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Welcome to our first quarterly newsletter

From the Editors

Welcome to the first issue of our quarterly newsletter

We are looking for a name for the newsletter. If yours is selected, you get bragging rights. Send in your suggestions by Saturday, November 24 to The name selected will be announced on December 3, 2018.

In future issues, we hope to include a column called "AEBC and You", which will include stories about advocacy efforts that you are undertaking, and a word or two from our partner organizations.

From the President's Residence

Greetings from your president:

I am pleased to have the opportunity to share a bid of information with you via our first edition of AEBC's Quarterly newsletter. On behalf of the National Board, I would like to thank Devon Wilkins for taking the initiative to lead this project as she believes we will benefit from keeping in touch using one more tool from the box.

Over the past few months, the National Board has been quite busy keeping up with the workload which consists of a multitude of correspondence, exploring fundraising projects and drafting a brief which we hope will resonate with Government with respect to the new proposed Accessible Canada Act just to name a few.

Following the 2018 National conference and AGM held in Burnaby, BC in April, we were advised that our application for funding from the Federal Government had been selected to continue with the next phase. Under the leadership of Peter Field, we were asked to form a committee of members to write the grant application. We worked diligently to complete this proposal to be considered by ESDC for operational funding. As part of our application, we had to find external partners who would commit to providing financial support either in cash or in kind for the duration of the three-year plan which we carefully designed should we be successful. We are extremely grateful for the many hours the committee members gave to this project. As a member of the committee, I can attest to the fact that everyone shared their skills without reservation to ensure the best outcome possible considering how little time there was to produce the work. Our thanks go out to Peter Field, David Best, Marcia Yale, Laura Yvonne Bulk, Bijan Valeh, Richard Marion, and Shane Wheeler. We collaborated well by combining our skills to present an application worthy of consideration.

While we had expected to have been notified by now about the status of our funding application, we have received word we will possibly hear by the end of December. Wish us luck! I believe it is our time to shine.

Concerning other areas which we have concentrated on heavily, the newly proposed Accessible Canada Act has been on our minds and we have a committee of folks who are dedicated to ensuring we make the recommendations which would make this proposed Act as strong as possible. It is a long process but we have, so far, managed to keep up with others involved with having their say. I don't mind telling you that as part of this committee, I have learned a lot from others on our team and I will be richer for it when we are done.

Dar Wournell and Darren Gilchrist are planning to continue with the website re-design project. So far, we have had two town halls where information has been gathered to assess our needs for the upgrade. The major obstacle is finding the funds needed to accomplish our goal which is to have an accessible and up to date website. This is important for us as our website is the vehicle used to share information with our members, potential partners, and the public. Without it, we cannot communicate with interested parties about who we are and what we do. If you have ideas on how we can find more funding for this project, please share.

On the subject of fundraising, we are very much looking forward to introducing a few new ideas which will hopefully help us raise the funds necessary to operate efficiently. It is vital that as members of AEBC, we give our attention to raising funds. You can help by joining the committee, taking part in the fundraising activities yourself and/or promoting our projects to anyone who might support our efforts. Watch for more information which will come to you via email announcements, from our Executive podcast, our website, and through our social media platforms such as Facebook and twitter. If you require more details, don't be shy, just reach out to the fundraising committee for what you need. You may contact Louise Johnson, Darren Gilchrist, Dar Wournell or me.

Although there is probably more to chat about such as presentations made by our representatives to external partners including Accessible Media Inc. (AMI), Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and others, I would like to end here so I have more to tell you later.

I want to leave you with these thoughts. We are all members of AEBC who strive to achieve equality for everyone. While we don't always agree on how this is done, we should understand that all of us are individuals who have different ideas and ways of accomplishing our goals. This is not to say that we won't disagree from time to time, but we do need to remember to show respect for each other while carrying on with the business at hand

I look forward to checking in with you again soon; please feel free to keep in touch.


Chantal Oakes, National President

Chapter Chatter

From the Halifax Chapter:

Although it was summer, the Halifax chapter has kept busy. We have begun a fundraising plan, starting with the successful application for a lottery license to sell tickets for a $200 Sobey's gift card. So far, we have raised approximately $700, with more selling opportunities to come. We have made Braille chocolate cards to sell--those of you who attended the Toronto AGM most recently will remember them! Our fundraising efforts include selling the tickets and Braille chocolate cards at most Sobey's locations, during TAG Day at the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, and the annual Christmas at the Forum Craft Festival.

In the past couple of weeks, we submitted two applications for funding to the United Way Halifax's Expression of Interest process, one for the Transition to University Program and another for a project to provide Access to Technology and Training. We were successful with the Expression of Interest for the Transition to University program. However, we were not as successful with the access to technology and training project, but there's good news about that!

With a project such as access to technology and training, they believe this to be an exciting and worthy project for our chapter to move forward with and they are going to put us in direct contact with their major corporate donor.

Our chapter also has purchased Zoom to host our chapter meetings as we have members that reside outside of Halifax, including Ontario and Newfoundland. We have found it to be a very important tool to keep everyone connected, especially with the ability to record meetings, workshops and other events with high quality recordings.

We also played a major role in the update of the Nova Scotia Health Authority's pamphlet, "Do you know how to help people who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted?" We are very proud of the completed brochure and hope it will result in health professionals throughout the province treating us with more knowledge, respect and dignity.

Our ongoing activities include showing featured audio-described movies the first Monday of each month at the Alderney Gate Public Library in Dartmouth. We also host a book club which meets on a monthly basis to discuss a book recommended by one of the members. We have read some great books and have learned of some authors we might not have read otherwise.

We have renewed our partnership with the Alderney Gate Public Library. Two of our members, Dar Wournell and Yvon Clement, assisted their staff with some accessibility issues on their end. Braille books were donated, but actual print was not included. They were happy to help the library determine what books they were. However, the library has asked if we'd like the books as they do not have an adult section for Braille at the library. We have taken them up on their offer, and will share the books within our chapter for upcoming book club meetings.

We are also gaining new members and hope to continue to grow.

All in all, our chapter is very healthy.

Yours sincerely,

Marcia Yale President, Halifax Chapter

From the Winnipeg Chapter:

The Winnipeg chapter is relatively small with 7 members who meet regularly once a month. Since the spring we have participated in a long list of consultations and events here in Winnipeg concerning everything from the introduction of private vehicles for hire, to CNIB becoming the CNIB Foundation. Three of our chapter members are guide dog users so in honor of International Guide Dog Day, we promoted awareness in a successful campaign that included interviews in the Winnipeg Sun newspaper, the local CT Morning Live show, and COB talk radio. Two of our members belong to the CNIB Youth Counsel and are active in mentorship activities with younger children. They have participated in workshops on such topics as seeking employment after graduation, and a panel discussion designed to support parents of vision impaired children. A couple of members attended a presentation for the Key to Access audible signal device and had a chance to test it at an intersection on Portage Avenue. Two chapter members joined representatives from CNIB, VIRN and the Access Advisory Committee to discuss the tactile warning strips being used at intersections. We learned about installation challenges, repair and maintenance issues, and I think the most lively discussion centered on whether to use them strictly as a tactile warning, or also as a directional guide. This year the Province of Manitoba passed on the responsibility for overseeing taxi cabs and the newly approved vehicles for hire to the City of Winnipeg. A couple of our members attended a presentation that was held to clarify accessibility issues, and the city's plan to promote accessibility and awareness in this industry. Progress of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act is slow with only one of the five standards finalized. The Customer Service Standard is in place and all businesses are required to comply by November 1 of this year. We will do our part to hold them accountable if the need arises. Disabled Winnipeggers were able to vote independently in the recent municipal election. Braille ballots were available at all polling stations, and an automatic ballot marking device designed to accommodate several disabilities was available at different advance voting locations across the city. Once our chapter elections are held in November, we will be gearing up to plan another fund raising event, and hopefully attract new members to join this great group.

Cheers, Janet Hunt Winnipeg Chapter President

From the Central Okanagan (Kelowna) Chapter:

The Kelowna chapter has been very quiet lately and we are anxious to get back to work.

At our last meeting in June, we basically reviewed the activities of previous months and reflected on what worked well and how we could continue with some new ideas. It isn't so much that they would be new ideas but rather some things which haven't been done in a while and perhaps warrant revisiting.

One example of how we would like to spend some of our time may be to start doing presentations to local organizations such as Care homes, hospitals, universities and so on where interacting with persons who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted can be seen as a barrier in itself. This very much affects folks who may be new to the scene of helping others as well as those faced with a disability which can only add to the stress of carrying on with the path they have to take to move on with their lives. We believe we have something to offer and hopefully these types of presentations are still welcome as we mean them to be helpful.

Having said this, one of our members was faced with some medical issues during the past couple months which meant we had to put off meeting for a time. Providing everything goes as planned, we hope to reconvene in November when we can get back on track.

Of course, fundraising for our chapter is always on our minds. We raised enough money last year to assist a couple of members to attend the national conference and AGM; we did not ask National for the subsidy in an effort to reduce the cost of funding for chapters. We hope to contribute in some way again this year; you'll be the first to know when a decision has been made. We understand not all chapters are able to raise funds on a regular basis. However, we would like to encourage everyone to perhaps go out of their comfort zone a little and try something new. Our online auction was quite successful last March. However, it wasn't done without a lot of work on our parts. As the saying goes, "nothing ventured, nothing gained." Personally, I have researched quite a few fundraisers which could prove to be successful for a chapter if enough people do their part when the work has to be done. A little effort goes a long way.

Just so you are aware, our chapter only has 5 members who attend meetings regularly, we don't take on more than one or two projects at a time and we follow through with our intent no matter how well it works. If the first time around a trial of something new isn't quite as successful as we thought it could be, we may try again keeping in mind where we could improve.

To my president colleagues, even though your chapter may not be as active as you would like, don't give up. If we can do it with only 5 members giving it all they've got, you can do it, too.

Here's sending you some positive energy, please don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like to chat some time.

Thanks for listening to my chatter. I'll be in touch again soon.

Chantal Oakes Chapter President, Central Okanagan (Kelowna) Chapter

From the Metro Vancouver chapter:

This last June, the chapter held a workshop on emergency preparedness. At our March meeting, Jan asked about organizing a presentation about earthquake and emergency preparedness, and we agreed she should take the lead. Jan has been a guest at a few chapter meetings and has also volunteered for the AEBC Metro Vancouver chapter.

Jan reached out to the municipality of Vancouver, and they were willing to assist with a workshop if we could ensure there would be at least 15 participants. We therefore decided to open up the workshop to the community.

We had a wonderful woman come and present the workshop. She shared information from the Municipality of Vancouver. They provided a document in PDF which was not completely accessible. However, Betty Nobel cleaned up the file, removing the pictures, and provided Braille copies for those who wanted them.

The presenter advised all of us who do not live in Vancouver to contact our own municipalities to obtain their specific information. She collected our ideas and feedback and promised to share them with her supervisor. This workshop lasted approximately an hour and a half, and we learned some valuable lessons. If you want to know any specifics, please contact me at

Personally, if I travel any distance from home, I always ensure to pack items in my backpack which would help in an emergency situation.

In closing, a bit about our chapter: we have welcomed four new members this year, and we continue to meet about five times a year.

Louise Johnson President, Metro Vancouver chapter

From the BC Affiliate:

The executive tries to meet once a month to keep an eye on the activities which require our attention. When this is not possible, we mainly communicate by email.

During the past few months, we have concentrated on a couple of issues which pose some serious accessibility challenges for many British Columbians. While we have managed to find some solutions, we recognize there is a lot of work to be done to ensure equal access for persons who are blind, deafblind and partially sighted as there are many barriers to be removed.

First, let's talk about the upcoming BC Referendum on proportional voting which will take place in November 2018. This vote is to be conducted by mail only which greatly affects many blind, deafblind and partially sighted British Columbians at this time. Back in June, the executive invited members of the BC Affiliate to join in on a conference call, to discuss the concerns some of us have with the vote, how it will be conducted and the best way to ensure our right to vote independently would not be compromised. With the knowledge that there were barriers to overcome, we contacted the Electoral Operations Officer who made himself available to answer questions and to consider recommendations for a successful outcome.

There were 12 of us on this call who had the opportunity to discuss the challenges we will face when we attempt to cast our votes. To begin, we assessed that the template which was used before didn't quite fit the ballot in the past and we wanted to be sure this would not happen again. It is possible BC Elections made changes to the ballot after receiving the template as we were advised that when the brailling was done, it appeared to work just fine. We asked next how a blind person was to determine which side of the ballot had the print, in order to place it inside the template properly. We are told there will be braille instructions to guide us, which will help us to cast our votes.

Next, another problem some of us face is that once you have placed your ballot in the appropriate envelope which has been provided, you will need to sign it, then print your birthdate on that same envelope. We will be provided with a template for the envelope as well. The question is, "how can I write my birthdate if I have never learned to write?" The answer is simple to BC Elections at least, "you will have to ask for help." Without going into many more details, it is plain to see that after extensive conversations with Elections Canada and Elections Officials in our own Province, we continue to face numerous barriers when exercising our right to vote independently.

In addition to the topic of elections, we have also been monitoring libraries in British Columbia, keeping track of which area offers the services of CELA and NNELS. We hope soon all libraries in BC will be on board by offering inclusive choices.

Another area of interest in our Province is accessibility of Transit services. This would include everything from finding the right bus stop to making sure you know when you have arrived at your destination. Recently, the Affiliate along with other interested parties have been trying to impress upon TransLink of Metro Vancouver that there are solutions to making travel via transit accessible for persons who are blind, deafblind and partially sighted. However, at times we find that those in charge of implementing new ideas are not always willing to listen to those of us who are most affected by their decisions. We have shared our ideas, made recommendations and yet, we feel we have not been heard.

A survey related to questions such as: "how does a person who is blind, partially sighted or deafblind independently find and identify a bus stop especially in an unfamiliar area?" was circulated by Rob Sleath and he requested that all members who access transit in the Metro Vancouver area take the time to complete it. We hope this will go a long way toward strengthening our voice for change.

While there are other items on our agenda, those mentioned above have kept us busy and we hope to report further progress the next time we chat with you.


The Executive of the BC Affiliate

Heard by Bunny Long-Ears

I've been quietly listening with my long ears to the ground, seeking news to report.

Have you heard the latest news? The Toronto chapter is hosting their third annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities event on Saturday, December 1, from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. to celebrate efforts in gaining employment opportunities through mentorships, internships and other initiatives. There will be a Keynote by government representatives with a Q&A, a panel discussion on mentorships and internships inclusive of or for persons with disabilities, and exhibit tables from employment agencies and disability organizations. For more information, please contact the Toronto chapter at or visit for information and registration.

Word on the street is that The Ottawa-Gatineau chapter has been involved with consultations with the City regarding accessibility issues with transit, and the implementation of the new Light Rail Transit (LRT) that will be implemented later this year. Four Chapter members have joined the 2019 AGM Planning committee as it will be hosted in Ottawa next year.

More to come in the next edition.

Bunny Long-Ears

Membership Renewals

As you may know, AEBC issues memberships on a calendar-year basis. Any memberships paid on or after October 1, 2018 are valid through to December 31, 2019. Annual memberships are $10, and Life-Time memberships are a one-time payment of $100. If you would like more information about renewing your membership, or perhaps you know someone who would like to join AEBC, then contact the national Secretary, Dar Wournell, at

We need to hear from you!

Here is our quarterly question. We may publish your answers in the next issue. What should AEBC's top three priorities be? Please choose from the following list: elections accessibility, Accessible Canada Act, federal transportation accessibility, fund-raising, scholarships, website redesign, membership recruitment, outreach to partners, advocacy, other (please specify).

Resource Central

Have you ever been searching for a technical resource-either a website or a discussion list? Well, here is a great list of technology-related websites to browse, newsletters to read and discussion lists to join! Remember, if you have joined a list and don't see the email in your inbox, check your junk folder for misdirected email!

  1. Top Tech Tidbits, a Flying blind, LLC publication This is a weekly newsletter that deals with technology of all kinds! The easiest way to join is to go to their CAPTCHA-free sign-up page at Readers can also subscribe on the Flying Blind, LLC website,

  2. Applevis Newsletter This is a monthly newsletter dealing with everything Apple. To subscribe, go to the website The Applevis website itself is a fantastic Apple resource.

  3. Mystic access News This is a for-profit company that runs training seminars every so often, but also posts them after a few weeks on its website for download. The subjects include apps and programs for iOS and MacOS. To subscribe to their various lists, go to and scroll down to "Stay Up to Date".

  4. AccessWorld This is the monthly magazine produced by the American Foundation for the Blind, AFB. Each month they feature articles about technology, as well as getting along in the world with low or no vision. Find it on the web at or download their iOS app.

  5. Tek-talk discussion list Want to discuss tech with others? Here's another technology-related email list to join! To subscribe, send a blank email to

  6. Get Together with Technology This is a service of the Canadian Council of the Blind, CCB. Discussions relate to anything technology-related. The list moderators are Albert Ruel and Kim Kilpatrick. To subscribe, send a blank email to

  7. Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired This is an institute that has been around for a while and has developed a series of courses, downloads, and instructional videos that help you with all devices. All of this can be found at

  8. Cool blind tech A source for assistive tech news, reviews and interviews from blind and low vision experts--an entertaining discussion on emerging technologies. Their website includes news, podcasts and more. Go to

Help! We are trying to curate the world's largest and greatest collection of resources! If you know of any, please send an email with the information and your impressions about the resource to

Newsletter Committee seeks new members

Do you have a nose for news? There is a position for you on the AEBC quarterly newsletter team. No interview, no audition, and a 30 day free trial. If interested, please email

Newsletter Committee: Devon Wilkins, Dar Wournell, Marcia Yale, and Hilton Schwartz.

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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.