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Talk to the President September 2012

Dear fellow AEBC members:  September is now in the books and say hello to October and with it comes a happy Thanksgiving to all. 

I would again like to thank all those who have taken the time to provide us with their feedback and to encourage you to keep on sending in your comments.  

My quote for this month is as follows:
"You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own."
Michelle Obama
_________________________

It is with Mrs Obama's quote in mind that I respectfully proffer the following message to you.

Over the past month, I have personally received emails from several of our members expressing their concern over some of the messages that have been posted to our members list.  For whereas we would agree that the members list is a great place for us all to share our views, make comments and suggestions, and engage in healthy and respectful debates, it is not a place for anyone to engage in any type of personal criticisms of others, engage in unprofessional debates, and to instigate any sort of disrespectful behaviour and statements that come perilously close to libel and bullying.  This type of behaviour only serves to intimidate others and inhibit them from making worthwhile contributions.  Instead of coming forward, they either choose to leave our members list or refrain from speaking out.  This type of behaviour can only serve to destroy the confidence of our members and eventually hasten the demise of our esteemed organization.   

Like Mrs Obama, I believe that courage is indeed contagious but it can only be contagious if we allow ourselves to put our words into action, walk the walk, and make an honest commitment to commit.  Your board is comprised of seven very hard working members; most of whom have fulltime jobs, family commitments, plus other activities and passions.  At the present time, we have a handful of die hard members who continue to answer the call whenever needed.  I respectfully submit that there is something very wrong with this picture and if we do not take steps to fix this much sooner than later, then I am afraid that this esteemed organization will be hard put to keep its head above water!  In fact, we will need life jackets in order to survive! 

In the past month, the AEBC has circulated two very important surveys; one calling for member participation for the strategic planning committee and the other for members to identify inaccessible websites.  These two surveys have not received very much attention from our members thus far  and I am wondering why this is so in light of the fact that your national board is often told that they do not put out enough calls for member participation.  

It is not enough for us to submit proposals or to seek collaboration with other organizations!  It is not enough for ideas to be generated with no one at the starting line to put them into operation and no one at the finishing line to bring them to fruition.  It is not enough for us to engage in personal development or link exchange programs.  Our bank of member commitment is almost empty.  The die hard members are slowly beginning to burn out!  We need fresh minds and hands and feet to keep us going.  We need members who will have the courage to commit. 

This is my personal appeal for members to come forward. Make a commitment to commit.  Use the members list to share and suggest instead of using it to engage in unsportsmanlike conduct.  Finally, we need to remember that this list is a semi public list and that whenever we fail to be professional and respectful to each other, our comments will reflect not just who we are but also the image of our organization. 

To all of those members who continue to walk the walk, your board thanks you over and over again for your time, commitment, and unselfishness and hopes that others will have the courage to follow in your footsteps.  For those who are either still undecided or sitting on the fence, I'd like to suggest that you start with a one hour per week commitment.  Start small and take it from there.  Just imagine what we could do if we were to get  each member to contribute an hour a week or an hour every two weeks?  Gosh, we would be flying high with the sky as the limit!

*****
In board news
I would like to start by welcoming Darlene Wournell as our new secretary!  Darlene is the president of the Halifax chapter and I personally thank her for having stepped up to the plate.  Darlene is a spark plug, a go getter, and we are extremely fortunate to have her.  Welcome Darlene!

Your national board is pleased to announce a realignment of strategic committees and this list has been posted to our website.  Here is a summary.
Library - Charles Bailey your treasurer and Richard Marion.
Point of sale - Amal Haddad and others.
Website accessibility - Rajesh Malik your second VP and me.
CRTC - Anthony Tibbs,  your first VP Lui Greco, Richard Marion, and John Rae.
Procurement - Robin East, Sharlyn Ayotte, and others.
You can find a more comprehensive list of committees on our website.
We encourage you to sign up for any of these committees.

Your national director Amal Haddad has asked me to put out a call for members to join her point of sale committee.  If interested, please contact Amal at amal.haddad@rogers.com.

The strategic planning steering committee has circulated a survey to members and they are hoping that members will read, complete, and commit to serving on this very important committee.  This committee will be helping to play a vital part in assisting the AEBC to determine its future for the next five years.  I can only urge you to take a moment to consider and commit.  Please see their announcement below.

The following announcement is from our strategic planning steering committee and a copy of this announcement has been sent to every AEBC member with an email address.  This committee is waiting to hear from you.

Following the AEBC 2012 AGM and conference in Kelowna, one of the action items set before the board was to undertake a strategic planning initiative.  This initiative will identify where the organization will focus its efforts over the next five years and look at how the work of AEBC will be supported.

To be successful, both input and direction will be sought from members across Canada.  People's perceptions, suggestions, comments and experiences will need to be taken into account while developing a strategic plan for AEBC.

The AEBC is currently recruiting members to participate in the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. The committee is tasked with, among other things, devising a process to solicit and incorporate input from the membership and stakeholders.  If you would like to be a part of the team that oversees the process, this is the committee for you.  This is not a committee that you should join simply because you have some input or feedback on the AEBC's operations to contribute.  The time will come for
that. The preliminary deadline for applications is September 21, 2012.

For more information:

Learn about the Committee: http://bit.ly/O3UMka
Read the Committee's terms of reference: http://bit.ly/QLZX6w
Apply to join the Committee: http://bit.ly/R54wWq

In news of the AGM:  Stephen Ricci your national director has confirmed that Toronto is the venue for our 2013 AGM and that it is going to be held on the last weekend of April.  The Cambridge suites hotel is the venue for this event and Stephen and his band of committee members have promised to make this an AGM not to forget.  Stephen has already received promises of assistance from such Toronto chapter members as Lynda Spinney, Susan Pinder, and Valentina Gal.  Stephen is being ably assisted by Denise Sanders, also known as MS AGM and he is planning to knock at other doors in the coming weeks.  More details to come.  I thank Stephen and Denise for their continuing work on this.

We have managed to attract our first sponsor; T-Base Communications who has been a sponsor to our AGMfor several years now.  A special thanks to Jeff Potts for having kindly agreed to help sponsor our AGM once again for 2013.

*****
In other news
The personal development committee has begun its push to promote its program and to this end, it has sent out letters of introduction to the following companies:
Financial institutions -
Royal bank, Bank of Montreal
ScotiaBank, CIBC
Toronto Dominion.

Tele communications -
Rogers, Bell Media
Global Media

Computer companies -
IBM Microsoft

The link exchanges -website to website program committee has also been on the move for September, sending out letters of invitation to universities and colleges across Canada.  The objective of this initiative is for universities to join our program so that we can post information about the AEBC on their websites in return for us talking about their services for students who are blind and partially sighted.    I thank our second VP Rajesh Malik for helping with this initiative.

Well, our town hall team is ready to make its big announcement and here it is.

Announcing the November 03 town hall meeting

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) in conjunction with Centre for Independent Living (CILT) and Citizens with Disabilities of Ontario (CWDO) are pleased to announce the holding of yet another town hall meeting. 

This meeting will focus on self advocacy; issues that participants will have the opportunity to identify as those that they are either advocating for at the present time or those that they feel that they need to advocate for.

Our esteemed panellists for this meeting will be:
Robin East - a long-time advocate for the AEBC and a technology specialist for Revenue Canada.
Kim Kilpatrick - an advocate with years of experience to share.
John Rae - a long time advocate for the AEBC.

This meeting will be held on November 03 and the starting time is as follows depending in which time zone you reside.
10 Am pacific,
11 Am Mountain, 12 PM Central, 1 PM Eastern, 2 Pm Atlantic & 2:30 PM in
Newfoundland. 

Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions of any of these panellists and will be given the chance to ask  a follow-up question.  If time permits, they may have a second opportunity to ask a new question. 

The objective of this meeting is for you to identify the issues that you advocate for.  This meeting is not meant to be used as a forum for anyone to advocate on your behalf but rather, our esteemed panellists will give you hints and tips on self advocacy and point you to those who can be of further help to you.

If interested, please contact Brian Moore  at bmoore@screenreview.org no later than October 27 and you will be sent a document containing the rules of engagement to our meeting.  This document will also contain the call in info that you will need in order to access our meeting.

We look forward to welcoming you to our meeting. 

Thank you!
The town hall team

Earlier this month, the website committee circulated their survey to all AEBC members with an email address asking for input from members.  Pasted below is a copy of the body of the email that was sent to you.  This committee is again asking for your input and would be grateful if you could do so no later than October 31 2012.  Here again is the survey.

Website Accessibility Survey

Invitation to Participate
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Complete our website accessibility survey!
As part of the website committee's effort to work with companies to  improve accessibility on the Internet, we are asking that you spend but a  few minutes to answer the following
questions.
Do not simply reply to this email: see instructions below
.
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.)

You may answer these questions in one of two ways:

a) Send an email to websurvey@blindcanadians.ca or,

b) Visit our web site at

  http://www.blindcanadians.ca/issues/access-information/web-accessibility/survey

and complete the survey online (or send it to your friends)!

The AEBC website accessibility committee appreciates your input!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks to some great stick handling by Anthony Tibbs and Marc Workman, the AEBC has been approved for the You not-for-profit program.  This may mean that we would be able to take advantage of like live streaming and longer videos plus more.  More details to come in my next update.

For those of you who may have missed this earlier announcement:  Marc Workman has been appointed as the CNIB's national advocacy manager.  We congratulate Marc on his new appointment, wish him the very best, and the AEBC looks forward to working with him.

With Marc's departure comes a request from your board for members to step up to the plate to help with our Blindcanadians blog.  This is a very important part of who we are, what we say, and how we wish the rest of the world to know more about us.  Please take a moment to consider and commit.  We thank Marc for all of his work with the blogs.

It is with the greatest sadness and heaviest of hearts that I write the following:
On September 13, Cathy Moore, a long-time and tireless advocate and a committed and dedicated person to the cause, passed away.  For those of us who knew her, we would always readily say that Cathy was a true advocate!  She did it in style, and she did it with grace and dignity!  Her first loyalty was always to the consumer and her second was to ensure that bridges remained in tact and that fenses remained down.  It did not matter that she worked for the CNIB!  At the end of the day, she stood tall in our corner!

She had a very unique way of being able to walk a straight line while at the same time she knew how to deal with the politics of the day.

For me personally, I have lost a friend, an ally, and someone who mentored me over the last 12 years.  She was one of my biggest supporters throughout the court case that I launched against the Federal Government and on November 29 2010 when the decision was handed down, guess who was the first to phone me? 
Cathy moore!   How she found out so quickly would always be a mystery to me.

She taught me patience and she taught me how to listen better, understand moore, and how to use my chess pieces to build collaboration, cooperation, and goodwill.  She was always able to see the entire picture; caring, comforting, and guiding all the way.
My one heartbreaking regret is that I did not get to tell her personally about our final victory!  However, I thank Jane Beaumont for having delivered my email to her.  She would have been so happy for me and for all of us and as I embark on my studies through Law School I know that she will be watching over me advising and guiding from her seat above the stars.  

 

I will miss you Cathy and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!  I will miss your hearty laugh, your calming voice, and most of all; your words of advice.  Until we meet again my friend!
Donna

Here now are two postings from well known members of our community who knew Cathy even better than I did.

From Marcia Yale:
She worked for the agency but really cared about the people she worked with. I worked with her on a few CRTC and transportation related committees and, although she was technically on the other side, she truly cared about theconsumers who were involved. She was a rare breed--one who was able to separate the truth from the garbage. I didn't know she was ill and hope she did not suffer in the end.

From Sharlyn (Charlie) Ayotte:
Hello Friends and Colleagues,

I just returned from Mira Foundation in Quebec yesterday, where I was in guide dog training,  to learn about our friend and colleague Cathy Moore's passing.

I have had the privilege and honour to work and play with Cathy on many occasions, and enjoyed the many perspectives she brought to the conversation. She was always a consumer who worked within the system to promote mainstream and systemic change.

I had the greatest respect for Cathy, as she had passion, integrity and a great sense of humour when considering the sublime and the ridiculous. We all lost an important ally in the fight for equality on Friday, as Cathy had the ability to build bridges between people and organisations. 

The first time I met Cathy, I was more than a little impressed with her depth of knowledge of Government legislative and regulatory policies. She was articulate and professional. She was a consumer who understood that there was always more than one way to make things happen. At first, I was a bit reserved as she worked for the Agency, but I soon learned that she worked passionately to ensure that all consumers got a fair deal. Not just for her colleagues on the advocacy front such as all of us in the AEBC, but for the many seniors who were loosing their sight,  and the parents of blind
children and those young people who loved sports.

She had a grand sense of humour and a tender heart. Our community has lost another hero. I will miss her. For all of her friends, please accept my deepest condolences...And for those of you who never had the pleasure of knowing Cathy, again, my deepest condolences.

Charlie

Note:  An arrangement was sent on behalf of the AEBC to Cathy's memorial service which was held in Ottawa on September 24.

The AEBC would also like to express its condolences to Marc Proulx, vice president of the Brantford chapter on the recent passing of his sister who was killed in a car accident.  Our sympathies to you and your family Marc.

*****
In chapter news
The board has given its approval to having those board members who visit cities for either business or pleasure to pay courtesy calls on chapter presidents and other executive and chapter members whenever they visit a city where there is an AEBC chapter.  I thank Stephen Ricci our national director for having come up with this idea. 

Now, when it comes to a chapter president who is really on the ball then that's our own Richard Campbell of Winnipeg.  This tireless president and his chapter have produced three excellent PSAs titled:  Join us,  Share our vision, and What we do.  I think that other chapters can use these to pattern their own PSAs and if anyone would like a copy of any of these then please contact Richard at dickcampbell@shaw.ca
Great going Richard!

In election news: 
Say hello to the new president of the Kelowna chapter, Chantal Oaks!  Chantal was elected earlier this month.  Welcome Chantal!

We also congratulate Heather Rupert of the Montreal chapter on her re-election as president.  Well done Heather and keep up the great work!

Our chapter presidents held their quarterly tele conference on Sep 12 and it was quite successful as chapter presidents continued to make suggestions as to how the AEBC could move forward  to raise the AEBC's profile.  Chapter presidents also discussed how they work more closely with the national board to improve communications between national and the chapters and to find ways to increase involvement. 

*****
Members of the month
For the month of September, the stage belongs to our tireless Toronto member Bev Milligan and pasted below is a press release that Bev's company released on September 14.  Congrats to you Bev on your outstanding achievement. 

Media Access Canada takes lead establishing international standards for CC
and DV
 
A recent meeting of the international standards committee dealing with User interface accessibility (ISO/IEC JTC1/SC35/WG6) in Paris, France discussed Media Access Canada¹s  (MAC) descriptive video best practices guide,
published in January 2012. The ISO/IEC JTC1/SC35 User interfaces
sub-committee invited Canada to propose a new work item to be based on the MAC descriptive video best practices guide.
 
Work is also planned on international standardization for digital closed captioning based on work by  MAC and Ryerson University. ³This is tremendous recognition for Canada and for MAC,² said Beverley Milligan, MAC¹s CEO.
³Our presentation to international stakeholders met with enormous support and encouragement. This work will have a profound impact on media accessibility both in Canada and around the world.
 
Representatives from China, U.K., USA, Japan, France, Korea, among other countries, were unanimous in welcoming MAC¹s approach in this area. Further indications of support have been forthcoming from stakeholders around the world who will participate at the next meeting to be held in Korea in February 2013.
 
MAC did not achieve this international recognition alone.  Bell Media, Canada¹s premier multimedia company, is a committed funder of the study and helped finance MAC¹s work, which also benefited from the support of many committed individuals:, representative of blind and low vision consumers and
experts, manufacturers, broadcasters, government, and subject-matter experts at Ryerson University.  Additionally, standards development expert, Jim Carter at the University of Saskatoon, redrafted the content into the format of the International Organization for Standardization ( ISO).
 
³This is a continuation of Canada¹s international leadership in accessible standards and policy. Canada¹s formula for fully accessible media (which includes: on-air sponsorship, innovative regulatory policy and an entrepreneurial accessibility community) will be the international model in years to come ­ a Canadian success story.
 
Media Access Canada is a not for profit organization with a mandate to provide independent expertise in accessible media across all distribution platforms in business innovation, research and development, technical innovation, standards, education and policy.
 
For more information:
 
Beverley Milligan
CEO
bmilligan@mediac.ca
 
*****
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 djodhan@blindcanadians.ca.  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 with you some very insightful thoughts from our own Penny Leclair of Ottawa.  Penny has readily shared her thoughts with me and I think that it is important for me to pass it onto you. 
Here now are Penny's thoughts.  Thank you Penny for sharing.

I am bothered by the fact that it appears the word advocacy is a dirty word. I am bothered by the notion that AEBC seems to be avoiding the use of the word because it is associated with bitching or activity that some consider to be a waste of time.

I am of the opinion that only advocacy gets us to improvements of removing barriers. The strategy I would encourage though, is that whenever we choose to focus on an issue and really advocate long and hard, we also include other disabilities so that the public can see that what we are saying isn't just about the needs of people who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted.
Every time we can work for and with other groups of different disabled people, the point we make will be seen in a more positive view.

Penny

*****
Commitment of the month
I would like to  propose that our commitment for the month of October is for us to evaluate online accessibility. 
We need to keep pushing for more access to online forms, files, and web content. 
We need to keep pushing for more information to be made accessible to us on a timely basis.

*****
Letters and press releases posted to our website
More safety measures needed to protect subway travelers who are blind
    Disabled Canadian athletes not receiving equal coverage at Paralympics
A letter to universities for our link exchanges - website to website program.
A letter to companies for our personal development program.
Wen-Do: Women's Self Defence
for Women with Disabilities

*****
Question of the month
My question of the month is this one.
Should the AEBC be collaborating with other like minded organizations to promote our own organization's agenda and causes?  If so, with whom, and how far should we be going with regard to collaboration?  When is it compromise and when does it become a so-called sell-out?

That's it for me for this month.  I wish you and your families a great upcoming Thanksgiving.

With very best wishes
Donna J
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.