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President's Report - August 5, 2013

Hello, AEBC!

The summer is half over and we're marching steadily toward the fall, and much has been going on.

Of significance to the AEBC is that the strategic planning initiative is moving forward and you will have a number of opportunities in the next month or two to contribute your input into where you think AEBC is, should be, and how we should get there.

Please remember that if you, your chapter, or your committee has a news item or announcement or resource of interest, please send it to me ( for inclusion in my next report.

This is not intended to be a one-way communication. I want, we want, your feedback. The best way is to comment on the President's Report blog entry on the web site, since those comments will be seen by everyone and a dialogue can develop. You can also email me directly, and where I can I will share some of the responses received.

A. Announcements and Reminders

1. Regrets

We regret that recent AEBC member Darren James (of the Halifax Chapter) and John Southern (long-time member from the Ottawa area) passed away in July. We extend our sincerest condolences to the friends, families and members who knew them.

2. Recent Blogs

B. Priority Issue Updates

1. Braille Camp (Donna Jodhan)

AEBC has committed to raising a total of $15,000 toward the operation of the 2014 Braille summer camp. We have already raised $6,000 through private contributions, and Donna Jodhan is in the process of approaching other funders and philanthropists to secure additional funding. She has secured some endorsements (to be announced) already, with more to come.

The steering committee for this initiative will be meeting again in September.

2. Accessible Point-of-Sale (Darlene Wournell)

As of June 2013: This committee is in the process of re-organizing itself and determining its game plan for the 2013-2014 year. If you would like to help, contact Dar!

3. Accessible Websites (Darlene Wournell)

As of June 2013: This committee is in the process of re-organizing itself and determining its game plan for the 2013-2014 year.

4. CRTC (Internet, TV, Phone) (Anthony Tibbs, Lui Greco, Sharlyn Ayotte)

  • CBC's license was renewed in May, and the CRTC has introduced new conditions on their license (which will be in place until 2018). According to Decision CRTC 2013-263 (, the CRTC now requires that CBC "provide audio description for all the key elements of Canadian information programs, including news programming. For the purposes of this condition of licence, 'audio description' refers to announcers reading aloud the key textual and graphic information that is displayed on the screen during information programs." To me, this means that CBC will not be permitted to simply display stock quotes or weather reports on the screen without actually verbalizing that information. Are they doing so? Since this condition of license has now been imposed on CBC, ought it to be applied to all other broadcasters as well?
  • In the U.S., the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has proposed draft rules that would require cable and television boxes to offer audio access to their menus and channel guides. See this article for more information:

Additionally, the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund had its first board meeting late in July. AEBC previously nominated Chris Stark to serve as the representative for the blindness community. More information on the BAF's activities will be forthcoming. For your information, here are the detailed election results:


  • Chris Stark: Acclaimed


  • Sheila Montney: 1
  • Gary Malkowski: 7


  • Bill Roberts: Acclaimed


  • Max Beck: 4
  • Leesa Levinson: 1


  • Heather L. MacKenzie: 8
  • Norma-Jean Taylor: 5
  • Allister Byrne: 11
  • Dr. James A. Carter Jr.: 4
  • Dr. Charles A. Laszlo: 16


  • David Errington: Acclaimed
  • Heather Boyce: Acclaimed


  • William (Bill) Abbott: Acclaimed

C. Committee News

1. Accessibility in Procurement (Sharlyn Ayotte)

As of June 2013: Sharlyn and Robin continue to work on the issue of ensuring that, when government tenders and requests for proposals are issued, and purchase decisions are made, accessibility is a decision-making factor that is considered.

2. AGM & Conference (Stephen Ricci)

As of June 2013: The 2014 conference will be held April 25-27, 2014 in Ottawa at the Extended Stay Hotel. Details to follow!

3. Bylaws & Governance (Anthony Tibbs)

As of July 2013: Corporations Canada has accepted our revised bylaws and we are now continuing to operate under the bylaws passed at the 2013 AGM. These will be posted on the web site shortly for reference. The updated corporate documentation is being sent to Canada Revenue Agency for review, but this should be the end of the "continuance" process we had to embark on a few years ago.

4. Communications (Sharlyn Ayotte)

5. Library (Sharlyn Ayotte)

The AEBC library committee is in the process of drafting a letter and position in response to the multiple streams of accessible library services that appear to be developing in Canada (CNIB vs. the public libraries).

6. Strategic Planning

A series of strategic planning consultation sessions will be taking place over the next two months. These will be held by telephone, and will be an opportunity for you to come by and express your views about where AEBC is at, where it should be going, and how we plan to get there.

Preliminarily, we anticipate these sessions to take place during the afternoons of August 17, August 24, September 8, September 21, and October 6 -- but these are not yet finalized. Dates and details of the focus of each session will be distributed very shortly, so keep an eye on your email inbox.

D. Chapter News

It's the summer time. If any chapters have met in the last month, I've not received a report to include here about it.

Did we miss you? If so, let me know!

E. Working Together (Our Partners)


The Coalition of Blind Rightsholders in Canada and CNIB's "Consumer Advocacy Group" are still in discussions to determine how these two groups, whose ultimate objectives and goals are so similar, can work collaboratively together.

F. In The News

G. Thought-Provokers

Each month, I will propose a question or discussion point or two for consideration. Chapters might use these as springboards for discussions at their meetings. You might be inspired to write a blog post in response to the question. You might simply come to the AEBC web site and comment on the blog (president's report) to start a discussion amongst members. Either way, I will share some of the responses that this generates next month.

August's Question: How much of a problem is the labelling of prescription (and non-prescription, for that matter) medicine to you? What do you believe the solution is for the blind and partially sighted population?


This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.