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Talk to the President February 2013

Dear Fellow AEBCers: 

Well, we have made it to the end of February and it should be clear sailing from now herein.  Our AGM is but a bit less than two months away and I hope that everyone is gearing up for a terrific get together.  It is that one time of the year when we have the rare and unforgettable moment to say hello to friends from afar; to renew our commitment to this esteemed organization and to put our differences aside for two joyous days and work together to plan future strategies.  I again thank everyone for their very insightful feedback and encourage you to keep it coming.
 
My quote for this month is as follows:
"Obstacles are a golden opportunity to quickly forge an inner self that is as indestructible as a diamond, able to endure for eternity."
Daisaku Ikeda
 
*****
In board news
The Strat Planning Committee headed by your first VP Lui Greco would like you to know that things are moving along and that part of our AGM agenda will be devoted to strat planning matters.  They have already circulated a document which has been posted on the website.  Lui and his committee will be on our Saturday morning AGM agenda to present to and update members.
 
Lui has been a very busy man for February because on February 13, he was part of an Access2020 panel that appeared in Ottawa at the CRTC Public Hearings on the establishment of a mandatory code for mobile wireless services.  Lui was the AEBC's rep on this panel. 
 
From our director Anthony Tibbs comes this update on activities going on with the DV working group.
"The DV Best Practices Working Group met last week to discuss a draft
"best practices" guide that had been delivered.  There will be a public consultation process about this, and this is by no means a finished document.  It really only sets out the framework for how this might be developed."
 
I am pasting below a letter that was received in response to the library committee's letter to the Auditor General  of Canada.  This committee may be getting ready to file an access to information request to see if they can make any progress on how these funds were spent. 
 
"Auditor General of Canada
Verification general du Canada
 
23 January 2013
 
Ms. Donna J. Jodhan National President
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians P.O. Box 20262, RPO Town Centre Kelowna, British Columbia V1Y 9H2
 
Dear Ms. Jodhan:
 
We have received your letter of 16 January 2013 in which you request an audit of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the Initiative for Equitable Library Access Project.
 
We have forwarded a copy of your letter to the team responsible for auditing LAC, for
consideration in the planning of future work. This does not constitute a commitment from our Office to undertake an audit.
 
Sincerely,
 
Michael Ferguson, FCA
 
Dr. Daniel J. Caron, Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada Mr. Andre Bachand, Senior Advisor, Prime Minister's Office
The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
The Hon. Thomas Mulcair, Member of Parliament and Leader of the New Democratic Party
The Hon. Bob Rae, Member of Parliament and Interim Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada"
 
The following is an email that I recently received dated February 18.  It was shared with me by a non member of the AEBC and I think that some of you would be interested to read.  The website committee Thanks Catherine Roy for having sent this in.
I will note here that Catherine Roy hails from Montreal and is a well known person in the disabilities community working in the digital accessibility field.  Here goes.
 
"Hi Donna,
 
Here is the email I sent to Stat Can. I will keep you apprised of any
developments.
 
Best,
Catherine
-------- Original Message --------
Subject:  please reimplement longdesc on your web site
Date:  Mon, 18 Feb 2013 15:57:16 -0500
From:  Catherine Roy <ecrire@catherine-roy.net>
To:  Lucie.Gauthier@statcan.gc.ca, Troy.Melanson@statcan.gc.ca
CC:  Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
 
Dear Ms. Gauthier and Mr. Melanson,
 
I am writing to you because my colleague, Laura Carlson, has recently
alerted me to the fact that you have stopped using the longdesc
attribute on Statistics Canada web sites. As a Canadian with
disabilities who works in the digital accessibility field, I have
appreciated Statistics Canada's efforts in the last few years with
regards to accessibility and have even held it up as an example of a
Canadian government agency that takes all users' needs into
consideration. So you can imagine my surprise and confusion upon
learning of your decision to drop the longdesc attribute in favour of
some weak, antiquated hack.
 
Ms. Carlson has already eloquently argued the technical reasons of why
the "solution" you now employ is inadequate for various users (not to
mention search engines, such as Google). And she has already explained
to you that HTML5 is far from set in stone and that the longdesc
attribute has not been rendered obsolete. Whoever told you you could
drop the longdesc attribute has a poor understanding of what is going on
with regards to the standards work surrounding HTML5. Indeed, you have
been sadly misinformed.
 
For my part, I will remind you of Donna Jodhan v. the Attorney General
of Canada, a legal case I am sure you are familiar with. A case by which
a Canadian with disabilities successfully sued the government of Canada
due to the lack of accessibility of its web sites. In fact, you should
be intimately familiar with this case since Statistics Canada was, at
the time, one of the agencies whose web sites were problematic and
recognized as presenting significant barriers to people with
disabilities, specifically screen reader users. Since that time,
Statistics Canada has made important strides in accommodating users with
disabilities.
 
The progress, or lack thereof, of Canadian government ministries and
agencies with regards to the accessibility of their web sites continues
to be monitored by the Treasury Board of Canada as well as by the
Canadian disability community. Since the remedy to the present problem
is simple, i.e. reimplementing the longdesc attribute, it would be
unfortunate to have to complicate matters and make a big deal out of
this due to Statistics Canada's inexplicable step backward and misguided
refusal to accommodate in accordance to the present standards.
 
So, please reimplement the longdesc attribute on your web sites.
 
Best regards,
Catherine
 
 
The second piece coming from our website committee is a letter that has been sent to Aeroplan and CBC over their inaccessible websites.  It is pasted below.
 
"This letter is being sent on behalf of the Alliance for Equality of Blind
Canadians (AEBC).The AEBC is an advocacy group, made up of blind,
deaf-blind, and partially-sighted Canadians.  We work toward the full
inclusion in all aspects of life in Canada, for those who experience partial
or total vision loss.
 
A number of our members use your  website with screen reading technology and have encountered several problems accessing its features.
It appears that your website lacks internationally accepted practices
regarding accessibility which makes it difficult for blind persons to make
full use of the website.  These standards are easy to implement, if the
website developers are willing to undertake the task.
 
My purpose in writing this note is to offer you our assistance in
identifying the accessibility issues with your website and hope that
appropriate steps might then be taken to improve its use for blind and
partially sighted individuals.
 
I hope for a positive response from you soon and look forward to
establishing a working liaison with your website team.
 
YoursSincerely,
 
Donna J. Jodhan
President
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians"
 
Thanks to some assistance from Robin East, and on behalf of the AEBC, the website committee has also sent a letter to the president of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Tony Clement with regard to:  WCAG 2.0 Compliance and Accessible Websites.  This letter has been posted to our website.
 
The procurement committee has also written a letter of its own; to the minister of public works and government services on the matter of recommending the Government of Canada take action to develop an appropriate policy that includes accessibility as a mandatory requirement of all new ICT Procurement to benefit all Canadians.
This letter has also been posted to our website.
 
your National board would like to share the following with you:
A motion that was passed earlier on this month at a board meeting.
"Be it resolved that, if the CRBC and the Consumer Advocacy Group merge into a single entity,
AEBC will withdraw from participation in the merged entity."
 
The CBRC is the coalition of Blind Right holders of Canada of which Richard Marion is the chair and Rajesh Malik your second VP and Brian Moore are the AEBC reps and CAG is the Consumer Advocacy Group that is a CNIB initiated group.
 
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
For this month, there is a fair amount of news from the AGM committee and I am pasting below. 
 
First off, News on hotel info and registration
 
"Hi all,
We hope you will be able to come to our exciting conference/AGM in Toronto
on April 26 to 28, 2013.
 
* hotel info.
Cambridge Suites Hotel
 15 Richmond Street East, Toronto.
http://www.cambridgesuitestoronto.com/
 
Please call the hotel directly at 1-800-463-1990 or 416-368-1990 by March
29to get the AEBC rate.
 
We have a block of 30 suites reserved for our AGM at a rate of $135. + 13%
HST per night for a suite with a king bed, a pull out sofa with single,
double or twin share occupancy.
We also have negotiated 10 suites with two European double beds at a rate of
$135. + 13% HST per night for twin occupancy.
 
Once the 10 rooms with the two European double beds have been booked, any
additional request will be subject to availability and rate change.
The rate for triple or quad occupancy is: $25. Per person per night per
suite + HST.
The deadline to reserve at these guaranteed blocked rates is March 29, 2013.
Check in time is: 4PM
Check out time is: 1PM
Cancellation is to be done, no later than 4PM 7 days prior to the guest's
arrival date or one nights charge will apply.
 
Please Note: The reservation block is for Friday April 26 and Saturday April
27, only. If a guest wishes to extend the stay the hotel will make every
effort to match the price upon availability, wherever possible.
Please make your reservation as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
 
* registration fee
The registration fee is $50, which will include 2 morning coffees, 3
coffee breaks, and lunch on saturday.
 
* Information about displays and presentations
On Friday, we will have displays from various vendors, organizations, social
groups and service providers set up from 10:00 to
4:00 for the public and members.  Several presentations/workshops are also
scheduled.
 
* The draft agenda will be circulated soon.  We are very fortune to have
Paul Edwards, past President of ACB, as our keynote speaker this year.  )his bio
will be circulated soon)
 
On Saturday  afternoon, we have workshops on accessible websites and
creating blogs.  The      rest of the time is devoted to the annual general business
of AEBC.
 
* We also  have several fun events scheduled such as a wine and cheese
sponsored by AMI  and a couple dinners arranged to socialize with folks from
across the  country.
 
We hope you will come to this exciting conference!  If you have any
questions, please contact Stephen Ricci at aebc.agm.cc.2013@gmail.com
 or Denise Sanders at dsand@shaw.ca.
 
Looking forward to seeing all of you on April 25 to 28, 2013!
 
***
We would like to thank the following for their generous contributions to
AEBC:
*  Accesible Media Inc. (AMi)
* T-Base Communications
* Richard Papadina of RBC Dominion securities
* Frontier Computing
* Jodhan family
* Air Canada"
 
The following is the long awaited bio on our keynote speaker Paul
Edwards.  Posted at:
http://www.blindcanadians.ca/programs/conf/2013/keynote
 
The Man – The Teacher – The Advocate – The Friend
This is who he is!  Paul Archibald Edwards; read his accomplishments and share his thoughts about himself.
http://www.fcb.org/wcb-march-april-2011.htm#wcb5
 
Paul is never afraid to identify his heroes but when it comes to his accomplishments, he prefers to keep them just out of the spotlight.
Paul was elected as ACB’s President in 1995 and served for six years.  Thereafter, he continued to serve ACB through his position as Immediate Past President and remained on the Board of Directors for the next six years. In 2007, Mitch Pomerantz, current ACB President approached Paul with a request that he lead the Board of Publications (BOP).
 
In 2004, Paul was elected as President of the Florida Council of the blind (FCB). During that fateful term, Gayle Krause-Edwards, his wife and companion of 20 years passed away of leukemia and Paul made the decision to resign from his position.  Paul was again elected to lead FCB during the convention of 2010.
 
He went to work for the Miami Dade College as the Director of Access Services for Disabled Students and retired in 2012.  Most of his students would remember him as someone with a fountain of knowledge, humorous and always able to bring a calming effect to students.
 
Paul shared the following with the AEBC.
"I was born in San Francisco California and was one of the early users of an incubator after being very premature. I was left with a little light perception which soon went away. At the age of seven I moved to Calgary and went to school in Vancouver. Part of the time I was at the Jericho Hill School and part of the time I was at the Athlone School for Boys. At thirteen, my mother decided we were moving to Jamaica and I stayed there till I was 21. I graduated from high school sort of and completed my Bachelor's SPECIAL Honors degree in History at the Mona Jamaica campus of the University of the West Indies. I was the first blind student to go there and ended up in Trinidad because I wanted to do a graduate degree in international relations which I successfully completed.
I met my first wife there and married during my degree and so was faced with the need to find a way to support her and my first daughter who was pretty quickly on the way. I taught at a small school in the rural area of Trinidad partly because there was no other job and partly because I was not sure if I could really teach. I really enjoyed that first year because all the girls I taught really wanted to learn. Yes, it was a girls' school. I was not making disparaging remarks about boys!
After one year I became the senior history master at Trinity College, the leading Anglican School for Boys in Trinidad and Tobago. Near the end of my teaching career, I got a graduate degree in Education from the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad.
When I left Trinidad ten years later I had three children: two girls and a boy. I moved to Florida where I went to work for the Division of Blind Services as a rehabilitation teacher. In this job, I went to people's homes and taught them skills that would enable them to adjust to visual impairment. After three years of this, I became a Rehabilitation Counselor and worked mostly with high school and college students. In 1983, I moved to Jacksonville to take over as Executive Director of an agency serving blind people there. In 1986, I moved to Miami as Director of Services to students with disabilities on the North Campus of Miami Dade College, the largest two year college in the United States. On my campus we served over seven hundred disabled students a year. I retired from that job in May of 2012.
While I certainly regard my working life as rich and varied, I have derived much more pleasure from the work I have done as a volunteer and advocate. I have worked at the local level, at the state level and at the national level to try to make things better for people who are blind. I currently serve on the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind, the National Accreditation Council Board and hold several positions within the American Council and its Florida Affiliate. I have worked particularly on library issues, promoting braille and changing laws.
I absolutely believe that I have been given as much by the consumer movement as I have given it. Until I became associated with ACB, I saw myself as an inferior creature desperately trying to compete in a world where I could never do quite enough to be accepted. What the blindness movement taught me is that the only person I have to satisfy is me. That may sound  arrogant and overbearing but that is not how it is intended. I set high standards for myself and if I can meet them I am likely to meet the standards of others. I no longer worry about being accepted by society. I have rights and I will fight to see they are protected. Society does not need to accept me but they do need to include me. I am proud to be a person who is blind. I am proud of what I accomplish every day in spite of the barriers that are there. More than that, I am proud of what every blind person everywhere accomplishes every day. It isn't easy to be blind and anybody who says it is or who suggests that it's a walk in the park does not live in the same world I do!
I enjoy modern folk music, fantassy and science fiction and hope that, in due course, I will find some time to write. The one thing you can be sure I will not write is an autobiography. My three children are now grown up and I have ten grand children which is quite enough to keep me occupied and young. I still have a lot to do and many places where I think I can help. I have had a good life and only wish I had not been quite so busy. When you don't make time to smell the roses, they have often faded before you can enjoy them! I look forward to meeting many of you in Toronto and to learning much more than I can teach! I am honored that I have been asked to come!
Paul"
 
Next, our president's contest and here are the details once more:
"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"
 
Finally, on news of the AGM, please do not forget to send your vote in for the AEBC volunteer of the year award.  Please send your vote to Dar at ocean_sunsets@yahoo.ca
 
I regret to inform you that due to ongoing financial challenges, the CNIB has decided to forgo its participation in the Braille camp for kids that was scheduled to be held at Lake Jo from July 14 - 19.  It is hoped that this camp can be rescheduled for 2014.  The AEBC has written a letter to John Rafferty to express its concern and disappointment and it has been posted to our website.  The AEBC will do everything in its power to keep this initiative alive.
 
Well, let's say a big hello to our own Sharlyn Ayotte of Ottawa as she has embarked on an initiative to help  raise and increase the profile of the AEBC on the Internet and how is she doing this?  She is taking advantage of social media to do so in the form of Twitter.  Sharlyn is working to develop the number of persons and organizations that will be following the AEBC on Twitter and she will also be working to increase the number of individuals and organizations that the AEBC will be following.  This is good news for AEBC as it is a step in the right direction to use social media to raise our profile.  We thank Sharlyn for her initiative. 
 
*****
In chapter news
The next chapter presidents tele conference will be held on March 06 and we look forward to hearing more from our chapter presidents. 
 
On February 05, I had the pleasure of dining with the Montreal chapter at Nickels Restaurant in Montreal.  It was great to see those who turned out and I thank them for having braved a very cold Montreal evening to come out and have dinner.  I would also like to thank those Montreal members who took time to attend my presentation at the MAB/McKay Center on February 04 as part of White Cane week. 
 
On February 09 I had lunch with the Toronto chapter and was delighted to do so.  A number of matters were raised and this chapter is bound and determined to stay on track and do whatever it takes to remain a producing part of our organization.  We wish president Melanie Moore and her executive every success. 
 
Just can't stop those hard working Halifax chapter members as they are celebrating the 5th anniversary of their inception.  Happy 5th anniversary to you president Dar Wournell and your chapter!  In Dar's own words, I share the following additional news with you:
 
"Our Vice President, Yvon Clement, has been appointed to serve a two-year
term on the Halifax Regional Municipality's "Accessibility Committee for
Persons with Disabilities" under City Council! A huge step in the right
direction. This is a two-year term that commenced February 18, when he
attended their first meeting.
 
On Saturday, February 23, members and invited guests celebrated the 5th
year anniversary of the Halifax Chapter. There were two anniversary cakes;
one chocolate and one vanilla - and must I say they were very nice. There
was a lot of food, drinks, conversation and we all had a great time
singing when Yvon took out the guitar and played for a few hours. And,
with even more good news, we now have two new members who joined our
ever-growing team.
 
March is going to be filled with many, many fund raising dates for 6,
possibly seven members who are going to the AGM in Toronto. Two months as
of today, it'll be here. Gosh, how time flies!"
 
*****
Members of the month
It is not often enough that either I or this esteemed organization would have an opportunity to publicly congratulate certain members for their fantastic achievements and when these achievements include the awarding of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal to these members!  What more can I say and I think that it is time that we turn over a new page to start recognizing achievements of members rather than lingering over non-positive aspects.  So without much further ado, I'd like to introduce to you our members of the month!  Our Queen's Diamond Jubilee award winners!  Maybe it is time for us to start thinking of the setting up of an AEBC Hall of fame for those members who have managed to capture the eyes and ears of the rest of the world!
 
May I proudly present Margaret Thomson and in her own words!
"Presented  September 19, 2012 John's.
 
By Margaret Thomson
 
When I immigrated from Scotland with my husband to St. John's, NL in the mid
70's, I was fortunate enough to go to University of Manitoba where I obtain
a diploma in Computer Science and, even more fortunate, to obtain employment
immediately upon returning to St. John's.
 
As technology was not as progressive as it is today, I found, after a few
years, that I had to move out of that field, so I looked to the CNIB for
advice, and actually worked there for a couple of years while continuing with
my university studies part-time at Memorial.
 
It was at CNIB that I observed the value and importance of volunteers and
the help they could give, not only to the organization, but to consumers,
especially to parents of children with vision loss.
 
I went on to work with the Federal Government, in different departments,
mostly in Human Resources; however I'd been smitten with the volunteer bug.
 
So, my first volunteer opportunity was to teach Braille to a multi-disabled,
but very bright young boy.  That beginning opened up many opportunities to
do volunteer work with other organizations of and for people with all kinds
of disabilities.  However, I maintained a long term involvement with CNIB,
serving on various committees, Boards etc., becoming NL Division Chair, as
well as being on the National and Library Boards.
 
My rationale is that, I have been blessed with a very happy, productive and
full life, and I feel the least I can do is help others achieve the very
best they can do.
 
It was a shock to me when I found out that someone had nominated me to
receive the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, but I certainly am grateful to
have been given such an honour, and certainly will treasure my medal."
 
I am absolutely delighted to reprint a press release announcing our own Beverley Milligan, a lifetime member of AEBC as a recipient of one of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal awards!  We are mighty proud of our Bev and the press release is pasted below.  Congrats Bev!!!
 
"Beverley Milligan, CEO of Media Access Canada, has been awarded a Queen
Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her many years of work
on behalf of Canadians with disabilities in the area of accessible media.
³No only am I so very honored by this recognition, but also my mother, who
is deaf and needs closed captioning to understand audio in media, was born
the same year as Queen Elizabeth -  a  parallel that makes the award very
special to me², noted Ms. Milligan.
 
In celebration of Queen Elizabeth¹s diamond jubilee, 60,000 Canadians who
have made exceptional contributions to their country are being honored with
the medals. The Lieutenant Governor and a group of distinguished Ontarians
will present the medals at a special Diamond Jubilee Gala at Roy Thompson
Hall, in Toronto, on 6 February, 2013.
 
This award recognizes Milligan¹s ongoing contributions to Canadian society
through her work developing the corporate sponsorship model that led to
widespread closed-captioning of television programs for the deaf and hard of
hearing. She has also worked tirelessly to push for increased attention to
and funding for accessibility in broadcasting, telecommunications and on the
world wide web. ³It is a well known fact that what is good for Canadians
with disabilities is good for all Canadians, so it has always been a honor
to volunteer in this area², said Ms. Milligan."
 
Finally, our third Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal award winner!  The following comes from our Vancouver chapter.
 
"Tom Teranishi has been a member of the AEBC Vancouver Chapter for many years.  He is involved in many organizations in the Lower Mainland.  Tom was nominated for this award by the Japanese Cultural Centre. 
 
We can't think of anyone who deserves this honour more than you do.  You have put so much effort and work in the Nikkei Home and the Japanese Cultural Centre, writing reports, newsletters, heading up projects and doing great deeds.
 
  You have so much to offer the Japanese-Canadian and the community at large in the future.
  Congratulations on your Queen's Jubilee Medal!"
Well done Tom and from all of your fellow AEBC members, a huge toast to you!
 
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 Sharlyn Ayotte!  Advocate, mentor, a true diplomat in her own right!
Sharlyn was the recipient of the AEBC 2012 Council of Canadians with Disabilities National
Award in recognition of her "valued contribution to the disability rights movement in Canada". 
 
Sharlyn Ayotte has been involved with the Disability Rights movement for more than 30 years and has never shied away from adversity let alone a challenge.  She is an entrepreneur, advocate, and a mentor. 
 
One of her favorite sayings is this:  "While others may see obstacles as problems, entrepreneurs are people who view these as opportunities." Sharlyn is the founder of T-Base Communications Inc and lives in Ottawa.  She founded T-Base Communications because she saw the need for Blind and partially sighted people to have equal access to information; especially to such things as bank statements and other types of bills of a confidential nature.  
 
Sharlyn has been one of the founders of the "black Cane Club". This act alone has demonstrated that Sharlyn can "think out of the
box", stand up for one's principles, and dare to make a difference. She has dared to relinquish the concession and fight for mainstream equality.
 
Sharlyn has donated thousands of dollars to AEBC and other organizations to support their
members and their work. She has attended many AGM's and worked in the background to assist members on an ongoing basis.  She has contributed  to the AEBC Scholarships and indeed has sponsored one for many years.
 
Sharlyn has also made generous contributions to the sponsoring of the hospitality suite at AGMs and many have personally discussed several issues with her and found her thought provoking in regards to moving the agenda of blind rights holders forward.  She has also sponsored several apprenticeships for young blind persons through her company.
We salute this very special Champagne lady!
 
Meet Joyce Maine!  An advocate to the end!  Unstoppable to the end!
A lady with a record to be most proud of!
Here is a look at this lady's accomplishments!
 
ONTARIO ELEMENTARY AND HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER
CRA OFFICER - INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS - CORPORATIONS DIVISION
TORONTO REGION
INDUSTRY CANADA NORTH BAY OFFICE – EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
CIBC HEAD OFFICE – EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
MANAGER CANADA WORKS PROGRAM RESPONSIBLE FOR $110000 AND 30 EMPLOYEES
HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER – ONTARIO MINISTRIES OF CITIZENSHIP, TOURISM, CULTURE AND COMMUNICATIONS
CONSULTANT – ONTARIO ADVOCACY COMMISSION
PROGRAM DIRECTOR- NORTH BAY CENTRE FOR THE PHYSICALLY DISABLED
COMMUNITY WORKER – SUDBURY LABOUR COUNCIL -45 UNIONS
PROVINCIAL CO-ORDINATOR – BLIND ONTARIANS ORGANIZED WITH SELFHELP TACTICS
 
APPOINTMENTS
NORTHERN ONTARIO HOUSING AUTHORITY
SUDBURY AND MANITOULIN HEALTH COUNCIL
LAURENTIAN UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT’S ADVISORY COMMITTEE
CITY OF TORONTO SOCIAL PLANNING COUNCIL
METROPOLITAN ASSOCIATION OF LEGAL CLINICS
CITY OF TORONTO ACCESSIBLE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
TRANSPORT CANADA MINISTER’S ADVISORY COUNCIL ON ACCESSIBILITY.
We thank this lady advocate for all of her hard work over the years!
 
Meet Richard Marion!  Loyal to the very end!  Richard the Lion Hearted!
Richard was the recipient of the AEBC 2008 Council of Canadians with Disabilities National
Award in recognition of his "valued contribution to the disability rights movement in Canada". 
 
Richard
has always assumed a very integral role in AEBC. As early as 1995, Richard along with several other members, established the Lower Mainland Chapter of the AEBC. He became their second Chapter President and remained in this position
until 1998. In 1998, Richard became our second National President for one term. Additionally, he later served as second Vice
President of the national board and chaired the fundraising committee.
 
Richard remains very committed to promoting the goals and objectives of AEBC.  He has a long and impressive history of volunteering with organizations of and for
the blind. He has served on the CNIB Lower Mainland Advisory Board, has participated on the TransLink Access Transit Users' Advisory Committee, is a member of Advocates for Sight Impaired Consumers, and during his college years Richard was involved in numerous boards for students with disabilities.  Richard is presently the chairman of the Coalition of Blind Holders Rights of Canada (CBRC). 
We salute Richard the Cavalry and Richard the Songster!
 
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.
 
For this month, I would like to share the feedback that was sent to me by two of our esteemed members and here it is:
 
From Craig Coyle:
"Hello Donna,
You asked:
Question of the month
My question of the month is as follows:
1 What can the AEBC do in order to increase its membership?
  2 What would be the benefits of becoming a member of AEBC?
  3 What can the AEBC do in order to encourage members to become more involved?
 
- - -
 
3. Make the AEBC a more welcoming place to be.
All too often the difference in opinion escalates from disagreement to confrontation.
Our commonality is our blindness but within our own segment of the population we often have very different views on issues due to differences in ethnicity, education, wealth or employment, or just our view of the world.
Instead of those differences being barriers we need to use what we do have in common, our blindness as our strength, respect each other and accept that sometimes we just won't agree.
 
2 In a welcoming atmosphere we can encourage members to work individually or together on whatever issues most affect or interest them, and if working as an individual then encourage members to keep the group posted on what they are doing.
 
1 Whether we like it or not there's really one game in town, the CNIB.  That's where just about everybody is sent when they become or are about to become blind.  This means that CNIB holds all the cards in that they know who and where just about every blind person is in Canada.  They aren't about to, and because of privacy issues can't give us this information.
In an ideal world they would make new clients aware of other organizations or even ask permission to pass along their information to other organizations for the blind but I don't imagine that will ever happen.
If CNIB wants to work with us and do the most to serve their clients there could be information about what AEBC does and how to contact the organization put in with other printed, Braille, or discs that are sent to the blind.
Every so often I get a CD with magazines and news from the library, why not also news from the blind community other than CNIB?
This could be articles, issues and achievements.
I guess asking would tell us if CNIB is for CNIB or for the blind.
Craig Coyle."
 
From Vic Pereira:
"Hi Donna
 
Here is my reply to the question of the month, or is that questions?
What can the AEBC do in order to increase its membership?
AEBC needs to focus on its mission. Increasing membership should not become
the focus of AEBC. Often when this becomes the driver for an organization is
when things begin to slide sideways.
 
What would be the benefits of becoming a member of AEBC?
Benefits will be personal. When AEBC begins to have an impact on the lives
of Canadians who have a vision impairment, members will feel good and can be
proud after achieving a sense of accomplishment.
 
what can the AEBC do in order to encourage members to become more involved?
Respect the long term members, ignore those who are not able to remain
respectful, stop trying to appease anyone who is not able to offer anything
constructive, don't become defensive when someone is being destructive, and
reach out to young people to find out what resonates with them.
 
Vic Pereira"
 
*****
Commitment of the month
My suggested commitment for this month is that for a membership drive.  We need to find ways to encourage more people to join our esteemed organization and we need to convince them that joining us is beneficial to them. 
 
*****
Letters and press releases posted to our website
- Letter to the President of the Treasury Board Re:  WCAG 2.0 Compliance
and Accessible Websites
 
- Letter to John Rafferty CEO of CNIB to express our disappointment and concern over the CNIB's withdrawal from the Braille Camp.
 
- Letter to Aeroplan over their inaccessible website. 
 
- Letter to the minister of public works and government services recommending that the Government of Canada take action to develop an appropriate policy that includes accessibility as a mandatory requirement of all new ICT Procurement to benefit all Canadians.
 
- A bio on our keynote speaker for the 2013 AGM; Paul Archibald Edwards.
 
*****
Question of the month
My question for this month is as follows:
Do you think that chapters should continue to be a part of the AEBC's infrastructure?  If so, then why and if not then why not?
 
That's it for me for this month.  I wish you a marvellous March!
 
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.

Comments

To Paul Edwards and on the subject of Athlone School for Boys. Can you tell me more of what you remember? I am very interested also being an Athlone Old Boy.
Best foot forward,( Col Parker 1958),
Christopher