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The Blind Canadians Blog


Perhaps fifteen years ago, I was busy in the kitchen doing prep work for dinner for my four children, assorted hangers on and my ex. My daughter was home for the summer after her first year at university. She worked as a life guard at the town pool and didn’t have to clock in until 2:00 that day. One son was at work, the other two sons had returned after a midnight shift at a local factory and were snoring away. My ex was at work. My daughter came into the kitchen and turned the television on. She clicked onto the “Jerry Springer” show. (I know - UGH, but she was only 18). It was another “Who your baby daddy” episode. As she put together breakfast for herself, she hitched her sleep shorts up and mimicked the antics of the show participants. That’s when I saw it.

Lambert's Groceteria

Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued - Socrates

I came across this quote a few years ago. I was taking a course at Western University - An Introduction to Ancient Greece and Rome. We took a cursory look at Socrates as a philosopher and one of the founders of Western philosophy.

Wisdom begins in wonder. - Socrates

Some of Socrates’ quotes resonated with me, especially those about a quest for knowledge. 

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. - Socrates

I grew up on a farm, in a small, tight knit rural community. I enjoyed the feeling of belonging to a community, but even as a little girl I knew there was something missing. I just didn’t know what it was.

We had the old crank telephone system.

What am I afraid of

I correspond regularly with a very good friend. We ask and answer questions that require thought, insight and self-examination. This week’s question was “what are you afraid of”.

I am afraid of ferris wheels. I can do roller coasters and rides that travel in circles, but ferris wheels scare me. I am also afraid of clowns. There is something about the painted face and the paradox of silly hair with a sad smile that scares me. I am also afraid that I will be a lonely old woman - hence this whole dating thing. And dating, at 55, after a 32 year marriage is frightening. Dating is different now then when I was a teenager. As a teen, I had my whole life ahead of me, I wore rose coloured glasses and I thought I could do anything I wanted.

Shack Whacky

I woke up this morning to a wind chill of minus 32 degrees. Didn’t we just do this two weeks ago? This is my second winter with Hope, my second dog guide and I am sure we only missed two days of walking last winter. We seem to miss two days every week lately. When she is limping after our first venture out for the morning relief, I know we are not walking that day. When I swear aloud during our first venture out, I know we are not walking anywhere that day. I am officially becoming “shack whacky”.


How weird is this? My father celebrates a birthday today. I hosted a family birthday dinner for him yesterday. For those of you who follow my posts, you know my mother died December 2012 and my only brother has been single for a couple of years. So ..... at my dining room table: My Dad and his girlfriend of 10 months (I can say girlfriend because he bought her a birthstone ring for Christmas!!!), my brother and his “friend” of 18 months, and me with my “friend”. Dynamics were great. I really like both my Dad’s and my brother’s “friends” and my “friend” got along amazingly well with my Dad and brother.

But ..... How weird is this?


I continue to be amazed at the myriad of sources of insight I encounter, but even more amazed at the unexpected sources of insight.

Strathroy is a very small town, as I have mentioned, and nothing is secret. A son in law of one of my peers works in construction installing AV equipment. He offered to install a new cable television outlet for me, thereby avoiding the $49.00 Rogers charges to instal a new connection. I have known him for at least 10 years, his wife babysat my children when they were young and I play bridge and attend book club with his mother in law. He describes himself as a “certified red-neck” and proclaims his undying love for his pick up truck.

Can a blind person fly a plane?

The answer to this bizarre question would seem to be rather self-evident. Being a pilot is an inherently visual activity and there isn't a whole heck of a lot that anyone can do to really accommodate or adapt that. But there is a fellow in Abbotsford, BC who has come up with an ingenious way to give people who are blind at least a semblance of the experience of doing just that.

For years, Microsoft marketed a "game" called Microsoft Flight Simulator. The last edition (version 10, also known as Flight Simulator X) was released in 2006 and Microsoft has since discontinued the product. I put "game" in quotes because this is not your typical "game" -- there are, by and large, no enemies to kill, and specific objectives or missions are limited.

Feeling festive

I am feeling festive. It’s a wonderful feeling. Last year, Christmas was a difficult time. It was my first holiday season as a single woman. My mother died early last December. I was learning the idiosyncracies of a new dog guide. I was in a small apartment and did not have room (nor the desire) to host my traditional large Christmas dinner.

This year, I am back. I bought a new small artificial, pre-lit Christmas tree and a girlfriend helped me decorate it. I have wrapped a few gifts for my grand daughter and put them under the tree. I am going out this afternoon to gather some greenery for pots at the front door and I have started my Christmas baking. White Chocolate Cranberry cookies are in the oven as I write this and they smell divine!

President's Report - December 4th, 2013

Hello, AEBC!

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. - Anne Frank

The holiday season and a Canadian winter has descended upon us, and while this might be a time of hibernation for many, I am excited to bring to you this very positive President's Report. I hope it will inspire you to continue the great work of AEBC between now and the conference in Ottawa!

First, a technical note. This newsletter has headings throughout to make navigation easy and so that you can skip over content that you find irrelevant. If you're reading this on the web site and using JAWS, the H key should help you skip to the next heading. If you're reading this in your email that might or might not work.

A Community Venue Creates a Hands on Experience for Persons who are Blind and Partially Sighted

The Kelowna Art Gallery has been very proactive to make their art displays accessible to blind and partially sighted individuals. At least three times a year, Rene, Program Director for the gallery, organizes customized tours for us. On November 9, 2013, several members of our Kelowna AEBC Chapter attended the current display.


Rene, started out by giving us background information on the artist and his works then we moved to the gallery and watched short films.

National Network for Equitable Library Services and You

Our national library network is very important. In Saskatchewan we have partnered with National Network for Equitable Library Services (NNELS). I have copied and pasted information on NNELS (as published by Saskatchewan Libraries) below. You may want to ask your provincial or municipal libraries to consider this alternative for resources.

You may also want to ask your MLA or MPP or even your MP and, of course, you may want to ask your local CNIB or CNIB library why they are not part of this growing network. the Association for the Blind of Western Australia is a member so why not Canada’s CNIB or maybe they are but I do not see them in the partner list. (smile)

We do not need several systems in this country and this system is well under way. Check it out.

Robin East

White cane, black canes -- what's in a colour?

I currently use a black cane as I am between guide dogs. I will not have a new dog guide for about two years due to the waiting list. As such I am tip tapping it. So, I have elected to use the black cane.

I got my first black cane a few years ago and travelled with it. I found that that no matter where I went folks could figure out that I was blind, the cane worked exactly like the white one but I did not get the pity party. Nor did I get any nonsense from folks as I tip tapped by them.

As a person with no sight I do not need the public to distract me when I am concentrating on my surroundings and traversing from one place to another.

Solo-DX: Audio description for TV and theatre via your smartphone

The following message was forwarded to me, announcing the release of a new app (currently available on the Apple platform and soon to be available on Android) that is intended to make audio description available in movie theatres that are not directly equipped to provide description. In effect, it is an app that will "listen" to the movie soundtrack and synchronize its own descriptive track for the listener.

It appears that only one upcoming movie is currently supported by this app, but perhaps more will be forthcoming. This seems like it is intended to work not only in theatres but also for regular TV shows. The actual descriptive tracks appear to be produced independently from the movies themselves, though.

Your mileage may vary.

A lovely second date

November 9th turned out to be a lovely Saturday. A gentleman I have already met asked to take me on a unique art tour. He told me it was not the typical art tour, it was a tactile art tour. London has 50+ chainsaw sculptures scattered throughout the city. Many are in front of businesses, libraries, schools or parks and are completely accessible. This gentleman researched all the sculptures and selected the top 10 according to ease of me reaching them, accessibility and variety. He described each of the ten and placed my hands on each and showed me all the intricacies of the carvings. It was absolutely amazing, and very thoughtful of him to organize a tour that I could thoroughly enjoy and experience.

This was a “second date”. Our first date was lunch at my local pub.

Fighting for more accessible elections

I am currently involved in a human rights complaint that is now going to Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

Safety and accessibility at sea: Concerns from the BC Coastal Transportation Society

I received the following message from Captain William Cursiter, President of the British Columbia Coastal Transportation Society. In it, he raises concerns about the safety protocols used aboard ferries (in BC and elsewhere) and the potential problems that this presents for people with disabilities in an emergency situation.

We're accustomed to worrying about accessibility on busses; on trains; on planes; and on the road, but let's not forget that there are also thousands of people who rely on ferries (in one form or another) to get around, too.

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.

The Dating Pool

I have done a completely unscientific poll among my friends about responses to dating a blind woman. Most of my “first dates” in this new life have been set up through friends. This allows me a certain degree of comfort - if a friend recommends I meet someone, I am reasonably safe assuming that person is is not an escaped felon, a paranoid schizophrenic, a 75 year old masquerading as a 50 year old, a habitual drug user or a full body art enthusiast. I do not discriminate against any person who may chose or may be chosen to live with any of those lifestyles. It is simply not my livestyle. That being said, if a friend recommends I see someone, I will probably make arrangements to meet that person.

Bucket List

I don’t have a “Bucket List”. My life has changed so much over the last year and a half, that anything I would have had on the list is now either absolutely impossible, unimportant or no longer desirable. I now understand that life throws us curve balls and the only measure of our worth is how we make those curve balls turn into RBIs. Checking off items on a list of “things to do before I die” doesn’t work for me any more. I am much more productive if I make a list of “things I am thankful for” . I do, however, have a (?)uckit list - those things I choose not to worry about.

Having said that, I am making a list of things I want to do this winter. In my past life, my ex and I parked a motor home in South West Florida for the winter.

Small Town Kindnesses

I am a walker. I walk to exercise myself, to exercise my guide dog, to breath fresh air, to clear my mind and to have an uninterrupted 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours to listen to music (one earbud only - the other ear is to listen to traffic. And yes, I have an off/on switch on the earphones to turn the tunes off at intersections, railway tracks and obstacles). I woke up this morning to the sound of a soft rain falling outside the window. Normally rain does not deter me - I don’t think I will melt. Rain does, however, deter my dog. Hope is a bit of a princess in the rain. She does not work as well when she gets wet and she abhors puddles. She will skirt around a puddle, taking me right through the centre.


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