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President's Report - March 20th, 2014

Hello, AEBC!

It's March. We're a little over a month away from the conference and annual general meeting in Ottawa, this April 25th to 27th. Check out http://www.blindcanadians.ca/programs/conf/2014 for all the details, including the registration form.

Are you interested in running for the board? Pursuant to s. 28.4 of our bylaws, "the 1st Vice-President, Treasurer, and one Director Without Portfolio shall be elected during even numbered years." However, over the course of the last year, Dar Wournell (our secretary) resigned and Jennifer Jesso was appointed to fill her position. Under s. 32.3 of the Bylaws, that appointment is effective only until the next membership meeting, and therefore, the position of Secretary will also need to be elected. This will be a 1-year term, as the Secretary is normally elected only in odd-numbered years. Furthermore, Donna Jodhan (2nd Vice-President) also resigned and her position was not filled. Therefore, we will also need to elect an individual to the position of 2nd Vice-President, for a one-year term.

To summarize, at the AGM, we will be electing:

  • 1st Vice-President (2 year term)
  • 2nd Vice-President (1 year term)
  • Treasurer (2 year term)
  • Secretary (1 year term)
  • Director Without Portfolio (2 year term)

Anthony Tibbs has one year remaining in his term as President, and Sharlyn Ayotte has one year remaining in her term as Director Without Portfolio.

We need your help to make AEBC all that it can be. If you are interested in running for the board, there is an advantage to making that decision early and submitting a platform for inclusion in the AGM call. People who are not in attendance at the conference but who may be appointing a proxy will then have a better idea of who they might vote for. If you're interested in running for the board, or would like to submit a platform, contact Anthony Tibbs (tibbs@blindcanadians.ca). NOTE: The AGM call will be coming out in about a week to ten days, so do not delay!

A. Announcements and Reminders

1. Memberships: The March 12th deadline has passed

Memberships were due on December 31st, 2013, as our membership year runs from January 1st to December 31st.

The list of members who are eligible to vote was finalized as of March 12th, 2014. New members joining after March 12th could conceivably run for the board, but will not be eligible to vote at the AGM.

2. Upcoming Events

3. Other Community Announcements

4. Blog Posts

5. Important Upcoming Dates

  • The deadline to book your room at the hotel is March 24th, 2014. (Do this directly with the hotel.)
  • The final call to the annual general meeting, including all proposals to be considered, will be distributed by e-mail no later then April 5th, 2014 (21 days prior to the meeting).
  • The deadline to register for the conference is April 12th, 2014.

B. Priority Issue Updates

1. Braille Camp (Natalie Martiniello)

As of March 2014: The camp is a go, provided that we can get enough campers signed up!

We're now looking for interested people to serve as mentors during the camp, which will take place July 28-August 1, 2014. If you are a braille reader (uncontracted and contracted braille), and would like to work with kids age 8-12 for a week on braille and other skills, this is the opportunity for you. Your food and board will be covered for the week. Transportation will be available from Sudbury and Toronto to Lake Joseph.

For more information, or if you are potentially interested in being a mentor, contact Natalie Martiniello (nmartiniello@gmail.com).

See http://www.blindcanadians.ca/programs/braillecamp for the latest details.

2. Accessible Point-of-Sale (Sharlyn Ayotte)

As of February 2014: The committee has preliminarily met and begun considering its next options and the conduct of a local survey to assess point of sale accessibility and options.

3. Accessible Websites (TBD)

This committee is currently without a chair and largely without members. Are you interested in helping come up with a plan or working on this issue? Do you have an interest in web accessibility, or ideas for projects or initiatives related to web or mobile app accessibility?

Email tibbs@blindcanadians.ca and we'll try to get you started.

C. Committee News

1. Accessibility in Procurement (Sharlyn Ayotte)

As of March 2014: A draft 'position paper' on the issue of accessibility in procurement has been completed and is being circulated to member groups within CAG (Consumer Accessibility Group) for consideration.

2. AGM & Conference (Stephen Ricci)

Details about the conference are now available! See http://www.blindcanadians.ca/programs/conf/2014.

3. Bylaws & Governance (Anthony Tibbs)

The AGM is scheduled for April 25-27, although actual business will only be conducted on April 26-27. The following dates are therefore important:

  • In order to be eligible to VOTE at the AGM, your membership had to have been paid no later than March 12, 2014.
  • The deadline for submitting resolutions (other than bylaw amendments), which are called "proposals", to be considered at the meeting, was February 25, 2014. (If you submit a proposal to me at this stage, we may or may not have time to review it before it goes into the AGM call.)
  • The deadline for submitting bylaw amendment proposals, to be considered at the meeting, was March 12, 2014. (If you submit a bylaw amendment at this stage, we may or may not have time to review it before it goes into the AGM call.)
  • The final call to the annual general meeting, including all proposals to be considered, will be distributed by e-mail no later then April 5th, 2014 (21 days prior to the meeting).

A word of warning to chapters who are sending representatives to the meeting: You may want to plan to have a chapter meeting sometime between April 5th and the conference. The proxy form will not be available this year until the final call to the AGM.

As of this writing, four proposals have been received for consideration by the membership.

Proposal 2014-01: Proxy Votes

Submitted by Heather Rupert (Montréal)

Whereas an individual is entitled to hold no more than five proxies at a membership meeting;

And whereas the members wish to be able to carry ten proxies to a membership meeting;

Therefore be it resolved that the word "five" be replaced with the word "ten" in article 17.5 of the Bylaws.

Note: This is a bylaw amendment and will require a 2/3 majority to pass.

Proposal 2014-02: Clarification of the definition of 'blind'

Submitted by Anthony Tibbs (Montréal)

NOTE: This is a bylaw amendment but is not in the nature of a 'fundamental change' and will require only a majority vote to pass.

Whereas the bylaws currently define 'partially sighted' as meaning "a visual acuity of 20/60 or less (as measured on the Snellan eye chart) in their better eye with best correction, or whose visual field measures less than ten degrees",

And whereas this definition is more restrictive than the definition generally accepted for 'legal blindness' with respect to the visual fields;

Therefore be it resolved that the definition of "Partially Sighted" in Article 1 of the bylaws be amended to replace the words "ten degrees" with the words "twenty degrees".

Proposal 2014-03: Relaxing word limit for bylaw amendments

Submitted by Anthony Tibbs (Montréal)

NOTE: This is a bylaw amendment but is not in the nature of a 'fundamental change' and will require only a majority vote to pass.

Whereas revisions to the bylaws sometimes require substantial verbiage to completely address the intended changes;

And whereas the limit of 250 words per proposal in Article 20.3 of the bylaws is not intended to apply to bylaw amendments;

Therefore be it resolved that Article 20.3 be amended to read: "The proposal, except in the case of a proposed bylaw amendment, shall not exceed 250 words."

Proposal 2014-04: Triennial conventions

Submitted by Anthony Tibbs (on behalf of Brenda Cooke)

Be it resolved that, beginning after the 2015 AGM and conference, the AEBC hold full-fledged conferences only once every three years;

And be it further resolved that, in the intervening years, a general meeting be conducted by means of teleconference and Internet;

And be it further resolved that, as a consequence, Resolutions 2001-08 (Convention Planning Procedures) and 2001-09 (NFB:AE Annual Conference Location to be determined 2 years prior to the event) be rescinded.

Proposal 2014-05: Changes to voting on proposals and election of directors

Submitted by Anthony Tibbs (on behalf of Brenda Cooke)

NOTE: This is a bylaw amendment that impacts on voting procedures and thus will require a 2/3 majority approval to pass.

Whereas many members cannot attend general meetings every single year and participate directly in discussion and voting;

And whereas voting on proposals, bylaw amendments, and the election of directors may fairly take place after an opportunity to discuss the same has been afforded to members at a general meeting;

And whereas AEBC wishes to establish a system whereby business ordinarily conducted at a face-to-face or teleconference general meeting (including board of director nominations and other proposals) may be made, discussed, debated, and potentially amended at a general meeting of members, but where the actual voting on these items of business shall be deferred to an online and telephone-based voting scheme after the conclusion of the formal meeting;

Therefore be it resolved that:

(i) Article 15.3 of the bylaws be renumbered as 15.4, and a new Article 15.3 inserted as follows: "Notice of a meeting shall indicate: (a) whether voting on proposals, bylaw amendments, the approval of financial statements, adoption of minutes, the election of directors, or any other business will take place at the meeting itself or during a period of time after the adjournment of the meeting of members (a "Delayed Vote"); and (b) in the case of a Delayed Vote, the time period following the meeting ("Voting Period"), which shall in any event not be less than 7 days in duration, and the means by which members will be entitled to vote on proposals, bylaw amendments, the approval of financial statements, adoption of minutes, the election of directors, or any other business."
(ii) Article 17.1 of the bylaws be amended to add the following text to the end: ", including procedures required to conduct a Delayed Vote if one has been declared pursuant to Article 15.3 of these bylaws."
(iii) Article 20.8 be added to the bylaws as follows: "If a Delayed Vote has been declared pursuant to Article 15.3 of these bylaws, proposals shall be voted upon during the voting period after the applicable meeting of members."
(iv) Article 21 of the bylaws shall be amended to add the following text to the end: "or, in the case of a Delayed Vote having been declared pursuant to Article 15.3 of these bylaws, during the Voting Period following the meeting."
(v) Article 28.1 of the bylaws shall be amended to add the following text to the end: ", or in the case of a Delayed Vote having been declared pursuant to Article 15.3 of these bylaws, during the Voting Period."

4. Communications (Sharlyn Ayotte)

As of February 2014: 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.

6. Library (Sharlyn Ayotte)

As of December 2014: 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.

We've also recently received -- albeit many months later -- a response from Library and Archives Canada to our access to information request regarding the Initiative for Equitable Library Access (IELA) project. We're currently reviewing those documents and will report on our findings in due course.

7. Scholarship (Anthony Tibbs)

Information on the 2014 AEBC and T-Base Scholarship program will be posted in the next few days. Watch the home page for details, or e-mail scholarship@blindcanadians.ca if you would like to receive a package when it is available.

D. Chapter Updates

Halifax

Happy 6th birthday, AEBC Halifax! Another year under our belt and we're still growing!

We have another member of the AEBC Halifax Chapter appointed to sit on the Halifax Regional Municipality's Accessibility Advisory Committee. We congratulate Troy Nauffts on his appointment! A job well done.

Last weekend, Yvon Clement brought home the gold medal from the 2014 John Bacos Memorial / USABA Midwest Regional Goalball Tournament that was held in Warren, Michigan! Congratulations, Yvon, for bringing home the gold!

In other news, Ashley will be graduating high school this June and has been accepted to attend the Nova Scotia Community College to pursue her career as a Continuing Care Assistant. Congratulations, Ashley, and we wish Ashley all the best in her endeavors!

Troy and Yvon attended a meeting with Councillor Steve Craig and the HRM Taxi Commission re: refusal of service dogs last month. After the meeting, it was suggested that the Taxi Commission come in and speak with our members. We are in the planning process of inviting the Taxi Commission to come out and speak with our members, especially since refusal of service dogs has been an on-going issue over many years in Halifax.

Our AGM committee has met twice since January and have come up with several fund raising events. We have an announcement of a wonderful awareness and fund raising event that the AEBC Halifax Chapter has ever hosted. Details to come Monday!

We hosted a DVS movie night last month. The movie was "Castaway" with Tom Hanks. Members enjoyed watching a DVS movie for their first time and wish to continue doing so in the future.

Another initiative that the AEBC Halifax Chapter is embarking on is networking with local libraries. The purpose of this is to reach out into our community and start an "Audio Book Club" for anyone interested as we don't want to limit it to our members. Most libraries in Halifax have a good selection of audio books and it's a fantastic way of working together with them.

As part of HRM's Bike Week which will be held from June 6th to June 15th, the AEBC Halifax Chapter will be hosting "Cycling with a Vision Loss" at the Oval on June 7th. We are encouraging blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Halgonians to come out from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. to learn about bike safety and how to ride a tandem bike. This event is open to the public and we are encouraging everyone to come out and get involved either if it be to come out and try riding a tandem bike for the first time or even to be a pilot for someone who is blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted. We encourage an promote an active and healthy living for building an inclusive and accessible community. More plans to come for this event in the upcoming weeks.

We have three submissions from our members for the "Entertainment Night" at the conference and annual general meeting which we are sure to have fun and encourage other chapters to join in.

E. Partner News

1. Council of Canadians with Disabilities

The next face-to-face council meeting will take place in Winnipeg on June 6th and 7th, 2014.

F. Question of the Month

What do you want to get out of the upcoming AGM and conference? What are you looking forward to the most?

We look forward to seeing you in Ottawa!

Sincerely yours,
Anthony Tibbs
President, AEBC

Disclaimer:

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.