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Talk to the President August 2012

Dear fellow AEBC members:  August has now come and is almost gone and with it another summer is in the books. 
I hope that everyone had a very enjoyable summer and that the encroaching fall will be a good one for everyone. 

I'd like to thank those of you who continue to send in your feedback and encourage you to keep on doing so.  Your feedback is extremely important to your board because it is the only way that we will know what you are feeling.  I'll have my usual question for you at the end of my update.

My quote for this month is as follows.
"Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been."
Hilary Clinton

In board news
This month, I'd like for you to join me in presenting a huge bouquet of thanks to our board and why?  Because these fine folks have been working full tilt throughout the long summer months to ensure that the AEBC submits a stellar proposal to the HRSDC - the SDPP submission on behalf of the AEBC.  Some of your board members have been doing double duty.  That is, working on multiple committees to ensure that things keep going despite vacation time, family emergencies, and being short handed because of the resignation of our secretary in mid July.  Certain members have also pitched in to help out and all of these fine folks have gone way above the call of duty as volunteers.  The AEBC should be very proud to have these fine folks working on our behalf.

I would be rmis if I did not make mention of them in person.
Your first VP Lui Greco.  Your second VP Rajesh Malik.  Your treasurer Charles Bailey.  Your two national directors Amal Haddad and Stephen Ricci.  Your committed members Tyler Moore, Marc Workman, Denise Sanders, Robin East, Melanie Moore, Richard Marion, Anthony Tibbs, and yes!  Some of your chapter presidents have also even gotten into the swing of things.  A special note of thanks also goes out to our hard working book keeper Lois Benko.

I'd like to start with a call for the position of national secretary.  This call has already gone out to the members list, to those members not on our list but with an email address, and has been circulated to our chapter presidents list. 
For ease of reading, here is a description of some of the major duties of what the national secretary is being asked to carry out and I thank Denise Sanders for helping to put this list together. 
If interested, please send your responses to our national treasurer and HR person Charles Bailey at

*       recording of all minutes and amendments as well as all
administrative business relating to the meetings and the organization
* Responsible for circulating minutes and other organization materials
to members and chapters
* Responsible for maintaining the membership database
* Add and remove names from the Member's List Serve
* Participating on national committees
* managing the email account
*         Other assignments from time to time, as may be required by the Board.

The website committee is pleased to announce that as part of its objective, it has developed a short survey that will be sent out to all members individually for their input.  In addition, it has posted to the website, a letter that it will be sending out to those companies that you will be identifying through the completion of the survey.  I am pasting below a copy of the survey and you can either choose to paste it into an email and complete it or wait for your email to arrive.

Dear AEBC member:
As part of the website committee's effort to work with companies to improve accessibility to websites, we are asking that you spend but a few minutes to answer the following questions.
Upon completion, please send your completed responses to Rajesh Malik at
Thank you!
The website committee

1.  Name one or two Canadian websites that you find are inaccessible to persons with impaired vision.  These sites should not be government sites and should be available across the country.

2.  Describe why you consider the above-named websites to be
inaccessible.  The more details you give us the more likely it is to address the following problems.  You may identify such issues as unlabeled images and icons,
inaccessible Flash content, inability to complete forms,
inaccessible documents, no alternative formats available,
anything else that appears to be difficult for you to navigate or access.

We thank you for taking the time to help the AEBC.
The website committee

The AGM committee is promising to let us know by early September where our next AGM is going to be held.  To let the cat out of the bag, it appears that Toronto may be leading the pack at this point in time.
I thank Charles Bailey our national treasurer, Stephen Ricci our national director, and our own Denise Sanders for their continuing hard work on this monumentous task.

Some of our members have been anxiously awaiting word on our submission to HRSD re the SDPP proposal and I am pleased to bring you the latest news.  I thank our first VP Lui, our national director Amal, and our two hard working members Tyler and Marc for having given of their time to make this happen. 
Here now is an update from Lui and his committee.

Throughout July and August, several members along with the board worked at building a project proposal which has since been submitted to Human Resources Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).  The criteria for the funding is very specific and the application process extremely detailed.  Hopefully, within the next several months AEBC will receive some kind of notice from HRSDC as to weather or not this project will be funded.

AEBC is proposing to undertake a three year project which will highlight
Blind Canadians contributing and participating in their communities.  The
aim of this project is to help dispel many of the myths still held about
Canadians who are blind or who are living with vision loss.

Many of the publications about blindness tend to feature the challenges we face on a day to day basis.  Although these challenges are real we need to take more action to dispel the many myths which still surround those of us who are blind, visually impaired or deaf blind.

We are proposing to undertake this initiative in two phases; develop a
qualitative survey profiling the successes of Canadians who are blind and
creating a feature length multi media/multi platform documentary which will
put a human face to persons living with blindness.  If successful, this video will feature Canadians who are blind at work, at play and contributing in meaningful ways to their communities.

Along with the video, we are proposing to include a qualitative survey where in the factors of success can be identified.  The survey will include questions around literacy, proficiency with assistive technology, access to transportation and level of education.  Again, we want to be able to give policy makers, parents of blind children and Canadians at large a more positive picture of the successes be attained by our peers, our friends and hopefully our neighbours.

The project will run over three years and will cost in excess of $620,000.  In partnership with Ryerson, who developed a PSA for our Toronto chapter, the project will consists of approximately $75,000 in in-kind contributions from AEBC and Ryerson along with HRSDC's contribution.

In order to be successful, we will need the support of members throughout Canada via delivering presentations to community groups, conferences and disability tradeshows.  Also, once we begin to execute the survey component of the project, we will need help in identifying blind Canadians to participate and complete the survey.

As we learn about the status of our submission, your board will keep you up-to-date.  Cross your fingers and toes and let's hope that our hard work pays off.

Talking about someone doing double duty over the summer and it is our first VP Lui!  He has an update for you with regard to the strategic planning steering committee as follows.  

As set out at the May AEBC conference, your board has been tasked with creating a 5-year strategic plan for AEBC.  Our goal is to have the first draft of this plan delivered at the 2013 AGM.  Yes, this is a very ambitious goal given that we are spread out across Canada with representation in every time zone.  However, an ambitious goal will challenge us all to work smart and effectively.

Very shortly, a questioner will be circulated with the intent of providing interested members to volunteer.  Stay tuned as once the survey is circulated, we will be moving quickly to put together a steering committee consisting of representation from across Canada.

In other news
This month, I'd like to recognize the hard work of our scholarship and personal development committee.  Here they are. 
Your second VP Rajesh Malik, Valentina Gal of the Toronto chapter, and Sara Bennet of Brampton.  Thank you for your hard work and commitment to this very important committee.

The personal development committee has also created a letter which will be going out to a select group of companies inviting them to participate in our personal development program.  They are also pleased to announce the recipient of the T-Base scholarship; Lisa Kovac.  On behalf of the AEBC, I congratulate you Lisa on having been awarded this scholarship.

The townhall committee is starting to make noises of its own.  They have started to prepare for their next townhall meeting which is carded for November 03.  The topic for this meeting will be self advocacy and watch for the announcement in my next update. 
Here again is your esteemed townhall team.
Melanie moore, Jane Blaine, Pat Seed, Richard Marion, Brian Moore, Anthony Tibbs, and Terry Green.
I thank these hard working folks for their continuing commitment to the running of these meetings.

In chapter news
I am pleased to bring you news from our esteemed Darlene Wournell; president of the Halifax chapter.  Darlene and her hard working crew are very busy with fund raising projects and at the same time driving hard to increase membership.  This feisty president and her tiny chapter have just managed to attract six new members to their fold.  

Darlene reports that two major fund raising projects are on the way and that the Halifax chapter is moving to Skype to hold their chapter meetings.  Darlene is working to combine membership building with fund raising and a healthy dose of social activities. 
Congrats to you president Dar!
You can learn more by contacting Darlene directly at

Our second VP Rajesh and our national director Amal started their tele visits to our chapter presidents to find out more about what's going on in Chapters Land; their plans and their insights.  I thank Rajesh and Amal for their commitment to this task.

Our next chapter presidents tele conference is scheduled for Sep 12 and I thank Denise Sanders for having kindly agreed to help me with the secretarial duties for this meeting as we are still without a secretary replacement for Cindy Ferguson.

Members of the month
This month, I'd like to thank those of you who took time to express your thoughts about the benefits and advantages of learning Braille.  I am a firm believer in the learning of Braille and have used it all my life.
Thank you again for your feedback.

I'd like to thank our own Melanie Moore for having taken time to make a presentation to the students of CNIB's Score Camp.  This camp is an annual affair and this year, the AEBC was invited to give a presentation on advocacy.  Here is a brief description of what SCORE is all about.

SCORE stands for Skills, Confidence
and Opportunities through Recreation
and Education. Operated in summer
months, March Break and other times
where children and youth are not in
school, these programs offer our
youngest clients the opportunity to
develop the skills and experiences
they need to live in a sighted world.
From learning social skills to nutrition,
children and youth will get to gain
age-appropriate experiences to ensure
they have the chance to enjoy the
same opportunities as their sighted

Melanie spoke to the high school (17-20 yrs.) age group and below is a point form summary of her presentation.  The AEBC thanks Melanie for her continuing commitment to advocacy.
Melanie would like to acknowledge the input to her presentation by John mussa of Centre for Independent Living (CILT) on tips for advocacy.

Score presentation august 2012
Hello my name is Melanie Moore. I am a blind parent of 3 boys. I have a guide dog named Vaughn.
Thank you for inviting me to speak. This evening we will be discussing
1. What is Advocacy? Advocating or fighting for your rights in a positive, non threatening but assertive way.
2. How can it benefit you? Perhaps providing education and awareness for people and policy makers. Changing misconceptions.
3. How Are You Advocating for Yourself Already? By making sure you have everything in place for school, employment or volunteering. By being responsible for your choices and making sure what you need is in place not blaming other people if things don't work out.
Tips on Advocacy:
1. Define the problem.
2. Raise your concern.
3. Always record: date, time, action, who you spoke to i.e, where your situation is now, and last but not least if your problem got resolved.
4. If you are working on your own remember to write letters, and proofread them.
5. If you are working with an organization or advocate be involved as much as possible i.e. write your own letter and let them guide you.
6. Last resort MP, or MPP and contact media. Remember anyone of these options may have side effects be prepared and have support on board.  name
Who is AEBC? (Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians)
 A consumer run disability organization fighting for the rights for consumers /rights holders for people that are blind, visually impaired and or deaf blind.
Mission, Goal,  TO provide education and awareness to ALL>
How to get involved, volunteer on a committee, provide peer support, write articles etc. 
Questions and answers:

Contact information.

On the minds of our members
In an attempt to motivate our members to let us know what's on their minds, I am introducing a new section to my monthly update and I invite any member to send me their thoughts about anything.  It may be a good way for you to share your thoughts/insights with  the rest of us.  Just send along to us at  No personal attacks or personal criticisms; just your thoughts on issues that are important to you and near and dear to your heart.

This month, I am pleased to share the comments of our own Marcia Yale with you.  Marcy is a past board member and lifetime AEBC member.  Marcy's comments pertain to the press release of june 26; the American Council of the Blind Lauds U.S. Congress
forIncluding Accessible Prescription Drug Labelling Language in FDA Bill
Marcy has continued to communicate with me on trying to find ways to make Canadian pharmaceutical companies more aware of the importance of bringing talking prescriptions to Canada.
Below are her considered comments.  Thanks Marcy for having shared with us.

Hi, Donna. I believe this is something worth pursuing on the Canadian front, as the numbers of people losing their vision and yet still requiring medication will definitely continue to increase. However, the time-lines are vague and I doubt the Canadian pharmaceutical industry would make any changes until the Americans got their heads around what should be done and actually start doing it. Unfortunately, it seems that Canada no longer desires to lead the way but is content to follow the big beast to the south.
On the other hand, perhaps if AEBC started to lobby for accommodations in this area there might be a company looking for a way to show innovation.
Either way, as I said, I do believe this is a need and one which will grow as time goes by.

Commitment of the month
For the month of September, I have a sort of a different type of a commitment; adopt a school. 
I am a firm believer that nine out of 10 times, it all starts with the kids and if we could adopt a school and find a way to make presentations to the students then at the end of the day we would have managed to capture an audience that we can use as our messengers.  So let us try! 

Letters and press releases posted to our website
The T-Base scholarship announcement of its recipient.
An invitation on behalf of the website committee to companies to work on finding and developing ways to improve accessibility to websites.
An invitation on behalf of the personal development committee to companies to participate in the AEBC's personal development program.
A letter in support of Dr Catherine Fichten's application on behalf of the Adaptech Research Network to the HRSDC call for proposals.

Question of the month
My question for this month is as follows.
At what age do you think Blind and partially sighted kids should be integrated into the school system?  Should they be taught the rudiments of Braille, mobility, and other types of skills before being integrated?
Please share your thoughts with us.

That's it for me for this month.  I'd like to wish you all a very happy Labor Day weekend and see you next month.

With very best wishes for an enjoyable Labor Day holiday weekend
Donna J
Your National President


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