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Talk to the President - November 2011

TALK TO THE PRESIDENT

November 30, 2011

Greetings fellow AEBC members:

It is the end of November and I hope that everyone is getting ready to celebrate the upcoming holiday season. Some of you may have already started to toast the end of another year while others are waiting for the first dawn of December 01. No matter what, I wish each and every one of you the very best!

I'd like to thank those of you who took the time to provide me with feedback for last month and remember! It is only with you and through you that your board can succeed!
I'd like to start with my monthly quote: "You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give." Eleanor Roosevelt

AN UPDATE ON THE PRESIDENT'S CONTEST!

As of today, 7 virtual bricks have been sold and a little over $300 pledged. Yes, this is right and with Christmas coming, please, please come out and buy either one or some virtual bricks for either you or for a loved one! Everyone has an equal chance but the more bricks you buy the greater your chance becomes!

I'll let you in on a little secret! Two of the biggest pledges have come from down East and Québec! So let's see which province can pledge the most! Please see further on for details on how you could win a handsome cash prize next May in Kelowna! Santa will be smiling more broadly if you could find time to come buy our website and purchase a brick or two!

November continued in the footsteps of October; a busy one for your board. I'll go down the line and give you a brief synopsis of what each board member was up to.

On Nov 15/16, your first VP John Rae attended court on behalf of the AEBC in the case Jodhan versus the Attorney General of Canada. John along with Cindy your national secretary were the AEBC's reps. John also attended CCD's 30th anniversary celebration and launch of book, "Celebrating Our Achievements," and annual End Exclusion, focusing on Provincial Anti-Poverty Programs. He also stirred the pot on some fund raising ideas which he has passed along to Amal Haddad, your national director and our fund raising committee chair.

Speaking of Amal Haddad, your national director, she has started to take action as chair of the fund raising committee. She has circulated a call for chapter presidents to put the word out that she is seeking others to join her committee. We need members to join this committee in order to help improve our shaky financial position and you can contact Amal at amal.haddad@rogers.com.

Other members on Amal's committee include: Rajesh Malik our second VP, Cindy Ferguson our national secretary, and Chris Chamberlin president of Frontier Computing.

In August, Amal also wrote a letter to the Enabling Fund folks to let them know that the application forms on their website were not very accessible to persons using screen readers. Here is their response to Amal.

Thank you for your email dated August 29, 2011 in relation to the recent Call for Proposals for Small Projects under the Enabling Accessibility Fund. We appreciate you bringing your concerns and your preference for the text format to our attention. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) is currently reviewing and updating all online content to meet accessibility standards set by Treasury Board Secretariat. Please note that the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) modified the webpage for the 2011 EAF Call for Proposals to inform applicants that posted forms and related information were available in other formats upon request. The Office for Disability Issues is committed to working with our partners to promote the full inclusion and participation of Canadians with disabilities in all aspects of society and community life. Again, thank you for sharing your concerns.

Regards,
Enabling Accessibility Fund
Program Support Team

Not to be outdone, your second VP Rajesh Malik continued his tireless efforts on working with others; your director Marc Workman, your national secretary Cindy Ferguson, and Anthony Tibbs one of your tireless and hardworking members to continue work on the preparing and launching of the AEBC's online blogs and other online features. We are hoping to launch this new facility early in the New Year.

Your second VP was also busy chairing the scholarship committee for November and is getting ready to evaluate the list of applicants for the two AEBC scholarships for 2011. He is hoping to give us an update some time in December.

Speaking of our new online facility which we expect to launch early in the New Year: Your director Marc Workman is working feverishly to put the finishing touches to this exciting new venture and will be giving you regular updates as it happens. Here is the text of an email that he sent out a few days ago to both the members and chapter presidents list. In the coming weeks, I will also be asking other organizations to post this email to their websites.

Dear AEBC Members,

The AEBC is looking to create an informative, engaging, and entertaining blog, but we need your help. We're looking for anyone who is interested in contributing regular blog posts on a variety of topics to the Blind Canadians Blog. Experience with blogging is not required. All that is required is a desire to write and share ideas with others.

The goal of the Blind Canadians Blog, which will be unique in Canada, is to offer a one-stop location for the latest news and developments of interest to blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians.

Briefly, for those who don't know, a blog is a form of writing that involves regular posts to a website. They come in many different flavors, but in general, blog posts are fairly short, 300 to 700 words, they are often written in an accessible or casual, as opposed to journalistic or academic, style, and they often deal with issues that are current.

There are a few advantages to the blog format that are worth noting: (1) They can be conversational. It is easy to comment on blog posts or on the comments of others and to ask questions of the author. (2) They are easy to share using email, Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media. This means they can quickly reach a wide audience. (3) They are easy to categorize and search. For instance, if you're looking for posts dealing with technology, you can choose a link that will bring up only those posts that have been tagged with the technology label. Finally, (4), Blog posts can easily include links to other websites. For example, if there is a post written on some interesting or important aspect of a CBC radio program, it is easy to link directly to the CBC site where the relevant program can be downloaded.

We would like to organize a team of people who are interested in contributing to the Blind Canadians Blog. The plan is to recruit a team of ten or so regular contributors, each of whom would be responsible for blogging on one or two of the example topics below. Those who are interested in contributing on a non-regular basis are also welcome to get involved.

Example topics:
• AEBC news,
• law and policy,
• advocacy,
• technology, assistive and mainstream,
• website accessibility,
• employment,
• guide dogs,
• book reviews,
• sports,
• education,
• mobility and travel,,
• arts and culture.

Because this is an AEBC blog, these topics would of course be approached from a human rights, disability, or blindness perspective. Other topics are certainly welcome as well.

If you are at all interested in getting involved as either a regular or occasional contributor, or if you have any questions, please send me an email
mworkman@blindcanadians.ca.

Our hope is to have a team in place to begin regularly blogging early in 2012. With that goal in mind, I'm planning to organize a teleconference with those who are interested and available some time before the new year.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Marc Workman
National Director
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

Marc was also busy in November with other activities. First, he attended the Bell meeting on November 17 and here is a brief summary from him.

The Inclusive Design Research Centre out of the Ontario College of Art and Design has officially been retained as the consultant on the Bell Mobility Accessibility Project. The Advisory Committee met for approximately 3.5 hours on Thursday, November 17. The group has been expanded to include a couple of Quebec groups, and there are plans to further expand to include groups representing people with brain injuries and older Canadians.

Bell asked for an extension until the beginning of April to submit the detailed plan to the CRTC. and the CRTC said no. The commission gave them until the end of December.

Marc and others voted to give Bell the requested extension and he was happy to meet the IDRC team to learn what is going to be the plan for the next few months. Marc is planning to contact members to ask for any and all feedback on the accessibility of mobile products and services in the coming weeks. The next meeting for Marc on this issue is expected to take place in mid to late February.

Your treasurer Charles Bailey was also busy this past month as he presented next year's budget to the board. Not an easy task for any treasurer at a time when we are in such need of funds in order to pull ourselves out of financial red ink. Charles was also busy renewing the contracts of our fund raisers.

There is no new news on the library scene as we await the CNIB's next steps in the push towards the establishment of a hub that would hopefully place library services in the hands of a non-charitable entity. The CNIB has scheduled a teleconference call for December 01 to update stake holders on the present status of their progress.

In keeping with my commitment to you to reach out to other organizations and to do my best to increase revenue generating opportunities, I had a teleconference call with a team from Accessible Media Inc. This organization has become the new entity that united Voiceprint, and the accessible media channel under one roof. The purpose of my meeting was to explore possibilities to work together on various initiatives that would help to raise awareness of each other's presence. We agreed to work on projects on a case by case basis and we discussed various ways of working together. I am expecting another such discussion in the coming weeks and will keep you posted.

There is some news on the coalition front. I along with Richard Marion attended a coalition meeting in mid-November and at this teleconference, the coalition agreed to redefine some of its priorities as we are trying to avoid duplication of duties. There will be a face to face meeting of the coalition members at the end of March 2012 in Toronto. Richard Marion and I are your two reps to the coalition.

MEET YOUR TOWN HALL COMMITTEE!

I would now like to introduce you to our town hall committee and it is our hope that we will continue to work towards future town hall meetings where issues of importance will be discussed by AEBC members as well as by other blind Canadians. At the present time, this committee is made up of members from the AEBC, Citizens with Disabilities Ontario (CWDO), and Canadian Blind Sports Association (CBSA):

Melanie Moore - AEBC member and CWDO board member.
Cindy Ferguson - your national secretary.
Jane Blaine - Executive director of the CBSA.
Pat seed - Chairperson of CWDO.
Richard Marion - AEBC member.
Brian Moore - AEBC member.
Anthony Tibbs - AEBC member.
Terry Green - CWDO board member.
Donna Jodhan - AEBC president.

Thanking those who attended court on Nov 15/16 in the case Jodhan versus the Attorney General of Canada.

I would like to personally thank those who came out to support our court case on Nov 15/16 (Jodhan versus the Attorney General of Canada) with a special thanks to Susan Pinder (chief inspector) for having helped to marshal the troops. These two days were extremely stressful to me personally but nothing could have been better than all of the support that I received. Thank you everyone for having stood together and now we await the decision. For those of you who attended court, you may want to share your experience with the list as I have been advised by my lawyers that it would be better for me not to comment on it in public until the entire matter has been settled.

WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS:

I would like to welcome the following new members to our growing fold.
Jean Menzies
Pat Seed
Tyler Moore

Welcome aboard and have fun!

The following press releases were posted this month.
• National Disability organizations come together to voice concerns over unequal library services
• Toronto Cancels IDPWD (International Day for persons with disabilities).
• Blind Canadians Question Government's Motives In Appealing Landmark Internet Access Case

Remember now, if you feel that you have something important to share and wish to have a press release sent out on behalf of the AEBC, then please send it to me at djodhan@blindcanadians.ca.

A letter was written by the AEBC to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) on behalf of Catherine Fichten, Jennison Asuncion, and Maria Barile.
This letter was in support of an application that these three Montreal chapter members submitted to the above organization seeking funds for their project titled
Unlocking the Potential of the Digital Economy to Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities: Integrating Theory and Practice. This letter has been posted on our website and we Wish Catherine and her group all success.

We also agreed to renew our support for the TrailBlazers Cycling Club of Toronto to apply for a grant. Last year we supported their successful application and this year we are pleased to do this once more. The TRAILBLAZERS are applying for the 2012 AEHR (Access Equity Human Resources) grant. Good luck to the TrailBlazers and their hard working president Linda Spinney!

This month, I am pleased to start a new feature; chapter news. In this section, I will be highlighting headlines from chapters across the country. I hope that this will give us a way to learn more about the great work that our chapters are doing.

FROM THE METRO VANCOUVER CHAPTER:

The Metro Vancouver chapter is prepping for a comedy night fundraiser in conjunction with the New Westminster Lions Club. This will be taking place early 2012 We will be using the money raised to help send a few members to the AGM in Kelowna. P.S. We also voted to change our chapter name from the Vancouver Lower Mainland chapter to the Metro Vancouver Chapter at our last meeting.

From Christine Nieder
Metro Vancouver Chapter President

FROM THE BRANT CHAPTER:

The Brant Chapter made its usual donation to the annual Thank A Vet Lunch. This year was the 14th annual lunch with over 650 in attendance.

This is a way for us and the community to show appreciation to those who gave so much for us. This year we also honored those who were in Afghanistan from the 56th Field Regiment here in Brantford.

For more information of the Thank A Vet Lunch visit: www.thank-a-vet.ca

This Friday, November 11th we are also attending the Cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremony as an organization to show appreciation to those with us and those who aren't with us so we can have the rights and freedom we have today. We're looking into a fund raising event for late April early May for a dinner, dance, and auction.

From Bob Brown
Brant Chapter President

FROM THE KELOWNA CHAPTER:

The Kelowna chapter will take part in another art show at the art gallery on November 26. We will also be voting independently for the first time at our city elections. Using an accessible voting machine on November 19.

From Lisa Neufeld
Kelowna chapter president

WINNIPEG CHAPTER

It is with apologies that I neglected to announce that in September the Winnipeg chapter welcomed a new president! Eric Mackinder stepped down to return to his home in England and Richard Campbell succeeded him.

A big and belated welcome to Richard!

On Nov 25, I was invited by the Montreal chapter to attend a portion of their monthly chapter meeting via phone. This was because they had a very special guest! Christine Boyle, Executive Director of the MAB-MacKay Rehabilitation Center of Montreal. The purpose of this invitation was to introduce Christine to the Montreal chapter of the AEBC and to start the ball rolling on finding ways for the Montreal chapter and the MAB-MacKay Rehabilitation Center to work together on projects of common interest. Christine seemed very open to doing this and I have offered to travel to Montreal at my own expense sometime in February to chat further with her along with the Montreal chapter.

I am always looking for reasons to visit La Bell Province so this will be a perfect opportunity for me to go home! Thank you Heather Rupert for having invited me and Christine Boyle for having signed up as a lifetime member!

On behalf of the national board, I would like to thank Richard Quan, outgoing president of the Toronto chapter for all of his hard work and commitment to the AEBC over the past many years. In December, Richard will be stepping down from his post after having served us above and beyond the call of duty both locally as well as nationally.
We wish Richard well in his new endeavors and hope that he would never be far from us.
Bonne Chance Richard!

MEMBERS OF THE MONTH!

I'd like to start recognizing those members who have something to share with us. Something that they have done for the past month and are proud of! It always gives me pleasure to report on what some of our hard working members are doing and as I keep saying: Every little bit counts! This month, I am pleased to report on the doings of our own Everett Zufelt who presently lives in Peterborough. I am pasting below, the text of an email that Everett was kind enough to share with me. Thank you Everett and keep on stoking the fire!

1. I thought I'd write with an update to issues that I am currently dealing with.

1. In February I filed an HRTO complaint against the Region of Waterloo for not having consistent stop announcements on transit, and for having an inaccessible transit schedule. A mediation date has been set for Jan 12 in Toronto.

2. In March / April I was passed over for a job on the grounds that I am blind, I was told directly. When I mentioned that this was a violation of the Code I was told to "be careful" because doing anything about it could cause problems in the future if I applied for other positions. When I mentioned that this threat of reprisal was also a violation of the Code the HR person that I was dealing with was confused, but didn't take back her statement. I filed an HRTO complaint and the respondent has until December 8 to respond.

3. I recently moved to Peterborough, where bus schedules where inaccessible and there was a 0% compliance rating on stop announcements on my first 9 trips on transit. Bus schedules are now accessible. In short, I asked a driver to announce stops, he said no, he took my picture in reprisal. (Everett's email follows)

Thank you for the reply.

Let me start by saying that I notice that your message was sent after 7pm, so I recognize that it was later in the day than perhaps you wished to be writing it. Thank you for your dedication to your job and the complaints that I have raised.

It is difficult to assess tone in written communication, but in your last two messages I receive a sense that the issues that I have raised have caused annoyance, and an extra burden for the City. Other than wishing that text in an animal control bylaw be made more inclusive (a very low priority) the remainder of the issues that I have raised have to do with safety, or actual or potential violations of the Human Rights Code.

You write: "our duty to accommodate may at times be limited".

I assume that what you mean here is that the City's ability to offer a reasonable accommodation may be limited, as it would constitute an undue hardship. The Code requires that reasonable accommodations be provided, unless so doing constitutes an undue hardship. The duty to accommodate is only limited by the Code, the ability to accommodate is limited by, understandably finite, resources.

So that we are on the same page, and recognizing that some of these issues will be dealt with by Sharron, let me make things clear from my perspective, so that there is no chance of misunderstanding.

1. Stops not being announced: violation of AODA and Human Rights Code. I believe that based on your message below, that the City has taken appropriate action.

2. Reprisal for requesting that stops be announced: violation of s.8 of the Code. Although it is taking longer than I may wish, it seems to me that the City is currently taking appropriate action. I will wait to be informed of the outcome of the meeting prior to making any further comments on this issue.

3. Companion fare on transit: to not allow persons requiring assistance to have a companion to accompany them for free may be considered a violation of the Code. I believe that by looking into this, with reasonable speed, that the City is taking appropriate action.

4. Sidewalk safety: as any other resident who is injured I think that it is reasonable for me to attempt to find out more about the details of the injury (ownership) in particular, and about the regulations for sidewalk safety in general. I basically want to make sure that if there is a public works department, or other department, that is supposed to make sure that things like this section of sidewalk are safe, that they take a look at the section of sidewalk where I injured myself, and perhaps that they fix it. I am also concerned, for my safety, by apex (radius) curb cuts at intersections (NW corner of McDonnel / George as an example) where the landing zones on opposite sides of the street are not parallel.

5. Language in bi-law: along with the language in the animal control bi-law stating that I am incompetent to pick up after my dog, and the "handi-van" being a decades old and non-PC name for a Specialized transit service, I am sure that there are other mildly annoying, and functionally not very important ways in which the City could show that it actually understands the social importance of communicating appropriately about disabilities.

Thank you for your continued assistance,
Everett Zufelt
Accessibility Consultant & Web Developer

There is some news to report on the May 2012 AGM to be held in Kelowna BC.

The Vision Aid Store in Toronto has kindly donated a lovely door prize; a large print remote control device. I thank the good folks Miriam and Bob Gindi at Vision Aid Canada for their donation.

If you would like to learn more about the Vision Aids store, then here is their contact info.
Tel 416-422-5556
795 Eglinton Ave. E. Unit 106
Toronto, Ontario
M4G 2K9
Web www.visionaidcanada.com

The AEBC has also managed to obtain a handsome donation from Dominion Securities INC and this will be used to help recognize some special volunteers at our Kelowna conference. I personally thank Richard Papadina from Dominion Securities INC for his contribution to this worthy cause.

Early in the new year, we will be telling you more about the recognition of 10 volunteers at our Kelowna AGM. Stay tuned!

As I mentioned in my October update, we have two fabulous prizes to be won! The first is the president's prize! A handsome cash prize donated by me and the announcement which is going to be posted regularly can be found below. Please read carefully and the draw for this prize will be held on May 26 in Kelowna and drawn by no other than our esteemed Denise Sanders, chairperson of the 20th anniversary committee! An announcement for this exciting contest was already posted on November 15.
Everyone has an equal chance and I personally thank Anthony Tibbs for putting this exciting contest together!

The second prize which I mentioned last month is an IPad; generously donated by Sharlyn Ayotte of T-Base Communications. All persons who have registered to the Kelowna AGM are eligible to be a winner of this handsome prize and in next month's update, I will be revealing more details so please stay tuned!

Here is the announcement that was posted on Nov 15.

Greetings members!

In May 2012, the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians will celebrate twenty years of supporting blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians!

Would you like a chance to win $500 cash? Help achieve our goal! We're building a virtual wall for 20th Anniversary Supporters, to represent the foundation on which the AEBC is based, and the supportive nature of our scholarship program. The funds raised will serve as the foundation for the scholarship program this year and into the future. When you join as a 20th Anniversary Supporter, and help lay that foundation by buying a virtual "brick" on our 20th Anniversary Supporters' Wall, you will also be entered into a draw for a $500 cash prize! In fact, for every dollar that you (or someone you refer to AEBC) donates before May 26, 2012, you will automatically receive one additional entry into the contest!

*How will this work?*

First... Buy your brick and make a donation to the AEBC! Each brick costs only $1.00. With your virtual brick you will receive an entry into a contest for a $500 cash prize, to be drawn during the 20th anniversary conference and general meeting in Kelowna, BC (May 25-27, 2012)*. You can only buy one brick, but for every dollar that you donate to the AEBC before May 26, 2012, you will automatically receive an additional entry into the contest! But wait...

When your brick purchase is processed by AEBC, you will be given your "brick number". This is a unique 5-digit number that identifies your brick on the wall. Pass that number along to your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone else you can think of. When they buy a brick, and supply your brick number, you will also get credit (and additional contest entries) for every dollar that they donate and raise for AEBC. (You also will be given a special URL that you can post to Facebook, Twitter, and email messages to ensure you get credit for your referrals.)

Don't want to buy and pay online? Call us at 1-800-561-4774!

If you would like a tax receipt, be sure to provide a shipping address in PayPal so that we know where that should be sent. Note that your initial brick purchase ($1.00) is not eligible for a tax receipt. If you make a $10.00 donation and you do not yet own a brick, then a tax receipt of $9.00 will be issued.

Join and donate online at http://www.blindcanadians.ca/20years

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us at communications@blindcanadians.ca.

Thank you!

It is time now for my question of the month and I hope that you can help by sharing your thoughts on this topic so here goes.

How accessible do you think your neighborhood supermarket is? Do you feel that more can be done to make it more accessible and if so, what would you suggest?

Send me your thoughts to djodhan@blindcanadians.ca.

My parting quote for the month is this one: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." John Fitzgerald Kennedy

That's it for this month.

With very best wishes for a happy holiday season!

Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noèl! Feliz Navidad!

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.
ZZ - Disregard this link; it is used to trick spammers.