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Talk to the President January 2013 Edition

Dear fellow AEBCers:
I hope that everyone is well and like me, counting down the days to spring.  I again thank everyone for their feedback and comments.  My quote for this month is as follows:
 
"True success is not necessarily about being the best at all cost.  It's about DOING your best at all times.  If you do that long enough, who knows, you might just end up being the best."
Tope Popoola
_________________________
 
*****
In board news
The Library Committee has written a letter to the Auditor General of Canada asking that a forensic investigation be launched into the millions of dollars that were spent by Library and Archives Canada on the Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA) project.  This project was prematurely and unexpectedly terminated and to date, repeated requests for a report have gone unheeded.
 
The website committee would like you to know that based on feedback received, they have identified two websites which they feel need paying some attention to because of some important accessibility/usability issues.  These are www.cbc.ca and www.aeroplan.com.  Letters to this effect are being written for sending to these two entities. 
 
Thanks to a submission from our own Marcia Yale of Huntsville, here is what she has uncovered and in her own words:
 
"Subject: Government web site with a nice little access issue
 
Hi, Donna. Thought you'd like to know that the form for registering as
a Canadian travelling abroad has a small access issue--I was able to
fill in the form with ease but, upon pressing the "next" button, I got
the very useless error: "The form is incomplete or there is an error."
After clearing the error message by pressing enter on "okay", I went
in search of my error and couldn't find any information on what it
might be! I wonder if there's a red flag somewhere on the form which
points out the error? The URL is:
https://www.voyage2.gc.ca/minroca/std/termsandconditions-en.htm#main-en.htm?
&_suid=135845591499006655785385818081
 
Marcia Yale"
 
The procurement committee is in the process of sending off a letter to the Federal Government strongly encouraging them to include accessibility requirements when they send out contracts for tender.  We thank Robin East, Sharlyn Ayotte, and Dorothy Macnaughton for their work.
 
We are still looking for members to join our point of sale committee and invite you to send your emails to us at info@blindcanadians.ca if you are interested.
 
The Strategic Planning Committee is about ready to seek your input through the circulation of their latest document and we thank Lui Greco our first VP, and Anthony Tibbs our national director along with their fellow committee members for their hard work on this.  They have posted their document to our website and urge you to visit, read, and participate.
 
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. 
 
*****
In other news
 
Well, the count down is on for our AGM and your national director Stephen Ricci and his partner in crime Denise Sanders are working feverishly to put things together.  Santa can certainly take a page out of the book of these two elves and below you will find a note from them.  The first call for the 2013 AGM is expected to go out on February 25 so please mark your calendars to look out for it.  Remember, the following positions are up for nominations:  President, second vice president, secretary, and director.  Now is the time to start thinking of your platforms if you are interested in running for any of these positions and I for one am looking forward to seeing members run.  This is your chance to make a contribution to our esteemed organization!  You can leave your back seat driver's position and become a leader in your own right!  So how about it?  Our Penny Leclair of Ottawa has already gotten a head start so see if you can catch her!
 
Here is the message from your dynamic AGM duet.
"Hi all,
 
It is that time of year again!!  We are collecting nominations for the 2012 volunteer award.  If you would like to nominate someone who has done a tremendous amount of work for AEBC in 2012, please send your nomination and write up to Darlene at  ocean_sunsets@yahoo.ca before March 15.
 
Below is the resolution we past in 2006 with the details.
 
* 2006-10: AEBC Volunteer of the Year Award
 
the AEBC Volunteer of the Year Award be created, to be presented at each year's AGM or Conference, to a member who has made a significant volunteer contribution to the work of the AEBC in the previous calendar year; a request for nominees would be part of the January/February Activity Report, with names and supporting information to be submitted to the National Secretary by March 15; The Board members, Chapter Presidents and Committee Chairs would each vote for two nominees, rating them as first and second choices, with the final decision to be made by April 15 so that the award could be presented at the next AGM, Conference or Chapter meeting. If a person holds more than one office, he/she would only have one vote in the process."
 
The AGM Committee would also like to hear from you on your nomination for the CCD award.  Each year, this award is presented to the person who in the view of your board and you has given long years of service to the Disability Rights movement in Canada.  To give you an idea of past winners:  Sharlyn Ayotte - 2012, Robin East - 2011, Irene Lambert - 2010, Chris and Marie Stark - 2009.
please send your nomination and write up to Darlene at  ocean_sunsets@yahoo.ca before February 28.
 
Just to clarify:  These are two separate awards.  The AEBC volunteer award is for the person who you feel has contributed the most to the AEBC for the past year and the CCD award is for the person who you feel has contributed over the years to the Disability Rights Movement in Canada.
 
The AGM committee also has some info for you on how you can attend the AGM as a member at large who is not affiliated with a chapter.  Please read on. 
 
***
AGM INFORMATION FOR MEMBERS AT LARGE WHO ARE NOT AFFILIATED WITH A CHAPTER: Funding for one delegate is available. AEBC will cover up to a maximum of $250.00 for reasonable travel costs and the hotel accommodation costs (assuming double occupancy).
 
How to Apply: It is likely that more than one person will be interested in attending. If you are interested in attending as a member at large, please send a message to cwbailey@telus.net with your name, email, and telephone number outlining:
 
·        Who you are (general background info);
 
·        Any previous involvement with AEBC you might have had (e.g. attending previous conferences, previously part of a chapter, referred by a friend, etc.);
 
·        What you hope to gain from the conference experience;
 
·        Why you believe that you would be the best, most deserving, or most significantly benefited candidate for funding; and
 
·        Your expected total costs for attending the conference.
 
The deadline for funding requests is March 5, 2013. Applicants can expect to know no later than March 25, 2013 as to the availability of funding.
 
The AGM Committee is asking the Toronto chapter to go out there and publicize the visit of Paul Edwards our keynote speaker.  Paul is a past president of the American Council of the Blind and is a well known international advocate.  We will be circulating his bio in the coming weeks.
 
The AEBC again thanks its sponsors of this year's conference; Accessible Media Inc, T-Base Communications Inc, Air Canada, Richard Papadina, Frontier Computing, and the Jodhan family.
 
Guess what?  Thanks to some neat work and stick handling by our Anthony Tibbs your director at large , with some backup support from Denise Sanders and Rajesh Malik your second VP, and me as your messenger, the president's contest is back for its second year and you can access this by going to http://www.blindcanadians.ca/pc.  In the meantime, here is the content of this contest and I am hoping that everyone will take a few moments to enter it and encourage their friends and family to do so.  It is in support of a fantastic AEBC initiative!  Here now is the content.
 
AEBC President's Contest - Buy your virtual brick!
The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians' President's Contest is back! 
 
Would you like a chance to win $500 cash?  Help achieve our goal! We're building a virtual wall to represent the foundation of a new internship program for postsecondary students that AEBC intends to launch in 2014.  This program will afford internship opportunities to students who wish to learn more about working with the blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted community, to develop training materials for professionals serving our community, and to generally support our community.  The funds raised will serve as the seed money for the internship program in 2014 and into the future.
 
The program will fund stipends to allow AEBC to offer internship opportunities for students in sociology, psychology, political science, journalism, social work, and related fields.  Through this program, AEBC will offer students a chance to develop their skills while at the same time increasing the ability of AEBC to deliver meaningful programs and seminars to caregivers, parents, and the blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted themselves (e.g. the development of an information seminar and presentation targetted at medical students on how to best interact with blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted patients).
 
When you join as a President's Contest Supporter, and add a virtual "brick" on our Wall, you will also be entered into a draw for a $500 cash prize! In fact, for every dollar that you (or someone you refer to AEBC) donates before April 15, 2013, will automatically receive one additional entry into the contest!
 
How To Participate
First... Buy your brick and make a donation to the AEBC! Each brick costs only $1.00. With your virtual brick you will receive an entry into a contest for a $500 cash prize, to be drawn during the 2013 Conference and AGM in Toronto, Ontario (April 26-28, 2013)*. You can only buy one brick, but for every dollar that you donate to the AEBC before April 15, 2013,  will automatically receive an additional entry into the contest! But wait...
 
When your brick purchase is processed by AEBC, you will be given your "brick number". This is a unique 5-digit number that identifies your brick on the wall. Pass that number along to your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone else you can think of. When they buy a brick, and supply your brick number, you will also get credit (and additional contest entries) for every dollar that they donate and raise for AEBC.
 
Don't want to buy and pay online?  Call us at 1-800-561-4774!
 
If you would like a tax receipt, be sure to provide a shipping address in PayPal so that we know where that should be sent.  Note that your initial brick purchase ($1.00) is not eligible for a tax receipt.  If you make a $10.00 donation and you do not yet own a brick, then a tax receipt of $9.00 will be issued.
 
One $500 cash prize to be drawn on April 26, 2013.   Chances of winning will depend on the number of entries received.  No purchase necessary.  Selected winner will be required to answer a mathematical skill-testing question.   Read full contest rules at
Http://www.blindcanadians.ca/pc
 
The town hall team wishes to let you know that due to scheduling challenges, the next town hall meeting will be held later on this year. 
 
Your second VP Rajesh Malik is gearing up to launch the AEBC's scholarships some time in the next few months.  These scholarships will be offered in conjunction with the T-Base Communications Inc scholarship.  The AEBC will be offering two $1,000.00 scholarships and T-Base Communications will be offering 1 $2,000.00 scholarship.
 
Your treasurer Charles Bailey is still mired in the mountainous task of the updating of over 40 AEBC documents but he is receiving help from our national secretary Dar Wournell.  Several of these documents have not been updated in a few years so they will need some major work to reflect the changes that have and continue to take place.  It should be noted that our Denise Sanders spent countless hours in the creation and development of the original documents and continued her work over many years.  She still continues to assist with this vital part of our process. 
 
*****
In chapter news
 
Let's give a warm welcome to our hard working Winnipeg chapter and for this month, here are some highlights of what they are up to.
 
First off, their fearless president Richard Campbell decided to do some research on the customer service and point of sales with MTS.   He reported on his encounters he had with MTS stores.  He felt he was not being  taken seriously as a potential customer.   He then went to the MTS flag ship store in Polo Park, for persons with disabilities and was not treated any better.  He has
found the same issue with customer service be it on the telephone or in person.    He was supposed to have brought this up at the MTS Disabilities meeting on the 12th of December.  
 
Other items:  The Winnipeg chapter continues to maintain a Facebook page.  Plans are a-foot for holding a half hour concert during White Cane week and to this end, Richard has kindly shared a poster announcing an AEBC Winnipeg concert to be held on February 07 and 08 at the Portage Mall in celebration of White Cane week.
Keep up your great work Richard and team!
 
The Toronto chapter is pleased to announce its team of executive members as follows:
Melanie Moore - president, Stephen Ricci - vice president, Chelsea Mohler - secretary, George Stevens - treasurer, and Corana Lee - member at large. 
We look forward to great things from this crew.
 
The following is an obituary that was sent to our members list by Richard Marion.  For those of you who knew her; the passing of Maureen Martin.  On behalf of the AEBC, our deepest sympathies to Maureen's family.
 
Here now is Richard's email and the accompanying obituary.
"I thought those of you who knew or remember Maureen would be interested in this very sad news for her family and friends. Maureen was the first president of the AEBC Lower Mainland chapter."
 
"Maureen MARTIN
MARTIN, Maureen Lee
1946 - 2013
We regret to announce the passing of our Mom, Grandma/Grantini, sister, aunt and friend, Maureen Lee Martin (nee Brun) on January 12, 2013. Born to Paul and Mona Brun, Maureen was the eldest of four children, Paul (Sandy), Robert (Pamela), and David (Karyn). Maureen married her one and only true love, Walter Martin of Edinburgh, Scotland on November 4th, 1967. Together, she and her beloved husband had two children, David (Robyn) and Suzanne (Andy), and shared eleven magnificent years together before his death in 1978. Maureen mourned the loss of Walter for the remainder of her life while lovingly keeping his memory alive for the benefit of her children and grandchildren (Alex, Kricket, Trafford, Chloe, Sidney and Caris). In her career as a food consultant, Maureen worked alongside her cherished mother, Mona, for several decades. Together, their amazing relationship transcended work and family to become a pivotal force in both of their lives. Much like her mother, Maureen had an unwavering devotion to those she loved, a great passion for good food, a dynamic personality that spoke volumes, and a deep compassion for those less fortunate. Her advocacy for those with blindness and disability was a true commitment for Maureen. Maureen leaves behind a legacy of her love in her children and the very special grandchildren she truly adored. Our family extends a special thank you to Maureen's many wonderful friends and support workers for their special care, friendship and love. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Foundation Fighting Blindness. A celebration of Maureen's life will take place on January 27, 2012 from 2 to 5pm at The Pinnacle Hotel, 138 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver. Mom, we promise to keep your memory alive for our children, to make them smile with our recollections of you, and to ensure they never doubt your unconditional love for them. You kept your promise to Dad and we will forever love you for it."
 
*****
Members of the month
For this month, I'd like to post a really intuitive piece from our own Beryl Williams because I think that it needs our attention.  Here it is.
 
"In the early 1980s, i introduced the concept of an audible component to the
visual pedestrian walk signals, that were just beginning to appear in the U
K.  Individual advocacy did not prove very effective, despite attempts to
involve local CCB and CNIB personell. Audible cues that provided independent
ttravel for pedestrians unable to respond to visual signals garnered limited
interest, both negative and positive.   now 3 decades on,  Aps have become a
recognised and  accepted safety feature in jurisdictions across Canada.  I
agree with Robin in that consumer advocacy demands well defined action
steps that do require tenacity, commitment and patience throughout.
Identifiable paper currency was another issue that i raised.  This received
lukewarm interest, but has been accepted as another  legitimate equality of
Information Access for Canadians with significant sight limitations.
Given the increasingly sophisticated and innovative modes of
producing,providing , and disseminating  most  information in the last
couple of decades, another aspect to   the important role of Advocacy has
emerged.  It is crucial  at  the earliest stages of design, development and
implementation of technical devices, to allow for enabling universal  design
features to be incorporated,thus providing   greater opportunity for
mainstream inclusion and participation regardless of personal physical,
sensory and cognitive limitations.  Rights, Responsibilities and Freedoms
are no longer the purlieu of "able bodied"individuals. Providing Increased
Public Education and Awareness to decision and policy makers, both public
and private,  must be   the prerogative of individuals whose quality of life
is very much at stake.    This definitely requires well researched and
articulated advocacy, presented in a cohesive and collective manner. .
Charter Rights, Responsibilities and Freedoms,  guarantees and protections
are meant to provide a sound foundation for equitable access to benefits and
services available to all members of Canadian Society.  It is imperative
that we don't shoot ourselves in the foot by focusing on what divides rather
than unites us. I will be the first to admit becoming bless passionate and
motivated after 30 years, though eternally grateful for the opportunity to
establish firm  friendships, gaining  much personal inner strength,
insight,knowledge and wisdom along the way.  I hope what contribution I have
been able to provide, has added a little to the overall  steady progress
already achieved as well as further triumphs in the future.   Best wishes
for 2013 to all.  Beryl."
 
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: 
 
Meet Irene Lambert!  Always a lady and one who is easy to remember!
 Irene Lambert joined our organization in 2000 and she has remained one of our very dedicated members. We would like to recognize her tremendous contribution to our organization, and particularly, for co-founding the Greater Montreal Chapter and for being their dedicated president for six years.
 
During her term on the national board, Irene spent many hours and much energy on various issues and committees. She was always up for a challenge and, among other things, took on the difficult task of increasing the membership in the NFB: AE.  Irene has been an advocate for over fifty years. Her most significant advocacy involvement was in the development and passage of the first comprehensive rights law for persons with disabilities in 1978 in the Province of Quebec. In addition to her work with the AEBC, Irene has made many other contributions in the greater advocacy movement. From 1988 to the present, Irene has worked with the Low Vision Self-Help Association as their past President and program director, as well as participating in outreach and library committees.
 
From 1995 to 2006, she served as a member of the Montreal for the Blind Board of Directors, and worked on establishing points of service in the Chomedy and West Island area. Moreover, from 1993 to 2009, she served as President of the User's Committee for the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre and she has served on the board of the Quebec Federation of the Blind Foundation, she is the present president. These are but just some of the many
contributions Irene has made over the years.  One can easily say that Irene has certainly made her mark on both sides of the border in addition to doing it in Montreal and across the province of Québec.
 
Irene was the recipient of the AEBC 2010 Council of Canadians with Disabilities National
Award in recognition of her "valued contribution to the disability rights movement in Canada".  It is those like Irene that really make a difference in the lives of individuals who are blind.  She has spent countless hours educating the public on our abilities as well as encouraging blind people to reach their potential. 
Hats off to this very unique lady!
 
Meet Denise Sanders!  Also known as the Boss and for very good reason!
Denise Sanders's career background has included administrative positions with various organizations, and owner/manager of a business in Kelowna.  In 1996, she joined the NFB:AE and was President of the Central Okanagan Chapter for five years.  Denise then became National Treasurer and in 2004, served her second term in this position. 
 
She was then elected Director without Portfolio at the annual general meeting in Kelowna and was re-elected for this position in 2008 in Toronto.  Denise has also co-chaired AEBC's human resources Committee with our President and she participated on the finance/fundraising committee. 
 
Denise was instrumental in creating the following materials:
A detailed package for chapters, an extensive AEBC policy manual, and the compilation of a booklet of daily tasks called "Tips for Independence".
 
Denise received the AEBC 2006 Council of Canadians with Disabilities National Award in recognition of her "valued contribution to the disability rights movement in Canada".  Since leaving the national board in 2010, Denise has continued to toil tirelessly on our behalf and she is practically unstoppable.
We salute this lady!  A once in a lifetime person!
 
Meet Robin East!  A leader with many hats!  My predecessor!
Robin East has a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work, a Certificate In
Rehabilitation Work, and has completed the Assistive Technology Applications
Certificate Program through The Center on Disabilities at the California
State University. He has worked as a Teacher Associate, a Behavioural
Therapist, and finally an Officer with the Federal Public Service.
 
Robin presently works for Revenue Canada in the Adaptive Technology department but this has not stopped him from his commitment to advocacy.  Over the years, he has been involved in several Human Rights cases focusing on transportation and elections, and he has been a member of the National Council of the council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD).  Robin received the  AEBC 2011 Council of Canadians with Disabilities National Award in recognition of his "valued contribution to the disability rights movement in Canada". Robin was also the first chairman of the Coalition of Blind Rights holders of Canada (CBRC) and he was instrumental in helping the AEBC to gain intervener's status in the recently concluded landmark case of Jodhan versus the Attorney General of Canada. 
 
"An advocate is like a catalyst that mixes with an ally and inspires
empowerment." this is a favourite phrase of Robins. He believes in working
with ally's to overcome barriers and address common issues. He has been
involved in advocacy since the early 80's and continues to be a strong
leader in whatever role he takes.  We salute Robin!
 
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 am again pleased to share some feedback with you that I received a while back from the Montreal chapter.  I thank Montreal's president Heather Rupert for sharing this with us.
 
Question of the month (OCTOBER)
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?
 
Answers
JOE DEMELO
yes we should.
 
SIMON
Yes i do think that we should know what to watch for if we are frauded.
 
RAJESH
I don’t know about this. Personally, I have no need of this at all but will leave it up to the others to express their opinions.
 
PIPPA
really can’t answer the question about the banks and fraud etc., as the question is too ambiguous and there are so many kinds of fraud that would not necessarily apply, so think we need to be more specific as to the kind of fraud to which we could be particularly vulnerable...this has to be discussed in more detail before thinking
of of contacting any institutions.
 
IRENE
don't believe one needs a special course from an advocacy organization to be consumer savvy.
There are numerous sources of information out there from the media to the police departments of community service and even word of mouth that is doing a pretty good job of keeping us informed.
 
AMANDA CAPE
Here is my response to the question of the month:
I think that it would be helpful for blind and visually impaired
individuals to become aware of the fraudulent scams or schemes that
could impact their lives. They should learn how to protect themselves
against the people in society who wish to inflict harm upon those
living with a disability.
 
MICHAEL JACKSON
 
I'm inclined to think that closer relations with financial institutions might be useful anyway as they are also not unrelated to our problems about point of sale credit card machines--at least if we are to believe what some retailers and restaurants say.
 
LUCIO
to answer to the question of the month, I think that we should maybe look beyond the financial institutions but instead go with maybe the local police departments as they would probably be able to give us even more information aside from just the financial aspect. I think that there are lots more items to look at when it comes to fraud such as telephone fraud, personal id fraud and amonst other things.
 
*****
Commitment of the month
Our commitment of the month is as follows: 
Time to start working on fund raising activities for the AEBC.  We need to keep finding ways to raise funds so that we can embark on some exciting projects.
 
*****
Letters and press releases posted to our website
A letter that was sent to the Auditor General of Canada asking that an investigation be launched into what happened to the millions of dollars that was spent by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) on the Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA) project.
 
Posted by the strategic planning committee -
- AEBC Strategic Planning Initiative - Request for Proposals -
http://www.blindcanadians.ca/news/bb/2013-01-aebc-strategic-planning-initiative-request-proposals
 
*****
Question of the month
My question of the month is as follows:
What can the AEBC do in order to increase its membership?  What would be the benefits of becoming a member of AEBC?  What can the AEBC do in order to encourage members to become more involved?
 
That's it for me for this month.  I wish you a great February.
 

Donna J
Your national president

Disclaimer:

The thoughts 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 fundraising partners.