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Talk to the President November 2012

Dear fellow AEBC members:  Ah yes!  November is quickly fading away and in a moment's time December will be saying a huge hello to us all!  Are you ready to welcome in the holiday season?  Have you told Santa already what you would like for Christmas?  I am going to go out on a limb and say that all
of you AEBcers have been nice rather than naughty so please Santa!  Let's
have a great December for us all and for the AEBC!

I thank those of you who have taken the time to drop by with your feedback
and encourage you to keep doing so.  My quotation for this month is as

"If I feel depressed I will sing. If I feel sad I will laugh. If I feel ill
I will double my labor. If I feel fear I will plunge ahead. If I feel
inferior I will wear new garments. If I feel uncertain I will raise my
voice. If I feel poverty I will think of wealth to come. If I feel
incompetent I will think of past success. If I feel insignificant I will
remember my goals. Today I will be the master of my emotions."
Og Mandino

In board news
It is with regret that we announce that your national director Amal Haddad
has resigned from her posts both as national director and as president of
the Toronto Chapter.  Her resignation takes affect immediately.
We thank Amal for all of her passion, commitment, and hard work and wish her the very best in her new endeavours.  A replacement for Amal on our point of sale committee will be announced in the coming weeks.

Amal's position on the national board has been filled by Anthony Tibbs and
we are pleased to welcome Anthony back to our national board.

The library committee headed by Richard Marion and your treasurer Charles
Bailey sent out a letter to all AEBC Ontario members on behalf of the CNIB.
In part, this letter stated;
"The CNIB is looking for volunteers interested in meeting with their
respective Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) in order to
advocate for equitable library access for Ontarians who are blind or
partially sighted or have other print disabilities."

If any recipient of this letter has any questions, then please send them
along to Marc Workman at

The CRTC committee would like you to know that a license renewal hearing for the CBC was held in Ottawa on Nov 23 and that the AEBC was represented at this hearing.
Due to geographic and scheduling circumstances, Tyler Moore represented us and here is a brief blurb from our Tyler.

" I attended the CRTC hearing on November 23rd 2012 as a representative of the AEBC. I spoke briefly on the amount of described programming that CBC provides in a day. This meeting was attended by other disability
organizations as part of Access 2020. The Access 2020 group was in front of
the commission for approximately an hour. The commissioners asked a variety of questions and there was discussion about the importance of descriptive video for blind Canadians. This was seen as a very positive hearing before the commission regarding the importance of accessible media for all Canadians."

Your treasurer Charles Bailey represented the AEBC at a World Intellectual
Property Organization (WIPO) tele conference on Nov 16 and Charles tells us that this was a meeting to update all interested parties and stake holders
in preparation for a meeting to be held in Switzerland in mid December.

Your first VP Lui Greco was also very hard at work this past month doing due
diligence as head of the Strategic Planning Committee and here is his

"The committee met for the first time on November 8.  We had a total of 8
people who took the time to complete the questioner which was circulated to
the members discussion list as well as being posted online.

These people were:
Rosy Arcuri - Montreal
Lui Greco - Fredericton
Richard Marion - Vancouver
Natalie martiniello - Montreal
Chelsea Mohler - Toronto
Mala Naraine - Toronto
George Stephens - Toronto
Anthony Tibbs Montreal

As you can see, Toronto and Montreal are very well represented.

Of note thus far is the proposed delivery of the strategic plan.  Initially,
the goal was to have a first draft ready to present at the 2013 AGM.  This
is highly unlikely now and as such the committee feels that a more realistic
target is to have a plan in place as to how we will build the strategic plan
with 2014 being the goal to have the first draft ready for member

The committee still needs to clarify what work will be undertaken by us and
what we want a consultant to do.  This needs to be thought through much more carefully and I'm hopeful that by January a RFP will be ready for the boards approval."

Well, the AGM committee is really working hard to live up to their promise!
That being to make our 2013 AGM one that we would find it difficult to
forget.  Your national director Stephen Ricci is busy assembling some great
entertainment for you and your second VP Rajesh Malik along with Ms AGM
herself Denise Sanders are hard at work putting together an agenda filled
with some very exciting and interesting content.  These three along with
their happy helpers are certainly giving Santa's elves a run for their

I have been given special permission to divulge a little something to you
and here goes.  Two of our workshops have been confirmed; the first is on
blogging; what makes a blog marketable, type of content that can make a blog attractive, how to post a blog, and a tips sheet.  The other workshop will
be on accessible versus usable websites along with a tips sheet.  Jutta
Treviranus of the Ontario College of Accessible Design will be our presenter
at this workshop.  Jutta is one of the leading international accessibility

I will probably have another surprise for you in my next update re a very
special keynote speaker!  Stay tuned!

On the serious side of things however, I am delighted to announce that we
now have three sponsors for our AGM!  AMI and T-Base have again pledged
$5,000.00 and $2,000.00 respectively and there is a personal contribution
from Richard Papadina of RBC Dominion securities of $300.00.  All three are
repeat sponsors from 2012 and we thank Peter Burk of AMI, Jeff Potts of
T-Base, and Richard Papadina of RBC Dominion Securities and yes!  even The big bird of the skies has again chipped in with a huge present for us.  Yes! you got it!  Air Canada has again come through for us for our 2013 AGM! They have generously donated three tickets at a 25% discount to three of our board members to fly to our AGM.

Stephen Ricci your national director was supposed to have paid a visit to
the hotel's site on Nov 29 and in the meantime he and his partner in crime
Denise Sanders are working feverishly to get things in order for us.  Stay
tuned for more updates from this committee.

There is also news from your second VP Rajesh Malik.  Rajesh would like you to know that T-Base Communications has once again pledged a $2,000.00 scholarship to any worthy applicant for 2013.  This scholarship will be opened to applicants who are presently pursuing university courses.  The
AEBC will be responsible for the announcing of this scholarship, they will
evaluate the applicants, and then present the top three candidates to the
T-Base team who will make the final choice.  We thank Rajesh and his
scholarship committee of Valentina Gal and Sara Bennett for their commitment to this very important committee.

Rajesh has a bit more to tell you.  His website committee has identified the
following websites that have been found to have various accessibility and
usability challenges.

As you can see, this is a very short list and this committee urges others to
send in their evaluations of those websites that are national in nature.
The more the merrier.  We need as many websites as we can in order to start building a case for accessibility awareness.
Please send your evaluations and comments to Rajesh at

We  invite you to visit the
page to have a look at our committees and to sign up if you feel that you
can help us.

I again thank Lois Benko and Tyler Moore our book keeper and  office support staff for their hard work and commitment and to our chapter presidents!  A huge bouquet of thanks to you for your continuing dedication and contributions.

In other news

Our town hall meeting held on November 03 was a success.  We had about 20 participants and a very lively, interesting, and thought provoking meeting
took place.  The Montreal chapter wanted me to let our panellists know that
they were sorry that you did not talk more about your own personal advocacy.

We thank our three panellists Robin East, Kim Kilpatrick, and John Rae for
having taken the time to be part of this meeting.  A special bouquet of
thanks goes out to Jane Blaine our moderator, Melanie Moore our panel
coordinator and minutes taker, and Brian Moore our participants registrar.
Thanks also to the rest of our town hall team; Richard Marion and Pat Seed.

We also thank the CNIB for having provided their conference line.  This is
the third town hall meeting that has been held in a little over a year and
another is planned for some time in the first quarter of  2013.  Once again,
a huge thanks to the hard working town hall team.

The AEBC is delighted to announce that it has signed a memorandum of
understanding with Accessible Media Inc (AMI).  This document promotes the working together of both organizations to build awareness of each other's
activities.  Accessible Media Inc has already sent us their sponsorship
document for the 2013 conference.  No contact info for members will be
disclosed toAccessible Media Inc and info will be sent to members only if they agree to have it sent to them and in their preferred format.

We have again sent out invitations to the offices of students with
disabilities of universities across Canada to join our link exchange program
and hopefully some of them will respond to our invitation.  Our link
exchange program is meant to engage universities and like minded
organizations to engage in link exchanges.  It is hoped that this program
will help to raise the AEBC's profile.

In chapter news
Well, I'd like to kick off things with some news from those hard working
members of the Winnipeg chapter.  These folks are not afraid to challenge
the system whenever they feel that something needs to be corrected.  Who are they challenging of late?
They are querying the transit policy on asking persons with disabilities to
give up their seats to persons with strollers.  They are also not very
amused that drivers are not stopping at bus stops when it is clear that
someone is standing at the bus stop waiting to be picked up.
They are pursuing a possible fundraiser partnering with the Pampered Chef
organization. Well done Winnipeg and congrats to your pres Richard and his hard working Winnipeg team.

Richard has asked me to pass on the following to you:
"On another note from the Winnipeg chapter, secretary Christine Ross lost
her guide dog Betsy on Nov 05  after being with her for fourteen years.
Christine has worked tirelessly for the AEBC for many years."

I am happy to welcome back our Brantford chapter as we have not heard from them for a while and what is our bold Brantford chapter up to these days?
In the exact words of their fearless pres Bob Brown, here goes!

"Since our potluck picnic our chapter has been somewhat quiet but we did
make our annual donation to the Thank A Vet lunch in that was held today,
Saturday November 3rd. We were also able to more then double our annual
donation to this event and on November 11th we are going to meet at the
cenotaph for Remembrance Day.
In December date to be determined we are going to have our annual Christmas Dinner location to also be determined and we will do what we did last year and instead of gift exchange whatever we get will be donated to Toys for Tots.
As for the Thank A Vet lunch it's still the largest one outside of Queen's
Park the Ontario Legislature and it was the 15th annual event even though it
was started 22 years ago in 1980. This years event also had 650 people
attend to show and pay respect to our veterans as well as to those who were
For more information on this event, visit:
Keep up your wonderful work Bob and your Brantford members!

Not to be outdone, the merry members of the Montreal chapter are at it once
more.Their Public Education  Committee recommends that their chapter undertake a panel information session likely during White Cane Week in February for parents and the general public.  They are also planning to carry out School presentations.
This chapter is also in close contact with Future Shop to discuss ways of
making point of sale devices more accessible and they are planning to hook
up with Amal Haddad's national point of sale committee.

The Montreal Chapter is also pushing for greater awareness of their presence in the Mab-MacKay's newsletter and if this is not enough, they are going all out for an Italian night fund raiser some time in the spring of next year.
Keep up your great work Heather and team!

As if she is not busy enough, our esteemed national Secretary Dar Wournell
who is also the president of the Halifax chapter is stirring the pot and boy
is her pot extremely!  This month, I am delighted to report that Dar and her
happy Halifax chapter have the following to tell you:

"November started off with a bang! Members of the Halifax Chapter
participated in the Annual Christmas at the Forum Trade Show, held November 2 - November 4. Three members were there from 7:30 a.m. until close at 9 p.m. while others came in from time to time. However, Yvon Clement, our trusty Vice President,  was there for the entire three days non-stop!

We passed out over one hundred AEBC National pamphlets along with the
pamphlet the Halifax Chapter did early this year, with Capital District
Health in Halifax. We sold Peeler Cards which we sell for the price of
$10.00; we keep 50% profit. The Peeler Cards are credit card sized, two-fold
cards with over $1,2500.00 in savings from participating stores,
restaurants, bowling lanes, Canada Games Centre, car rentals and so much
more. You must peel off a tab from the place where you are at to give it to
them to track the success of the Peeler Cards campaign. It's a buy one, get
one free coupon saver.

We had many baked goods which went quickly; pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, raisin bran muffins and chocolate coconut squares. All baked goods were donated by Kelly James and Theresa Harnish, family members of two of our members. We also sold tickets on two very beautiful home-made knitted stockings; one has a kitten playing with a ball of yarn on it and the other is of a puppy playing with a ball. Our draw date isn't until December 20 and we did well selling tickets on the stockings. However, the puppy stocking
was taken from our table when members were selling tickets. And, yes,
Virginia! There is a Santa Claus. I'm happy to report that the puppy
stocking was returned into my hands as of yesterday! We were worried that we'd have to return all the money raised because we didn't have the second
stocking to sell as what was written on the tickets and the application for
the Alcohol and Gaming Authority.

We also had a 50/50 ticket draw that was drawn on the last night of the
Christmas at the Forum. The winner donated the proceeds back to the Halifax Chapter. We also sold 7 of our tactile Braille Christmas cards which all proceeds go to the bursary fund. We raised just under $300 for chapter

We had our meeting on November 8 and members decided to put all the 50/50 funds into the bursary fund along with the tactile Braille Christmas cards. To date, we have raised $105.00, well on our way to accomplishing our goal.

Since November's Christmas at the Forum, we've had 5 other dates for member recruitment and fund raising efforts. Thus far, we managed to get one new member and many, many volunteers.

This Saturday is our Farmer's Market date. We will continue to sell the
Peeler cards and tickets on the stockings. Our trusty volunteers, Kelly,
Ashley (my daughter) and I are going to be baking many cookies and also
gluten-free cookies for our four-legged friends. My guide dog and I are both
allergic to wheat so I'm making those cuddly, furry, four-legged friends who
are allergic to wheat, Christmas dog biscuits that they, too, can enjoy. We'll
be making them tomorrow night and I can just imagine the fun I'm going to
have making them with Ashley! Let alone the mess. All in fun!

The Halifax Chapter has designed a membership recruitment "Wanted!" sign to post on every bulletin board throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality.
It is the who, what, when, where, why and how of AEBC; we needed something different from what we've been doing.

We also drafted a letter to send to the newly elected HRM City Council, to
have one of our members, to be actively involved with either the
Accessibility Committee for Persons with Disabilities or the Accessible
Transportation Committee for Persons with Disabilities that will be sent out
the early part of next week.

We are in the process of advocating for better APS as in HRM, there are
multiple types which can be out-right confusing to some at times. Some are
in areas which are not proper protocol while others are non-existent at
dangerous intersections. The same goes for crossings where there is not a

We are planning on hosting workshops in the new year from teaching blind,
deaf-blind and partially sighted individuals, on how to use I-Phones, I-Pads
and I-Pods with voice-over and how to use many popular accessible apps along with hosting workshops for nursing homes and so much more. We are aiming to have one per month, and will be reaching out to other organizations in our community to participate with us.

Our chapter committees are on the ball again, hoping to have something to
report at our January 10 meeting; the first one of 2013. Hard to believe
that 2012 is almost come and gone!

Other then that, we are having our Christmas party on December 13 as it is
our social month and we will be inviting the Halifax Visually Impaired
Support Group as we did last year and during our summer social."

Well done Dar!  These are examples of a chapter president who is not afraid
to go out there and make things happen!

As mentioned above, Amal Haddad resigned her position as Toronto chapter
president earlier this month and the Toronto chapter is preparing to hold an
election on December 08.  The acting president  is George Stevens.  The
positions up for election are as follows:
President for 2 years.
Vice president for 1 year (The present vice president also resigned with 1
year left on his term).
Secretary for 2 years.
Member at large for 1 year.
George is hoping to have a large turnout of members to help elect a new

Well, there is always that one tiny dark cloud that is always threatening to
grow into a huge ominous one and I am hoping that we can avoid this all
together.  On November 26, I received an email from our national secretary
Dar Wournell that she forwarded on to me.  It was sent to her by Terry
Pipkey of the now defunct Prince George chapter.  Apparently, this chapter
folded in May of 2012 and somehow forgot to inform national of its decision.
Terry explained that the AEBC's advocacy efforts no longer coincided with
the aspirations of his chapter's members and that their chapter had decided
to join the CCB.

I am personally disappointed to see this chapter leave our fold but what
upsets me even more is that Terry did not tell me anything about this when
he informed me in June that he was stepping down as chapter president due to health reasons.  The AEBC may not always be able to meet the advocacy
aspirations of its members but it really does not take much for anyone to
write a quick email to let us know what is going on and if help is needed.

When I became your president in May 2011, I made a commitment to improve communications between national and chapters and members and each month I post my update with the hope that this helps to bridge our communications gap. I also do my best to keep chapter presidents informed of what is going on and to encourage them to communicate.  Communications is a two way street and I am very pleased with some of the work taking place in the various chapters and with those chapter presidents who take the time to keep us up to date.  All that I can say to you Terry; it is too bad that you have chosen this path and maybe one day you would reconsider your decision.  The AEBC will not hesitate to welcome you back.  I wish you the very best.

Finally in this section, the chapter presidents are preparing for their
upcoming tele conference to be held on Dec 05.  Chantal Oakes of Kelowna and Darlene Wournell of Halifax will be the two chapter presidents to be running this meeting.  We thank these two ladies for their willingness to step up to the plate here.

Members of the month
Your members of the month are three individuals who have willingly agreed to serve on a committee that is overseeing the running of a Braille camp for
blind kids under the age of 12.  This is a very exciting initiative that has
been named "all hands on Braille" and is a collaboration between the AEBC,
CNIB, and other interested individuals.  This camp is scheduled to run over
a five day period from July 14 - 19 2013 and will be held at Lake Jo.

The chair for this committee is Terry Kelly and the AEBC's contribution to
this camp will be to help find mentors who would be willing to work with
blind kids to improve their Braille literacy.  Mentors will be given free
board and lodge while at this camp and we have already had some of our
members expressing an interest in being a part of this initiative.

This is the brain child of our very own Jeffrey Stark of Ottawa and he along
with Liz Hurdman and Chris Chamberlin both of Toronto are our members of the month.  I am also part of this dynamic committee.  More details will be
announced in the coming weeks and Jeffrey is promising to reveal something special in my next update.  You won't want to miss this!

Jeffrey works for the Federal Government in Ottawa and was one of our
panellists at our March 2012 town hall meeting.  Chris is the president of
Frontier Computing of Toronto and was also a panellist at this town hall
meeting and Liz is a Toronto chapter member and former teacher.

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:

Chris and Marie Stark!  Two of our committed advocates of our time who over the years have managed to shake quite a few trees causing many leaves to fall!  The Starks have had tremendous success in some of their Human Rights cases along with many other endeavours.  Just to name a few:They are hugely responsible for the birth of the talking ATM in Canada,
ensuring that bank statements are being produced in alternate formats, and
their relentless work with the CRTC to ensure that companies offer
statements in alternate formats plus more.

I will note here that this couple is responsible for many more successes but
due to their humble nature, it has been very difficult for me to learn more
about their great work and examples of true advocacy.  They continue to
shake the trees despite often being challenged by others who attempt to rain
on their parade.  Chris and Marie Stark!  Examples for us all to follow!

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 from the bottom of our hearts!

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 have feedback for you from three of our members.  The first is
from Michael Ciarciello of Montreal and here is what is on his mind.

"Hey Donna, I hope you are doing well on this fine and lovely morning.
I was teaching one of my students last Thursday, and we came across the CTV web site.Sadly to say that the web site was so cluttered, that my student was not even able to grab the news section to which he is very interested in looking at on the page.the student has slight autism, tendencies and was extremely disappointed to find out that he couldn't navigate the page.  Despite his disability of being blind, and having slight memory issues, he is extremely keen, and loves using his computer to explore, and navigate web pages.  I told him that may be he'd like to become a AEBC member when he becomes of adult age.His enthusiasm On the computer is amazing to say the least.My question to is does the CTB web site fall under governmental jurisdiction?I don't think it does, but I thought I'd ask any way.
At any rate keep well, and have a great day."

The second is from Marlene Pestana of the Toronto chapter and here is what
is on her mind.
"Hello dear Donna,
Theis is the aswer for your question for this month.
Every children with any disability has been integrate to the school system a
pre-school age between 4 to 5 years old. If the chil has visually impaired
all the rudiments has to be incorporate an early age because the kids learn
an early ages by playtime until they ge the specific skills. For visually
impaired children are very important to learn Braille , orientation mobility
and living basics skills at early age. The school system has to be get and
improve the special needs education to get this kids a good education work
with parents and the community together.Marlene Pestanat"

The third is from Vic Pereira of Winnipeg:
"hello Donna

As well as the financial institutions you can most likely get the RCMP and
the Competition Bureau to provide these sessions.

The RCMP is a bit more wide spread. As for the CB I think they have a
limited presence across Canada. Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal for sure.

I have been to presentations put on by the RCMP on the topic of identity
theft, fraud, and various scams. the CB has an awareness campaign that takes place during the month of April I think.

Vic Pereira"

Commitment of the month
For the month of December, I'd like to offer the following commitment.
It is that time of the year when we turn to each other in joy, happiness,
and a willingness to share, forgive, and move on.  So maybe we can do this
by giving a little something back to our community?  In short, time to
donate back to our community!  It can be done in so many ways; from a kind
word to something a bit bigger.

Letters and press releases posted to our website
A copy of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Accessible Media Inc
and AEBC has been posted to our website.

Question of the month
My question for this month is as follows:
How can AEBC members play a bigger role in becoming mentors to the following
groups:  Parents of blind kids, blind persons seeking mentors, and offices
for students with disabilities at colleges and universities?

That's it for me for this month.  Now, just go out there and have lots of
fun for December.
Merry Christmas!  Joyeux noêl!  Feliz Navidad!  Buon Natale!  Happy
Hanukkah!  Happy Holidays!

Donna J
Your national president


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