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The Blind Canadians Blog

10 Years of the iPhone: Witnessing the Start of a Revolution

I was born in 1984, during a time when integration (which later became known as "inclusive education") was becoming more common, but not yet the norm for blind children in Canada. Despite the fact that I was the only blind child - or person - my family had ever encountered, I was raised in a very supportive environment. My parents ensured that I had access to all the specialized instruction I would need, above and beyond regular school subjects, to support my independence. This meant I learned how to use all the popular assistive technologies of the day.

Recognize Deafblindness as a single disability: Open Your Eyes and Ears


Deafblindness is a unique disability, which requires a unique approach to support and a unique system to deliver that support.

At the Twelfth World Conference in Portugal (1999), Deafblind International (DBI), agreed to pass a resolution to appeal to governments around the world to use the following definition: “Deafblindness is a combination of visual impairment and hearing impairment.” Recognition for a common definition should be included in legislation and acknowledge the particular needs of individuals who are deafblind.

DeafBlind Ontario Services calls for official recognition of deafblindness as a distinct disability with equal rights and opportunities for individuals living with deafblindness in Canada.

Two Jennifer Laura E. Wilson Memorial Scholarships awarded during the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) AGM weekend (April 28-30, 2017)

Two Jennifer Laura E. Wilson Memorial Scholarships, recognizing courage in overcoming adversity and selflessness in helping others, were awarded to two outstanding candidates – Ben Fulton and Stuart Matan-Lithwick

“My beloved sister Jennifer was inspiring by her selflessness and willingness to devote her life to immunology in the hopes of helping find cures for others. Although she was unable to achieve her dream because of her impairment, these scholarships in her name are to help others achieve theirs,” her sister Deborah Wilson said.

Deborah added: “There were so many worthwhile candidates for my sister’s memorial scholarships, contributing in many ways to the lives of others.

Two AEBC Scholarships and one T-Base Communications Scholarship awarded during the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) AGM weekend (April 28-30, 2017)

An anonymous donor gave AEBC an additional two thousand dollars to provide two one thousand dollar scholarships to two worthy students and we selected Sean Heaslip and Anu Pala.

Sean Heaslip

Sean Heaslip is a 36 year old doctoral student pursuing a PhD in Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia Vancouver.

Sean writing about his academic journey says”Academically I have achieved beyond my wildest dreams, as there was a time where I felt my vision precluded me from succeeding in post-secondary studies. I am a full time student, attending lectures, and conducting therapy at our doctoral training clinic.

Creating New Barriers

The OHRC, in the Ontario Regulatory Registry Proposal: 10-CSS002, October 15, 2010 raised a number of concerns about the proposed AODA Integrated Accessibility Regulation (IAR), but seven years later in 2017, we again need to echo those same concerns. Section 9 (2) of the AODA requires the standards development process to determine the long-term accessibility objectives, but seems to have failed in Dealing with existing barriers, and stopping the creation of new barriers, which is an immediate legal duty and therefore should be a short-term objective.

Let's Talk Technology

The Discussion

On March 23, 2017, the Technology, Website and App Accessibility Committee held a teleconference open to all AEBC members. We had a lively discussion about the technology being used and the barriers that exist in its acquisition. What follows is a summary of that call and the conclusions the Committee drew from the discussion.

The technology being used by the participants on the call ranged from simple items like talking watches, clocks, scales, calculators and pocket radios to high-tech devices such as Braille displays, Optacons, and Trekkers. Mainstream technology was well-represented—Windows, IOS, Android and Mac.

Most of the participants learned to use their technology from friends.

My Canada of the Future

In my Canada of the future, there will be equality and inclusivity, not as afterthoughts, but as normal behaviours. Everyone will be judged on his/her own merits--what he/she can offer, and differences will be celebrated, not feared. Access to information, transportation, employment, and all other aspects of societal life will be proudly extended to everyone who lives here.

In my Canada of the future, I will never be told that I have to use a separate website, or a separate application process.

Windows 10 Workshop Notes


Windows 10 Workshop Notes

Presented by Albert Ruel and Jennifer Jesso
with the AEBC on October 18, 2016

Upgrading to Windows 10

·        Windows 10 had a free upgrade period which ended in July, but people with disabilities are still able to upgrade for free

Bill C33 failing Canadians who are blind

How many times do Canadians have to request a secret vote? I have known for many years that the way Canada provides people who are blind to mark a ballot is not adequate. The fact that we can't see, should make it easy for government officials to understand that if we have a special template to put our ballot into, with tactile areas to place our X in, we can't see if the ballot moved, thereby making our ballot void. Why is it that our federal government will not bring a way of voting that allows for a private secret secure vote? I am deaf-blind. Please try to view this bill from the perspective of Canadians who wish to vote in secret and with dignity.

Technology is used extensively by both the government and candidates during the time leading up to the vote.

Proud to be Courageous, Brave and BLIND

Many people who are blind seem to reject the fact that they are courageous, or brave. They seem to think what they do, how they do it is the norm for them. If more people who are blind saw themselves as courageous or brave, maybe they would feel good and "proud" of themselves.

I recall the first time I decided to take public transit to meet a friend to stay over-night. I was nervous, but I also wanted to start being more independent.

I wondered what would happen if I got lost. I had difficulty hearing, but I had enough, back then to travel reasonably safely.

The first time we do something, that is going to be difficult, we are being brave. We forget that we did accomplish something that took effort to do for the first time.

Always Pround to be Blind/Deafblind

Who you are, includes everything about you, eye colour, height and disability you might have. But the fact my deafness and blindness are named disabilities makes these inconveniences seem more negative than they actually are. If someone is allergic to dust, that is not deemed to be a disability, yet it does cause significant problems yet an allergy to dust is no cause for discrimination. So, the label of disability is the problem, not the disability itself.

If you think about the fact that blindness is most commonly experienced by loss of sight over several years. The loss people experience is significant yet everyone seems to cope with the loss and use their creativity to continue to do things they liked to do before the loss. How people manage to adapt is cause for tremendous pride.

Proud to be blind

Is the idea of being proud of yourself new to you? How about being proud of the fact that you have a disability or that you can eat anything without getting sick?

I share with you that I am very proud of who I am, and that I am deaf-blind. The fact that I was born blind, and that I have never let that fact stop me from doing what I want, is a part of who I am, and who I intend to always be. It wasn't easy to learn to live with deafness, but I have succeeded very well. I am an active senior citizen that is proud of being one of few people who is totally blind and deaf. I can do several things well I know what it is to have patience and to persist. I have experienced many hard times and come away with more pride in myself. No one will ever take that from me.

Let's Get It Out There - Penny’s Impressions

On October 29th, I attended a town-hall meeting via streaming, that was called, “let’s get it out there”

I found the meeting to have been interesting. My impressions may not be the same as other people but I am sharing them. The objective of this meeting of people who are blind, was to see how we might work more closely together to achieve improvements to our lives in all aspects.

I understood that no one would speak as a representative, I note that the president of CFB, was basically allowed to repeat her email address @CFB, three times in a comment response to one question. She didn’t respond to the question except to say she would love to hear from people about any letters that CFB could write in support of advocacy efforts.

Being the Object of Prayer

If you’re blind, you’re no stranger to the experience of having a religious zealot approach you to tell you that they’re going to pray for you, and that God will listen to their prayers, and give you your sight back. Such encounters used to irritate the hell out of me, but no longer. As someone who starts off with a deep theoretical interest in religion and its expression, I’ve come to view these experiences as an opportunity for a little informal research, and scope for entertainment.

Membership Renewal & Toronto IDPwD Event

Dear Current and Former AEBC Members:

When I returned from working overseas in 2009, I went to the usual service providers to upgrade my mobility, computer and independent living skills, including employment agencies to get back into the Toronto work force. After experiencing barriers and marginalization, I wanted to join a group making changes for the better for our community. That is how I started coming to AEBC meetings five years ago.

Learning and working together with like-minded blind, deafblind and partially sighted grassroots activists help all of us to hone our knowledge and skills in speaking up at public meetings, speaking to our elected representatives, and speaking about issues concerning us.

Service tip: Say goodbye to the CNIB Library website

Hello Everyone,

In August the Accessible Information and Copyright Committee posted documents providing members with information about CELA and NNELS services.

We want to share one important update from the CELA September “OpenBook Newsletter”.

Read on!

Service tip: Say goodbye to the CNIB Library website

It’s time to update your bookmarks! If you are still using the CNIB Library website to access CELA services, please note that as of October 15, 2016 that site will no longer be active and all library services will be fully transitioned to the CELA website. Please make sure you update your bookmarks today to use instead of Your account number and password remain the same as for the CNIB Library.

Travelling as A Blind Uber Rider in Canada

For those who have been unsure about trying out Uber or how well it works. I want to assure you that it is a fantastic service. As a blind person, I don’t drive and therefore only have public transit, taxis and the good will of others as transport options. It is great to have other choices. Signing up was straight forward and like any other app. There is an Uber app for both iOS and Android. Both are accessible if not intuitive.

I have used Uber a dozen or so times this year. I can’t speak to guide dog access but I have had extremely excellent service every time.

There are 3 categories of Uber in Ottawa - , the city I live in:

  1. Uber X = standard Uber
  2. Uber XL = van

Apps and other resources to help students with course and assignment readings


Back to school means lots of reading, as all students know! The purpose of this blog post is to provide you with info on programs, apps and resources that will enable you to do the reading you have to do for courses and assignments.

The list of resources, found below, is the result of the collective work of:

  • Kim Kilpatrick, GTT Coordinator
  • Rebecca Jackson, GTT, Summer Student Project
  • Albert Ruel, GTT Coordinator
  • Leo Bissonnette, AEBC National Board Member,

Our compiled list is not exhaustive.

AEBC/CCB Joint National Conference Call: NNELS Detailed Notes, July 27, 2016

August 31, 2016

(The following are detailed notes from the CCB and AEBC National Call which took place on July 27, 2016)

Dear program supporters,

On July 27, 2016, we held the national conference call regarding library services. The national conference call was sponsored by the Canadian Council of the Blind’s Get Together with Technology Program (GTT) and AEBC’s Accessible Information and Copyright Committee

The topic of the call was “Canadian Library Services: Who provides it, what do they provide, how does it work and what does the future look like?” Mr. Leo Bissonnette, AEBC National Board Member, and Mr.

AEBC/CCB National Conference Call: CELA Detailed Notes, July 27, 2016

August 31, 2016

(The following are detailed notes from the CCB and AEBC National Call which took place on July 27, 2016)

Dear program supporters,

On July 27, 2016, we held the national conference call regarding library services.


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