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Talk to the President March 2012

Greetings fellow AEBC members and I hope that all is well with everyone. 

Ah yes!  March is all but gone and soon April will be with us.  I hope that everyone is getting ready to have a wonderful spring. 

I would again like to thank everyone for their feedback and my question at the end of this update is an important one which I am asking you to really give some thought to.  I believe that this question will help your board to better understand what vision you seek for the AEBC.

My quote for this month is:

When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.

Catherine Ponder


Board News

Your board continued its usual pace for March and as our AGM approaches we will be working diligently to ensure that all of our deadlines are met.

Your second vice president Rajesh continued his work to ensure that scholarships remain a very important part of the AEBC's mission.  This past month, he worked with the folks at T-Base Communications Inc to put the finishing touches to a T-Base Communications sponsored scholarship which will be offered to a deserving student in the sum of $2000.00.  The details are posted on our website here and has been sent out to special needs offices of over 100 universities across Canada.  It will be resent in early April.  Rajesh is also promising a surprise for next month and I have been sworn to secrecy.

Your national director Marc continued his work with the Blind Canadians blog and is very happy with our progress thus far.  Members are contributing, comments are being made online, and tweets are happening.  However, Marc is always happy to welcome new bloggers and if you are interested you can drop him a line at

Marc also attended a meeting in Ottawa at the end of February; a committee hearing on copyright and his thoughts and comments are posted on our website.  You can see these by visiting

There is also a related CBC article posted to our website but here is an excerpt with Marc's quotes.

Blind Canadians Concerned

A group representing blind Canadians said the copyright reform bill is of great importance to them and noted that less than 10 per cent of printed material is available in an accessible format.

Marc Workman, national director of the AEBC, said access to material should not be based on exemptions for blind people in legislation, but instead on a commitment on the part of copyright holders to make accessible formats in the first place.

Bill C-11 does contain an exemption that would allow for digital locks to be broken by blind people, and Workman said while that exemption is supported, most blind people don't have the technological expertise to do it.

"Breaking the digital lock on copyrighted works is almost certain to be beyond the means of the average blind Canadian," he said.

Circumventing TPMs places a burden on organizations that produce alternative formats of material for blind Canadians, Workman added. His group urged MPs to accept a series of recommendations on how to amend the bill to better balance the needs of blind Canadians.

Your treasurer Charles and your national secretary Cindy continued their tireless work to get things in order for the May AGM; ensuring that memberships are kept up to date, preparing the call for the AGM, and other relevant duties.

I'd like to thank our book keeper Lois Benko for her continuing hard work on the AEBC's behalf and for helping to keep our house in order.  To our program administrator Tyler Moore for his work to ensure that all press releases and letters are sent out and posted to our website.  Thank you to Anthony Tibbs for ensuring that our website runs smoothly.

On March 15, I traveled to Montreal on my own dime to meet with Christine Boyle; Executive Director of the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre.  The purpose of this meeting was to find ways for the AEBC to collaborate with this centre on projects of mutual interest.  Heather Rupert, president of the Montreal chapter and Mike Ciarciello and Luchio Dentino, two members of the Montreal chapter were also present.  A summary of our meeting follows.

We discussed ways for the AEBC to create awareness of its presence and three specific ways were identified; in the MAB-Mackay's  June newsletter, on their website, and through a public info phone line (Publi-phone).  The MAB-Mackay has already included us on their website and we have agreed to reciprocate.  Heather and her chapter will be creating a bilingual blurb for the MAB-Mackay's June newsletter as well as a blurb for the phone line.

On May 26, a day long event will be held at the MAB-Mackay's center and the Montreal chapter has committed to the setting up of a kiosk to advertise the AEBC.  I thank Heather, Mike,  and Luchio Dintino for helping to make this happen.

On the evening of March 16, I attended a Montreal chapter meeting and was delighted to be there.  The chapter discussed ways to reach out to organizations in the French sector in Québec in order to try and increase the number of members for the Montreal chapter as well as to reach out to and foster greater relationships with other organizations.  The chapter also discussed fund raising initiatives.  Several members suggested ways for this chapter to move its agenda forward and they also had some very insightful ideas as to how to create and develop projects that could bring us some revenue. 

I again thank Heather and her team for having invited me to their meeting.

On March 23, I along with Melanie Moore of the Toronto chapter traveled to Brantford to give a presentation to the students of the W Ross MacDonald school for the blind.  The theme of our presentation centered on self advocacy and a summary follows.

Our audience consisted of students from grades 8 to 12.  Some staff members were also on hand.

Part one - I gave a summary description of our organization; who we are and what we do.  I also stated our mission.

Part two - Melanie presented on how to be self advocates.  She engaged the audience on several questions and emphasized the importance of keeping the use of Braille alive.

Part three - I talked about some of the objectives of the AEBC.  Our priorities; library services, point of sale, and website accessibility.  I encouraged them to fight for the protection of their rights and told them that others were depending on them to do so. 

Finally, Melanie and I told them that it was important for them to become self advocates but to do it with respect, courtesy, and commitment.

I thank Don Neale of the W Ross MacDonald School for the Blind for having given us this opportunity to speak to their students.

Our town hall meeting went off without a hitch on March 24 and lasted for about two hours.  It was carried out through a teleconference line and participants got an opportunity to pose questions to our esteemed panel of Sandra Carpenter of Center for Independent Living Toronto, Chris Chamberlin of Frontier Computing Toronto, and Jeff Stark of Environment Canada in Ottawa.  The theme of our second town hall meeting focused on the types of skills and experiences that these three panellists would be looking for in blind and partially sighted interviewees and applicants.  Many questions were asked, very insightful and thought provoking responses were offered, and a plethora of reference resources were shared.  A copy of our notes on this town hall meeting will be posted shortly to our website and it will contain a number of resource links.

I'd like to thank our town hall team; Melanie Moore our hard working town hall administrator, Jane Blaine our moderator, Cindy Ferguson, Pat Seed, Richard Marion, and Brian Moore.  A very special thanks to our panellists of Sandra, Chris, and Jeff for having given so generously of their time.  Finally, to all of our participants for having given up their Saturday to phone in.

Chapter News

I am pasting below an email that Heather Rupert, president of the Montreal chapter sent out to her members in early January. 

Thanks much Heather for sharing and keep up the great work!

Subject:  On January 6, 2012 both Heather and Michael members of AEBC went down to their local Via rail station to discuss an issue with accessibility to the local customer relations manager, and communications staff of the station.

The end result was successful on both parties and the issue was resolved.

This goes out to all AEBC members in that if you need an accessible issue to be resolved, to not hesitate in contacting any manager of customer relations of Via Rail. Anyone wishing to resolve an accessibility when communicating with such a manager customer relations does have to remember to bereasonable, and communicate in a diplomatic manner.

The Ottawa chapter will be holding their first meeting since they returned online and this will be held on April 03.

Members of the month

I'd like to start by telling you how delighted I am that two of our members; Chelsea Mohler of Toronto and Tyler Moore of Ottawa have both agreed to work on a project to attract younger members to our fold.  This gruesome pair some will be working to:  Identify a specific project with specific objectives, potential partner organizations to partner with, ways to advertise, and potential funding resources. 

This month, I bring you news from our own Everett Zufelt and his continuing efforts to help make a difference.  I am pasting below an email that Everett shared with us earlier this month.

In December I filed a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario complaint against the City of Peterborough. In the complaint I stated that there were over a dozen specific instances when transit stop announcements were not performed, and that in one instance a driver took my photo with a smart phone when I requested that stops be announced. Since the time of my complaint the City has equipped all transit vehicles with an automated announcement system, this was planned before my complaint.

I received a response to my complaint from the City yesterday. In the response they admit that during the timeframe they assessed secretly and are aware of at least 15 instances of drivers failing to announce stops, and that the driver who took my photo admitted so doing, and was disciplined. They, however, reject that they have violated the Code. It appears that their argument is that stop announcements are a suggestion, and not a requirement, under the Code.

I Suspect that their argument will not go very far should the case go to Tribunal hearing. We will be attempting mediation (I suspect within 12 months) and I will unfortunately not be able to report back about the results of that meeting.



Everett Zufelt

I have news from our very feisty Richard Marion!  This esteemed member is determine to let everyone know how Statistics Canada continues to ignore the need for accessibility when it comes to blind, partially sighted, and deaf/blind Canadians.  Pasted below, is the text of a letter that he has sent to Industry Minister Christian Paradis and I am pasting a copy of the text below.

The Hon. Christian Paradis

Minister of Industry


Dear Minister Paradis:


On February 8, 2012 I wrote to you regarding the accessibility of an international study that Statistics Canada is participating in.  The study is called The International Study on Adults. When I wrote to you I indicated that a portion of the survey was to be done independently.  Because this part of the survey is not accessible to people who are blind, I was and am still unable to complete this part of the survey. 

Since I wrote to you, I have received a letter from Lise Rivais the Director of the Western Region and Northern Territories of Statistics Canada.  In this letter she explains & rationalizes on why the self assessment part of the survey can't be made accessible.  Basically, she indicates this portion of the survey was developed outside of Canada and Statistics Canada is not able to make any changes to the software.  In addition, no attempt was made by her office to ensure that I receive the correspondence regarding accessibility in an accessible format so I could independently read the letter myself. 

The explanation and the lack of concern for my access needs by statistics Canada is unacceptable!  Today there is virtually no reasons why survey tools and documents explaining on why those tools can't be made accessible should not be made accessible to people who are blind.  Even though the survey tool has been developed outside of Canada, there is no excuse for Statistics Canada to not ensure the survey tool is fully accessible.  As a signatory of the UN convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities, Canada has an obligation to ensure that international activities such as this are fully accessible to people with disabilities and in the case of this particular survey, to people who are blind. 

Because no satisfactory solution has been proposed to me on resolving my access concerns, I am strongly suggesting that you direct Statistics Canada withdraw from The International Study on Adults and that all data Collected not be included in this international Study until such time the survey tool can be made fully accessible.  By doing this, it will demonstrate to me that Canada takes it's international commitments on the rights of people with disabilities seriously enough to ensure that when Canada participates in international activities such as this that Canada will work to ensure that the activities are fully accessible. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.  I look forward to your prompt response and a satisfactory solution to my access concerns.

Richard Marion

#304 - 515 Whiting Way

Coquitlam BC V3J 7W9



The Honourable Fin Donnelly

MP Coquitlam - New Westminster

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

Commitment of the month

I would like to proffer the following commitment for the month of April. 

Time to advocate for more affordable access technology.

In order for us to keep in step with the rest of the world, we need to have access to more affordable technology and we need to lobby harder for this.  There are programs in certain provinces that make it possible for us to have access to more affordable access technology but it is not quite enough because we need to have more timely access. 

Maybe we can put out a positional paper on this topic?  Any volunteers to start the ball rolling?

Letters and press releases posted to our website

For the month of March, The following was posted.

A scholarship announcement on behalf of T-Base Communications Inc; announcing their $2000 scholarship.

A CBC article titled Copyright bill changes urged as hearings begin (with quotes from national director Marc Workman). 

AGM updates

Well folks, there are but a little less than two months to our big bash in Kelowna and it is time for us to start pushing towards the finish line.  I again thank Denise Sanders and her hard working committee for their tireless work and Anthony Tibbs for his work on our president's contest.

Time for those of you who have not done so before, to register if you plan to attend our AGM, and to buy your virtual brick in our president's contest.  Registration details for the AGM have already been posted but I will again post below along with the announcement for the president's contest. 


Registration details

Hi folks,

We hope you will join us to celebrate our 20th anniversary in Kelowna on May

25 to 27, 2012!

We have 6 people registered already.  The registration form is attached and

below.  The fee this year is $50.00 per person.  Please return this form to

Please call the Prestige Hotel directly at 250-860-7900 to book your accommodations  before April 15 to get the AEBC rate of $129.00 plus taxes.

Conference Registration Form

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

Celebrating our Past, Determining our Future

First and Last Name: ^

Street Address (Line 1): ^

Street Address (Line 2): ^

City and Province: ^

Postal Code: ^

Telephone Number: ^

Cell Phone: ^

E-mail Address: ^

Workshop Preferences:

Note: We are asking you for your preferences to give us a better idea which

will be most popular. These are subject to some change, and you may switch.


1-a. Employability, an online national course--an informative Presentation

from Anu Pala from Niel Squire Society

1-b. Assertive training--role play scenarios to improve on self advocacy


Lunch Preference on Saturday (provided, please check only one choice):

1. Meat lasagna, salad, dessert, tea/coffee

2. Vegetable lasagna, salad, dessert, tea/coffee

If you have any dietary restrictions, please specify:

How will you be travelling to Kelowna?

1. By Air

2. By Bus

3. By Car

Estimated time of arrival:

Departure Time:

How do you expect to be paying your registration fees? ^

1. Enclosed with this form by mail

2. Sent separately to AEBC

3. Paying online by credit card

4. Paying by VISA or MasterCard - number and expiry date enclosed

Please make your hotel reservations directly with the hotel, where a block of rooms is being held until April 15 at: Tel: 250-860-7900

We look forward to seeing you at the 2012 AEBC Conference in Kelowna, BC,

May 25-27, 2012

Announcement of the president's contest

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


*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 yourbrick 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

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us at

Thank you!

Question of the month

My question for this month is the same as for last month and I really encourage you to send us your feedback.  It is really important for us to better understand the pulse of the membership.  Here again is my question:

What type of organization would you like to see the AEBC evolve into?

A. An organization that would focus on becoming the stronges  voice of blind, partially sighted, and deaf/blind consumers in Canada?  This would mean that every member would have to make a commitment to commit.

B. An organization that would focus on becoming one where socializing would be the main objective through annual AGMS, chapter meetings, and chatter on the members list that would include  the discussion of issues of the day?

C. To continue as is?  That is, to do nothing and based on present financial projections, it would mean that the AEBC's lifeline will be brought to an end in four or five years time?

Your feedback is really important to us and I cannot stress how important it is for you to share your vision. You can share it on the members list, or write to me or drop an email to

That's it for me for this month.  I wish you a very happy Easter holiday.

Donna J

Your national president



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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