2014 July Insight

Welcome to the July edition of “Insight”. This month we’ll talk about cooking with our other senses thanks to AMI’s new program “Four Senses”, meet an Ontario volunteer who has given more than 40 years of service to CNIB and find out what to look for when shopping for a pair of sunglasses.

“Four Senses” – sight not needed

There are things in life that awaken all of our senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. The foodie in all of us would agree that cooking, eating and food in general encompass all of them. But, if you really think about it… the smell and taste of what we’re eating is what’s most enticing!

This year, AMI focused on food and all its best parts – sight not needed – with the launch of their new cooking series “Four Senses”.

“Four Senses”, an AMI original program, unites chefs who are both blind and sighted in the kitchen and focuses on the sounds of the kitchen, the texture of ingredients, the smell of food as it cooks and, of course, the taste of the final product!

“MasterChef” USA winner Christine Ha and winner of “Top Chef Canada” 2010 Carl Heinrich have teamed up to host the cooking show with accessibility twists featuring celebrity chefs, discussions related to eye disease and tips and tools for independence in the kitchen for cooks who are blind or partially sighted.

“The show is made for people with vision loss but is also great for a sighted-but-novice cook and that’s really amazing,” says chef and co-host Ha, who is blind herself. “Everything is described from what we smell in the kitchen to how the ingredients should feel. It makes cooking about so much more than just what a dish looks like.”

Chef Ha lost her sight as a result of an autoimmune condition and has been cooking with her other senses since 2007.

“Many people wonder how someone who is blind completes everyday tasks like cooking meals,” says Ha. “I want to show that we can do almost everything a sighted person can with the proper adaptations. I hope ‘Four Senses’ inspires both those with vision loss and those who are fully sighted to get into the kitchen and create beautiful, delicious and nutritious food.”

“Four Senses” Season 1 airs Fridays at 7pm on AMI-tv; watch for Season 2 starting January 2015.Check with your local provider or visit AMI.ca for AMI channels in your area.

Keep up with Christina Ha and her adventures in cooking on Facebook, Twitter @blindcook  or at theblindcook.com.


Volunteer of the Month: Doris Low, Ontario

Inspired by her own love of books, Doris Low has helped people with vision loss discover the joys of reading through the CNIB Library for decades.

Home to almost 90,000 accessible materials in formats like braille and audio, the CNIB Library is Canada’s largest library for people who are unable to read traditional print.

For more than 40 years, Low has given a good portion of her retired life to CNIB through her work as a braille transcriber and reader in the recording studio. She took the braille course while still a teacher/librarian at Danforth Technical School in Toronto.

“I can't imagine how many CNIB Library users of all ages have benefited from Doris' contribution,” says Darleen Bogart, CNIB’s National Braille Convenor. “She’s a skilled volunteer with a rich voice and a high degree of accuracy. She’s brailled and proofread hundreds of books over the years, and she is still doing so.”

An avid book lover, Low takes pleasure in brailling all kinds of books, ranging from technical textbooks to creative fiction for all ages.

“I really enjoy brailling children’s books. Over the years, the books have become more diverse in representing various cultures, and the quality of the illustrations have improved,” says Low.

One of the challenges that Low has overcome is the transition from the literary braille code used for many years in North America to the new coding system, known as Unified English Braille (UEB). 

“It keeps you on your toes,” says Low.

In 2010, the Canadian Braille Authority voted to accept UEB as the code for Canada and, to that end, CNIB is now producing its braille material in UEB. This means a simpler process for those learning braille, particularly for those who have been print readers most of their lives.

While Low enjoys transcribing because it’s rewarding work that’s both fascinating and challenging, she also appreciates the opportunity to build relationships with other volunteers.

“The women I work with have become family. They’re a great bunch of people who mean a lot to me. We stick together,” says Low.

Low recently turned 90 and she plans to continue the celebrations throughout 2014.

“I bought myself a bright red car. I figure I’ll be 90, known and seen,” Low says with a chuckle.

If you’d like to join our volunteer team, visit cnib.ca/volunteer.


Protect your eyes. Wear a pair.

The sun is shining and you’re headed to the beach. You pack some snacks, water and, of course, sunscreen. But you’re forgetting something. What about UV protection for your eyes?

Did you know that long-term exposure to UV light has been associated with serious eye diseases including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration? It’s important to remember to wear sunglasses whenever you’re outside – even if it’s cloudy or rainy.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t see sunglasses as more than a fashion accessory, but a good pair of shades can save your eyes from permanent damage and lower your risk of developing an eye disease. While UV protection should be your top priority when shopping for shades, there are other features to consider:

  • Glasses should be dark enough to reduce glare, but not so dark that they distort colours or interfere with recognizing things like traffic signals. Remember that lens colour and the degree of darkness are not related to the ability to block UV light.
  • Lenses should be large enough to block light entering from the sides. Sports models that wrap all the way around the temples are ideal.
  • Kids need to wear sunglasses too! To reduce the risk of broken lenses look for those made of polycarbonate, which are more shatter-resistant than regular lenses.
  • People who are working outdoors – whether in the garden or at a construction site – may choose a polycarbonate lens for extra protection from eye injuries.
  • Polarized lenses reduce glare but don’t necessarily block UV.

It’s important to remember that while these features can make for a more comfortable pair of sunglasses, they don’t offer protection from UV rays. The only way to ensure your eyes are shielded from the sun is to buy a quality pair of sunglasses that offers at least 99 per cent protection from UV.

Now that summer is here and you know what to look for, find yourself a good pair of shades, throw on your hat and enjoy the outdoors knowing that you’re protecting your vision health.



The Bradley watch

Unique and discreet, the Bradley watch is a much-anticipated time-telling device that’s making waves the world over for its sleek, accessible design. This fashionable accessory allows you to tell time just by touching a dial, and feeling the durable tactile ball bearings that indicate the hour and the minute. Nominated for design of the year by Design Museum, this cutting-edge, one-of-a-kind watch is available in limited quantities and won’t last long!

Click here to order the Bradley. To browse hundreds of other Shop CNIB products for everyday living, visit one of our 20 stores across the country, browse our webstore or call the CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642 to order a free catalogue.


A walk under the starsCNIB Night Steps logo

CNIB Night Steps brings together family, friends, and community members for a fun and easy night walk that raises funds for CNIB’s vital programs and services, such as teaching independent travel skills to people who are blind or partially sighted. Enjoy an evening of live music, entertainment and glow-in-the-dark party favors under the stars! Register today at cnibnightsteps.ca.


Note: The information provided in this article is for awareness purposes only, and should not replace the expertise of an eye doctor. CNIB recommends that you visit your doctor of optometry regularly for thorough eye exams, up-to-date medical information and advice tailored to your own unique vision health and family history.

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