top of page

The Equalizer: December 2023

The Equalizer

You asked and we listened. The Equalizer will now be arriving in your inbox monthly!


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Links are contained within each Heading. If you are using Jaws or NVDA to navigate the newsletter and you hear your screen reader say link, do the following to activate it:

· Down arrow to the link you want to activate.

· Press the right arrow to move your screen reader into the link.

· Press enter and the link will be activated.

If using Jaws, you can also use the list of links command Insert F7 and then down arrow to the link and press enter and the link will activate. On some computers you may also be able to bring up the context menu when on a link by pressing Shift F10 or your applications key then down arrow to Open Link and press enter. To go back to the Table of Contents press the Alt Left Arrow command.



NEWS FROM NATIONAL


Words from our President, Marcia Yale

It has almost been six months since the last issue of the Equalizer, and we have welcomed new Board members and said goodbye to old ones (age not meant here!) My sincerest thanks go to Amanda Cape and Maryse Glaude-Beaulieu, both finishing their terms and choosing to step down. They contributed meaningfully to the Board, and I know will continue to participate in the organization. I welcome back Hilton Schwartz, who returns for another year as Director. I welcome Pat Seed for her inaugural term as Director. Diana and Ryan also moved into different roles—Diana as Secretary and Ryan as Second Vice-President. I was honoured to be acclaimed once more as your President. Peg and Linda just got to sit back and watch it all happen!


We have started on our journey towards a better and more organized AEBC. Both Lee and Carol are fitting in nicely to the management of the organization and the new Board is slowly learning how to delegate. I’m one of the slowest!


We will be working on new programs due to the results of our first comprehensive membership survey, and there will be more opportunities to give your input as we move forward. We have even started working on our next AGM, and you’ll find more information in this newsletter. We have also changed the frequency of our Public Board meetings to every three months, with a Board-only and a members-welcome-to-listen meeting in between. Hopefully this will cut down on the amount of time spent and make it more worthwhile.


Happy reading and enjoy our new Equalizer! Please let us know what you think by emailing newsletter@blindcanadians.ca


Celebrating Insights and Gratitude: AEBC Member Survey Reveals Valuable Feedback by Lee Pigeau


I’m thrilled to share the results of our recent membership survey. Your participation, with 63 responses, has provided us with invaluable insights that will shape the future of our organization.


The overwhelming sentiment from the survey is a deep appreciation for the work AEBC is doing. A noteworthy 72% of respondents expressed that they were satisfied (48%) or very satisfied (24%) with the work AEBC is doing. This positive affirmation motivates us to continue our efforts while recognizing the room for improvement that your valuable feedback has highlighted. This positive feedback motivates us to continue advocating for the issues that matter most to our community.


Opportunities for Improvement: Your responses highlight opportunities for us to better serve you. We acknowledge the importance of being more informed and planned in our approach. This will enable us to attract new members, engage existing ones, and focus our efforts where they are needed most. Specifically, a more planned approach to communications on a regular but not daily basis is something we are working on. Look for some big changes in the new year. The survey results provide valuable guidance for enhancing our communication strategies. An email-based newsletter focusing on news and events is a popular choice, with 90% of respondents expressing interest. Additionally, a concentration on platforms like Facebook and YouTube, along with potential podcasting, will help us connect with you more effectively.


Demographic Insights: The survey sheds light on the demographic composition of AEBC members, particularly the fact that 52% are over the age of 65. This demographic alignment with many service clubs and organizations allows us to draw inspiration from best practices, research, and ideas tailored to the unique needs of our members.


Advocacy Beyond Vision Loss: AEBC is not just an advocacy organization; it's a vital social network. Your responses affirm that word of mouth, referrals, and peer-to-peer learning are crucial components of our work. We are committed to ensuring that the unique voice of AEBC members continues to be heard on everyday issues such as housing, income, technology, job security, and more.


Membership Involvement: We were heartened to learn that almost every respondent got involved with AEBC through word of mouth or referrals. This underscores the importance of our role as a gathering place, providing a collegial atmosphere for individuals with a common denominator—vision loss.


Feedback on Board Composition: The feedback on the composition of the AEBC board is crucial. The majority expressed openness to allowing sighted individuals on the board, with conditions such as ensuring the majority of directors and the president are blind, partially sighted, or deafblind. This thoughtful input will guide our decision-making processes.


In closing, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to each participant for taking the time to share your thoughts. Your input is instrumental in shaping the future of AEBC, and we are committed to implementing positive changes based on your feedback.


Together, let's continue to build a more inclusive and supportive community.


Annual General Meeting 2024

It’s been a long time coming, but it has been decided that the 2024 AGM will be held in person in Vancouver, BC at the River Rock Casino Resort September 22, 2024. We will be designing a special day including a guest speaker, luncheon, and AGM meeting. Members will be able to attend in person if desired. We have a limited number of hotel rooms available at a reduced rate. Please email Carol at operations@blindcanadians.ca if you are interested in attending in person. The AGM will also be streamed live using Zoom and members across Canada can join virtually.



CHAPTER/AFFILIATE HAPPENINGS


Here’s what’s happening in British Columbia!

Since we last shared news, the BC Affiliate has been keeping busy. Here is a quick glance at what we have been doing. First, we would like to acknowledge the passing of Tom Teranishi; a long-time AEBC member, a good friend to many and a true advocate. It was remarkable to witness the number of people who supported Tom’s family either in person or virtually, as we celebrated his life on September16 at the Nikkei Centre in Burnaby. Tom’s rich career in Social Work and as a dedicated volunteer supporting a variety of organizations, speaks to the wonderful man he was as he brought so much comfort to the people he aided throughout the years.


In early July, we celebrated Rita Dilek, as she retired from the Vancouver Community College after many years of service. We planned a luncheon where 30 of us gathered to reminisce about the days when some were her students and to enjoy visiting with one another while we also conveyed our thanks for letting us use her classroom to conduct BC Affiliate meetings for many years. Congratulations to Rita on a well-deserved retirement. This was a great opportunity to come together as a group, something which hadn’t happened in a long time. It was a beautiful sunny day and who could ask for more.


Lastly, the Personal Response to Emergency Preparedness project for which we received funding last December is developing right on schedule. Four workshops were held in October and November with 35 to 45 participants at each workshop.



FROM THE AEBC BLOG


Words can and do hurt: Time to Speak Out, by Linda Bartram

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Most of us remember these words from our childhood. We heard them in the playground and perhaps shouted them ourselves at a taunting bully. Despite the need to appear unaffected by the cruel words, they probably did hurt at some level.


Outcome of Human Rights case, by Maria Kovacs

Maria Kovacs, one of AEBC’s long-time members, filed a BC Human Rights case against the City of Maple Ridge back in 2018. She claimed that as a blind person who uses a guide dog, she was not able to safely navigate her Maple Ridge neighbourhood due to intersection changes that included traffic circles and bike lanes that did not take the visually impaired into account.


Learning adaptive technology by Hilton Schwartz

May I start with a question? How did you learn your adaptive technology, and do you feel that a better process should be available? My answer is, yes, there should be a better process available. The style in which each person prefers to learn, and their capacity to absorb new information is different from person to person, so the story that follows, is my personal one, and will probably be different from every other person. Read our blog article using this LINK.


Five scholarships awarded through the 2023 AEBC/Allyant scholarship Program!

The Student and Education Committee awarded scholarships to five amazing students this year. They all embody the spirit of diversity and academic excellence which we strive to encourage. This year, we honoured the founders of AEBC as well as a long-time member through the two scholarships from our anonymous donor.


Automobiles, bicycles and pedestrians: Separation Makes Sense by Mary Ellen Gabias, Immediate Past President, Canadian Federation of the Blind

Until recently, bicycles have shared streets with cars – and the results have been tragic for far too many cyclists. It’s not that drivers are out to “get” bikes; it’s that even the most conscientious vehicle operator can suffer from a lapse of attention of a few seconds with tragic results.



OUR VOICE

Here are some of the advocacy initiatives that AEBC volunteers have been working on:


Insulin Pumps and Diabetic Sensors

We met with all the five major manufactures of insulin pumps and diabetic sensors. The response was very encouraging, and we are continuing to work with them.


Accessible Standards Canada

We prepared Submissions to Accessible Standards Canada on the outdoor environment, employment, and we are presently working on the standard for emergency measures. As you can imagine preparing the Submissions for these standards is very time-consuming but also critical to ensuring our collective voice is heard.


Accessible Roundabouts

The Consumer Access Group (CAG) of which AEBC is a member, has published another position statement; this time on Accessible Roundabouts.


The Kiosk Task Force by Hilton Schwartz

The Kiosk Task Force was set up as a subcommittee of the Consumer Access Group about two years ago, focusing on these new devices and the barriers they may create for people with low or no vision. The first sessions were held as information sessions, with guest speakers from various parts of the industry. We then decided to launch a survey with our community to understand if, when, and how, these devices are accessible, or difficult to use.


CNIB hosted the survey, and after several meetings to agree on the survey questions, it was sent out in the spring of 2023. The original idea was to take this information to wherever these devices were used, such as big box stores, in an effort to persuade the powers that be to make their devices more accessible. However, we decided to wait for the survey results before making any final decisions. There were about 700 responses to the survey, and we waited impatiently for the research team to give us an update on a general level as to the results.


Not unexpectedly, what we heard from our community is that these devices range from slightly difficult to use, to impossible. We are considering the next steps, and the suggestion is to take our work back to CAG to develop a position statement, as the task force has gone as far as it can. The position paper would have all the necessary data and summaries, and be available to all members of the community, and to anyone else who googles this subject and is given access to this position paper.


A further suggestion was that this Kiosk position paper could have practical recommendations for businesses, and perhaps a separate version would be focused more on the academic community.



YOUR VOICE

The following is a list of public consultations or petitions currently open for submission. Make sure your voice is heard!


Accessibility Standards Canada: Standard on emergency measures: Public Review Draft

Deadline: December 13, 2023


Canada Disability Benefit Act – Public Consultation

Deadline: December 21, 2023


Petition requesting that the government provide an emergency benefit to people with disabilities while the new Canada Disability Benefit is being created.

Deadline: February 1, 2024



SECTOR NEWS & EVENTS


International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 9th Toronto Chapter

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians and Partners presents the 7th Annual International day for Persons with Disabilities Conference on December 9, 2023. We look forward to having you at the event.


Moving Forward: Living in this New World

December 9, 2023 | 1PM - 4PM E.S.T.

Virtual Zoom Meeting

The goal for this year's conference is to share messages to motivate, empower and thrive in this new world. This virtual conference will be accessible to all and will feature ASL interpreters and real-time live captioning. Featuring guest speakers and a panel discussion! Accessible Media INC. (AMI) will broadcast live with co-host Joeita Gupta.


Register Today! Registration is free and online on Eventbrite. Click on the link below:


Register via email or request accommodations by emailing idPWD.event@blindcanadians.ca


The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians thanks our event sponsors and partners:


Event Sponsors:

TRAILBLAZERS Tandem Cycling Club


Partners:

Accessible Housing Network (AHN): accessiblehousingnetwork.org

Accessible Media INC. (AMI): ami.ca

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC): blindcanadians.ca

Baker McKenzie LLP: bakermckenzie.com/en

Barrier-Free Canada: barrierfreecanada.org

Canadian Council of the Blind Toronto Visionaries (CCB): ccbtorontovisionaries.ca

Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT): cilt.ca

Ethno-racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario (ERDCO)

Ontario Disability Coalition (ODC): odcoalition.com/author/odcoalition

TRAILBLAZERS Tandem Cycling Club: trailblazerstandem.org

WoodGreen Community Services: woodgreen.org


Accessible Canada — Accessible World Conference

Inclusive Design Research Centre is excited to announce the upcoming Accessible Canada — Accessible World Conference, an international event dedicated to advancing accessibility and inclusive design across various domains such as standards, policy and journalism.


Date: May 27–28, 2024

Location: Concordia University, Montreal, 1450 Rue Guy, 9th floor, and online


In today's rapidly evolving world, accessibility barriers continue to be diverse and complex, with new challenges emerging at an exponential rate.

- How do we support inclusive decision-making?

- How can we develop accessibility standards that are responsive, inclusive, and effective?

- How can we promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in media production, representation, and consumption?

This conference aims to address these and other critical questions and foster a collaborative community of practice to advance accessibility and inclusion.


At Accessible Canada — Accessible World, we believe in the power of collaboration and knowledge-sharing to drive meaningful change. Your participation is invaluable in guiding the global accessibility agenda toward a future where Canada and the world are more accessible and inclusive for everyone. We invite you to join us in co-creating resources and sharing knowledge and lessons learned in advancing accessibility and inclusion. To involve you in the process as early as possible, we encourage you to complete our community survey, which will help us guide topics and programming for the event.


Save the date and mark your calendars! For updates and further information, please visit our conference website at Accessible Canada – Accessible World



MEDIA CLIPPINGS



Woman with service dog denied Uber, Lyft, cab rides | CBC News.


Air Canada makes changes after passengers with disabilities share 'dehumanizing' experiences.

Canadians invited to help design the new Canada Disability Benefit.




PODCAST CORNER


Catch up on all the latest Triple Vision podcasts. Here is a link to Episodes 38, 39 and 40 from the Spotify website, all focussing on aspects of accessible technology.


UPCOMING AEBC EVENTS


National Public Chats: Join us every Friday at 4pm Pacific, 5pm Mountain, 7pm Eastern


BC Affiliate Public Chats: Join us Thursday Nights at 8 PM Pacific


Halifax Mid-Week Meltdown: The Halifax Chapter hosts a monthly "Mid-Week Meltdown" on the first Wednesday of every month at 8 p.m. Atlantic


AEBC National Board meeting dates 2023-2024:

December 11, 2023: Private board meeting with silent members

January 22, 2024: Public Board meeting

March 11, 2024: Private Board meeting

April 15, 2024: Private board meeting with silent members

May 27, 2024: Public Board Meeting

June 17, 2024: Private Board Meeting

July 22, 2024: Public Board Meeting

August 2024: no meeting, possibly Board opportunity session


All meetings begin at 4 PM Pacific 7 PM Eastern


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


ALLIANCE FOR EQUALITY OF BLIND CANADIANS


The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) is a national charitable organization committed to empowering blind, partially sighted, and deafblind Canadians to lead a life filled with opportunity, inclusivity, and equality. We advocate, support, and strive to make the world a better place for everyone, regardless of their visual abilities. Together, we can create a brighter and more accessible future for all.


Visit our website at www.blindcanadians.ca and follow us on social media

Mastodon: @blindcanadians

YouTube: @blindcanadians


The Equalizer committee is committed to bringing you timely and informative news from the organization. We appreciate your feedback on our newsletter or submissions for consideration. Contact us at newsletter@blindcanadians.ca


If you are interested in becoming more involved in our advocacy work or joining any of our working committees, please reach out to governmentrelations@blindcanadians.ca


If you’re not already a Member and would like to support us as a Member or Donor.


Our Partners & Sponsors:


Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

PO Box 20262 RPO Town Centre

Kelowna, BC V1Y 9H2 1-800-561-4774


Copyright (c) 2023 Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians


You are receiving this email because you are a member, opted in via our website or a third-party website, or have had a business or non-business relationship with us.


To unsubscribe from this newsletter, please email operations@blindcanadians.ca


IMAGE ALT TEXT: Man standing in a snowstorm and smiling. there are mountains behind him.


Comments


bottom of page