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Celebrating 25 Years of the AEBC: Reflecting on our Past -- Planning our Future

Edited by John Rae
Production by Deanna White and Anthony Tibbs

FOREWORD by John Rae

Editor's Note: John Rae is a Past President of the AEBC.

On April 28, 2017, members and friends of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) will gather in Toronto for the organization’s Conference and Annual General Meeting. But this year’s gathering will be different and much more significant.

In 2017, the AEBC turns 25, a significant milestone in the life of any organization that is a time worthy of celebration, reflection and planning for the future. Most grass roots groups like the AEBC do not celebrate the accomplishments of their organization and its members nearly often enough.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary is even more appropriate for the AEBC. It is one of, if not the only major national consumer organization of Canadians with disabilities that has had to operate without government core funding that would have enabled it to hire permanent staff to conduct AEBC’s many activities.

Throughout its history, the AEBC has added its voice and participated in deliberations on many, many issues. Details of its work can be found on the many pages of its accessible website, www.blindcanadians.ca.

But there is one important aspect of the AEBC’s work that may be hard to find on those pages, and it is perhaps the greatest legacy that Canada’s disability rights movement - including the AEBC - should be especially proud of; namely, the personal growth within so many individuals who have participated actively in our movement.

For many of us, it provided us our first opportunity to take part directly in developing proposals and activities that directly affect our lives and the lives of those who will come after us. I have had the pleasure to watch numerous AEBC members grow and truly blossom through their participation. I’ve witnessed the added personal confidence and skills developed through the AEBC and other consumer organizations go with each and every one of us as we try to find a place for ourselves in a world that is not yet constructed with persons with disabilities clearly in mind.

I want to thank each individual who has contributed his/her thoughts to this 25th anniversary publication. These contributions represent their own thoughts, and the submissions are as varied as is AEBC’s membership. I hope you will find something in their reflections that will ring a bell in your minds and hearts, and encourage each of you to participate even more actively in AEBC’s work in the months and years ahead.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • FOREWORD: THE AEBC AT 25 by John Rae
  • THE ROOTS OF THE AEBC by Dave Greenfield
  • AEBC SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM by Dar Wournell
  • RECOGNIZING AEBC'S AWARD RECIPIENTS by Dar Wournell
  • CHANGING REALITIES FOR THE AEBC by John Rae
  • IS BRAILLE STILL RELEVANT? by Robert Hebert
  • FRIENDS FOR A QUARTER CENTURY by Devon Wilkins
  • ARE WE THERE YET? By Chantal Oakes
  • SO WHAT’S YOUR STORY? by Bob Berrigan
  • JOINING AEBC CHANGED MY LIFE FOR THE BETTER By: Louise Johnson
  • HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED IN SPORT by Shelley Ann Morris
  • ONE WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE ON MAINSTREAM ACCESSIBILITY by Sharlyn Ayotte
  • DISABILITY COLONIALISM AND BEYOND: AN ANALYSIS by Walden Green
  • MY CANADA OF THE FUTURE by Marcia Yale