You are here:

2017 Conference - Toronto, ON - Workshops and Presentations

On this page, you can find detailed information about each of the workshops and presentations in the conference program. Check out the agenda for more information on the schedule.

Friday's Presentations and Workshops

Exploring ways to Create a Culture of Inclusion within Science Education

Presented by Chelsea E. Mohler and Dr. Mahadeo A. Sukhai

Taking one or more science courses is mandatory in high school and in postsecondary education. Formal science education is increasingly important in ensuring an appropriate level of scientific literacy in students. However, science education presents unique challenges to students who are blind or visually impaired, as well as to science teachers and educators of the visually impaired. Students face many barriers in acquiring a solid education in the sciences: these include, negative attitudes of educators and other professionals; lack of appropriate support in the classroom; and, lack of knowledge on the part of educators on how to appropriately instruct a student who is blind or has low vision. For the student, disclosure of their disability, advocacy around inclusive teaching and accommodation, and the stresses associated with potentially being a trailblazer in their school or course/program, pose significant challenges. On the other hand, the educator faces challenges in understanding how to teach effectively to the student who is blind or visually impaired, in parsing the essential requirements of the scientific concepts, course or program, and in communicating these requirements to the student in an appropriate manner. In this presentation, we will discuss both student and educator challenges in the context of science education, present potential solutions, and provide a bridging perspective to ensure that students with vision loss in post-secondary can better understand the efforts undertaken by the other in teaching and learning science in the context of blindness and visual impairment. We feel educators, consumers, and current and former students will all benefit from attending this seminar. Participants will be afforded the opportunity to discuss some of the challenges they experience in attending post-secondary education as a student who is blind or partially sighted; solutions to these challenges will be discussed with presenters and participants.

Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai is the world’s first congenitally blind biomedical research scientist. Dr. Sukhai is currently Head of the Variant Interpretation Group within the Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory at the University Health Network in Toronto. He holds senior roles in the non-profit, higher education and disability sectors, serving as Research Director for the National Educational Association of Disabled Students and as a National Board member for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Dr. Sukhai is the Chair of the National Taskforce on the Experience of Graduate Students with Disabilities, established by NEADS, and the Director of the NEADS National Student Awards Program. Dr. Sukhai is the Principal Investigator for and co-author of "Creating a Culture of Accessibility in the Sciences," a book based on his groundbreaking work on access to science within higher education, published on

Chelsea Mohler is a researcher, educator, advocate, and passionate scholar who happens to be legally blind. She holds a Master’s of Science in Occupational Sciences from Western University, Canada. Chelsea currently works as a researcher for the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS). Chelsea has co-authored articles exploring the culture of inclusive education for students with visible and invisible disabilities, in the context of the graduate education environment. Chelsea places a strong emphasis on volunteering, leadership, engagement and mentorship for youth with disabilities. Chelsea is an active volunteer with the CNIB where she hosts workshops for youth with vision loss focusing on the importance of engaging in community volunteer work throughout secondary and post-secondary education, and as a peer mentor. In her capacity as mentor, she aims to empower students to become engaged advocates and leaders within their community. Chelsea has co-authored a book titled, "Creating a Culture of Accessibility in the Sciences," based on her groundbreaking work on access to science within higher education, published on

Described Video’s Place in the Changing Media Landscape

Presented by Kevin Shaw

Described video (DV) has a short and varied history. It has made the transition from analog to digital—and has ventured across many delivery formats. Aesthetically, the stylistic presentation of DV is changing from a single, omniscient and unemotional narrator to a wide variety of styles including first-person description and creative delivery. The legislative landscape behind DV has meant an increase in the quantity and availability of DV, however, there are still technical and accessibility challenges that present barriers to access. As consumers move from appointment viewing and DVDs to smart phones and “anytime, anywhere” viewing, new solutions are being developed to ensure consumers have reliable access to programs with DV as well as choice in the kind of DV they choose to enjoy.

TellMe TV is at the forefront of these changes—solving many of the difficulties associated with presenting DV in a video-on-demand (VOD) setting. This presentation will explore the technical and aesthetic history of described video, also called audio description or descriptive video, and give an overview of TellMe TV—a 100% described video on-demand service.

It will also present against the history of TellMe TV and highlight the obstacles associated with getting a service like this launched. Technical considerations, content licensing and ensuring accessibility are among the topics that will be presented in the larger context of shifting viewing paradigms and technological advances.

This discussion is set against the backdrop of a growing demand for those living with vision loss to be included in a pervasive visual culture that references movies and TV as part of public and personal discourse. Movies and television act as a social glue that unites people across demographics and culture and TellMe TV believes it is making it easier for its audience to get the jokes and understand the visual parts of story that are taken for granted by sighted viewers.

Kevin Shaw is the founder of TellMe TV, the world’s first 100% described video on-demand service. After growing up with low vision from a rare form of retinopathy, Kevin lost his vision when he was 19. In less than 2 decades, he forged a successful career in media production, radio advertising and broadcast management. Kevin holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Radio & Television arts and Media Production from Ryerson University. His background in technology and production, coupled with a deep personal understanding of accessibility and a unique perspective on media consumption, primed Kevin for what would eventually become the world’s first 100% described-video-on-demand service. As a passionate consumer of media, Kevin was inspired to create TellMeTV after years of frustrating experiences with DVD and VOD. Kevin’s goal is to provide global access to TellMe TV’s 100% described video on demand (VOD) service in a wide range of languages starting with English.

An Update on the Activities of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

Presented by Ian Fine

Ian Fine, Executive Director of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, will provide an update on changes at the Canadian Human Rights Commission and its efforts to improve access to justice and reduce the complexity of the complaints process.

Ian Fine joined the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 1999 as litigation counsel after having practiced law in the private sector for approximately 15 years. Ian obtained his B.A. from Carleton University and his LL.B from the University of Ottawa. He has held a number of positions with the Commission including Senior Counsel, Director of Policy, Director General of the Knowledge Centre and Director General and Senior General Counsel of the Dispute Resolution Branch. He was appointed Executive Director in April 2013.

Key2Access: Changing the way we cross the street

Presented by Sophie and Sarah Aladas

Key2Access is revolutionizing pedestrian mobility with cutting edge wireless technology to create more inclusive communities. We believe in equal access to services for all members of the community and make it our mission to assist municipalities by introducing viable solutions that are designed with the user in mind. The primary issue that Key2Access targets is the inaccessibility of the conventional pedestrian push button system. To cross the street today, pedestrians must locate the pole and the button that corresponds to the desired direction in order to trigger a pedestrian light response. This can be a challenging task for many pedestrians, particularly those with a visual or mobility impairment. Key2Access seeks to solve this issue by introducing wireless solutions that make our cities accessible to all of us. Now, pedestrian can simply point and click their cellphone or a small remote to request to cross the street and even to open doors. What’s more is that, by using the Key2Access system, users will be prompted with information about their surroundings and alerted with city alerts, such as construction or weather warnings.

Key2Access strives to ensure ease of use, accessibility and manageability for both the end user and city staff/contractors. Our goal is to assist in every city’s mandate to protect and improve its citizen’s quality of life. The demographic this product is aiming to assist is a significant segment of the population that should be given equal rights to public access. Key2Access was designed to solve accessibility restraints, whatever the cause may be.

Sophie Aladas is an entrepreneur with a creative spirit. Born and raised in Ottawa, her passion for diversity and inclusion lead her to work terms in Citizenship and Immigration Canada as well as Global Affairs Canada. After graduating from the Telfer School of Business with a BCom in International Management, she chose to grow the roots of her career in the private sector as a Business Analyst for CAE, an international aerospace company known for cutting edge simulation technology. Along with her father and sister, Sophie founded Key2Access to shed light on accessibility issues in our cities and revolutionize the way visually and mobility impaired individuals cross the street. Sophie is passionate about inclusivity and is proud to bring a unique family twist to social entrepreneurship.

When It’s More than Just Visual Access: Health, Productivity, and Access when Using Technology

Presented by Julia Foster

Individuals are diverse with each person having a unique set of abilities and needs that may influence their technology use. A number of individuals experience both vision loss as well as other medical conditions that influence their day to day lives. The “2012 Canadian Survey on Disability” from Statistics Canada (2016) showed that, in 2012, 89.5% of individuals who reported difficulty seeing also reported other functional limitations. Additionally, technology use is associated with a number of ergonomic risks, which is especially true when individuals have to compensate for technologies and environments that are visually inaccessible (e.g. taking uncomfortable postures to view small print on a screen). Thus it is important to ensure that the whole person is considered when evaluating, exploring, and choosing and setting up technology. This interactive workshop will use brief cases, activities, and discussion to explore strategies and technology features that can be used to support physical and cognitive access to technology and promote health and productivity by examining and improving the interactions between individuals and their environments (including their technologies).

Julia Foster is an occupational therapist and ADP authorizer for high-tech visual aids, which includes assessment and prescription of assistive technology for individuals with low vision or blindness, including those who also have physical and/or cognitive limitations. Julia instructs a third year course on Ergonomics at the University of Toronto, and coordinates the Special Needs Opportunity Window (SNOW) online resource on inclusive education and technology.

The Future of Accessible Media

Presented by Chris O’Brien and Peter Armstrong

Join Accessible Media Inc. (AMI)'s Chris O'Brien, Accessibility Officer, and Peter Armstrong, Manager of Digital Content, to learn about trends in media accessibility from advocacy, policy and content perspectives. Participants will gain insight into AMI's services for the blind and low vision community, the role of an Accessibility Officer and the importance of the CRTC's commitment to accessibility.

During recent months, organizations such as YouTube and the Canadian Marketing Association have invited AMI to share its media accessibility expertise at a variety of events. In addition to sharing key learnings from those opportunities, AMI will present new data from its research panel about which platforms people from the community are using to consume media, while outlining digital accessibility trends to watch for in the coming months.

Chris O’Brien is the Accessibility Officer for Accessible Media Inc (AMI). A passionate accessibility advocate, Chris sits on numerous committees, including: Chair of the Described Video best Practices Committee, Accessibility Strand Advisor for the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), and member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) Video Programming Subcommittee in the United States.

Peter Armstrong is the Manager of Digital Content for Accessible Media Inc. (AMI), and has more than 10 years experience in digital marketing. He’s developed a passion for and expertise in accessibility while working with people with disabilities during the last five years. Prior to joining AMI, he worked with the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015). Peter proudly volunteers in a digital strategy lead role with the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee to help honour servicemen and women who suffer life-changing injuries, both visible and invisible, while serving their countries. He has presented about website and social media accessibility subjects at the inaugural YouTube Accessibility Summit, Social Media Week Toronto and the Canadian Marketing Association. He also co-hosted the weekly global accessibility Twitter chat #AXSChat.

The Importance of Peer Mentoring and Assistive Technology

Presented by Albert Ruel

In Albert Ruel’s own words, he says about his presentation “I believe that a workshop of this nature calling on the support of seasoned advocates and mentors on the topic of peer mentoring, as well as the involvement of new advocates and mentors, will benefit all of us. For some it will revive their enthusiasm and understanding for the immense benefits of the self-help means of adjusting to vision loss, adoption of assistive technology, reconnection to the areas of society lost to us due to vision loss, and for the rookies among us it will help them see the afore mentioned strengths and benefits of peer mentoring.”

Albert will use as the basis for his presentation, the AEBC Mentor/Mentee Handbook titled, "Vision Loss, Where do I go from here", A handbook developed by Canadians living with vision loss.

Albert has found his passion in the field of access technology for people who are blind or partially sighted. He has enjoyed a 24 year career in the not-for-profit rehabilitation, technology training and advocacy sectors for people with vision impairments. He holds a Social Service Worker Certificate and is passionate about helping people connect with their needs. Most importantly, Albert is solution-focused, flexible, has a positive attitude and has a great sense of humour.

Welcome to Braille Literacy Canada and the Exciting Future of Braille Literacy

Presented by Anthony Tibbs, Natalie Martiniello, and Betty Nobel

The goal of this presentation is to explore recent and forthcoming innovations in the world of braille and refreshable braille technology. Access to braille has changed significantly over the past 25 years, and with the introduction of lower-cost braille display solutions, installable apps and the more widespread adoption of universal design principles, braille has a bright and promising future. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about exciting braille-related apps, including the use of Apple’s on-screen braille keyboard (braille screen input) and the launch of the Orbit Reader, the first low-cost braille display now available for order. Other innovations including multiline braille displays and Smart Braille watches will also be discussed.

Participants will also learn more about the role and work of Braille Literacy Canada and its impact on those who use, teach, transcribe or otherwise are passionate about braille. Some recent achievements which will be discussed include the Braille Bounce Initiative, a project that has refurbished and rehomed dozens of Perkins braillers to put them into the hands of those who need them most, the production of a French translation of the Unified English Braille Code transcriber’s manual, and the introduction of a Unified English Braille discussion listserv where all your UEB questions can be answered.

Anyone with an invested interested in braille and literacy is invited to attend and learn more about Braille Literacy Canada, how to become a member, membership benefits, and the future of braille.

Braille Literacy Canada / Littératie braille Canada, formerly the Canadian Braille Authority / l’Autorité canadienne du braille, is a registered charity dedicated to the promotion of braille as the primary medium of literacy for those who are blind or visually impaired. Our organization is comprised of educators, braille transcribers, braille producers, parents of braille users and braille users themselves. Recognized by the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) as the authority for the adoption and setting of braille standards in Canada, BLC/LBC has also published standards for tactile graphics and the teaching of braille. You can learn more about BLC by visiting

The AEBC at 25!

Presented by John Rae and others

Founded in Kelowna, BC in 1992, the AEBC is celebrating its 25th anniversary at our 2017 Conference and AGM. Achieving 25 years is an important milestone in the life of any organization, and it is even more impressive given the scarce resources the AEBC has had to pursue its work of social change and public education.

In this session, a number of members who have participated in AEBC in various capacities over many years will share their reminiscences, offer some thoughts on the present and future of the organization, and attempt to set a celebratory tone for the entire weekend’s deliberations.

Saturday's Presentations

Update on the Work of the CRTC by Antica Corner

Antica Corner is a manager in the Social and Consumer Policy directorate at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), a position she has held since 2016. The mandate of Social and Consumer Policy encompasses both telecommunications and broadcasting elements. The Social and Consumer Policy team is responsible for a variety of file including: closed captioning and Described Video, video relay service (VRS) and text-based message relay service, cultural diversity, and the Wireless Code. The team also manages the relationship between the CRTC and the following organizations: the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services, the Broadcasting Participation Fund, and the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.

Ms. Corner began her career in systems integrations and telecommunications, joining the CRTC in 2006. At the CRTC, her work has covered various topics including accessibility, consumer rights and protections, privacy, and digital media.