem, and Bob Brown who urges us to move forward and leave the hate behind. We could do this organization so much proud if we could only just find a way to leave a legacy of having been the ones to turn the clock forward rather than the ones who allowed the clock to stand still.

Please, let this not happen on our watch! This quote best sums up my message:
"Don't let the past bully the future. You own the future, the past owns itself, and you are greater than them both." Carly Cermak

The long awaited town hall meeting on library services took place on October 29 and was well attended.

This meeting was jointly sponsored by the AEBC and the CWDO and I thank John Rafferty and Lori Sutej of the CNIB for having attended and John for answering questions and responding to comments from participants.

Three sessions were held; the first was for those attending via the Internet. The second session was for those who attended in person, and the third session was for those attending via phone.

I'd like to personally thank the following persons for all of their hard work:
• Melanie Moore- my right hand lady and main admin support person.
• Brian Moore, Richard Marion, and Pat Seed of CWDO for their technical support.
• Jane Blaine of Canadian Blind Sports Association and Anthony Tibbs our very hard working moderators.
• Terry Green of CWDO who attended via the Internet.
• Three of your board members - Rajesh Malik your second VP, Amal Haddad and Marc Workman your two directors for having shown their support for this meeting by attending via phone.

I would like to invite those of you who attended this meeting to share your thoughts on the members list.

In keeping with my commitment to you to help build more awareness of our organization, I started to post press releases on our website in response to important news headlines as they pertain to blindness and the world of blind persons. In early October, I responded to the release of Amazon's inaccessible Kindle Fire and I also commented on the death of Steve Jobs.

Both of these press releases are posted on our website and if you would like to write your own press release in response to something that you feel is important, then send it along to me at djodhan@blindcanadians.ca and we will post it for you as long as it is respectful and does not contain any offensive language.

I have also issued a call to chapter presidents to send along their own press releases to be posted so that we know what is going on in their neck of the woods. I believe that it is super important for our chapters to be able to show off some of their very important work to fellow members.

It is my hope that we can use press releases to help raise the AEBC's profile and this is just a start.

In my attempt to reach out to the requests of members, I also wrote a letter of support for Miles Motture; a Law student in Victoria, BC who has filed a complaint at the Human Rights Tribunal in BC over not being able to obtain his texts in electronic format on a timely basis. His letter is also posted on our website. Good luck Miles!

Certain members have also started their own initiatives and here is a quotation that aptly fits what certain folks are doing:

"With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world." Tenzin Gyatso

Two members from our Toronto chapter, Mala and Neena, have stepped up to the plate and have volunteered to work on an initiative to develop a model for attracting volunteers to work with blind persons in the Toronto area. They have asked that I not say more so stay tuned!

Our favorite article posting person Gaston is also on the move as he seeks to find other blind persons to discuss how to best work with agencies for and of the blind in his area of Aylmer and in Quebec as a whole. Maybe you would like to contact him at gasbedard@videotron.ca to see how you can work together to develop and formulate plans of action?

I would like to personally thank Gaston for taking the time to post all of those very insightful and interesting articles.

There is great news on the AGM front and as promised, I have some news for you.
First, and thanks to Air Canada and some initiative on our part, Air Canada has kindly agreed to donate two economy class tickets for two of our past presidents to attend the 20th anniversary celebrations in Kelowna, BC. So a big thanks to Air Canada.

Second, there are going to be two great prizes that will be offered as part of our 20th anniversary celebration. The first is an I Pad donated by Sharlyn Ayotte of T-Base communications and you will have to read my update next month to learn how you can win this very generous prize. The second prize is the president's prize! A handsome cash prize and I promise you that an announcement will be coming your way around Nov 15. This prize is being donated by me in the name of my dad and brother who both passed on 23 and four years ago respectively.

I have news for you on the 2013 AGM and none to early!

There seems to be an interesting race brewing as to who may want to host this event!
Thus far, two reliable sources have informed me that both Toronto and Ottawa are making noises that they may be interested.

Two buzzing bees have put the word in my ear and now we wait to see who else may be interested?

Could it be Toronto; a city with much to be proud of?

Or Ottawa; a city that is dying to rise from the ashes?

Or maybe another dark horse with something spectacular to show?

Stay tuned!

Now it is time for my question of the month and in retrospect, it may be time for us to ask: Ask not what the AEBC can do for us; ask what we can do for the AEBC!

My question is: How can the AEBC become a more proactive organization and less of a reactive one? What can we do in order to strengthen our voices and become more of a powerful player in the consumer rights advocacy arena?
Send me your thoughts.

That's it for this month.

With very best wishes for a happy Halloween,

Donna Jodhan
Your National President

Disclaimer:

This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.
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