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Editorial: Home Is More Than The Place Where We Live

The word "home" will conjure up in the minds of many readers\' sunny days, tranquil nights, comfortable surroundings, fix-it projects, a favorite television show, and feelings of peace, warmth and security. And so it should!

But home is far more than the place where one lives.

it is also the neighborhood, the rest of the town or city where we reside, and perhaps even the wider community of province and country. It encompasses the activities in which we are involved, either individually or collectively, to improve the quality of life for ourselves and for all Canadians, including we who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted.

Most communities are not constructed with our varied needs in mind. Sidewalks are cluttered; audible pedestrian signals are absent or hard to find; and public transportation is often inadequate. Building communities with universal design principles firmly in mind would not only make good business sense, as it is far easier and cost effective to construct a building the right way rather than having to retrofit, but it also makes it possible for more persons to easily use a given building or community resource.

Our organization is also our home, which now has a new name, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians/L\'Alliance pour l\'ÉgalitÉ des Personnes Aveugles du Canada (formerly National Federation of the Blind: Advocates for Equality). We have a new look, new logo and new website: www.blindcanadians.ca

In choosing AEBC as our new name, I believe our members have chosen well--a name that makes it clear who we are and what we are trying to achieve, a made-in-Canada name that no one should be able to confuse with any other organization.

This issue of the Canadian Blind Monitor, "Home Sweet Home", focuses on the broad theme of home.

Naturally, in a country like ours that is still beset by an unacceptable level of poverty, we address the need to expand affordable housing, so more Canadians will have greater options in choosing where to live. We also examine the issue of accessibility in every aspect from design to appliances and electronics, which would render house and home more user friendly to a wider number of Canadians. This issue is becoming increasingly important as our population continues to age.

And finally, we take a look at community involvement in AEBC Chapters and local advisory committees.

As the AEBC expands into more communities across this vast land, our local Chapters not only provide a presence and opportunity for camaraderie, they also offer a vehicle for collective action to improve the communities where we live. Our Chapters are already addressing such issues as local/accessible transportation, access to library programs, audible pedestrian signals at street crossings, snow removal and relations with local police.

Many Chapter members in Ontario also serve on their local Accessibility Advisory Committees. These Committees provide us another opportunity to bring our "nothing about us without us" message to new audiences, and the chance to influence the development of policies and programs right where we live.

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