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November 2011 Activity Report

Date: 
Sunday, November 13, 2011

In this month’s Activities Report:

1. Announcements
2. Reminders
3. Updates
4. AEBC Twentieth Anniversary Celebration and General Meeting in May 2012
5. News Releases
6. Presentations and Correspondence

1. ANNOUNCEMENTS

a. 2012 ANNUAL MEMBERSHIPS ARE DUE DEC. 31st. Please renew early to avoid disruption in receiving materials. An annual membership is $5.00 per person per year, or you can join as a lifetime member for a one-time payment of $50.00. You can pay by: PayPal account or credit card by renewing online and completing the online membership form or one of the following:

- Mail a cheque or money order payable to the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians to our Kelowna address (PO Box 20262, RPO Town Center, Kelowna BC, V1Y 9H2);
- Pay your membership fee to your local chapter, if you are a member of the chapter;
- Call us at 1-800-561-4774 to pay your membership via credit card over the phone, or
- Contact us by e-mail at info@blindcanadians.ca.

a. IN MAY 2012, THE ALLIANCE FOR EQUALITY OF BLIND CANADIANS WILL CELEBRATE 20 YEARS OF SUPPORTING BLIND, DEAF-BLIND AND PARTIALLY SIGHTED CANADIANS: We hope you will join us to celebrate our 20th anniversary in Kelowna on May 25 to 27, 2012. Please call the Prestige Hotel directly at 250-860-7900 to book your room. The room rate is $129.00 plus taxes per night.

b. AEBC TOLL-FREE LINE: The toll-free line for AEBC is answered at the office of your national president, Donna Jodhan. The way this works is that the toll-free number is automatically re-directed to Donna’s business line, and the AEBC pays only for the toll-free service. If you call toll-free line and hear the message indicating you have reached Sterling Creations and the AEBC, it is because the toll-free line has been re-directed to her business line rather than her home phone for privacy reasons.

2. REMINDERS

 

a. We are constantly updating our database. If you have an email address, please send your name, address, and email address in the body of the email to info@blindcanadians.ca, which will be forwarded to our Program Assistant, Mary. We will then send all future Activities Reports and communication to you by email.

b. The AEBC continues to recruit members for national committees addressing these issues: (1) website accessibility, (2) access to library services, and (3) access to point-of-sale devices and household products.

If you are interested in joining one of these committees, please contact these following board members:
- Website Accessibility: Cindy Ferguson - cferguson@blindcanadians.ca
- Library Services: Rajesh Malik - r.malik@sympatico.ca
- Point of Sale: Amal Haddad - amal.haddad@rogers.com

c. SEEKING YOUR STORY OF SUCCESS: In the fall of 2010, the AEBC published a booklet focusing on what our members considered "success" in their own life. It was about any aspect of life, employment, community involvement, or conquering something important that has made your life better. We are still collecting stories to put into a new edition and posted on the AEBC web page; please submit your story to dsand@shaw.ca.

d. Are you aware of our AEBC members’ listserv? We continue to offer a listserv where AEBC members can receive and discuss information relevant to the AEBC and blindness more generally. If you are not already a member, you can join on our website (www.blindcanadians.ca). If you are a member, and you would like to join our members’ listserv, contact info@blindcanadians.ca.

e. AEBC NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT: As you are aware from our financial reports at the annual general meetings, we have been running a deficit for the past four years. We need your continued financial support, and ask that you consider becoming a regular monthly contributor to AEBC. All donations are tax deductible. For more information on giving options, see http://www.blindcanadians.ca/donations. Together, we can make a real difference, and any amount you can contribute will be highly appreciated and valued.

3. UPDATES

a. CHARTER CHALLENGE UPDATE: In July, there were three organizations that sought intervention in the court case Donna Jodhan versus the Attorney General of Canada. These were: the AEBC, the CCD, and the CNIB. To everyone's surprise, only the AEBC was granted intervener's status and we are very proud that our organization has been recognized in this manner. ARCH is representing the interests of the AEBC in this matter. The hearing dates have just been set for Nov15/16, 2011 in Toronto.

b. LIBRARY SERVICE UPDATE: The long awaited town hall meeting on library services took place on October 29 and was well attended. This meeting was jointly sponsored by the AEBC and the CWDO, and I thank John Rafferty and Lori Sutej of the CNIB for having attended and John for answering questions and responding to comments from participants. Three sessions were held; the first was for those attending via the Internet. The second session was for those who attended in person, and the third session was for those attending via phone.

c. POINT OF SALE DEVICES - PIN AND CARD: The new AEBC contact for this initiative is Amal Haddad, who may be reached by email at: a.haddad@rogers.com.

4. AEBC 20TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION AND ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

Mark your calendars for the AEBC Twentieth Anniversary Celebration and Annual General Meeting to take place in Kelowna, BC on May 25 to 27, 2012! Below you will find the draft agenda and news of a new contest for this event.

a. DRAFT AEBC 2012 CONFERENCE AGENDA

Theme: Celebrating our Past, Determining our Future

Friday, May 25th
2:00 - 6:00 Exhibits
4:00 to 5:00 Tech presentations
6:00 dinner in the restaurant of the hotel
7:30 Call to Order Welcome by MC
- Speech from all Former Presidents, Paul Gabias, Bob Fenton, Richard Marion, Gord Dingle, John Rae, Robin East, and president's report from Donna Jodhan
8:30 Presentation of Volunteer of the Year and CCD Awards
- Presentation of 20th Anniversary certificates
9:00 Cutting of the cake
9:30 Hospitality Suite

Saturday, May 26th
9:00 Call to Order
9:15 Approval of 2012 agenda
- Approval of Minutes from the 2011 Brantford Conference
9:20 Update of priorities
- Richard Marion for library services
- Cindy Ferguson for accessible websites
- Amal Haddad for point of sale
- John Rae for CRTC
9:40 Survey results for priorities and discussion
10:00 Break
10:15 Breakout groups to work on each priority issue to develop a concrete plan of action
11:45 Request for members to sign up to committees
11:55 First Round of Nominations for the Board
12:00 Lunch provided
1:15 Workshops
- Employability, an online national course--an informative Presentation from Anu Pala from Neil Squire Society (We use technology, knowledge and passion to empower Canadians with physical disabilities)
- Assertive training--role play scenarios to improve on self-advocacy skills for various situations
2:30 Treasurer's report
- Appointment of Auditor for next year
2:45 Break
3:00 Candidates forum
3:15 Resolutions
4:30 Adjournment for the Day
5:30 Boat cruise and dinner
9:00 Hospitality suite

Sunday, May 27th
9:00 Call to order; Election of the Board
10:00 Break
10:15 Resolutions; Discussion of 2013 Membership Meeting
12:00 Adjournment

b. WOULD YOU LIKE A CHANCE TO WIN $500 CASH?

Help achieve our goal! We're building a virtual wall for 20th Anniversary Supporters, to represent the foundation on which the AEBC is based, and the supportive nature of our scholarship program. The funds raised will serve as the foundation for the scholarship program this year and into the future. When you join as a 20th Anniversary Supporter, and help lay that foundation by buying a virtual "brick" on our 20th Anniversary Supporters' Wall, you will also be entered into a draw for a $500 cash prize! In fact, for every dollar that you (or someone you refer to AEBC) donate before May 26, 2012, you will automatically receive one additional entry into the contest!

How will this work?

First... Buy your brick and make a donation to the AEBC! Each brick costs only $1.00. With your virtual brick you will receive an entry into a contest for a $500 cash prize, to be drawn during the 20th anniversary conference and general meeting in Kelowna, BC (May 25-27, 2012)*. You can only buy one brick, but for every dollar that you donate to the AEBC before May 26, 2012, you will automatically receive an additional entry into the contest! But wait...

When your brick purchase is processed by AEBC, you will be given your "brick number". This is a unique 5-digit number that identifies your brick on the wall. Pass that number along to your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone else you can think of. When they buy a brick, and supply your brick number, you will also get credit (and additional contest entries) for every dollar that they donate and raise for AEBC. (You also will be given a special URL that you can post to Facebook, Twitter, and email messages to ensure you get credit for your referrals.)

Don't want to buy and pay online? Call us at 1-800-561-4774!

If you would like a tax receipt, be sure to provide a shipping address in PayPal so that we know where that should be sent. Note that your initial brick purchase ($1.00) is not eligible for a tax receipt. If you make a $10.00 donation and you do not yet own a brick, then a tax receipt of $9.00 will be issued.

Join and donate online at http://www.blindcanadians.ca/20years.

5. NEWS RELEASES

a. ALLIANCE FOR EQUALITY OF BLIND CANADIANS AGREES WITH NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND: NO ACCESS TO NEW KINDLE FIRE

October 5, 2011

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) agreed today with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), one of the leading organizations advocating for the rights of blind Americans. We echo the sentiments of the NFB; Amazon's Kindle Fire cannot be used by blind persons.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "Blind Americans have repeatedly asked Amazon to include accessibility for the blind in its Kindle product line. The feasibility of including accessibility in similar products has been demonstrated. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice have made it clear that Kindle devices cannot be purchased by educational institutions, libraries, and other entities covered by this country's disability laws unless the devices are fully accessible."

AEBC's president Donna Jodhan agrees and adds: "We need to keep pushing for Amazon and others to make their devices fully accessible to all blind persons. It is really not that difficult for Amazon to do it."

Amazon continues to ignore the call to make their devices fully accessible.

The AEBC condemns technological discrimination and urges all blind, deaf/blind, and partially sighted Canadians to write to Amazon to demand that they change their policies immediately.

Nothing less than equal access to technology is acceptable to the AEBC and its members.

b. AEBC EXPRESSES ITS CONDOLENCES TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS: THE PASSING OF STEVE JOBS IS A HUGE LOSS

October 7, 2011

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) today issued a statement expressing its condolences on the passing of co-founder and former chairman and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Steve Jobs on October 5th. The AEBC agrees that Jobs, an unusual leader and visionary, will be greatly missed.

“He helped to level the playing field for blind and sight impaired persons in so many ways by incorporating accessibility into his ground-breaking products. He went where so many have hesitated to go and was practically the only one under whose leadership Apple was able to incorporate accessibility features into its mainstream product lines,” says AEBC’s President Donna Jodhan.

“As a devout Apple user, I am going to miss Steve’s futuristic designs and developments,” says Cindy Ferguson, national secretary of the AEBC.

Mr. Jobs leaves a huge vacuum that may never be filled, and unusually large shoes that are going to be very difficult to find new owners for and a legacy that will last for many generations to come.

c. NATIONAL DISABILITY ORGANIZATIONS COME TOGETHER TO VOICE CONCERNS OVER UNEQUAL LIBRARY SERVICES: CANADIANS WHO ARE UNABLE TO READ PRINT NOT BEING TREATED EQUALLY

November 1, 2011

On October 29 2011, a group of national organizations hosted a countrywide town hall style meeting to voice their concerns over unequal access to library services for Canadians who are print disabled. The meeting was jointly hosted by the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians and Citizens with Disabilities Ontario. There were three sessions. The first was for those attending via the Internet. The second was for those attending in person and the third was for those attending via phone.

"This was truly a cooperative effort." says Donna Jodhan president of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians. "Attendees were able to voice their concerns over the lack of response from the government to help fund a hub that would be in charge of library services, and they were also concerned about how the funding could be obtained."

Pat Seed, chairperson of CWDO, expressed that "The Library Town Hall meeting was very well organized and Professional. I was Very Pleased, from a CWDO perspective, that the Cross Disability aspect of library service was raised and given attention. There is a need for this Library Hub to provide materials not only for those who are blind or with low vision, but also for those with learning disabilities, mobility impairments, and muscle weakness, etc. There is much work to do, and it is very important for organizations to come together to make such a service a reality."

The live session took place at the Toronto offices of Center for Independent Living and one of the moderators was the executive director of the Canadian Blind Sports Association; Jane Blaine.
John Rafferty, president and CEO of the CNIB responded to questions and comments from attendees and expressed his satisfaction with the outcome. He also reiterated the CNIB's desire to see library services be provided for by a non-charity based entity.

d. TORONTO ONTARIO - FUNDING CUTS MADE AT THE EXPENSE OF THE MOST VULNERABLE AGAIN

November 4, 2011

While Arts Festivals and parades still enjoy city funding in Toronto, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been cancelled without warning.

From 2005 to 2010, the City of Toronto, working together with community and business partners, hosted a day of celebration to recognize the achievements of people with disabilities and those organizations working in related industries. In contrast to the fanfare that the City of Toronto exhibited in pronouncing its willingness to take part in this global day of recognition, a day sanctioned by the United Nations, its cancellation came in silence and without warning.

“It’s a sign of the times, I suppose,” says Richard Quan, President of the Toronto Chapter of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians. “It’s easy to share in the warm thoughts during times of prosperity; but for people with disabilities, the community’s commitment must extend through both the good and the bad times or else the lessons that were learned previously are hollow ones.”

The day is also a time when the spotlight of public awareness is focused on issues of concern to the disabled community. In this time of an aging population with the numbers of people with disabilities rising dramatically, such issues of concern affect all of us.

Valentina Gal, member of the Toronto chapter of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians asks, “Where’s our equity when society's most vulnerable are being denied their voice by being the first to have their day of recognition and celebration cancelled? How long will we have to be at the end of the line before we are really heard?”

If Toronto can cancel the International Day of Persons with Disabilities so arbitrarily and without any input, one must wonder about the City’s level of commitment to its most vulnerable.

6. PRESENTATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCE

1. MILES MOTTURE – HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLAINT

This letter was sent to the BC Human Rights Tribunal on October 7th at Mr. Motture’s request, the details of which may be found below:

My name is Donna Jodhan, and I am the national president of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians. A few weeks ago, one of our members, Miles Motture, contacted me with regard to a representative human rights complaint that he has filed with the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

Miles is a partially sighted law student who requires his texts in electronic format in order to be able to pursue his studies. In addition, he needs to be able to receive these electronic texts in the same way that all other students can. That is, in a timely way and not having to wait for lengthy periods of time before receiving them.

At the present time and due to University of Victoria policy along with stipulations from the publishers, Miles has to wait for more than eight weeks at any given time before receiving his texts in an accessible and readable format. This poses a serious hazard to his ability to pursue and complete his studies in the same way as a mainstream student.

The AEBC fully supports Miles in his efforts to pursue his chosen studies and would be willing to act in an intermediary role to ensure that he is able to receive his texts in a timely manner.

I shall look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. You may contact me via email at djodhan@blindcanadians.ca

Yours sincerely,

Donna Jodhan
President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

END of November 2011 Activity Report

 

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