CNIB Newsletter - July-September 2015

In this Issue:

Editor’s Corner

Welcome to the latest edition of the CNIB-NL Newsletter! Inside, you can find out what CNIB has been doing in Newfoundland and Labrador, view staff and client profiles, learn about the amazing Helen Keller, visit TechTalk Corner, and much more. We would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to make this newsletter possible!

- Robert Sterling

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Inspirational Quote

"The keenness of our vision depends not on how much we can see, but on how much we feel."

-Helen Keller

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Letter from CNIB-NL

Dear readers,

Summer seems to have finally arrived and with that comes a buzz of activity at CNIB with students getting ready for summer and fall activities.  We have two students working on the Summer Intervention program this year as well as two students funded through summer work experience programs focusing on community giving and our annual fall fundraising event – Visions Lounge.  Additionally, we have many new volunteers starting with us over the summer which is a tremendous asset to our team.  In addition to the Summer Intervention program for children, CNIB will be hosting our annual family camp, and working with CCB to coordinate the annual adult camp for blind and partially sighted people.  Both of these camps are held at the Lion’s Max Simms Memorial Camp in Bishop’s Falls, and will take place in August.

This issue of CNIB’s client newsletter includes a reminder, and for some of you perhaps an introduction, of the many wonderful e-learning opportunities available through Hadley School for the Blind, as well as an overview of the most recent iToys and lots of great nuggets of information available for you to learn about. 
We hope you have a wonderful summer and enjoy the bounties of it – be it more time outdoors or harvesting local vegetables and fresh berries. 
Sincerely,
Deborah Wearn, Provincial Director
Duane Morgan, Manager, Programs and Services

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Canadian Senate Proclaims June as Deaf-Blind Awareness Month

In recognition of the birth month of Helen Keller, the Canadian Senate recently passed a motion to proclaim June as “Deaf-Blind Awareness Month.” In honour of this, we present “The Radical Dissent of Helen Keller.”
Helen Keller
(Photo of Helen Keller)

The Radical Dissent of Helen Keller

By Peter Dreier

YES! Magazine, July 12, 2012

"So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind, they complement me extravagantly, calling me 'arch priestess of the sightless,' 'wonder woman,' and a 'modern miracle.' But when it comes to a discussion of poverty, and I maintain that it is the result of wrong economics--that the industrial system under which we live is at the root of much of the physical deafness and blindness in the world--that is a different matter! It is laudable to give aid to the handicapped. Superficial charities make smooth the way of the prosperous; but to advocate that all human beings should have leisure and comfort, the decencies and refinements of life, is a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind.”

--Helen Keller (letter to Senator Robert La Follette, 1924)

The bronze statue of Helen Keller that sits in the U.S. Capitol shows the blind girl standing at a water pump. It depicts the moment in 1887 when her teacher, Anne Sullivan, spelled "W-A-T-E-R' into one of her 7-year-old pupil's hands while water streamed into the other. This was Keller's awakening, when she made the connection between the word Sullivan spelled and the tangible substance splashing from the pump, whispering "wah-wah,'—her way of saying "water.' This scene, made famous in the play and film "The Miracle Worker,' has long defined Keller in the public mind as a symbol of courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

Less well known (but no less inspiring) is the fact that Keller, who was born in 1880 and died in 1968, was a lifelong radical who participated in the great movements for social justice of her time. In her investigations into the causes of blindness, she discovered that poor people were more likely than the rich to be blind, and soon connected the mistreatment of the blind to the oppression of workers, women, and other groups, leading her to embrace socialism, feminism, and pacifism.

Early Life

Keller was born on a plantation in Tuscumbia, Alabama, to Arthur Keller, a former Confederate officer and a conservative newspaper publisher, and Kate Keller, a descendant of John Adams. At nineteen months old, she lost her sight and hearing as a result of a fever. She became uncontrollable, prone to tantrums--kicking, biting, and smashing anything within reach. In that era, many blind and deaf people were consigned to an asylum. Some family members suggested that this was where Helen belonged.

Instead, her mother contacted the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, which recommended that a former student, the 20-year-old Sullivan, become Helen's private tutor. In 1887 Sullivan--the daughter of poor Irish immigrants and nearly blind herself--moved to the Keller’s' home. She helped calm Helen's rages and channel her insatiable curiosity and exceptional intelligence. She patiently spelled out letters and words in Keller's hand. With Sullivan's support, her student soon learned to read and write Braille, and by the age of ten she had begun to speak. Her story became well known and she, a celebrity. Newspapers and magazines in Europe and America wrote glowing stories about the young Keller. Her family connections and fame opened up many opportunities, including private schools and an elite college education.

Mark Twain, who admired Keller's courage and youthful writings, introduced her to Standard Oil tycoon Henry Huttleston Rogers, who paid for her education. She later acknowledged, "I owed my success partly to the advantages of my birth and environment. I have learned that the power to rise is not within the reach of everyone.'

In 1894, at 14, Keller began formal schooling--initially at the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York and then at the Cambridge School for Young Ladies. Sullivan accompanied her, spelling into her hand letter-by-letter so she could read the books assigned in her classes.

In 1900, at age 20, Keller entered Radcliffe College with Sullivan still at her side. At Radcliffe (from which she graduated magna cum laude in 1904), Keller was first exposed to the radical ideas that helped her draw connections among different forms of injustice. She began to write about herself and her growing understanding of the world. "I Must Speak'

In a 1901 article entitled "I Must Speak' in the Ladies Home Journal, Keller wrote, "Once I believed that blindness, deafness, tuberculosis, and other causes of suffering were necessary, unpreventable. But gradually my reading extended, and I found that those evils are to be laid not at the door of Providence, but at the door of mankind; that they are, in large measure, due to ignorance, stupidity and sin.'

She visited slums and learned about the struggles of workers and immigrants to improve their working and living conditions. "I have visited sweatshops, factories, crowded slums,' she wrote, "If I could not see it, I could smell it."

Although she was universally praised for her courage in the face of her physical disabilities, she now found herself criticized for her political views.

In 1908 Sullivan's socialist husband, John Macy, encouraged Keller to read H. G. Wells's New Worlds for Old, which influenced her views about radical change. She soon began to devour Macy's extensive collection of political books, reading socialist publications (often in German Braille) and Marxist economists. In addition to giving inspirational lectures about blindness, Keller also talked, wrote, and agitated about radical social and political causes, making her class analysis explicit in such books as Social Causes of Blindness (1911), The Unemployed (1911), and The Underprivileged (1931). In 1915, after learning about the Ludlow Massacre--in which John D. Rockefeller's private army killed coal miners and their wives and children in a labor confrontation in Colorado--Keller denounced him as a "monster of capitalism.'

In 1909 Keller joined the Socialist Party, wrote articles in support of its ideas, campaigned for its candidates, and lent her name to help striking workers. Although she was universally praised for her courage in the face of her physical disabilities, she now found herself criticized for her political views. The editor of the Brooklyn Eagle attacked her radical ideas, attributing them to "mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development.' In her 1912 essay "How I Became a Socialist,' published in the Call, a socialist newspaper, Keller wrote, "At that time, the compliments he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for socialism he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error.'

Women's Suffrage, Civil Rights, and War

Keller was part of wide circle of reformers and radicals who participated in a variety of overlapping causes. She was a strong advocate for women's rights and women's suffrage, writing in 1916: "Women have discovered that they cannot rely on men's chivalry to give them justice.'

She supported birth control and praised its leading advocate, Margaret Sanger, with whom she had many mutual friends. Keller argued that capitalists wanted workers to have large families to supply cheap labor to factories but forced poor children to live in miserable conditions. "Only by taking the responsibility of birth control into their own hands,” Keller said, "can [women] roll back the awful tide of misery that is sweeping over them and their children. Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings! Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction! Be heroes in an army of construction!”

She donated money to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)--then a young and controversial civil rights organization that focused on opposition to lynching and job and housing discrimination against African Americans--and wrote for its magazine.

At an antiwar rally in January 1916, sponsored by the Women's Peace Party at New York's Carnegie Hall, Keller said, "Congress is not preparing to defend the people of the United States. It is planning to protect the capital of American speculators and investors. Incidentally this preparation will benefit the manufacturers of munitions and war machines. Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought! Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder! Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings! Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction! Be heroes in an army of construction!'

In 1918 she helped found the American Civil Liberties Union, which was initially organized to challenge the U.S. government's attempts to suppress the ideas of and jail or deport radicals who opposed World War I, including Socialists and members of the Industrial Workers  of the World.

The following year she wrote a letter, addressed to "Dear Comrade' Eugene Debs, the Socialist labor leader and presidential candidate, in jail for advocating draft resistance during World War I. She wrote, "I want you to know that I should be proud if the Supreme Court convicted me of abhorring war, and doing all in my power to oppose it.'

In 1924, while campaigning for Senator Robert La Follette, the Wisconsin radical and anti-war stalwart who was running for president on the Progressive Party ticket, Keller wrote him a note: "I am for you because you stand for liberal and progressive government. I am for you because you believe the people should rule. I am for you because you believe that labor should participate in public life."

After 1924, Keller devoted most of her time and energy to speaking and fundraising for the American Foundation for the Blind, but still supported radical causes. Even as feminism began to ebb, she continued to agitate for women's rights. In 1932, she wrote an article for Home magazine, "Great American Women," praising the early suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She also penned a humorous article for the Atlantic Monthly, "Put Your Husband in the Kitchen."

Keller, who died in 1968, never saw a contradiction between her crusade to address the causes of blindness and her efforts to promote economic and social justice.

Between 1946 and 1957 she visited 35 countries on five continents. In 1948, Keller visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki; cities destroyed by American atomic bombs at the end of World War II, and spoke out against nuclear war.

In 1955, at the height of the Cold War, she wrote a public birthday greeting and letter of support to Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a leading Communist activist, then in jail on charges of violating the Smith Act. In response, some supporters of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), for which Keller was the national face, threatened to withdraw their support. The AFB's executive director wrote to one of his trustees, "Helen Keller's habit of playing around with communists and near communists has long been a source of embarrassment to her conservative friends."

The FBI kept Keller under surveillance for most of her adult life for her radical views. But Keller, who died in 1968, never saw a contradiction between her crusade to address the causes of blindness and her efforts to promote economic and social justice.

Keller is well known for being blind, but she also deserves to be heralded for her progressive social vision.

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Highlight of Staff Member:

Ashley McPherson

Ashley with her fiance and daughter
(Photo of Ashley with her fiancé and daughter)
Ashley McPherson is an Independent Living Skills Specialist (ILS) for CNIB in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, in the heart of Labrador, where she works with clients throughout the entire region. CNIB opened its Labrador office in June 2012, which coincides with Ashley’s hiring.

Originally from Ontario, Ashley completed her Honour’s degree at York University, where she studied English Literature while also attaining a cross disciplinary certificate pertaining to Indigenous Studies.

Originally interested in either law or teaching, she chose to take the teaching route a step further, as she wanted to teach people living with disabilities. Ashley completed her post-graduate studies at the Mohawk College, Instructor for the Blind and Visually Impaired program. While studying, she had the privilege of working in the Hamilton, Ontario CNIB office through the Outreach Program. It is in this placement that she learned the importance of further adapting her lessons and skills to meet the needs of those living with more complex issues. Ashley also had the honour of working with Hamilton’s Independent Living Skills Specialist who helped to further train her in her field and taught her how to implement and manage peer support programs.

Upon graduating, she accepted the position in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. Ashley greatly appreciates the opportunity to work with individuals living in such a culturally diverse region of Newfoundland and Labrador. She believes that working in a region with such complex and unique issues has helped her to adapt and grow as a professional. Ashley considers herself very fortunate to work with individuals from the Innu, Inuit and Metis governments. Working within Labrador’s remote communities and educating the people of the Labrador region about the importance of proactive vision health, the impact of vision loss, as well as CNIB services, has been greatly rewarding. 

In her role she also partners with the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce and the Labrador Regional Wellness Coalition. Through these affiliations she has come to understand the unique socio-economic and cultural dynamic of Labrador communities. Through her work Ashley can see disparities in the Labrador region and a lack of accessibility, thus she is passionate about advocating for people who have vision loss, while seeking other ways to make sure a better quality of life and service is achieved.

Ashley loves the outdoors. She enjoys hiking, boating, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. She is a voracious reader, enjoys anything to do with history and culture, and loves to cook. Though not involved in politics directly, she has a keen interest in knowing what is happening politically, economically, and socially. Ashley is engaged to be married in April of 2016 to her fiancé, Justin Yetman. Together they have a nineteen month old daughter named Anna. 

To contact Ashley, phone 709-896-8302, extension 218 or 1-800-563-2642, or Email: ashley.mcpherson@cnib.ca

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Terry Gardner’s Story

Terry with his wife by an iceberg
(Photo of Terry and his wife by an iceberg)

Terry Gardner, from Corner Brook, had been working in management for the Day & Ross Transportation Group for twenty-two years and was a broker for the Same Day Courier Service for two years up until one morning he awoke and could not see his face in the mirror.

Macular edema and glaucoma left Terry with no vision in his left eye and only about five percent remaining vision in his right eye. He refers to that day as the “first day of my new life.” It took him about four years to come to grips with the fact that he was living with vision loss.

After attending adult camp at Lion Max Simms Memorial Camp in Bishop’s Falls, he soon learned that vision loss doesn’t have to be a limitation.

Shortly after attending camp, Terry received an email from a CNIB staff member who was seeking participants for a triathlon in Lake Joseph, Muskoka, Ontario. At the age of fifty, Terry completed his first triathlon. He now has about thirty triathlons under his belt.

Terry now volunteers with a charitable organization called Won with One, which is a group of blind, partially sighted or physically challenged athletes who use triathlon as a catalyst for change. He proudly says, “If I wasn’t blind, I would not have seen the places that I have seen.” He understands how important it is to educate the world about how living with vision loss is not something to be afraid of: “It is just part of living,” he says.

Terry also volunteers with several boards and committees: the organizing committee for the adult camp, the Partially sighted Sports and Recreation Association (VISRA), National and Provincial Boards for the Canadian Council of the Blind, (CCB) and the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (COD-NL).

Terry’s work has received national attention from the print media and he has appeared on national television in the US. Terry continues to inspire others by sharing his experiences with vision loss.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
- Helen Keller

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CNIB-NL Updates

VOCM Cares Day of Giving

Kelly Picco receiving a certificate of appreciation for outstanding volunteer work from CNIB’s Coordinator, Community Giving, Emily Cardwell  

Congratulations Kelly Picco on receiving a certificate of appreciation for outstanding volunteer work at the VOCM Cares Day of Giving on May 21st. Pictured above is Kelly (on right) with CNIB’s Coordinator, Community Giving, Emily Cardwell (on left).

CNIB Dining in the Dark

Volunteers, Gillian Kinsella and Desiree Simmons, enjoying the evening with 2 dining in the dark supporters 

On May 27th we had yet another successful Dining in the Dark event at Gypsy Tea Room and One11 Chophouse in St. John’s.

We want to send a huge thank you to all the volunteers who helped out with this amazing event! Pictured above on the right are two of our awesome volunteers, Gillian Kinsella and Desiree Simmons, enjoying the evening!

CNIB Vision Mate Program

Maureen Worthman with vision mate Taylor Bolt

(Photo of Taylor Bolt and Maureen Worthman)

CNIB’s Vision Mate program provides sighted assistance to people who are blind and partially sighted. CNIB trains volunteers help to improve the quality of life of those with vision loss by assisting with everyday activities such as reading, walking, running errands, and friendly visiting.

Through the Vision Mate program Taylor Bolt, 22, and Maureen Worthman, 56, have developed a great friendship.

Maureen is originally from Heart’s Delight-Islington. She is congenitally blind, as she was born with hereditary cataracts. Taylor became a CNIB Vision Mate volunteer approximately two years ago and began spending time with Maureen. Taylor is from Arnold’s Cove and currently lives in the St. John’s area. She is a student at Memorial University and her goal is to enroll in medical school.

Maureen became interested in a Vision Mate as she was having difficulty with reading and was only receiving homecare services once a week. Taylor and Maureen get together every week on Wednesdays for at least a couple of hours. Taylor will from time to time accompany Maureen to the grocery store or every now and again she assists her with her computer or helps her read her mail.

Taylor first learned of the Vision Mate program through Memorial University’s Volunteer Bureau. Through this program she has learned a lot about interacting with people with vision loss, which will certainly be an asset when she enters the field of medicine. For Taylor, spending time with Maureen has helped her to understand the challenges people with vision loss face every day.

Maureen is delighted with how the Vision Mate program has changed her life for the better: “I made another friend,” Maureen commented. Taylor agrees the relationship is a valuable one for both herself and Maureen: “This is not just about volunteering anymore. It’s about friendship,” Taylor said.

CNIB continues to recruit for our Vision Mate program. We are seeking both volunteers and clients, particularly in rural areas such as Grand Falls-Windsor, Bay Roberts, Corner Brook, Glovertown,  and Embree to provide/receive assistance for a couple of hours a week, through friendly visiting and assistance with recreation, errands, reading, writing, walking, shopping, and more.

For more information on the Vision Mate program contact our Counsellor / Coordinator of Volunteer Services, Lynsey Soper at 1-800-563-2642 or email lynsey.soper@cnib.ca

CNIB Visions Lounge

This casual, fun-filled evening will take place at the Merchant Tavern in St. John’s, 7 pm, September 17th. It is guaranteed to wow your senses with delicious food, drinks, and music.

Tickets: $150 (includes two drinks & finger food throughout evening)

We are also looking for auction items for our live auction (value $1,000+) as well as potential raffle prizes ($200+) so please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any ideas.

Call Emily Cardwell: 709-754-1180 extension 5807 or 1-800-563-2642 or email emily.cardwell@cnib.ca

Annual Community Meeting (ACM)

Our 2015 ACM is scheduled for October 7th, to be held in the multipurpose room at the CNIB office in St. John’s at 4:30. The event is open to everyone and will be a great opportunity to get together, learn something new, and enjoy entertainment and refreshments.  For more information and to RSVP, please contact Amy Gillard at 709-754-1180 or 1-800-563-2642 or amy.gillard@cnib.ca

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The TechTalk Corner

Technology’s Assistive Benefits

By Jim Noseworthy, CNIB Assistive Technology Specialist

In this article, I would like to discuss, what some, (affectionately or not so affectionately), are calling "iToys." For the purposes of this article, I am using the term "iToys" to refer to iPhones, iPads, and iPods; all of which are Apple devices and all of which are completely accessible to persons who are totally blind or partially sighted.

iPod

There are three flavors of iPods out there:

  1. The iPod Shuffle ($59.00): a very small device that can clip on to your clothes and can hold a couple of hundred songs. It cannot access the internet; thus, all material must be transferred to the unit from a computer via the Apple iTunes program.
  2. The iPod Nano ($179.00): a credit card size device which can hold thousands of songs and which can access your local FM radio stations as well. Like the Shuffle, however, it cannot access the internet; consequently, all content must be transferred from a computer to the Nano via Apple's iTunes.
  3. The iPod Touch (starting at $249.00): Unlike the previously mentioned iPod devices, this device can access the internet and download audio and video content. One can also surf the net providing you can access a wireless internet connection. Using the iPod Touch, it is also possible to access thousands of internet radio stations; including, in most cases, your local stations. The iPod Touch also comes equipped with a camera; a very important feature, as we will see later on in this article.

iPad

Essentially, an iPad is an iPod Touch on steroids. The main difference between the iPod Touch and the iPad is the screen size. One is able to view videos on the iPad with little difficulty. Our partially sighted clients often prefer the iPad because of its screen size. The iPad also comes equipped with a camera.

iPhone

Last, but certainly not least, is the iPhone. The iPhone is essentially an iPad Touch but also includes cell phone capabilities. Of course, the iPhone also comes equipped with a camera.

With an iPhone, accessing the internet can be accomplished whether one has access to a wireless network or not. Most folks purchase an iPhone on a contract with a cell phone service provider.

For the remainder of the article, I will be referring to the iPod Touch, the iPad, and the iPhone; this is because these devices can access the internet.

Independent Living on a New Level

Since the introduction of the iPhone, iPad Touch, and the iPhone, persons who are blind or partially sighted have enjoyed an enhanced measure of personal independence on a new level. This is mainly due to the fact that programs, (commonly called apps), have been developed for these devices, which address the needs of those of us who live with vision loss. In some cases, but certainly not all, apps have been created by blind/partially sighted programmers themselves.

For the remainder of this article, I want to briefly touch on some of these apps

SIRI

Whatever you do, please don’t call your next child SIRI; that would be most unfortunate.
SIRI is the name used by Apple to instruct iDevices to respond to thousands of voice commands. It’s beyond the scope of this article to discuss these commands but just to say that many folks use SIRI for most things such as messaging, making calls, setting timers, creating reminders, and the list goes on.

GPS

GPS, (Global Positioning System), can be, and is, used to direct folks to a desired location, whether walking or driving.
Apple Maps, which is automatically installed on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices, is one such example of a GPS app. Using Apple Maps, coupled with SIRI, you can issue instructions to give you turn-by-turn voice guidance to your destination. This is referred to as “navigational” GPS.

There are also “orientation” GPS apps out there; BlindSquare being, perhaps, the most popular. This enables a person to know exactly where he/she is at any given time. This app can also automatically announce the names of upcoming intersections, along with various points of interest. Other orientation apps include, but are not limited to: Around Me, Ariadne GPS, My Way Classic, Seeing Eye GPS, Where the Hell Am I, etc.

Object Identification

If you are a person like me, who is living with severe or total vision loss, you know that very few things are as frustrating as not knowing what box or bottle you have in your hand. I can tell you that, in my single life, or sometimes when my wife was not around, my supper plans sometimes took a drastic turn; usually, for the worst because of that very reason.

Well, I’m happy to report that, now there are apps out there which are created for these Apple iDevices that can address this problem. Remember the camera? Well, there are apps out there that can take a picture of the item and send back the appropriate information which the iDevice can then announce to the user.

TapTapSee is one such app and a very good one. Another app that does basically the same thing is CamFind.
There are also apps that will facilitate a video connection to a human being, somewhere in the world, who can see and talk with you. You simply point the camera at an item you are interested in, and the person on the other end of the video call will provide the requested information. Pretty cool, eh?

At the time of this writing, there are two such apps out there: “Be
My Eyes” and “VizWiz”.

FaceTime, which is an app installed on every iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, can be used to accomplish essentially the same thing. So, if you have a friend who has one of these iDevices, you can establish a video call with that person and receive help to identify objects or, perhaps, inform you about your surroundings.

Entertainment

If you love music, the Apple Music app may be just the thing you’re looking for. With Apple Music, you can access over 30 million songs from Apple’s library. Apple Music, combined with SIRI, provides a powerful combination for listening to your favorite tunes. Just ask SIRI to play what you want, and bingo, you’ve got it.
There are, of course, other apps and music services out there.

If it’s radio you’re after, all of the major broadcasting networks have apps that will permit you to listen to their programming.

You can even obtain apps that will permit you to automatically download your favorite programs for you to listen to whenever you get the chance. These are called podcasts. There are apps for identifying colors as well as for reading bar codes.

To contact Jim; call 506-458-0060 extension 5604 or 1-800-563-2642 or email him at jim.noseworthy@cnib.ca

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National Vision Health Report

May 7, 2015

A new report shows an unhealthy dichotomy between Canadians’ strong belief in the importance of vision health, and what they actually know and do about it.

While almost all Canadians believe in the importance of maintaining vision health, many don’t have basic knowledge about how to prevent vision loss and are not taking action to save their sight.

The National Vision Health Report, commissioned by CNIB, explores public knowledge, behaviours and opinions relating to vision health. The survey is the first of its kind in Canada, and has identified gaps in Canadians’ knowledge as it relates to vision health and vision loss, and presents an unexpected contrast between our beliefs and our behaviours.

“There are an estimated 5.5 million Canadians living with a vision-threatening eye disease, and many more at risk” said John M. Rafferty, President and CEO, CNIB. “This report shows they may not be doing all they can to save their sight.”

The report shows Canadians value the importance of vision health maintenance:

  • 92 per cent of respondents believe that eye exams are an important part of their overall health maintenance.

Preventing vision loss places third in terms of priorities for maintaining overall health, behind only heart health and weight management.

  • 82 per cent of Canadians said they teach their children about the importance of regular eye exams.

However, despite their commitment to vision health, there is a dichotomy between their beliefs and their knowledge and behaviours.

  • Only 47 per cent of Canadians are aware of whether or not their family has a history of eye disease, meaning more than half aren’t aware of potential hereditary risks for conditions like glaucoma.
  • 40 per cent of respondents had no awareness of the most common eye disease causing vision loss, age-related macular degeneration.
  • 15 per cent of Canadians cannot remember when their child’s last eye exam occurred.

The survey also addresses the social stigma toward people with vision loss. While one in three Canadians indicate that they know someone who is blind or partially sighted, 69 per cent agreed there is a general stigma toward people with vision loss. In addition, Canadians felt that if they lost their sight, they would lose their independence (87 per cent) and self-confidence (83 per cent), which points to the need to increase knowledge not just about vision health, but about resources available to Canadians losing their vision including post-vision loss rehabilitation therapy.

Visit http://www.cnib.ca/visionhealthmonth for more information.

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Community Partner Updates

Hadley School for the Blind

Hadley’s mission is to promote independent living through lifelong distance education programs for people who are blind or partially sighted, their families, and blindness service providers. This service is offered free of charge. Hadley’s courses allow you to study at any time, at your own pace, and you will receive one-on-one attention from your instructor. Courses are offered in the medium of your choice – braille, large print, audio and online.  

What Hadley has to Offer:

  • Courses in all areas of vision loss including Low Vision, Orientation and Mobility, Independent Living Skills, Assistive Technology and Entrepreneurship. 
  • Online Seminars that cover topics such as Cooking, Recreations, Mentorship, Assistive Technology, Travel, etc.
  • YouTube Videos specifically focused on iProducts, with plans of expansion in other areas. 
  • A new Low Vision Focus Line of courses. 

To sign up for a course or to find out more information about Hadley’s other services, you can visit Hadley’s Website at www.hadley.edu.

Call Toll Free: 1-800-323-4238

Or Contact Dinah Durnford at CNIB Corner Brook Office at 709-639-9167 extension 12 or 1-800-334-2642 extension 5850

Other Important Links: iFocus Videos

http://www.hadley.edu/InstructionalVideos.aspx

https://www.youtube.com/user/HadleySchool

http://www.hadley.edu/seminarsAtHadley.aspx 

"More than at any other time, when I hold a beloved book in my hand my limitations fall from me, my spirit is free."

-Helen Keller

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Provincial Strategy of Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Action Plan 2015-2018

Submitted by: Disability Policy Office, Department of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development

Access. Inclusion. Equality, the Provincial Strategy for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities is a broad policy framework that guides the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in becoming more inclusive of persons with disabilities.

Its vision is that our province will be fully inclusive, a place where people with disabilities have the same opportunities and choices on an equal basis with others.  It is based on principles from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and was developed in consultation with people with disabilities, advocates and community organizations.

In June, 2015 the Provincial Government released an Action Plan that has 43 concrete actions within the five strategic directions of the strategy.  These areas include changing how people think about disability, engaging people with disabilities, making the built environment more accessible, increasing access to disability-related supports and delivering public services with dignity, fairness and respect.

The actions will be put in place by government departments, working with community organizations and private businesses. Actions are designed to remove barriers to buildings, programs, and information, while creating policies and guidelines that will avoid new barriers.

To highlight a few of the actions, there will be a  social media campaign to shift public attitudes, new accessibility guidelines for government public engagement sessions and for public information to ensure equitable access, an accessibility summit, a study of universal design to inform new government building projects,  and recommendations for the development of a provincial Assistive Technology Program.  These are only a few of the actions. 

The full document can be accessed at http://www.swsd.gov.nl.ca/disabilities/pdf/dpo_isap.pdf or by calling the Disability Policy Office at 1-888-729-6279 or emailing disability.policy.office@gov.nl.ca. The Action Plan is available in braille, large print and other alternate formats.

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