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News From Toronto

One year ago, in January 1995, the first Toronto chapter of the National Federation of the Blind: Advocates for Equality was formed. A very enthusiastic and dedicated executive was elected:

Elizabeth Coates - President

Susan Pinder - vice-president

David Ogilvie - Treasurer

Sharon Neville - Secretary

Cathleen (Bubbles) Jacobs - Advisor

Unfortunately, David Ogilvie resigned as Treasurer when he moved out of Toronto. He is missed on the Executive, but we are sure he will be among the leadership when a chapter is formed in the community where he is now living. David was replaced by another very capable individual, Craig Spurrell. Approximately 30 persons attended the first general meeting in May. We were delighted to have National President, Paul Gabias, help us inaugurate Federationism in Toronto. In addition to answering questions and bringing us up to date on Federation activities across Canada, he stayed in Toronto for several days to work with individuals and to give guidance to the chapter leadership. We were all glad to have this opportunity to get to know our National President. At the May meeting, Constable Paul Malbeuf of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force also addressed our members. His advice is the same for the sighted and the blind. Do not open your door until you you're sure you know who is on the other side. Any stranger presenting identification (such as a police officer or utility company employee) should be prepared to wait while identification is verified by telephone. Blind and sighted alike should follow this practice as unscrupulous individuals may present false identification. Constable Malbeuf demonstrated once again that the limitation of being unable to see an identification badge is far less serious than if first appears. In fact, criminals prey upon the tendency of the public to believe what they see. At our second meeting in June, Bob Trenton, a blind lawyer, addressed the group. According to the Blind Persons Act of Ontario, a blind person is one who carries a white cane or uses a guide dog. After a lengthy discussion of this definition, he pointed out that if a blind person without a white cane or guide dog were involved in an accident, that person may not be protected. The court might decide the blind person was not acting in a responsible manner. It is clear that we must give careful thought to this law and educate public officials if we decide that it would be advantageous to change it. We also discussed problems guide dog users sometimes have with access to restaurants, stores, and other public facilities. Again, members were mindful of the need for public education. We have our work cut out for us. We were grateful for the excellent speaker who helped us clarify these issues! A number of our members journeyed to Chicago to attend the National Federation of the Blind Convention. The experience increased their commitment and enthusiasm for the work of the NFB:AE. During the September meeting, we had a demonstration of Newsline for the Blind. All were duly impressed. A committee, composed of Aktar Hussein, Chairman, Elizabeth Coates, and Bonnie Armstrong, was formed to investigate the possibility of establishing a newsline service in Toronto. Members who attended the National Conference in Chicago shared their impressions. Sarah Lewis, a sighted member, was impressed with the degree of independence, especially the mobility, that NFB members demonstrated. Bonnie Armstrong told us about the Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB) seminar. The Toronto chapter had its first Annual Garage Sale. The executive says thank you to all those who aided the NFB:AE. A lot of time and effort was put in by members and volunteers. Over $425 was raised.