Insight September 2015


Welcome to the September edition of Insight! This month, as CNIB Night Steps kicks into full gear, we’ll introduce you to 18-year-old Jillian Sloane who doesn’t let blindness define her and participated in this year’s event to help spread her message. Dear Izzy is back with ways to battle accessibility concerns with automated bank machines (ATMs). We’ll also help you prevent eye disease with an eye-healthy recipe!

“I am not my disability”: BC teen shares a positive message through Night Steps

By Alexandra Korinowsky

How vividly do you remember your teen years? For most, it’s a time of self-discovery with a healthy dose of awkwardness – images of Bambi trying to find his footing on the ice come to mind. But, for 18-year-old Jillian Sloane from Dawson Creek, B.C., that sensation of yearning to stand on her own two feet was confounded by losing her vision at age 15.

Born three months premature, Jillian’s vision was affected by retinopathy of prematurity – a condition that can lead to blindness as a result of complications with the development of the retinal blood vessels in the eye. 

As a child, Jillian was able to comfortably function with low vision, but that quickly changed over the course of seven months after she started high school.
“It was hard,” recalls Jillian. “I went from being able to read large print to not being able to see the board or words on a page at all.”

Jillian’s retina had detached and, despite her doctors’ best efforts to save her sight, she woke up after her final surgery with no remaining vision.

“Before my surgery, my mom told me that no matter what might happen she would be there for me,” says Jillian. “Her strength gives me strength. She is a tough lady who refuses to put me in a bubble and she wants me to be independent.”

So, Jillian took her blindness in stride and didn’t skip a beat. She began working with a CNIB orientation and mobility specialist to learn how to travel safely with a white cane. Additionally, she started attending CNIB Kids Camp for children and youth who are blind or partially sighted. There, Jillian found her footing.

“I love going to camp because I don’t feel like I stand out there,” says Jillian. “At school I’m ‘The Blind Girl,’ but at camp we’re all in the same boat and we can relate.”

A self-described adventurer, Jillian jumped into the activities and challenges on offer at camp – her favourites include rock wall climbing (this year she made it to the top!), high ropes, kayaking, horseback riding and soccer. 

The friendships Jillian formed at camp are connections she feels will last a lifetime, and she credits them for her growing comfort with being blind.

It’s clear that these experiences have contributed to making Jillian the independent and confident young woman she is today – a young woman about to start college in the fall with plans to pursue a degree in social work.

“Looking back on when this all started, I told myself that sitting in a room feeling sad wasn’t an option. It was super hard, but I pulled myself out of that spot,” says Jillian. “I want people to know that there’s so much more to a blind person than just being blind. The only thing that changed about me is that I lost my sight. I’m still me, I am not my disability.” 

On Saturday, September 19, Jillian and her family participated in CNIB Night Steps in Prince George, a five-kilometre fundraising walk under the stars to raise awareness about the abilities of people who are blind – and to raise funds for CNIB and ensure other people can receive the same kind of support that she did. To support a team or register for CNIB Night Steps today, visit


Dear Izzy: Using automated bank machines

Dear Izzy is an anonymous advice column that offers solutions to everyday challenges for people with vision loss.

“Dear Izzy,

I’m having problems using the ATM at my bank because of my reduced vision. My hours of work prevent me from accessing the teller during regular bank hours. Do you have any suggestions?

-Cashless Quandary in Quebec City”

Dear Cashless Quandary,

Thanks for your question! ATMs can definitely be a challenge for many people with vision loss, so you’re not alone. But, like everything else, there are always ways to work around these problems and use an ATM confidently without vision – it just means doing things a little differently. 

Most major financial institutions have at least one audio ATM in their facility. If your bank doesn’t have an audio ATM, I would suggest that you reach out to the bank directly and advocate to have an audio ATM installed.

In order to use the audio feature, you’ll need to bring a set of earphones or headphones. Plug the earphones into the jack located next to the slot where you insert your bank card. You’ll be verbally prompted throughout the transaction and you’ll use the numeric keypad to input your responses and details. This keypad is identical to a telephone keypad with a raised bump on the number "5" key. This raised marking is used as a landmark in order to help you to locate the other numbers. So for instance, you’ll find the “2” key directly above the “5” key, you’ll find the “6” key directly to the right of the “5”, and so on.

If you need more help, you can also contact your financial institution directly to request a demonstration of their audio ATMs. And if you’d like to learn additional money management skills including coin and bill identification, please contact your local CNIB office. Happy banking!

If you have a question for Izzy, please send an email to Your question may be answered in a future issue of Insight.

For past Dear Izzy columns, check out the CNIB Blog.


Eye-healthy recipe: Dill and spinach frittata

Most Canadians don't realize it but, eating the right foods can go a long way to helping prevent serious eye diseases like AMD. Try cooking up a delicious recipe like this dill and spinach frittata, which is chock full of vitamins and nutrients that are great for your eyes such as lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamin C and vitamin E.


  • 3 eggs (omega 3)
  • 1 tbsp. 1% or skim milk
  • ½ orange pepper, diced
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper


  • Whisk together eggs, milk, dill, salt and pepper, and set aside.
  • Sauté pepper and onion in 1 tbsp. olive oil for 1-2 minutes over medium high heat in a non-stick pan. Add frozen spinach and continue cooking until spinach has thawed and cooked. Reduce heat to low and add egg mixture, ensuring that vegetables and eggs are evenly distributed in the pan.
  • Cook on low heat until top of frittata begins to cook, approximately 5 minutes. Ensure that the bottom does not burn. Flip frittata by placing a plate over top of pan, flip the pan and slide frittata back into pan and cook on low for another 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, place an oven-proof pan in oven and broil on low for 3 minutes or until top of frittata is cooked.
  • Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. The frittata can also be enjoyed at room temperature or even cold the next day.
  • Serves 2

Share your meal with us! Tweet us a photo @CNIB of your frittata and any other eye-healthy recipes your family enjoys.

This recipe comes care of Doctors of Optometry Dr. Laurie Capogna and Dr. Barbara Pelletier, authors of "Eyefoods, A Food Plan for Healthy Eyes" and "Eyefoods for Kids, A Tasty Guide to Nutrition and Health."



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Get ready to vote!

The federal election is coming on October 19. Are you ready to vote? Elections Canada has everything you need to know about where, when and how you can vote. Visit or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to find out about voter ID, locations and accessible voting.


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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