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2002-03 NFB:AE Board of Directors


John Rae is a Program Officer in the Accessibility Directorate of the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship in Toronto. During his 22-year career in the Ontario Public Service, he held the position of Consultant with the Centre for Disability and Work and later was an Education Officer with the former Employment Equity Commission.

John Rae has been a Board Member of many community and human rights organisations, including two recent years with BALANCE, a life skills program for blind adults in Toronto, which he has supported since its earliest days. He has also been President of several organisations, including PAL Reading Service, the Canadian Legal Advocacy, Information and Research Association of the Disabled (CLAIR), the Blind Organization of Ontario with Self- Help Tactics, (BOOST) and the Don Vale Community Centre. He also co-chaired the Coalition on Human Rights for the Handicapped, which obtained the first human rights coverage for persons with disabilities in Ontario.

In April 2000, John Rae received the Individual Human Rights Award from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).In March, 2001, he was elected to OPSEU's Provincial Human Rights Committee, and now serves on several other Committees within the Canadian Labour movement at the provincial and national levels.

Contact John Rae: E-mail:


Beryl Williams was born in England in 1939, and came to Canada in 1964, settling in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She has experienced significant sight loss since her teen years. She was educated in a mainstream environment throughout her education, and trained as an early childhood teacher and worked for five years in this capacity in the U.K.

Beryl Williams has three children, and three grandchildren. Since her husband's retirement, they have been returning to the U.K. for three months every winter and enjoy returning regularly to their roots with all its early memories, family and friends .

She considers herself very fortunate to have been introduced to computers and all the wonderful world of communication and information it avails. She enjoys the spoken word and music from all available sources, and loves to cook and bake for friends and family. She also enjoys walking, swimming and cross country skiing. Beryl Williams has a keen interest in social activism, along with a critical and enquiring interest in world politics and the social order.

Blindness has always been a significant factor in her life and that of her family, which has fueled a keen desire to seek solutions to blindness-related concerns and issues.

Contact Beryl Williams: E-mail:


Paul Thiele was born in Poland, and grew up in Germany. He was born totally blind due to congenital cataracts, regained 10% eyesight after a series of operations in Germany, and came to Canada in 1958.

Paul Thiele holds a BA. in Sociology and Literature and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of B.C.

Paul Thiele was Founder and Director of the Crane Library and Resource Centre at the University of B.C. and prior to taking early retirement was Senior Client Advisor, Crane Library and UBC Disability Resource Centre. While at UBC, he also taught courses in Special Education and Library Science.

His many involvements include the B.C. Premier's Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, UNESCO mission to Kenya and Eastern Africa to establish post secondary student support systems for blind and vision-impaired students in Eastern Africa, founding member of the International Federation of Library Association's Committee on Services and Technical Supports for the Blind, 1981 International Year of Disabled Persons federal and provincial organizing committees, and he is currently Chair of the National Board of Directors, VOICEPRINT/National Broadcast Reading Service.

Paul Thiele is currently enrolled in Computer Studies at Vancouver Community College, and is establishing a private consulting/advisory/case management company for blind, vision-impaired and physically disabled persons.

Contact Paul Thiele: E-mail:


Denise Sanders has been employed with the Elizabeth Fry Society in Kelowna for the past six years as Administrative Facilitator. Her career background has included owner of a telephone answering service and administrative positions with various organizations.

In 1996, she joined the NFB:AE and has been President of the Kelowna Chapter for the past four years.

Contact Denise Sanders: E-mail:


Marcia Cummings was born and raised in North York, now part of the mega city of Toronto. After attending nursery school and kindergarten in her own neighborhood, she spent three years at the Ontario School for the Blind (since renamed the W. Ross Macdonald School). However, to her great delight, her parents were approached during the third year with an offer of schooling for her back home in North York. They gladly agreed, and she finished elementary, junior high and high school there. After high school, she attended Trebas Institute of Recording Arts, but was unable to break into the music industry, and therefore sought a job elsewhere.

Marcia Cummings became the first blind Customer Service Representative at Rogers Cable TV-Toronto, and has assisted in training other successful candidates over the past fifteen years.

Marcia Cummings is active in the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA) Committee, and has attended all-candidates' meetings, committee hearings and other events on their behalf. She is very interested in increasing public education about people with disabilities and their right to respect and dignity.

Contact Marcia Cummings:


Born & raised in BC. Diane Dobson attended UBC where she was a fine arts major. She worked as a graphic artist untill she had a stroke at AGE 45 that left her a wheelchair user [hemmi-plegic]. When she lived on the lower mainland, she helped form an access group called it Access Awareness which worked very hard to make the lower mainland fully accessible. She joined the transit commission to fight for full accessibility.

Through the BCPA Diane Dobson learned how to fight for access using the Human rights commission and enjoyed winning battles for herself and others.

About 10 years later she lost her vision through diabetes and still enjoys the fight. Without a commission, winning will be next to impossible! Diane Dobson serves on two other boards for persons with disabilities, and two access committees in her area Esquimalt, Victoria. Her latest project is to make the local recreation center completely accessible for persons with all types of disabilities.

Contact Diane Dobson: E-mail:


Sara Bennett is a University of Guelph graduate with subsequent training as a rehabilitation teacher of the blind from Mohawk College. She has worked at a distress line, as a transportation co-ordinator, Braille tutor and speaker.

She currently serves on the NFB:AE's Publications committee. She is also on the board of the Ontario chapter of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). Sara writes blindness-related articles.

Contact Sara Bennett: E-mail:

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