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Highlights of Recent NFB:AE Activities

  • New Board Member: Geof Collis

Before Geof's eyesight deteriorated to the point where he could no longer read text or see faces, Geof was active in sports, especially hockey, where he organized, coached and played for teams in men's Hockey Leagues. Geof is also a self-taught, freelance web designer in Multimedia but has recently moved to accessible web design, with a site called Bad Eyes (www.badeyes.com)

Working towards equality is a big priority in his life now. Please join us in welcoming Geof to our national Board of Directors.

  • NFBAE Writes the Prime Minister

The Speech From the Throne included a section entitled "Creating Opportunity For Canadians With Disabilities which stated: "Many Canadians with disabilities are ready to contribute but confront difficult obstacles in the workplace and in their communities".

In response, the NFB:AE recommended the Government of Canada must show leadership and become a model employer; call together leading private sector employers to seek their commitment to increasing the level of employment for persons with disabilities; develop a comprehensive national employment strategy for persons with disabilities, including the creation of a National Assistive Devices Program (A.D.P.), such as the one in Ontario; and reconstituting the Sub-Committee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

  • NFB:AE Participates in Cost of Blindness Conference

This Conference brought together an impressive array of speakers and presenters from around the world.

This event was organized by CNIB, other service providers, health care practitioners and researchers. No consumer organization was involved in planning this event, and no presenter represented a consumer group.

This event raises numerous questions for us as consumers and for an organization like ours that believes firmly in consumer involvement in all activities that affect our lives. What is the rightful role for consumers in determining what research is conducted? Where do we want to fit in the research arena?

How might we influence what research is done, to make it more useful? Is it time to try again to bring consumer groups together to try to develop that oh so elusive national strategy?

  • January CCD National Council Meeting

CCD's January National Council meeting approved CCD's 2004 work plan, and discussed such topics as CCD's work in promoting human rights, disability supports policy, accessible transportation, and the need for Canadians with disabilities to raise disability related issues in the upcoming federal election.

  • Access to Information During the Upcoming Federal Election

With the possibility of a spring election, the NFB:AE wrote to all federal parties asking them to make information about their party's platform accessible to persons who are blind, partially sighted and deaf-blind. We encourage readers to write to your own Member of Parliament and raise similar and additional issues.

  • Round Table on the Impact of Low Vision Services

The NFB:AE is participating in a demonstration project entitled "The Impact of Low Vision Services Needs and Policies on Canadian Service Providers", funded through (Voluntary Organizations Involved in Collaborative Engagement) in Health Policy (VOICE).

The project seeks to determine the gaps in the health care system encountered by people experiencing vision loss. Participants identified and discussed several of the gaps within the system such as: generational differences and attitudes towards the medical system; the stigma which surrounds blindness and the loss of sight; the extremely high cost of the necessary equipment to effectively diagnose low vision issues (estimated at $75,000); the lack of appropriate referrals among medical practitioners and that of appropriate compensation from the health care system.

  • CRTC News

The NFB:AE has submitted briefs to the CRTC on numerous issues. On January 21, 2004, the Commission issued its long-awaited decisions, renewing the license of the National Broadcast Reading Service (NBRS) which operates VoicePrint, and licenses for 22 of Canada's specialty channels.

Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2004-2, an introduction to Broadcasting Decisions CRTC 2004-6 to 2004-27 covering licenses for the specialty channels, mentions the NFB:AE in two sections. This decision discusses such topics as: need for increased reflection and portrayal of persons with disabilities on television; the need for specialty channels to provide audio and visual description of programming; and to take steps to ensure that members of all four designated groups receive fair on-air representation and, in particular, to redress the obvious absence of persons having disabilities in on-air positions.

According to the NFB:AE, "True-to-life portrayals would serve the valuable purpose of public education by showing the abilities of people who have a disability."

To view the full text of any decisions of the CRTC, visit its website at: www.crtc.gc.ca

  • UN Convention Update

The NFB:AE participated in a meeting organized by the Council of Canadians With Disabilities (CCD) to discuss progress towards the proposed UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities. This meeting included reviewing the Convention's current status, discussing draft language, and formulating next steps, especially ensuring the Government of Canada will take a progressive, proactive role in discussions scheduled at the UN this spring.