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Talk to the President June 2012

Dear fellow AEBC members:

Well!  Happy Canada Day to each and every one of you!

I hope that June has been a great month for each of you and that the oncoming summer will be an enjoyable one.  Time for us to kick back for a bit and savour the kinder weather.

I again thank those of you who have taken the time to drop by and give us your feedback and I hope that you continue to do so.  For it is only with your feedback that I along with your national board can become better at steering the ship.

You can send your feedback to  

My quote of the month is as follows:

"I've come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that's as unique as a fingerprint - and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you."

Oprah Winfrey


In board news

As promised, I would like to introduce you to the lead reps for our priority committees and a brief description of each committee's mandate will follow.   

These descriptions will also be posted to our website.

Library - Cindy Ferguson (National Secretary) and Richard Marion

A description follows.

The AEBC Library committee will continue working to support the establishment of a government funded library for people with print disabilities.  Part of our work will involve consulting with CNIB on the implementation of their business plan for a national service hub for serving people with print disabilities.  We will also continue working with the CBRC to have the federal government be accountable for what actually happened to the funds from The Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA).

Website - Rajesh Malik (Second VP)

A description follows.
One objective of the website committee is to encourage public and private sector organizations to produce accessible websites.  We would do this through the following.

1. We will identify around 5-6 Federal Government sites to be monitored given the recent ruling of the Federal Appeal Court in the case Jodhan versus the Attorney General of Canada.

2. We will develop specific criteria to be used in our evaluation.

3. We will carry out an evaluation every three months and publish our findings on our website as well as send these to the appropriate Federal Government department so that they are aware that we the AEBC are monitoring them.

4. We will develop a short survey asking members to give us their feedback on which websites they find to be inaccessible and why.  We plan to release this survey to our members in early September.

5. We will then use this feedback to start contacting the companies responsible for these websites and work with them to develop an accessibility policy.
For further questions please contact our second VP Rajesh at


Household/Point-of-Sale Devices - Amal Haddad (National Director)

A description follows. 

Over the past few years, the members of the AEBC point of sale committees had generously lend their time and energy to work on the issue of inaccessible point of sale terminals to blind and partially sighted Canadians.  The highlight of their work riveted around conducting consultations, writing letters to public offices, regulatory authorities and POS terminals suppliers in Canada.  They reviewed the existing Standards that do not fulfill the greater need for accessible POS for our community.  They researched and located the patent owner of the tactile and audio prototype terminals in the States.  They even conferred with the ACB executive director for the purpose of better understanding the successful work done in parts of the States around the matter on hand.  

At our last month's conference, we confirmed the need to maintain the inaccessible POS as one of our priorities and to continue the work we started.  We have taken steady and sure steps towards achieving our goal so far, and we know there is yet quite a way to go.  We are in the process of writing to MPs and rewriting to the regulatory bodies and lobbying for the implementation of new and better Standards.  We do know of the existence of accessible POS prototypes in Australia and the States, and want these available and in use in Canada.

Do you think you can help achieve this?  Then join our POS committee.

You can write to our national director Amal Haddad at


Access to Telecommunications and Broadcasting Products and Services -

Marc Workman, John Rae

The description follows:

Heading up this committee are Marc Workman and John Rae. Over the last couple of years, work on this committee has involved participation in the Described Video Working Group (DVWG) and the Bell Mobility Accessibility Advisory Committee. The DVWG is a large group of representatives from industry, CRTC, and consumers working on increasing access to, and awareness of, descriptive video content. The Bell Mobility Accessibility Advisory Committee is a committee established by Bell to oversee the development and implementation of the Bell Mobility Accessibility Project. The overarching goal of this project is to increase the accessibility of Bell Mobility products and services.
In addition to participation on the working group and the committee, the AEBC has also appeared at a number of CRTC hearings and had a hand in crafting Media Access Canada's submission to the CRTC regarding the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.

The expectation is that we will continue to participate in the working group and the committee and present at any CRTC hearings that concern us, such as licensing renewal hearings. We are currently awaiting the CRTC's decision regarding the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund. Regardless of what precisely is decided, we expect this decision to have a significant impact on our ability to access broadcasting and will thus devote a great deal of attention to this issue in the near future.
There are a number of other related issues that fall under the purview of this committee, such as access to broadcasting over the internet, access to broadcasting hardware such as personal video recorders and set top boxes, and ensuring that mobile apps related to broadcasting and telecommunications are accessible.

If these are topics you're interested in, and if you're willing to commit some time to meeting and discussing these issues, then please contact Marc Workman (, and

let him know of your interest.


Accessibility in Procurement - Sharlyn Ayotte, Robin East, Cindy Ferguson (National Secretary)

A brief description follows.

The federal government (through Public Works Government Services Canada) has procurement policies and a procurement mandate.  These can be revised to include requirements for accessibility as part of the procurement process.  Communications procurement is being revised and adding accessibility should be part of that process.

This committee plans to send out letters to various levels of government as well as to such industries as banking, Consumers Association of Canada, health ministries, and telecommunications companies.

The letter would focus on the importance of having all procurement policies that deal with information and communications systems and technology incorporate accessibility into the procurement of all goods, products and services as soon as possible. 

If you are interested to learn more and in working with this committee, please contact Sharlyn Ayotte at   


As for other important committees -

* Steering committee for the formation of a strategic planning committee.

  Lui Greco your first VP will be leading this committee.

The work of this steering committee will be as follows:  

They will be responsible to recruit and engage member input and participation.  They will do this through the circulation of an invitation for participation to the membership.  They will oversee the formation and work of the strategic planning committee.

AGM - Charles Bailey and Stephen Ricci (National Treasurer and National Director) respectively will be leading this committee.

The work of this committee will be to choose the location for our 2013 AGM and to plan and coordinate all related processes and events relating to the 2013 AGM.

The scholarship and copyright committees will be headed by Rajesh Malik your second VP and Marc Workman will be working with Rajesh on the copyright committee.   

Charles Bailey and Stephen Ricci will be working on the fund raising committee.

Marc Workman will continue to work along with Anthony Tibbs on the Blind Canadians blog.

Finally, your reps to the coalition will be Cindy Ferguson and Richard Marion and Richard will also be representing our interests at the CNIB sponsored face to face meeting to be held some time in the fall.

In other news

On June 8 and 9, former National Director Marc Workman represented the AEBC at the annual general meeting of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) in Winnipeg. This year was an election year for the CCD, and though Marc was not among the slate of candidates put forward by the nominating committee, he was nominated from the floor and successfully ran for the position of Secretary on CCD's Executive Board.

I congratulate Marc on his election to the CCD executive. I'm sure he will do an excellent job in this new position, just as he did while serving on AEBC's National Board.  Score one more victory for the AEBC!

If anyone is interested in learning more about the CCD and the work they are doing, you can contact Marc at

Marc also appeared in front of the Senate Committee's hearing on the copyright Bill C-11 as the AEBC's rep in Ottawa on June 26.

As part of our initiative to push for greater awareness of the AEBC, We have started a new page that will list those organizations and companies that we have link exchanges with and you can view this new page at

I thank Anthony Tibbs and Tyler Moore for helping to launch this initiative.  

Your scholarship committee is busy pulling their scholarship programs together and they are very excited about their new initiative; the personal development scholarships.  

The T-Base two thousand dollars scholarship has now closed and the winning participant should be announced in the coming weeks.  

The AEBC's call for submissions for its scholarships should be ready to be announced in early September.  

We again thank Deborah Wilson for her very generous donation of two thousand dollars towards our personal development scholarship program.  

In town hall news:  Our next town hall meeting is carded for October 27 and the proposed topic is self advocacy.  I am sure that we will have many ideas as to what we could be self advocating for and about; employment, rehab services, just to get you thinking.     

Here again is your town hall team.
Melanie Moore, Jane Blane, Pat Seed, Cindy Ferguson, Richard Marion, Brian Moore, Anthony Tibbs, and Terry Green.

Stay tuned for further updates on our next town hall meeting.


The AEBC pushes back!

In early February 2012, a meeting was held in Ottawa that focused on STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT ON EMPLOYMENT -


It was organized by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada's (HRSDC) Office for Disability Issues.  

The objective of the Engagement was to discuss Employment Barriers for Canadians with Disabilities and to bring national disability stakeholders together to discuss the challenges and barriers along with the success stories and best practices experienced by Canadians with disabilities in relation to employment.

Just before this meeting was held, I had a phone call with officials at the ODI to ask why the AEBC had not been issued an invitation to this meeting and I was told that due to budgetary constraints, only a certain number of organizations were chosen.

In late June, I received an email asking for input on the findings to this meeting and the findings were attached to this email.  Through a number of exchanges with Donna Andrews of HRSDC and a final phone call from her to me, I told her that the AEBC was terribly disappointed at the way that we were treated over this matter.  That we were an organization committed to advocacy on behalf of Blind Canadians and that as an organization of blind Canadians we felt strongly that we should have been invited in order to provide valuable input.
I will hasten to end my report to you on this matter by telling you that almost all of this report focused on barriers facing our Aboriginal community and that there was nothing of substance pertaining to barriers facing blind Canadians.  Within minutes of the completion of Ms Andrews's phone call to me, I received an invitation from someone at HRSDC asking the AEBC to submit a proposal to the 2012/SDPP-D Call for Proposals 2012.  It was addressed only to the AEBC but a copy of this email was also circulated to others some time later on in the day.


Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more.  


In chapter news

Our quarterly tele conference for chapter presidents was held this past month and presidents seemed pleased with the outcome.  A number of issues were discussed, and excellent ideas and suggestions exchanged.  

As a whole, the chapter presidents expressed concern that there is not enough awareness of who we are and what we do as an organization, and a number of ideas were exchanged on how to move forward to address this.  The chapter presidents also expressed a willingness to play an integral part in the strategic planning committee's deliberations.

Chantal Oaks of Kelowna and Bob Brown of Brantford kindly agreed to be the chapter presidents reps to communicate with the strategic planning committee.


Starting in August, two of our board members will be paying individual visits to each of our chapter presidents to touch base on how their individual chapters are doing.  It is hoped that these individual visits can occur twice yearly and that it would give National and their chapter presidents more opportunity to foster closer communications.  Rajesh Malik and Amal Haddad have both kindly agreed to be the board's reps on this revived initiative.  


At the AGM in Kelowna, a question was raised about a $1,500.00 expense for "Bad Debts" which was reported in the financial statements.  At the time, it was indicated that this relates to money that was recorded but not received from the Toronto chapter.  To clarify, the funds had been erroneously recorded twice in the national records, and the $1500 expense was necessary to correct the error from the prior financial year.  This was not the result of any wrongdoing on the part of the Toronto chapter.

Well, here comes the Montreal chapter once again headed by their fearless president Heather Rupert.  This time, Heather and her team have managed to score another one for the good guys by getting the Mab-McKay Rehabilitation Center to place a link to the AEBC's website from their own website.  

It can be found as follows:  

Under the "Community and Social Economy Organizations", under the "Partners and Resources"Section.

Or you can click on the following link to be redirected...

Well done president Heather!

Not to be outdone, President Amal of the Toronto chapter is pleased to share the following info with you with regard to the Public Service Announcement that has been created and distributed; a fine piece of AEBC workmanship.  Note:  This PSA can be run by recipients up until the end of April 2013.

The AEBC spots were delivered to all broadcast television stations in

Canada, both conventional and specialty. In addition, they were delivered to the following cable operators who run community channels: Rogers, Shaw, Cogeco, Eastlink, Videotron (VOX) and Access 7.

The following major networks and station groups received the spots on tape:



- Shaw Media (Shaw Specialty Channels and Global Television Network)

- Rogers Omni and City TV stations, and Rogers Sportsnet and Specialty Channels

- Groupe TVA

All others received the spots through Yangaroo DMDS' electronic service, which allows us to track whether or not they were downloaded. The following broadcasters downloaded the spots, which is a strong indication of intent to broadcast:



- Access 7 (community tv network in Saskatchewan)

- Astral Specialty (6 National French specialty channels; Canal D, Canal Vie, etc.)

- Stornoway (3 National English specialty channels, including bpm)

- CFGS (French TV Station in Gatineau, QC)

- CHAT (English TV Station in Medicine Hat, AB)

- CHEK (English TV Station in Victoria, BC)

- CHFD (Hub for 2 English TV Stations in Thunder Bay, ON)

- CITL (Hub for 2 English TV Stations in Lloydminster, AB)

- CKPG (English TV Station in Prince George, BC)

- CKRN (Hub for 3 French TV Stations in Rouyn-Noranda, QC)

- CHEX (Hub for 2 English TV Stations in Peterborough and Kingston, ON)

- Corus (7 National English Specialty Channels; CMT, W Network, W Movies, etc.)

- CTS (Hub for 3 English TV Stations serving Ontario and Alberta; religious broadcaster)

- Eastlink TV (community tv stations in several markets across Canada; based in Halifax)

- MeteoMedia (French version of The Weather Network)

- Rogers TV (community tv stations in several markets across Canada; based in Toronto)

- SCN (Saskatchewan Communications Network, now an affiliate of Rogers' City TV)

- Shaw TV (community tv stations in several markets across Canada; based in Calgary)

- Teletoon (4 National specialty channels, 2 English, 2 French)

- VOX (community tv stations througout Quebec; based in Montreal)

- Zoomer Television (2 National English Specialty channels: Vision and One; 1 English TV station in Winnipeg)

Congrats to you president Amal on your excellent initiative!

I'd also like to commend the following chapter presidents for continuing their work on fund raising activities:  Heather Rupert of Montreal, Richard Campbell of Winnipeg and Bob Brown of Brantford.  We are living in a climate where fund raising is becoming more and more of a challenge and at the best of times it is almost impossible to find ways to attract fund raisers let alone carry out events that would bring satisfactory results as everyone seems to be competing for the same dollar from the same person.  

Well done lady and gentlemen!


Members of the month

This month, a huge bouquet of congrats go out to our very own Paul Thiele.

Paul received an award from Vancouver Community College as an outstanding alumni for his life's work in the community.  The article printed in Paul's honour on June 12 was titled Former UBC professor honoured for helping the visually impaired.  Paul is the founder of Crane Library for the blind.  

Congrats to you again Paul!  More than well deserved!

Well, he is at it again, refusing to give up the good fight and who am I handing out another bouquet to this month?  Why, Richard Marion of Vancouver and why?  Because this tireless warrior refuses to accept that Statistics Canada may not be responsible for an inaccessible survey that they chose random participants to complete.  Unfortunately for Statistics Canada, Richard was chosen and when he discovered that all was not well with the survey, he took his concerns to the Federal Human Rights Agency.  Richard is presently awaiting word from this esteemed agency as to whether they will be able to handle his complaint.  Stay tuned!


Commitment of the month

No commitment for July except for you to commit to enjoy your summer.


Letters and press releases posted to our website

The following press releases were posted to our website.


Here is an announcement on behalf of Accessible Media Inc that has been posted to our website and also pasted below.



AMI is seeking to recruit individuals who are blind or partially sighted for a research panel. This research panel will provide an integral link and feedback mechanism as we strive to fulfill our mission of making all media accessible to all Canadians.

Participants will be asked to weigh in on various ideas and decisions in order to improve the overall AMI experience and will only receive invitations to participate in surveys or discussion sessions which they indicate as being relevant to them in their registration. In appreciation for their participation their names will be automatically entered into periodic prize draws.

As the only media in Canada with 24-hour accessible programming for persons who are blind or partially sighted, AMI provides its audiences with content that is entertaining, informative and interactive and continually strives to improve the quality and relevance of its services in order to be as inclusive as possible.

If you are blind or partially sighted, then we invite you to be part of our research panel.

To register please call 1-855-839-4772 or visit<> to register online.


Question of the month

My question for this month is as follows:

Who do you think should be providing rehab services to blind, partially sighted, and deaf/blind Canadians?

Should it be privatized or should it be done through the auspices of a charitable organization?  

That's it for me for this month.  I wish you a great July and a happy summer.

Again, happy Canada Day to you!

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.