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AEBC Equalizer

From the Editors

Hello, and welcome to the second edition of The Equalizer!

Were you a member of the AEBC when we officially changed our name from National Federation of The Blind: Advocates for Equality? At that time, we still wanted to maintain the word equality somehow, so instead of trying to squeeze it into our new name, which was quite long enough, we decided to employ the tag line: “Key to Equality.”

The tag line has since been dropped, but being equal with our sighted counterparts remains dear to many of our hearts. The two committee members who hadn’t submitted names for the newsletter checked out the ones that were submitted and chose “The Equalizer”. Did you know that, in the days of the Wild West, an “equalizer” referred to a gun. Let’s set our sights and redouble our efforts towards an inclusive and accessible Canada!

Speaking of submissions, we’re hoping to hear more from you, dear readers. For example, we’re still looking for individual advocacy stories to put into our AEBC and You column. Letters to the editor would also be very welcome. In fact, if you want to write an article on anything that is dear to your heart, we’d love to include it!

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 submissions@blindcanadians.ca.

In the meantime, let’s get on with the February, 2019 edition of The Equalizer!

Your editorial committee: - Devon Wilkins - Hilton Schwartz - Dar Wournell - Marcia Yale

Breaking News!

Extra extra! $4500 in scholarships available! Application deadline: March 29, 2019! Apply now!

From the President’s Residence

Hello everyone: Apparently, three months have gone by faster than some of us are willing to admit, so let me share a bit of news.

The 2019 upcoming AGM and Conference plans are well under way and we hope you will consider joining us in Ottawa for the weekend of April 26, to April 28 at the Albert at Bay Suites Hotel. You can now register and book your hotel rooms by consulting the information you received from our National Secretary or go to our Website, where you’ll find the resources needed to answer your questions.

Our theme this year is “Does Accessibility Equal Inclusion?” How many of us have been told that a place of business we plan to visit, a product we’d like to purchase, or a restaurant we may want to frequent for regular gatherings are accessible? Does this statement necessarily mean we are part of an inclusive society? I suspect if we were to pose the question to many folks who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted, their answers would vary a great deal. The point being that nothing about accessibility is simple and barriers are not always easily removed. What does accessibility and inclusion mean to you? (Just a little something to think about.)

We are most grateful to our major sponsors who for the past few years have understood the need for us to gather once a year to collaborate and share vital information which contributes to enriching the lives of many of us. Many thanks to AMI and T-Base Communications for their ongoing support for the conference as well as for our scholarship program. We are also thankful for all the chapters who have contributed generously, which will go a long way toward planning an informative and interesting event.

Another topic on everyone’s mind: The proposed Accessible Canada Act, Bill C-81. A few members from our working group met with Senator Jim Munson recently to reinforce our position on changes we would like to see made to the proposed bill, which is now in the hands of the Senate. Since Senator Munson is sponsoring the bill, we thought it would be appropriate to meet with him as we are also requesting to appear before their committee once they begin their sessions. He showed much compassion and understanding of the need for AEBC to have a voice to impress upon Government that Bill C-81 needs to be strengthened in many areas if we are to ever succeed in making Canada fully accessible and inclusive.

If you have not read our brief, which was submitted to the HUMA Committee back in October, it can be found on our website, as well as in one of the announcements sent to you by our National Secretary.

Your participation is needed! Our fundraising efforts are ongoing activities which require a tremendous amount of work. However, without your help, we will continue to make slow progress towards our fundraising goals. The Fundscrip program for example, is an easy way to help AEBC raise funds without added cost or inconvenience to the purchaser. Please take a few moments to explore whether you could benefit from the program by having a look at their website, fundscrip.com to see if there are cards you could use either as gifts, or perhaps to do your own shopping. There are a few of our members who currently enjoy ordering on a regular basis and I’m sure if you gave it a chance, you would find it a meaningful experience as well. Thanks to all of you who have already supported the Fundscrip program, we appreciate your help. If you need assistance getting started, simply reach out to me and I’ll walk you through the process. If this is not for you, perhaps family members or friends would enjoy taking part in helping us raise some much needed funds.

Respectfully,

Chantal Oakes National President

Hard Work Remains Unrewarded, Government Denies Funding

By Marcia Yale

As many of you know, AEBC has never been able to obtain government funding. In the past, it was due to the fact that, having never received funding, AEBC never qualified for it, since having already received similar funding was always a requirement. A truly vicious circle, right? However, in June of 2016, the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) began working on a new funding framework, and it was supposed to be more transparent and less restricting. The application process was finally initiated in late 2017, and AEBC passed the first level and received permission to submit a full application.

Seven members answered the call and came together to work on the funding proposal. Most of them had never worked together, and they came from diverse backgrounds, with varying levels of experience within AEBC. However, they all wanted the same thing—to sell AEBC’s project to the government and gain the organization the much-needed funds to see it through to fruition. They worked tirelessly, giving hours of their days over to the creation of the project. They decided that AEBC needed a National Coordinator and part-time administrative Assistant, to take over the day-to-day operations. They decided that the organization’s website needed to be overhauled and updated, to become a true model of the organization’s activities and therefore a means to encourage new donations. They included adequate funding to make three annual conferences fully accessible. The team designed the project from the ground up—determining what needed to be done and then figuring out how much it would cost. They sought out partners, because the new funding model required partnerships, and they struggled to complete the required documentation, although that was almost another project in itself.

When they were finished, they believed they had crafted a project that would build capacity within the organization and breathe new life into its members. They believed that AEBC had a chance, for the first time, to benefit from government funding.

However, when the final response came back from the government, the application for funding had been denied. Although the process was advertised as one which would allow new recipients, AEBC was still left out in the cold. The process itself, with which the project team had struggled, was presented as the culprit. The government claimed information was missing, yet the means by which they had collected it was less than fully accessible. The project itself was never discussed in their feedback, only the claim that information was missing. Yet the information was all there—contained in a form which proved better at hiding it than in displaying it. Once again, AEBC was in the middle of a vicious circle, with no way out.

However, the project team could take pride in what they had created, and in knowing that they had worked together, giving their diverse expertise to the task. Yes, receiving the funding would have been wonderful, but knowing that they were able to create a worthwhile project out of thin air once should provide hope for the future, when another project team would succeed, building on the first team’s hard work.

My heartfelt thanks go out to the rest of the team: David Best, Bijan Valeh, Chantal Oakes, Laura Bulk, Shane Wheeler and Richard Marion. May our hard work be a model for future success!

Chapter Chatter

From the Saskatoon Chapter

Over the past several months, AEBC Saskatoon has been busy with the following activities. On December 10, several members met with two city officials about regulating ride sharing services (such as Uber and Lift) and addressing issues regarding the poor service that the blind, deafblind, and partially sighted community often receive from taxicab drivers. Overall, this meeting seemed to establish a positive and productive dialogue. AEBC Saskatoon will continue to monitor this and bring forward our concerns to the city on a regular basis.

On the same morning, these members met with city officials responsible for Access Transit and Saskatoon Transit. This meeting continued the positive and productive dialogue between the city and the Saskatoon chapter. In fact, these officials and chapter members agreed to meet on a quarterly basis to work on addressing possible issues with transit service.

On February 4, representatives from our chapter, along with several other disability organizations, met with officials from Saskatoon Transit to discuss the completion of phase 1 to make transit services in Saskatoon fully accessible to disabled people. The city was seeking advice from the disabled community on how to announce this to the citizens of Saskatoon and how this achievement should be celebrated sometime in late March. Our chapter contributed a significant number of ideas and suggestions to this discussion.

Later on that morning, we talked with two other officials about accessible pedestrian signals (APS). Again this meeting led to a positive and productive dialogue with the city. These officials and our chapter decided to meet every two or three months to work together to improve accessible pedestrian signals in Saskatoon. In addition, representatives from our chapter have met several times to plan and prepare for the awareness/fund raising event planned for the evening of Friday, May 3 to celebrate International Guide Dog Day.

We expect that the Saskatoon chapter will continue to be busy in the coming months.

Darren Gilchrist, Vice-President

From the Toronto Chapter

On February 2nd, the Toronto Chapter participated in the White Cane Week Experience Expo, which was held at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Center, 750 Spadina AVE. The event started at 10:00 AM and concluded at 4:00 Pm. During this time, AEBC Members engaged visitors in conversation about AEBC, our accomplishments, and our current advocacy activities. Everyone who visited our table was given a brochure or business card. We also encouraged visitors to join AEBC to help make our voice stronger for the disability community. We collected over 25 new contacts, and we are in the process of follow-up with them.

Please join the Toronto Chapter on March 9th at 11 30 - 12 30 pm at the CNIB Hub, 1525 Yonge Street (nearest intersection is Yonge and St Clair) and participate in our Advocacy Focus Group. It is your opportunity to speak up and be heard. Light refreshments will be served.

Some issues that are top of mind for our Toronto members are Accessibility, Employment, Technology and Housing. What are the most important issues that are impacting you? What issues are important for you to advocate about? We want to hear from you!

If you are interested in participating in our Advocacy Focus Group please RSVP to aebctoronto@gmail.com or voicemail 647 947 9022 by Thursday March 7th.

Sincerely,

Minette Samaroo, President

From the Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter

The Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter has been busy with various local issues over the past few months. In particular, we have focussed on the following three items.

First, the City of Ottawa is undertaking a major transit transformation with the implementation of light rail (LRT). During the construction phase of this project, our chapter has organized several town hall sessions with City officials to help ensure that the new system meets the needs of blind, deafblind and partially-sighted transit users. The system is expected to launch in the early spring. Therefore, our immediate priority has been on trying to arrange for access to the LRT system prior to its launch. We have received a commitment from the City for such early access. In this initiative, we have worked in collaboration with the CCB and CNIB to both reach as many of our local community as possible, and raise awareness of AEBC.

Second, the City of Ottawa is undertaking a major re-development of Elgin Street, one of Ottawa’s major downtown streets. This street contains many restaurants and pubs, as well as access to a community centre. During 2019, the street is closed to traffic, resulting in transit changes, and construction zones. We have been working with the City to ensure that the street can be safely accessed by blind, deafblind and partially-sighted pedestrians during the construction phase, and to ensure that the final design makes the street accessible.

Finally, as you know, the 2019 AEBC AGM is taking place in our city in April. We are working closely with National to ensure that we have a very successful AGM. We are looking forward to welcoming you to Ottawa in April. This is an exciting time for us.

Wayne Antle, President

Heard by Bunny Long-Ears

I've been quietly listening with my long ears to the ground. This month, I have some juicy news to report.

While I was hopping around in Nova Scotia, Shubenacadie Sam poked his head out of his hole on Groundhog Day and reported that the Halifax Chapter raised approximately $1,100 in donations, Braille chocolate card sales, and ticket sales on a $200 Sobey’s gift certificate that was won by Mr. Sparks in East Preston before Christmas. They are proceeding with the Transition to University Program for this August.

In other chapter news, the Winnipeg chapter, the Metro Vancouver chapter and the BC Affiliate are the latest sponsors for the AEBC National Conference and AGM. The Greater Montreal Chapter is in transition, and trying to regroup. They will be meeting soon to determine its future.

Speaking of the AGM, do you know who is running for a position at this year’s AGM for National President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Secretary or Director? Learn more in the First Call to the AGM on February 27, 2019.

Are you booking your flight to Ottawa? Consider downloading the “Hopper” app on IOS and Android. The app will continue updating you on cheap flights based on your destination; a great way to monitor flights when traveling.

Have you heard the latest news? As some of you may know, CNIB has purchased Frontier Computing. Send us your thoughts and tell us what you think.

We want to hear from you. Send us your comments and enter to win some tasty chocolate treats from Ms. Bunny Long-Ears. We’ll consider all comments by April 1, 2019, just in time for the Easter Bunny.

And speaking of animals, did you know that International Guide Dogs Day will be on April 24, just before the start of our AGM?

Keep your ears to the ground and become one of our reporters. Send any news you may have to submissions@blindcanadians.ca for the next edition of the AEBC Equalizer.

Bunny Long-Ears

Howdy, Partner!

ACCESSIBLE MEDIA INC. NEEDS OUR HELP!

Our sponsor and partner, Accessible Media Inc. (AMI), is conducting an important study among blind and partially sighted Canadians. The purpose of this study is to better understand the behaviours, attitudes and needs of this community so AMI can deliver programming and communications that serve the needs and interests of their audience. In appreciation of the AEBC's collaboration, AMI will share a summary report highlighting the key findings with us. Individuals who complete the survey will be entered into a draw to win one of 10 prizes of $100 each. To participate in the survey and share your opinions, please complete the survey registration form at http://amiresearchregistration.com/. Once you have registered to participate, you will be contacted in a few weeks to complete the survey. We encourage you to support our partner in this endeavour.

If you have any questions or would prefer to register by phone, kindly contact Janis Davidson Pressick at 1-800-567-6755. Thank you, in advance, for your cooperation.

Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) is a not-for-profit media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Operating three broadcast services, AMI-tv and AMI-audio in English and AMI-télé in French, AMI's vision is to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal.

First, AMI-audio is an accessible television channel and streaming service offering a variety of compelling stories and engaging original content. AMI-audio produces several daily live programs focused on news of the day, technology insights, community events, lifestyle issues, health and information. AMI-audio also records and curates a selection of feature articles from top publications read by a team of professional narrators.

Second, AMI-tv is a national English language television channel licensed by the CRTC as part of the basic digital package offered by cable systems and satellite direct-to-home services. AMI-tv was the first channel in the world to broadcast all content with open format described video, in addition to closed captioning. AMI-tv entertains, informs and empowers people of all abilities with a variety of original content, as well as shows and movies from conventional and specialty television services, broadcast in an accessible format.

Finally, in December 2014, AMI launched its third broadcast service, AMI-télé, to serve francophone Canadians. AMI-télé is the first and only French language station to broadcast all content with open described video. The network offers a selection of varied programming including popular television series, classic movies, children's favourites and original programming.  

Resource Central

This time we present a list of podcasts and internet radio stations/shows we know will interest our members. For the most part, they are hosted by blind and partially sighted individuals, though they are not necessarily aimed exclusively at this market. Our thanks go out to Albert Ruel of CCB’s GTT Program for the majority of the list. If no website is referenced, the podcast is available through your favourite podcatcher. As always, please send any comments and/or additions to the list by emailing submissions@blindcanadians.ca.

And of course, don’t forget AEBC’s own Executive audio update, which can be found at http://www.blindcanadians.ca/publications/podcasts

  1. Accessibility Moving Forwards Podcast, for interesting interviews and assistive technology presentations.
  2. Airacast with Jonathan Mosen, for interviews, Agent and Explorer features and news about Aira.
  3. AMI-Audio Live, for blindness related remote radio broadcasts on AMI-Audio featuring the hosts of their various live programs.
  4. AppleVis, for learning how to, and for the news related to all things Apple.
  5. AT Banter Podcast by Canadian Assistive Technology, which consists of interviews with interesting people in the blind and multi-disabled assistive tech worlds.
  6. Audio Pizza, by and for the Blind, audio reviews and tutorials on the things we're passionate about. Assistive tech from Apple's Mac & iOS to reviews of the latest bespoke devices.
  7. Blind Abilities, for learning how to, and for the news related to all things assistive tech.
  8. Blind Bargains Audio, for learning how to, and for the news related to all things assistive tech.
  9. Canadians in Oldtime Radio, featuring AEBC member, Devon Wilkins.
  10. CNIB, Blind Wide Open Podcast, for presentations and interviews about blindness.
  11. CNIB, Venture Zone Podcast, which seems to be interviews with blind entrepreneurs.
  12. Comments On, Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides, for learning how to use all manner of apps and devices.
  13. Cool Blind Tech, it has over 400 episodes available, and appears to not have added anything new since August 2018.
  14. Double Tap Canada, an AMI-Audio Show dedicated to blindness assistive tech interviews.
  15. Eyes on Success, A weekly, half hour radio show / podcast covering a wide variety of topics of interest to people who are blind and partially sighted.
  16. IACast, Making Success Accessible!
  17. iHabilitation by Tom Dekker, which is an iOS training podcast offering paid training sessions along with some free episodes.
  18. Insight Peterborough, featuring AEBC member, Devon Wilkins.
  19. Kelly and Company, AMI-Audio’s live weekday afternoon show that features some assistive tech segments, local reporting and other blindness related interviews.
  20. Live from Studio Five, AMI-Audio’s weekday morning show which includes news of the day, technology and current events.
  21. Main Menu, ACB Radio, for the news related to all things assistive tech and blindness.
  22. Mushroom FM, “the home of the fun guys”, an internet radio station run by blind and partially sighted people around the world. “…radio where the personality makes a difference.” The station can be found at www.mushroomfm.com
  23. Mystic Access, for free tutorials, helpful hints and news about the online and home-study courses they sometimes offer.
  24. Parallel, Relay FM, an interview podcast featuring many experts and innovators in the blind/tech world by Shelly Brisban. She is the author of the series of books titled, iOS Access for All, and is herself vision impaired.
  25. RNIB Tek Talk, for news on the blind assistive tech world.
  26. Seminars at Hadley, for hour-long presentations, discussions and interviews related to assistive tech.
  27. Spotlight on Assistance Dogs, featuring AEBC member, Devon Wilkins.
  28. Technology Podcasts - NCBI (from Ireland), Working for people with sight loss.
  29. TedTalks, consisting of several separate podcasts related to Education, Health, News and Politics, Society and Culture, and Technology, which all must be searched for and subscribed to individually.
  30. The Canadian Council of the Blind Podcast, including episodes about the Get Together with Technology (GTT) program and the CCB Health and Fitness program.
  31. The Pulse, with host Dave Brown, is AMI-Audio’s long-form interview program, live at noon on weekdays.
  32. The Ride Radio, “…the home of Radio Rick's oldies and countdown shows; Deb's country and Christian music programs; Ron Stein's Tuesday Night Of Gold; and Lyn and Joe Paton's shows--Paton Place and Joe's Joint.” Rick and Deb Lewis, who run the station, are blind. The station can be found at http://therideradio.net/
  33. The Tech Doctor Blog and Podcast, which posts new episodes infrequently, completely Apple ecosystem based.
  34. Victor Reader Stream Information, which is infrequently updated with new material.
  35. Welcome To My World, a show by for and about people with disabilities hosted by Shelley Ann Morris, Kim Kilpatrick and Rebecca Jackson, information and past shows at https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/438/info.html
  36. Woodbridge, David, iSee - Using various technologies from a blind person’s perspective, for learning how to use many apps and devices.

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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.