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President's Report - November 2013

Hello, AEBC!

I want to ask each and every one of you a question, and I want each and every one of you to reply to this message and, if you say nothing else, at least answer this. My question is simple. Can you name one thing, just one thing, that you did, or were involved in doing, in the past two months, that you believe improved or could potentially improve the lives of blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted Canadians? Did you explain low vision to a clerk in a supermarket? Did you ask a restaurant whether they had a braille menu for you? Did you file a human rights complaint? We all must have done something. What did you do? More importantly, what are you going to do in the next month? How about simply donating $5 to a worthy cause? I think we can come up with a few. There's a particularly worthy cause discussed below.

A. Announcements and Reminders

1. Membership Renewal Time!

It's that time of year again when we have to get memberships renewed for 2014. Our membership year ends December 31st, but new members joining between now and the end of the year will be credited for both the remainder of 2013 and 2014 for their $5.

The easiest way to renew is to do so online through PayPal. Every AEBC member has an account on the AEBC web site. Your user name and password were mailed to you when it was established, earlier this year. If you do not know your user name or password, do not create a new account -- email us at communications@blindcanadians.ca and we'll reset it for you.

Once you are logged in, follow the "My Account" link, and then the "My Membership" link. Your renewal options will be explained there.

You can, of course, also renew through your local chapter or, if you are paying with VISA or MasterCard, over the phone, by calling 1-800-561-4774.

2. Board Resignations and Replacements

With regret, in October I announced that Donna Jodhan and Darlene Wournell would be leaving the national board in early November. Each has left for their own personal reasons, and each will be sorely missed for their contributions and efforts on the part of the AEBC. As President I wish them only the best of luck and hope that, when the time is right, they may each return to us in whatever capacity they can.

I am pleased to announce that Jennifer Jesso of Vancouver, British Columbia has been appointed to replace Dar until the AGM and conference in Ottawa, where an election will take place. Jen can be reached at jesso@blindcanadians.ca or secretary@blindcanadians.ca.

Donna's position will remain vacant until the AGM.

3. Disciplinary Decision: Marc Proulx

The Board of Directors has released a disciplinary ruling with respect to complaints received from two members about the behaviour and conduct of one Marc Proulx at the Toronto conference and annual general meeting this past spring.

Following a lengthy disciplinary investigation and hearing process, the Board has expelled Mr. Proulx from the organization and barred him from attending at or participating in any AEBC activities on an indefinite basis.

As required by the Disciplinary Procedural Code adopted and approved by the membership some years ago, we are sending a copy of the discipline decision to members of the AEBC along with this President's Report. If you are an Active or Lifetime member, you will shortly receive a copy of the decision.

4. Upcoming Events

5. Blog Posts

B. Priority Issue Updates

1. Braille Camp (Natalie Martiniello)

As of November 2013: We're in fundraising mode! The AEBC has set a fundraising goal of at least $15,000. We've raised $6,000 so far. We need your help to promote the Braille camp, draw attention to it, and most importantly, to drive donations to it!

Use this link to donate directly to the Braille Camp initiative: https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/16296

More information on the camp will be posted on our web site as it becomes available. Bookmark http://www.blindcanadians.ca/programs/braillecamp and check back often!

2. Accessible Point-of-Sale (TBD)

With Dar's departure from the board, this committee will be reassigned in the near future. Would you be interested in leading the effort to bring accessibility to point of sale devices? If so, let me know!

3. Accessible Websites (TBD)

With Dar's departure from the board, this committee will be reassigned in the near future.

Do you have an interest in website accessibility? Want to try to move this agenda forward? Contact me and let me know and we'll see what we can do!

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

November 2013: There are no updates at this time.

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 November 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)

We are still some months away from the AGM, but if there are any resolutions or bylaw amendments that you would like considered by the membership in the spring, now is the time to bring them to my attention.

4. Communications (Sharlyn Ayotte)

As of September 2013: Ongoing work in growing our social networks continues to attract new twitter followers and organizations which have an interest and stake in our future as an organization and individually as blind, deafblind and partially sighted customers of programs, products and services.

5. Fundraising (Charles Bailey)

Donate today. Every dollar helps, and a small donation over a longer period of time adds up. $5 or $10 a month helps to pay for conference call phone lines, for example. And there are a number of ways you can donate. The easiest for us (because they take care of the paperwork and sending you a receipt) is if you donate via CanadaHelps, which will accept both single donations and monthly recurring contributions by credit card, Interac Online, gift cards, or PayPal. To donate online, visit https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/3315. You can also call 1-800-561-4774 to donate with your VISA or MasterCard over the phone.

(If you want to donate specifically to the braille camp, please see http://www.blindcanadians.ca/programs/braillecamp for more information.)

6. Library (Sharlyn Ayotte)

As of November 2013: We have received word that a group of public libraries is devising a "consumer advisory committee" to assist with the development of a national alternative format library initiative. Details are especially scant at this time but more will follow.

7. Strategic Planning

Who are we, what do we do, how do we do it, and how should we be doing it? These are questions the AEBC has been asking of itself for the past numbber of months.

Beginning with the discussion at the AGM, and continuing on through the various member consultations that have taken place over the last few months, the Strategic Planning Committee has been listening.

We are now turning our attention to prioritizing initiatives and a report on future directions is expected to be tabled with the national board bebfore the end of the year.

D. Our Partners

As of September 2013: With respect to the Consumer Advocacy Group, a face-to-face meeting is tentatively scheduled for late November. The question of a potential merger, joinder, or collaboration between CAG and the CBRC is still being explored.

E. Final Thoughts From Your President

Several months have passed since the AGM. Looking back, it seems, in one sense, like not a lot has been accomplished. Certainly, our national committees, both for priority issues and otherwise, need to be revitalized with new ideas and new blood. But we've also spent a lot of time reflecting and considering the ultimate future of this organization, and that is not wasted effort.

In early December I plan to host an "open mic" session of sorts -- an opportunity for members to drop in and tell a few of us board members what's on your mind, whether you have ideas for things AEBC should be doing, or whether you simply want to share your thoughts on some (relevant) current event. We need to do a better job of communicating, and that is a two-way street. You need to know what we are thinking, but we also need to know whether you believe we're doing the right things.

I posed a question at the start of this report and I will repeat it here as this month's thought-provoker. What have you done in the past month to better the lives of our community? What will you do in the next month?

Sincerely yours,
Anthony Tibbs
President, AEBC

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

Anthony: You have posed a great question. Each of us has a multitude of opportunities to better the lives of our community. Simple things, such as answering people's questions or going about our daily routines, provide an opportunity to educate the public about what members of our community are capable of.

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