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Headlines & Highlights

The National Board of AEBC consists of seven directors and many committees and working groups made up of members from the Chapters across Canada who work on national activities and issues. Each Chapter also has an Executive and committees that concentrate on local happenings. Below is a small sample of national and local activities that have taken place in the past six months or so.

At the National Level

  • With leadership from the Montreal Chapter, AEBC’s 2010 Conference and Annual General Meeting was held in Montreal. See the article "AEBC National Meeting in Montreal" elsewhere in these pages.

  • AEBC has been meeting with other national rights-holder organizations and CNIB to attempt to form a national coalition that will work collaboratively on common issues. The main purpose of these meetings was to build on some of the momentum established over the last several months as these and other disability organizations worked on the library issue.

  • The founding members of the Coalition of Blind Rights Holder Organizations of Canada (CBRC) are: Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), Canadian Blind Sports Association (CBSA), Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), Canadian National Society of the Deaf-Blind (CNSDB), and Guide Dog Users of Canada (GDUC).

  • CBRC’s activities have included:

  • Agreeing on the structure, roles and operations of the coalition and its various member organizations.
  • Establishing two priorities: equitable library services, and accessibility of pin-and-card and point-of-sale devices.
  • Awaiting direction from the two groups working on the pin-and-card and point-of-sale issues--AEBC’s committee and another group made up of federal employees, which has expanded to accept anyone interested in assisting. CBRC will review recommendations and take action.
  • Attempting to obtain up-to-date information from the federal government about what Library and Archives Canada recommended after spending over 3 million dollars to study the issue of library services for print disabled Canadians.
  • There were 15 months left before CNIB said it was going to close its library. Before that time ended, CNIB retracted its decision, and as of January 2011 has said it will find ways to continue providing library services.
  • Consumer organizations will continue to try to convince all levels of government that library services should be funded and operated through the Public Library System--as they are to people who read regular print.
  • The group will meet every two months via conference call.

  • AEBC has been trying to get the federal government to make its websites and information accessible and usable to print disabled Canadians. AEBC supported Donna Jodhan’s Charter challenge, where she defended the right of blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians to access federal government websites. From September 21 to 23, Donna Jodhan was in federal court, along with her legal team and many supporters. The Federal Court of Canada ruled in Donna’s favour, handing down a landmark decision, which in part mandates the Canadian government to make all its websites accessible to all Canadians. It was given 15 months to do so. This case received tremendous media attention from coast to coast, in the United States, Britain, Europe, and even as far away as India and Japan. The federal government has filed an appeal. For background information, see “Challenging the System” in this publication.

  • AEBC created Personal Successes: Unlimited Potential, an online publication featuring real-life stories about employment/education, travel, leisure and personal achievements. There is also an “In Memoriam” section. It is hoped that this collection of stories will educate the public by painting a more realistic image of blindness and encourage those who have experienced vision loss to work towards their goals.

  • Each year, AEBC offers scholarships to recognize outstanding blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted post-secondary school students. Read more about these awards elsewhere in these pages.

  • AEBC attended the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly on the introduction of the Blind Voters Rights Bill.

Briefs and papers submitted

  • To Ontario’s 10-Year Infrastructure Plan Consultation Process: This submission outlined ways and reasons for the Ontario government to achieve its mandated goal of "full accessibility" by the year 2025, and thus make real progress towards accessibility and social and economic inclusion for Ontarians with various disabilities. There are clear and compelling demographic, economic, business, legal and ethical reasons for expecting the Ontario government's new 10-Year Infrastructure Plan to be part of the solution and not part of the problem--to help remove existing barriers and to prevent the introduction of new ones.

Presentations

  • To the 7th Annual Simply People Celebration in Toronto (see “Celebrating Us!” In these pages).
  • At a CRTC (Canada Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) hearing to consider Shaw Communications’ $2 billion bid to buy Canwest Global Communications Corp. The takeover would make Shaw Communications one of the largest companies in the telecommunications and broadcasting industries in Canada, and thus the purchase, if approved, will have a significant impact on blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians. For further details, see “Coalition Condemns CRTC Decision” in this publication.
  • For the review of the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act).
  • To the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Round Table discussions on how to deal with persons with disabilities in prison--paper also submitted.
  • 30th Anniversary Celebratory Symposium of ARCH Disability Law Centre, The Process of Civic Engagement.
  • At the Canadian Disabilities Studies Association Conference, Concordia University--From Invisibility to Rights Holders.
  • At the 2nd Annual International Conference, TRANSLOG (Transportation and Logistics) 2010--Transportation for Canadians with Disabilities.
  • On poverty, to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development.

Correspondence sent

  • To the Canadian Banking Association, to express concern and inquire about its plans to remedy the accessibility issues caused by point-of-sale devices, as they do not provide any tactile or audio feedback, which makes it impossible for a blind Canadian to enter a personal identification number independently.
  • To the CRTC, regarding access to communication tools normally used by deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf-blind individuals. It is necessary that funds be secured to ensure captioned telephone and video relay service (VRS) is available to Canada's deaf and hard-of-hearing community. AEBC is also requesting that the CRTC allow VRS-based companies such as Ultratec Inc., Sprint and Sorenson Communications access to Canada's telecommunications market.

  • AEBC has sent out a number of press releases. These can be found on the website.

At the Local Level

Kelowna

  • Application is being made to have a seat on the Accessibility Advisory Committee with the City of Kelowna.
  • Set up an informational display at community events, such as the annual Mardi Gras Street Festival and the Farmers’ Market.
  • Organized a boat cruise and lunch on Lake Okanagan.
  • Making plans to hold the 2012 AGM and celebrations for the 20th anniversary of AEBC.

Nanaimo

  • With assistance from community groups, the Chapter held its annual fun filled day with a fishing derby, boat tours and dinner.
  • At Canada Day celebrations, an exhibit booth was set up and well received.
  • Several members signed up for a computer class at the Community Resource Centre.

Vancouver/Lower Mainland

  • It holds a social event every other month. Examples are a summer boat tour and Halloween activities that included a ride on a vintage trolley bus, tour of a cemetery, visiting a building that was formerly a morgue, and dinner in a haunted restaurant.
  • Fundraising by selling chocolates and locally produced coffee.
  • The Chapter is in constant negotiations with Vancouver Transit regarding the calling out of bus stops.
  • Its Facebook page announces Chapter activities and it’s establishing a Chapter website.

Winnipeg

  • During each day of a weeklong Biomedical Youth Camp, three Chapter members facilitated activities related to vision loss and talked to students about living with blindness. Students were from grades six to twelve. Winnipeg Chapter President Eric MacKinder also spoke at the closing ceremony, where students’ families and community members were in attendance.
  • An annual Bingo Bowl and a concert featuring a band and two solo artists were held to raise funds for scholarships awarded to blind Winnipeg post-secondary students.
  • Public education initiatives focus attention on accessibility of provincial campgrounds, the National Museum on Human Rights and health-care information.
  • Winnipeg was pleased to welcome seven new members in 2010.

Toronto

  • Displays have been set up at various community events, the most recent being a citywide event of the Catholic School Board.
  • Members attended various community activities in groups, such as Summerlicious (food tasting) and a visit to the Textile Museum of Canada.
  • Lions Clubs held a car rally to raise funds for guide dogs. AEBC members participated as navigators.
  • Dialogue continues regarding accessibility of Toronto Transit, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum.
  • Various members have taken part in community discussions regarding violence against women with disabilities.
  • The City of Toronto presented AEBC member Linda Spinney with an Unsung Hero Award for her volunteer work.

For further information about these and other items, visit our website at: www.blindcanadians.ca or call our toll free number 1-800-561-4774.

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