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Talk to the President October 2012

Dear fellow AEBC members:
Ah yes!  October is soon going to be a memory and here comes November.  Christmas and our holiday season are just around the corner and I can already hear Santa's reindeers arguing with each other as to who is going to sit in the front seat with Santa when he sets out from the North Pole in less than two months from now.
 
As always, I'd like to thank those of you who took the time to stop by to share your feedback and comments with me so here we go.   
 
My quote for this month is as follows:
 
The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
Pierre de Courbertin
_________________________
 
*****
In board news
The AGM committee wants you to know that they are working overtime to put together an AGM that you will be hard put to forget.  Steven Ricci your national director, Denise Sanders, and their happy helpers of Melanie Moore, Susan Pinder, Valentina Gal, and Lynda Spinney are busy putting together the necessary ingredients for our 2013 AGM.  I thank Steven, Denise, and the happy helpers for their tireless work and I will bring you updates as they happen.
 
Speaking of our next AGM, I would like to share the following with you.  for 2012 our AGM expenses came in at around $215!  This was not the case in previous years where the AEBC incurred expenses that were way much higher.  We thank our hardworking AGM 2012 team for having worked doubly hard to make this happen for 2012.  A huge bouquet of thanks should go out to Denise Sanders, Richard Marion, and Irene Lambert along with the Kelowna chapter for having helped to make this happen.
 
We are happy to see that the number of writers contributing to the Blind Canadians blog is quickly increasing and we encourage more of you to keep on blogging.  Please contact Anthony Tibbs at tibbs@blindcanadians.ca if you wish to submit your blogs to us.  A special thanks to Heather Rupert president of the Montreal chapter for having taken up the challenge to find new blog writers.
 
We are pleased to announce that Devon Wilkins has joined our blog busting team and that she will now be managing the blogs under the watchful eye of Anthony Tibbs.  Welcome Devon and we are expecting great things from you!  Thank you for stepping up to the plate!
 
The point of Sale committee has started to regroup once more under the leadership of your national director Amal Haddad and she has been joined by some members of the Montreal chapter; including Mike Ciarciello their vice president.  Here now is an update from Amal herself.
 
"We have been in contact with the office of Hon. Fin Donnelly, MP New
Westminster - Coquitlam and Port Moody, who wrote to us last June enquiring
about what AEBC is doing with the POS issues.
Ever since, Richard Marion who is in his constituency has been in contact
with his assistant. The office is interested in looking at what the
opposition can do for us on this issue. The assistant has been in contact
with the disability critic on this as Fin is the Fisheries critic. She
suggested that we contact the disability critic ourselves as well, and that
is what Richard will be doing shortly.
 
We have revisited our letter sent last December to the top 17 POS terminals
providers.  This same letter will be edited and sent to the Canadian Bankers
Association along with the 5major banks by the end of October."
 
From Anthony Tibbs, our point person on the DV Standards working group committee, comes the following update.
 
"The DV standards development working group met yesterday (On Oct 10).  This is the group that is working on coming up with some high level guidelines and standards to ensure a certain quality in DV provision in Canada.  The focus is on English-language programming, produced in Canada, and described at the post-production stage (i.e. we're not talking about "live" description here).
 
There are both conceptual (e.g. guidelines on when "race" should be described) and technical issues (e.g. guidelines on how much audio should be compressed to ensure description is audible over the program) to be considered.  Subgroups have been established to look at those issues separately.
 
We're expecting to meet in a few months to discuss further."
 
From Lui Greco your first VP comes news that he has received about 8 responses in answer to his call for members to join the strategic planning committee.  Lui is hoping to start contacting these committed folks in the coming weeks.
 
From Rajesh Malik your second VP frof the website committee comes news that he will be tabulating responses that he has received in answer to the committee's call to members to identify websites that are either inaccessible or not user friendly and this report will be available for my next update.
 
Your treasurer Charles Bailey has begun the task of updating the various brochures along with the AEBC's informational documents.  This is a very tedious job at the best of times for anyone but Charles has kindly agreed to tackle this tedious task.  Thank you Charles.
 
Charles would also like you to know that the board has voted to leave the membership fees at $5 for the time being and this matter will be visited again at a later date.
 
We  invite you to visit the www.blindcanadians.ca/participate/committees page to have a look at our committees and to sign up if you feel that you can help us.
 
I would like to acknowledge the efforts of our two staff members; Lois Benko our book keeper and Tyler Moore our office admin assistant.
 
*****
In other news
The scholarship committee headed by your second VP Rajesh Malik has circulated another call for blind students to apply for the two one thousand dollars personal development scholarships and we again thank Deborah Wilson for making this possible.  Deborah has kindly donated two one thousand dollars scholarships in the name of her sister Jennifer.
 
The CBRC had a tele conference on October 04 and elected an interim chair person to replace Robin East who resigned in September.  Richard Marion is the new man of the hour and the AEBC thanks Robin East for all of his hard work with the CBRC.  The AEBC looks forward to working with Richard in his new role.
 
With Richard having been elected as interim chairman, The AEBC has appointed Brian Moore to take his place as our second rep to the CBRC.  Brian along with your second VP Rajesh Malik are now our two reps to the CBRC.
 
This group has reaffirmed its commitment to work cohesively as one towards specific commitments.  More news will be available in next month's update.
 
The town hall team has been working in overdrive to make its next town hall meeting as successful as its previous ones.  They are promising to host a very lively town hall meeting and the announcement has been posted on several websites.  The big day is November 03 and again, here are a few details.
 
Panellists include Robin East, John Rae, and Kim Kilpatrick.  The topic is self advocacy and participants will be accessing the meeting via phone.  We thank the CNIB for having agreed to provide us with their tele conference line.  The moderator for this meeting will again be Jane Blane of Canadian Blind Sports Association.  Brian Moore will be handling  the registration of participants.  Melanie Moore will be the minutes taker and panel coordinator.  Subsequent announcements were posted throughout this past month to various websites.
 
You may just still be able to register  with Brian despite the passing of the deadline which was October 27.  Brian's email is bmoore@screenreview.org.  Our panellists have all promised to do their best to ensure a very lively meeting and we thank them for having agreed to be on center stage.
 
The minutes for the first town hall meeting that focused on library issues are now available on our website.
 
*****
In chapter news
Well, Montreal is again on the march and here is a list of their board members after hey held their elections in September.
Heather Rupert - returning president.
Michael Ciarciello - vice president.
Anthony Tibbs - secretary.
Ezra Chitayat - treasurer.
Natalie Martiniello - first member at large.
Nathalie Masse -second member at large.
 
I just want to comment that after reading their minutes for September, it appears to me that these members should all be given an A for their efforts and that their president Heather Rupert should be given an A plus for grit and determination.  Here are some of the issues that were mentioned in their September minutes that they are working on.  Future shop (inaccessible point of sale devices), providing access to bus schedules,  identification of inaccessible websites, audible traffic signals, public education and the list goes on.  Congrats to you Heather and your members!
 
I would like to give a very warm welcome to the Saskatoon chapter and to highlight some of the things that these good folks have been working on and thanks to Judy Prociuk, I can share the following with you.
Here is the scoop from the Saskatoon chapter.
They have been working on issues pertaining to audible signals, and they will be approaching the Independent living folks to ask if they would partner with AEBC sometime in the fall for a workshop on accessible readers.   
They are also discussing the possibility of putting on workshops on how to use Twitter and Facebook.
This chapter is also planning to enter into discussions with the library to discuss what services are available and how to access them; the subject of the Overdrive facility came up for discussion.
Overdrive is an online storage and distribution service that is offered by the library.
 
The Saskatoon chapter also discussed doing a general information equity audit of all informational material given out by the Saskatoon Health Region, whether that is the website, hard copy documents or electronic documents.  This audit has been suggested after one of their members was unable to obtain documents in alternate formats.  They had previously requested documents from the Saskatoon Health Region and had received printed versions and when another request was made, it was sent to them in PDF format.  This determined member then had to ask the CNIB for assistance and it was then converted into RTF format.  
 
The Saskatoon executives are as follows:
President: Robert Gourley
Vice President: Monte Single
Secretary: Judy Prociuk
Keep up your good work Saskatoon and a special salute to your executive and your president Bob!
 
Well now!  Here comes yet another chapter to tell us about what they have been up to and it is none other than our own secretary Darlene Wournell president of the Halifax chapter.  Never count this feisty little chapter out of the race; I have always said this and will continue to say so.  Here now is Dar's news.
 
This chapter has started to use Skype as a means of encouraging more membership participation and Halifax members are anxious to take advantage of technology to help increase their membership.  Halifax is also embarking on a membership drive and for the month of October they were supposed to have set up five locations to help accomplish this.
 
Halifax has also embarked on a tactile Braille Christmas card project and hats off to this chapter for this initiative!  Proceeds from this initiative will be used to set up a bursary for blind, partially sighted, and deaf/blind individuals living in Nova Scotia whereby a one-time bursary would be given to a needy blind, partially sighted, or deaf/blind person living in Nova Scotia to purchase any type of adaptive equipment ranging from a blood pressure machine to a talking scale etc.
 
On October 4th, several members of the Halifax chapter met with our first VP Lui Greco who was in town on business.  Darlene reports that her members were very pleased to meet Lui and asked him several questions about the AEBC.  I thank Lui for having helped to stir up so much interest!
 
Finally, President Dar has mounted a campaign for her members to take an active part in the upcoming Municiple Elections and you can be sure that her members will be asking some very tough questions of Mayoral candidates on issues pertaining to inaccessibility of Metro Transit in HRM.  Dar!  A huge bouquet of thanks to you on behalf of the AEBC for all of your hard work.   
 
Now back out  to the West and here now is a list of executives  of the Lower Mainland Chapter (Vancouver) that were elected in early September.
Rita Dilek, President
Louise Johnson, Vice-President
Cathy Stuckenberg, Secretary
Peg Mercer, Treasurer.
 
Welcome Vancouver and we are looking forward to great things from you!
 
*****
Members of the month
First off, I would like to give a huge bouquet of thanks to Carolyn Gunn, president of the Nanaimo chapter for having brought the following to our attention:
The Spirit Halloween Superstores selling Halloween costumes both online and at their physical stores that depict blind persons in a somewhat uncomplimentary light.
Thank you Carolyn for having taken the time to bring this to our attention.  A press release and letter have been circulated and sent respectively.
 
This press release received coverage from the following organizations:
Michael Mui , Reporter at 2 4 Hours Vancouver,
The Jim Richards Showgram, NewsTalk 1010 at Astral Radio
AM980 radio station in London Ontario
The Toronto Sun.
The CNIB also wrote a letter to the president of the Spirit Halloween Superstores company in support of our own letter and press release.
 
Finally on this topic, it should be noted that there was mixed reaction from the media but I am delighted to see that our own Carolyn Gunn stood her ground despite some negativity and I again thank her for her determination.  Even our very own Tyler Moore from Ottawa did his part by talking to the host of a Halloween costume show at an Ottawa bar last Saturday.
 

Thanks to some very timely stick handling and imagination on the part of some of our members, there are two potential projects on the horizon.  These are the offering of a self defence course, and a project called adopt a radio station.  These two initiatives are still on the drawing table but here are a few details.
 
The self defence course - lead by Steve Pollard and Mato Aguilar of the Toronto chapter.  A course that would be offered to a maximum of 20 blind participants over a two and a half days period.  This would be an AEBC initiative and I thank these two enterprising members for engaging in this exciting project.  It is hoped that the first session will be held in Toronto and if it is successful, then the plan would be to roll it out across the country.
 
It should be noted that a similar type of course has previously been run out in BC by some of our members and we will use this base to revitalize this type of offering.
 
Steve and Mato are being aptly supported by our very own Darlene Wournell; our national secretary and president of the Halifax chapter and our admin officer and Ottawa member; Tyler Moore. This terrific twosome has accepted the challenge to go out there and raise funds to support this new initiative.  I am simply delighted to see this kind of spirit and interest from these two persons and I thank them.
 
The other project is one where Chelsea Mohler of the Toronto chapter will be heading a committee to pitch a half hour program to a radio station.  The program would be monthly, and it would be aimed at attracting the listening audiences of those who are friends and family of blind persons as well as blind students.  Chelsea is hoping to focus on important issues of the day as they pertain to blind persons and her plan would be to create a win situation for listeners as well as for friends and families of listeners.  Go get em Chelsea!
 
We wish Chelsea, Steve, Mato, Darlene, and Tyler the very best in these two initiatives and we hope to have a more detailed plan of action from these members in the November update.
 
Too often, we inadvertently forget about those who are the silent contributors to our organization and for this month we salute the efforts of the following people:
Anthony Tibbs (Mr Website himself), Denise Sanders (Ms AGM herself), Richard Marion (Mr everything), and Robin East (Mr everywhere).  These committed people continue to toil away.  They are not on our national board, nor are they chapter presidents.  They are simply people who believe in our commitment.  They are our unsung heroes of the month and we thank them.
 
*****
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 have two submissions to share with you and the first comes from our very own Marg Thomson of Newfoundland.  Marg has something definite to share with us re Braille literacy and here she is.  Marg submitted this back in the summer in response to my question about the learning of Braille.  Thanks so much Marg for sharing this with us.
 
"Dear Donna,
 
In response to:
 
How much importance do you place on Braille literacy?  Do you think that
Braille should continue to be taught to Blind persons?
Should it only be taught to those who are unable to read large print?  Or to
all those who would like to learn it?
 
I am a strong advocate for all people with significant vision loss learning
Braille - and, the earlier the better.
 
I firmly believe that Braille gives one a better grounding in the basics of
education, particularly in good communication skills which, ultimately,
increases our ability to communicate with others, and to avail of greater
educational and employment opportunities.
 
Technology is wonderful, and I'd be lost without my laptop, but equally, I'd
be lost without my Braille Note - and even my little pocket slate and stylus
which I always carry in my purse; and, it can also give one greater freedom
in the home, being able to mark spices, CD.s etc.
 
So, I'm glad to have learned Braille from the age of five.  Like others have
said recently, I'm not always in full agreement with all the changes taking
place, but .... (Those of us with good Braille skills can adapt to the
changes - or not as we please).
 
That's my comment for now.
 
Enjoy the rest of the summer,
 
Best regards,
 
Margaret."
 
The second submission comes from our very own Mala Naraine of the Toronto chapter and she too has something of import to share with us.  Mala's comments were also submitted in response to the question of Braille literacy.  Thanks Mala for stopping by to submit.
 
"Hi Donna,
I think this is a great question.
 
Question of the month
My question for this month is as follows.
How much importance do you place on Braille literacy?  Do you think that
Braille should continue to be taught to Blind persons?
Should it only be taught to those who are unable to read large print?  Or to
all those who would like to learn it?
 
Mala's response:
I think Braille literacy is extremely important. I wished that I had learned
Braille as a child. I learned Braille as an adult and was doing well. But
when I came to Canada, the counsellor at CNIB told me to stop using Braille
as I have low vision and I should use large print.
I am now learning to read Braille again and am really enjoying it. Yes, I
think Braille should be taught to blind persons. It is a really good skill
to have and it allows people to read on their own.  SO I think it should be
taught to everyone who wish to learn it. I also think that the sighted
should be encouraged to learn it to have Braille more mainstream. This way
Braille printers will be a common requirement in offices and blind people
can receive their materials in braille for work and other activities.
I strongly believe that AEBC should promote Braille literacy.
This will also reduce the cost of Braille printers for blind people.
 
Mala"
 
*****
Commitment of the month
This month, the commitment proffered focuses on inaccessible point of sale devices.
I believe that it is time for us to start pushing harder for more accessible point of sale devices.  Time for us to push manufacturers and companies to work with us towards the development of devices that would enable us to interact more efficiently with touch screens and devices that would enable us to be much less dependent on sighted assistance.
 
*****
Letters and press releases posted to our website
The town hall committee has posted an announcement of its upcoming town hall meeting to be held on Nov 03 2012.
 
A press release titled BLIND DECRY "BLIND MAN'S BLUFF" HALLOWE'EN COSTUME
In response to certain Halloween costumes that are being sold by the Spirit Halloween Superstores and an accompanying letter to their president.
 
*****
Question of the month
My question is as follows:  Should the AEBC engage financial institutions to work with us to develop courses to help Blind and partially sighted Canadians to become more aware of fraudulent schemes, scams, and scammers?  In short, to become more consumer protection savvy?
Please send us your feedback.
 
That's it for me for this month.  I wish each and everyone of you a great November.  Just remember now:  Santa is not too far away and he will soon be starting to check his list to see who has been naughty and who has  been nice!
In the meantime, a very happy Halloween to you all!
 
Donna J
Your national president

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