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Headlines & Highlights

The national board of AEBC consists of a board of seven directors and many committees and working groups made up of members from the fifteen chapters across Canada who work on national activities and issues. Each chapter has an executive and committees that concentrate on local activities and issues. Below is a small sample of national and chapter activities that have taken place in the past six months or so. For further information about the items below, visit our website at: www.blindcanadians.ca or call our toll free number 1-800-561-4774.

At the National Level

  • The AEBC 2010 national conference and annual general meeting was in Montréal the weekend of May 22. The theme of this year's conference was "Our Rights, Our Future". Workshops were presented on topics such as technology, human rights, using the media, and library services. There was time throughout the AGM to discuss future directions for the AEBC and the 2010/11 National Board was elected.

  • In order for all information and services provided through Federal Government websites to be accessible to persons with print disabilities, AEBC encourages everyone to read and sign the online petition which asks the Government of Canada to ensure that all information and services provided through their websites be made to comply to WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 by December 31, 2010. See the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/GCWAP/petition.html.

  • A presentation was given in Ottawa at the first national Conference on access to museums and art galleries. To read the paper, visit www.blindcanadians.ca/press_releases//index.php?BriefID=54. The presentation was also made at an Ontario Historical Society seminar in Barrie, Ontario.

  • The AEBC's position is that access to library services is a right. The best way to ensure that this right is respected is through the integration of accessible library services into the mainstream, taxpayer-supported, public library system. In Canada, library services and materials in alternate format for persons who are print disabled have been mainly provided with charity dollars. This has resulted in inferior services and production of materials that seriously lag behind those provided to sighted users of the public library system. In an initiative to establish equitable and more mainstream library services, AEBC and several other organizations speaking on behalf of print disabled Canadians have been entered into discussions to come up with a proposal to Library and Archives Canada and the Federal Government to provide library services and materials using tax dollars rather than charity. This is a complicated issue that will be evolving for several years. If you would like more information email: info@blindcanadians.ca or call 1-800-561-4774.

  • An AEBC board representative attended the Council on Access to Information for Print Handicapped Canadians.

  • AEBC made its first presentation to the annual CNIB Braille Conference. AEBC members talked about using Braille at various stages of the life cycle, and also emphasized the need to increase the teaching of Braille and the need to produce more materials in what we consider "a blind person's road to literacy".

  • First Vice President John Rae has attended a variety of meetings concerning the development of Accessibility Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act. Former cabinet Minister Charles Beer is reviewing progress made to date under the Act and his report is expected shortly. John appeared at one of the many public meetings Beer has held. A brief summarizing some of his comments can be found at www.blindcanadians.ca/press_releases//index.php?BriefID=55.

At the Chapter Level

Edmonton

Over the last few months, Marc Workman and Diane Bergeron have been meeting with city councillors, transit officials, and bus operators to promote increased accessibility of the Edmonton Transit System. The main issue under discussion has been the installation of an automated voice annunciation system that would announce all bus stops on ETS operated routes. They have found the response received thus far encouraging. However, the long-term goal is to develop lasting relationships between blind transit passengers and the officials and operators that work for the Edmonton Transit System. The hope is that building these relationships will allow the chapter to more systematically deal with issues of accessibility related to public transit in Edmonton.

Montreal

  • A comedy night was hosted at the Comedy Nest, a local stand-up comedy club, in support of the 2010 conference and AEBC generally.
  • The group sold large print & Braille 2010 calendars as a fundraiser.
  • The Greater Montréal Chapter of the AEBC hosted the 2010 national conference and annual general meeting on the weekend of May 22 and therefore has been very busy with planning.

Saskatoon

  • For two weeks in December several members attended a two-week computer course that was offered to those who were beginning or wanted a refresher course in the use of a computer.
  • Members and National President Robin East have been doing follow-up with city transit on the calling out of bus stops, differently shaped bus stop sign poles and the new system of paying bus fare. There will be a pilot project with a GPS (Global Positioning System) to call out bus stops starting in June of 2010.

South Georgian Bay

  • In February a member did 3 speaking engagements at schools in Stayner and Wasaga Beach, Ontario. For more information about the South Georgian Bay chapter email: wilkins@blindcanadians.ca.

Toronto

  • Several members attended an experimental lecture given by Gillian Mcintyre from the Art Gallery of Ontario where she explained several differing schools of art.
  • Some members joined Toronto’s annual Achilles fundraising run to raise funds for AEBC.
  • Since the library at CNIB is being phased out, Toronto members set up an educational meeting to learn about the services offered by the Toronto public library.
  • There was a blind-friendly Community fair on May 2nd with both venders and community presenters.

Vancouver

  • Through their representative on the city’s Accessible Transit Committee the chapter is giving valuable input. For more information about the Vancouver chapter email: christine_ann@shaw.ca.

About AEBC Members

  • Marcia Yale of Ontario received an award in the poetry category at Toronto’s 2009 celebrations of International Day of the Disabled. You can read her poem called The Second at http://blindcanadians.ca/publications/?id=852.

  • John Rae of Ontario received the Access Award from the City of Toronto.

  • Robin East of Saskatchewan is the 2009 Labour Community Service Award Winner in Saskatoon.

  • John Rae was elected to the Board of ARCH Disability Law Centre for a two-year term.

  • David Swiderski received an Unsung Hero award from the City of Toronto.

  • In February, journalist Paul MacNeil from the Shaunavon Standard newspaper in Saskatchewan published an excellent full-page story about AEBC member Brenda Cooke and her work with the AEBC.