Insight September 2014

Welcome to the September edition of “Insight”. It’s time to go back to school! This month we’ll answer your questions about the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA), learn about CNIB Scholarships and meet September’s Volunteer of the Month.

CELA – 101

The CNIB Library has been providing Canadians who are blind or partially sighted with books, magazines and newspapers in alternative formats for over 100 years. CNIB has also been advocating for many years with government and other stakeholders that it is the right of Canadians with print disabilities to have equitable library service through their public library. In 2012, the Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC), the Canadian Library Association (CLA) and others endorsed this position and in April 2014, the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) was established to assume responsibility for this service.

Through CELA, people with print disabilities have access to the extensive collection of the CNIB Library, combined with accessible materials in the public library system. Materials are available in the formats of the reader’s choice, including DAISY, audio, e-text, braille and large print, delivered straight to their home or online. Canadians with print disabilities have access to all that the CNIB Library has to offer, directly through their local public libraries.

But, what does that mean? What happens to the CNIB Library? We have the answers.

Q) What role does the CNIB Library play?

A) CNIB is a critical partner in CELA.  Under contract to CELA, it provides public libraries and their patrons with print disabilities access to CNIB collections and services. These services include the production of books and other materials in alternative format, delivery services, referrals of new CNIB clients to their local public library, support for public libraries in their community outreach and a user helpline. CNIB also continues to provide existing CNIB Library clients with library service.

Q) I’ve been a CNIB Library user for years. Will my service change?

A) If you currently use the CNIB Library, there is no change to your service. You can continue to access books, magazines and newspapers through the CNIB Library. Consider joining your local public library as well, so that you also have access to its collections and services.

Q) I’m a CNIB client and have thought about becoming a CNIB Library user. What do I do?

A) Accessible library service is available to you through your local public library, making it easier and faster for you to obtain books, magazines and newspapers in alternative formats. You may contact your public library directly to register for its CELA service. Staff at your CNIB office can also arrange for your library to contact you.

Q) How do I know if my local public library offers CELA service?   

A) More than 600 public library systems across Canada are already CELA members. Please contact your local public library directly to learn more about its accessible materials.

Q) Is CELA only for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted?

A) CELA is available to all Canadians with a print disability. A print disability is a learning, physical or visual disability that prevents a person from reading conventional print. More specifically, a print disability can be a:

  • Learning disability: An impairment relating to comprehension
  • Physical disability: The inability to hold or manipulate a book
  • Visual disability: Severe or total impairment of sight or the inability to focus or move one’s eyes

If you have more questions about CELA or how to register please visit or call 1-855-655-2273.


Volunteer of the Month: Kelly Picco

Kelly Picco had been a client of CNIB’s since she was young due to a genetic disease that led to vision loss. But, she would quickly turn from client to dedicated volunteer all because of a school project.

As part of a high school course, Picco was required to research modern-day folk groups. Little did she know at the time, but the project would lead to years of volunteer work with CNIB.

“Every year, CNIB Newfoundland hosts a post-secondary orientation group for CNIB clients,” explains Picco. “Students with low vision come together in St. Johns to explore college options and also take part in evening events like bowling or going to the movies. This group of students was the focus of my school project and the event itself is what got me interested in volunteering with CNIB.”

Picco has been a volunteer with CNIB for more than three years now and has held a number of different positions including administrative work at reception, work with Shop CNIB, assistive technology training, communications support for the purpose of fund development and has assisted with client check-in – a program that connects CNIB staff and volunteers with past clients to ensure that things are still going well.  In addition to her volunteer work, Picco is also completing a summer-student placement in CNIB’s fund development department.

“I’ve met so many people through my time at CNIB – some of them are my closest friends,” says Picco. “Just being at CNIB has left me with many fantastic memories.”

An outgoing woman who enjoys hanging out with friends and running, Picco is currently studying sociology at Memorial University in the hopes of one day securing a position in fundraising – maybe with CNIB?

“I’ve become a more positive person because of CNIB,” says Picco. “I’m more comfortable talking about my vision loss. I want to make that a state of mind for others.”

If you’d like to join our volunteer team, visit


CNIB Scholarships: Abilities vs. disabilities

Each year, CNIB awards numerous scholarships to post-secondary- and post-graduate- bound students who are blind or partially sighted. Students who submit an application are automatically entered in competition for one of three scholarships (FJL Woodcock SAPA, Barney Danson and the CNIB scholarships) which range in dollar value from $1,000 to $5,000. In addition, each year, one CNIB Master’s Scholarship is awarded with a value of $12,500.

This year, more than 40 applications were submitted across the country. Part of the application process required students to write an essay on the topic of “my abilities vs. my disability.”

“Even though I am [partially sighted] I don’t really consider myself as someone who is disabled. I understand that I may need to adapt to, or cope with, problems in my life that [other people] may consider irregular, but for me it’s just second nature,” writes Jona Kahane, one of this year’s CNIB Scholarship recipients from Thornhill, Ontario. “One of my strongest and most practiced abilities is my ability to work around my disability.”

CNIB Scholarships were awarded to 30 students from B.C. to Atlantic Canada and will be formally presented throughout September.

“I don’t feel that my [vision loss] has limited me. Rather, I feel as though it has equipped me with valuable skills that I may use in my future endeavors,” writes Tristyn McLean, another CNIB Scholarship recipient from Calgary, Alberta. “I know that my skills will be invaluable to me as I enter university with the hopes of becoming a chiropractor.”

For more information on CNIB Scholarships, please visit



Dainolite magnifier lamp

These magnifying lamps offer 2.25X magnification and use a counter-sprung arm with 33-inch reach that positions the lens in the most comfortable position. Comes with a one-year warranty.

Click here to order the Dainolite. 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 stars

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 or make a donation today at


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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