You are here:

A NATIONAL SYSTEM OF BLINDNESS VERIFICATION

Date: 
Saturday, April 1, 2006

A Brief Prepared by the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians / L'Alliance pour l'ÉgalitÉ des Personnes Aveugles du Canada
1638 Pandosy Street, Suite 6, Kelowna, BC V1Y 1P8
Tel: 1-800-561-4774
E-mail: info@blindcanadians.ca
Website: www.blindcanadians.ca

INTRODUCTION

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians / L'Alliance pour l'ÉgalitÉ des Personnes Aveugles du Canada (AEBC) Mission Statement: To increase awareness of rights and responsibilities so blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted individuals can have equal access to the benefits and opportunities of society.

Governance:

The AEBC is governed by a national board of seven directors; all of whom must be persons who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted.

History:

The AEBC was founded as a consumer organization in 1992 in Kelowna B.C. where the national office is still maintained. More detailed information may be obtained by visiting our web site: www.blindcanadians.ca

Issues:

In Canada, persons who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted must repeatedly verify blindness to receive certain entitlements.

Verification of legal blindness can only be authorized by a practicing ophthalmologist, after original diagnosis. Legal blindness is seldom, if ever reversible.

Significant or total sight loss is more likely to be a deteriorating and permanent condition. A continuum of professional eye care, low vision enhancement and blindness related adjustment services may be required for a period of time, depending upon individual circumstances and requirements. A diagnosis of legal blindness, renders the individual eligible for certain Government allowances, programs and entitlements, designed to assist in offsetting the additional personal costs and effects associated with permanent disability. All approved entitlements require medical verification proof. Having to verify blindness repeatedly can place a financial burden on those seeking verification and for those who are on fixed incomes, any added financial burden only further hurts those who can least afford it. In addition, having to seek repeated medical verification places needless and additional burdens on Canada's already stretched health care system. According to the last Federal statistics, there are approximately 600,000 Canadians, claiming significant sight loss, severely restricting daily living activities.

Rationale:

All Canadians, including those with disabilities are guaranteed equality under section 15, of the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms. Persons who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted being required to repeatedly provide verification of blindness are being denied a basic charter right.

Since 1996 Canada Revenue Agency has stopped accepting CNIB registration client identification as valid proof of permanent disability, instead requiring authorized medical verification. In addition, since 1986, CNIB indicates it no longer requires registration to receive its services.

Recommendations:

The most practical and cost effective solution would be for verification of legal blindness to be securely filed for future consensual requests for personal proof of eligibility requirements. Such a national system would remove the necessity of procuring repeated medical verification, which is both costly and time consuming to the individual, and the over extended Canada Health Care System.

  1. Provision of permanent national Verification of legal blindness, for use as proof of eligibility for all publicly funded entitlements, due to permanent disability should be the responsibility of the Canadian Federal Government.
  2. The Federal Government, in consultation with stakeholders, should identify the appropriate department to oversee development and establishment of a secure, nationally recognized system for the storing and retrieval of verification data, if and when it is requested by the individual as proof of eligibility for pre-authorized entitlements.
  3. Registration as a client of a not-for-profit Service Providing Agency must no longer be used as identification for more than direct services from the said agency.
  4. Private personal information must not be used to solicit or secure funding for any organization without the prior informed consent of any individual.

CONCLUSION

Over the past two decades, Canadians with Disabilities have actively and effectively advocated for an end to segregation, discrimination and second-class status as Canadian citizens. Canadians who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted are first and foremost citizens of Canada with all it's attendant Rights. They are no longer prepared to accept the status quo, of passive Dependence or charitable altruism, however well intended. Registration as a client with CNIB should be service specific, and the Government of Canada should initiate a system of verification of legal blindness so that individuals who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted can seek services without having to secure a doctor's certificate each time.

Resolutions 2005-08

Whereas, Registered blindness, as defined in Blind Persons Regulations, Consolidated Regulations of Canada 1978, Chapter 371, is "A person whose central visual acuity does not exceed 20/200 or less in the better eye with correction; or if better than 20/200, has a limit to the central field of vision of no greater than 20 degrees at its widest point"; and

Whereas, Eligibility for a variety of Government exemptions, benefits and both public and private services, available to Canadians, is predicated upon meeting the current criteria of registered blindness; and

Whereas, Diagnosis of registered blindness can only be authorized by an ophthalmologist; is seldom, if ever reversible; more often a deteriorating condition usually requiring and benefiting from a continuum of professional eye care, low vision enhancement and Rehabilitation services, particularly during early adjustment to sight loss; and

Whereas, Identification of registered blindness currently available to eligible Canadians is voluntary client status with a national charitable service provider, CNIB; or repeated verification from a medical professional, each time eligibility verification is requested or required; and

Whereas, A nationally recognized, official permanent verification of registered blindness, issued at time of original diagnosis by the attending ophthalmologist, would be undeniably cost effective and of benefit to both the individual and public/private service providers;

Therefore, be it resolved at this Convention in Ottawa, April 2005, that Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians [AEBC] actively advocate, through all appropriate Government authorities, for the provision of an appropriate system of registration for Canadians, who fall within the eligibility criteria required for all current and future public and private exemptions, benefits and services available to them across Canada.

ZZ - Disregard this link; it is used to trick spammers.