GTT Nanaimo Meeting Invitation, VIRL Library Discussion and Canadian Assistive Tech Demo, September 23, 2017

Get Together with Technology (GTT) Nanaimo


Sponsored by the Canadian Council of the Blind, Vancouver Island Regional Library and No Obstacles for the Vision Impaired (NOVI)


Please share this invitation widely to anyone you think will benefit from our collective knowledge.


Theme: VIRL discussion about NNELS, CELA and other Library services, followed by a Canadian Assistive Technology Equipment Demonstration and hands on trial.



Vancouver Island Regional Library, Nanaimo Downtown, 90 Commercial St


September 23, 2017


10:00 AM until approximately 12:00 Noon


First Hour: Jason Cuffler and Emily Matthews will tell us about VIRL’s new 50 Daisy Book on-site collection, NNELS, the Library web site and other VIRL services for blind and low vision readers.

Second Hour: Steve Barclay will give us a demo of the assistive technology carried by Canadian Assistive Technologies.



This meeting might be followed by a walk to a local downtown restaurant for lunch and further discussion with those who can attend.


To RSVP, or for more information:

Contact Albert Ruel at 250-240-2343, or GTTWest@CCBNational.net.




NOVI Social and Recreational Organization, and the Get Together with Technology group come together to serve the peer mentoring, assistive technology and daily living skills development needs of Nanaimo and area residents.


Since 2001 the Nanaimo Organization of the Vision Impaired (NOVI) has served the social and recreational needs of Nanaimo residents, and recently this group altered its name to better reflect the dynamic nature of their brand of mutual support and forward thinking ideas and activities.  It is now known as “No Obstacles for the Vision Impaired” (NOVI), and meets on the first Tuesday of each month at the 710 Club from 1:30 until 3:30 PM.


Since 2013 Get Together with Technology (GTT), a program of the Canadian Council of the Blind, has been meeting monthly in Nanaimo to provide opportunities for blind and partially sighted residents to learn more about the assistive technology so prevalent in our lives as we attempt to level the playing field in education, social interaction, recreation and independent living.


These two groups have embarked on an amalgamation of their efforts while expanding their support to the blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted residents of the Nanaimo and Parksville areas.  In order to facilitate this collaboration GTT has moved its meetings to align with the Tuesday NOVI gatherings so the two organizations can consolidate their human resources that more and better support may be delivered.


  • 1st Tuesday from 1:30 until 3:30 PM, NOVI Social/recreational gathering in Nanaimo lead by Henk Pauelsen.


Forth Saturday from 10:00 AM until 12 Noon, GTT Nanaimo and NOVI members will meet at the Vancouver Island Regional Library, Nanaimo Downtown Branch, 90 Commercial Street to discuss access to information issues, assistive technology and anything pertaining to living with, and adjusting to vision loss.  VIRL staff also participate in these Saturday morning meetings to provide information about services and supports available through the Public Library system.


NOVI and GTT will retain their independent organizational structures and membership dues, however will work in collaboration on local social activities, learning independence skills and peer mentoring endeavours.


For more information please contact:



Henk Pauelsen at 250-586-6285 or NOVI-Group@Shaw.ca

Living Without Looking/Independent Living Skills:

Donna Hudon at 250-618-0010 or IAmDonnaHudon@Gmail.com


Albert Ruel at 250-240-2343 or GTTWest@CCBNational.nett




Canadian Coalition of Guide and Service Dog Handlers

Canadian Coalition of Guide and Service Dog Handlers


The Canadian General Standards Board has drafted a set of standards which, if implemented, would impose conditions on the training and use of service dogs.  The standards have included guide dogs which are dogs for the blind and visually-impaired, and are therefore, in practice, not service dogs (although they are considered service dogs for human rights purposes).  Further, the content of the draft standards is inconsistent with the use and training of guide dogs.  Many Canadians get their guide dogs from the United States.  The American schools, along with many Canadian schools, find these standards at odds with best practices for training and use of guide dogs, and may have difficulty accepting Canadian applicants.  This would force Canadians to apply to the very few extant Canadian schools, which already have long waiting lists.  The increased demand would vastly lengthen these wait times.  For the foregoing reasons, it is of the utmost importance that these draft standards not be implemented.


Most Seeing Eye graduates found out about these standards in a letter from the school on June 27, 2017.  Having received the letter, Seeing Eye graduates decided that immediate and drastic action needed to be taken.  Yvonne Peters and Tom Dekker got the ball rolling on the Seeing Eye Graduates Network on Facebook very shortly thereafter.  Then, thanks to Albert Ruel of the Canadian Council of the Blind, whom we only contacted on July 1, and the power of social media and email, we had a teleconference with over 30 participants on Wednesday, July 5, from which the Service Dogs Standard mailing list was created, thanks to Brian Moore.


Following another teleconference which took place on July 13, and which included two members of the standards committee, we had our “Next Steps” teleconference on July 22, out of which came the blog, Facebook page and Twitter Hashtag #hooh.  To date, the Facebook page has had over 4000 viewers, with close to a thousand who engaged by liking, sharing and commenting.


The people on the list-serve formed an ad-hoc group which became known as the Canadian Coalition of Guide and Service Dog Handlers.  There is no president and no Board of Directors.  We make our decisions by consensus.


The committee who developed the draft standards is expected to meet again in September. Hopefully, someone from the coalition will be allowed to present our concerns to the committee at that time.  In the meantime, individual members of the coalition are writing to our members of parliament as well as to any other relevant politicians, such as the Minister for Sport and Persons with Disabilities, and the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, who is responsible for the department that prepared the draft standards.


The Department of Veterans’ Affairs spearheaded and provided funding for the creation of the standards for the purpose of having a national standard for the training and handling of PTSD dogs.  At some point, all service dogs, including the subset of guide dogs, were included.  For that reason, we are also hoping to engage with the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs.


Members of the coalition are also working at the provincial level to encourage provincial human rights commissions to exert pressure on the federal government to drop the draft standards.


Recently, Yvonne Peters facilitated a teleconference with a lawyer to explore our legal options.  Further, on September 8, 2017, we will be participating in a teleconference with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.


We invite you to check out our blog at HandsOffOurHarnesses.wordpress.com.  Find us on Facebook by doing a search for hands off our harnesses, and on Twitter at #hooh.


A website will be up and running soon.


Stay tuned!




Access Day at the Parksville BeachFest Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition, August 20, 2017 from 5:00 until 7:00 PM

BeachFest Access Day 2017


Access Oceanside Association (AOA) has been advocating for an Access Day at the Parksville BeachFest Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition.  That “Access Day” will be on Sunday, August 20 from 5-7pm.  They will open one sculpture for those with visual impairments to touch.


Please spread the word through your contacts.


BeachFest Access Day 2017


Access Oceanside Association (AOA) has been advocating for an Access Day at the Parksville BeachFest Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition.  That “Access Day” will be on Sunday, August 20 from 5-7pm.  They will open one sculpture for those with visual impairments to touch.


Please spread the word through your contacts.



audio Description to Allow the Blind To “See” the Total Eclipse For Immediate Release

audio Description to Allow the Blind To “See” the Total Eclipse For Immediate Release

Contact: Joel Snyder, Director, Audio Description Project

(202) 467-5083

Audio Description to Allow the Blind To “See” the Total Eclipse WASHINGTON, August 10, 2017 – The Audio Description Project, an initiative of the American Council of the Blind (ACB), along with the Mid-Tennessee Council of the Blind, the Tennessee School for the Blind and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, announces an opportunity for blind people world-wide to experience the upcoming total eclipse of the sun.

On Monday afternoon, August 21, at exactly 1:27 p.m. (CDT), the Sun above Nashville, TN will disappear from view. The sky will go completely dark. But through the use of succinct, imaginative and vivid language-audio description-the event will be accessible to the millions of people who are blind or have low vision, or anyone who wishes to experience a verbal version of the visual.

Between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm (CDT) on August 21, Dr. Joel Snyder will host “A Total Eclipse-Audio Described!” on ACB Radio.

Snyder, the director of ACB’s Audio Description Project, will present an hour of songs (“Ain’t Got No Sunshine,” “Here Comes The Sun,”

“Blinded by

the Light,” “When The Sun Goes Down,” etc.) interviews and special guests-with the main event being described live from the Tennessee School for the Blind between 1:15 pm and 1:45 pm (CDT).

Trained audio describer, Nashville-based Julia Cawthon will describe the eclipse as it happens and provide a vivid “translation” of the visual event into words for the benefit of anyone who tunes in.

“Audio Description uses the spoken word to provide access to visual images that would otherwise not be accessible to people who are blind or have low vision,” stated Kim Charlson, president of the American Council of the Blind. “Audio describers help make so many aspects of our culture accessible. We’re delighted to sponsor this program on August 21 and help people experience this important event.”

How to access the broadcast:

Go to http://acbradio.org/interactive and select “Click Here to Play.” Then be sure to select the link that opens the player that you use to listen to music or stream internet radio stations.

You can also listen on any telephone by dialing 605-475-8130 and select option 4. If you are using an iOS device such as an iPad or iPhone, install “ACB Link”; open the app, select the radio tab and then tap on the menu button. Select “live streams” and “ACB Radio Interactive”, select the play button and the stream will launch.


Additional information about ACB’s Audio Description Project is available at:




CNIB’s 99th National Annual General Meeting, September 9, 2017 in Winnipeg Manitoba

Notice is hereby given of the

99th National Annual General Meeting



to be held at

The Fort Garry Hotel

222 Broadway, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 0R3

Assiniboine Ball Room

Saturday, September 9, 2017 at

1:30 pm


The National Board Chair and Members of the Board of Directors cordially invite you to attend.


RSVP to Kayla DeBaets by no later than Thursday, August 24th by calling

204 774-5421-or emailing Kayla at kayla.debaets@cnib.ca