Newfoundland and Labrador Newsletter July-September 2016


In this Issue:

Editor's Corner

By Trevor Freeborn

We hope you all enjoy the articles in this edition of the CNIB-NL newsletter. We had an amazing dedicated volunteer team who made this newsletter a reality; Courtney Gosse, Yong Ko, and Kim Thistle-Murphy. If you have any comments, questions, or an opinion you would like to share with the CNIB-NL newsletter team, just contact us by mail at 70 The Boulevard, St. John's, A1A 1K2, fax at (709) 754-2018 or email at

Letter from CNIB-NL

Dear Readers,

As usual it's a busy time at CNIB, and we are happy that you have chosen to take the time to read about some of the goings on. The fall season always brings several events such as our Visions Lounge, Dining in the Darks, and our Annual Community Meeting being held on October 5 at our CNIB centre in St. John's.  We also have a staffing announcement, Donna Byrne, Specialist, Low Vision in our Corner Brook office, retired on September 16 after working with CNIB for 20 years. We thank Donna for the tremendous contribution she has made to our Programs and Services delivery, and we wish her all the best in the next chapter of her life. We hope you all enjoy the rest of this newsletter, and for information on any of the above or other topics in this edition, please feel free to contact us.


Duane Morgan & Deborah Wearn

Highlight of Staff Member: Donna Byrne

By Courtney Gosse, CNIB Volunteer

woman standing next to a cnib display Donna Byrne has been working for CNIB for 20 years. Donna is a low vision specialist, which comes with many duties. These duties include: doing low vision assessments to recommend what low vision devices such as magnifiers may be helpful for the client to perform near and distant tasks, discussing the client's eye condition with the client and their family, and many more services.

Donna Byrne become interested in her current career by working in the operating room. It's there that her interest in Ophthalmology developed. Donna chose working with the CNIB because she enjoys her work and meeting the clients, and she truly believes in the work and services that CNIB provides.

One of Donna's favourite parts of her job is seeing the difference she has made in the lives of several clients. This career leaves Donna feeling very satisfied and grateful that she has been able to impact the lives of many clients.

The only stressful part of her job that Donna can recall is not being able to help in certain situations. Donna loves to work with people and help them in any way possible, so not being able to help must be a very stressful thing.

When asked to describe her job Donna Byrne responded with "The best ever!" She clearly enjoys all that she does with CNIB.

As of September 16th of this year Donna will be retiring. She will greatly miss her clients and co-workers. She thanks you all for an incredible twenty years which have been filled with memories.

Everyone is thankful for the impact Donna Byrne has had on their lives and everyone at CNIB wishes her nothing but the best. Thank you Donna for an incredible twenty years.

Featured Poem by CNIB Client, Joe Thorne

Around The Pond

The pond let go the mist,
and then it began to rise
Overcast sky loosen its presence,
and blueness showed its face
The warmth of the sun was carried on wind
While the birds within the tree,
shared their songs of grace

We see the things of beauty,
around about the pond
And the boardwalk becomes
a venture for anyone
At times one can hear someone singing,
a favorite tune along the way
Or even the laughter from the other side,
carried upon the water

Soon the loon you will hear,
as they sing a brand new song
The beaver will renovate his home,
or start all over again
The voices of the little children
and splashing within the pond
Something special for you and I can find,
while walking around the pond

women sitting on a bench next to a dogVolunteer Profile - Kim Thistle-Murphy

In 2012, after being diagnosed as being legally blind, I participated in a CNIB peer support program called Adjustment to Vision Loss (AVL) via teleconference led by a CNIB Counsellor, Robert Ganong, in Halifax. 

It was a challenging time for me. I had been faced with an early retirement and I began questioning my purpose in life; who I was, and where I was going from here?  

Before the AVL group started, Robert had suggested that, based on my background as a Guidance Counsellor, I should consider becoming a peer support facilitator when the program launched in Newfoundland and Labrador.  With CNIB's encouragement and my participation in the AVL Group, my confidence and belief in myself was rebooted.

Four years later, I am happy to say I am a peer support facilitator with CNIB Counsellor Lynsey Soper in Newfoundland and Labrador.  We have co-facilitated many groups.  It has been a rewarding experience.
I have also been fortunate to be able to give back to the organization in other ways; as an active board member, a participant in the National Volunteer Strategy Committee, the CNIB National Centennial Planning Committee, and as an office assistant in the St. John's office.  All of this happened because of my decision to join the CNIB AVL support group in 2012! 

The staff and volunteers at CNIB have provided me with new skills, encouragement, and support. It has given me a new purpose and plenty of opportunities. One of the things I think about is, when I was a Guidance Counsellor, it was always understood that when students come to school, one of my key roles was to ensure students felt capable, connected and contributing.  You know, the same applies to us as adults too! Today, thankfully, I am capable, connected and contributing

Highlight of CNIB Client – Jeana Bowen

By Courtney Gosse, CNIB Volunteer

Jeana Bowen was born in St. John's Newfoundland. She is a very complex individual who has several interests and intentions for her future. Her vision loss arises from damage to her Optic Nerve. Like most people who have vision loss she agrees that growing up with vision loss has its ups and downs.

Jeana has had experience with people being unsure of how to act around her at first, which many people with vision loss has experiences. Jeana explained that it was hard to find her way at first, but once her surroundings became more familiar to her she became more independent. Her school books were adapted to fit her needs and she uses the help of assistive technology to aid her in her daily activities.

Jeana often uses her IPhone, IPad, and computer, which all have voice activated programs so she can hear what is being displayed on screen and respond when prompted. This allows Jeana to communicate with her friends and family just as any sighted person would be able to.

When Jeana was asked how her visual impairment has impacted her life, she responded with: "I cannot do things I would like to do such as drive.   I cannot physically see my nieces and nephews grow up. I can only visualize what they look like by the description people give me. I can't do things that come natural to others like painting nails, cooking meals and applying make-up."

Positive can counter negatives and in this case Jeana has found many positive aspects of her vision loss. Here are some positive things that have happened in her life: "Learning how to play the guitar while memorizing the music. In 2004, I recorded a cd with a well-known Newfoundland recording artist. I was the first woman in Newfoundland to receive an award for totally blind female athlete at the Canadian Council of the Blind Sports games in 2012 for which I was honoured in the House of Assembly. I have been a volunteer with Ladies' Auxiliary of the Riverhead Volunteer Fire Department for the past 15 years. I proudly hold the position of Public Relations Officer of the executive committee. I am proud I can stand up for myself and be an independent woman. Going to camp for the blind without a guide proves that I am very capable of doing this on my own."

Jeana Bowen has been through much in her life, she has accomplished great things and she will continue to do so. She has many future goals in mind. One message she wants everyone to take away from her experiences is this: "I want others to know that being blind don't mean you can't live a very productive, independent life. Just because you have a disability it doesn't mean you can't share your many abilities with others."

Inspirational Quote

Submitted by: CNIB Volunteer, Courtney Gosse

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present

- Jim Rohn

CNIB Fundraising Highlights

By Trevor Freeborn

The Knights of the Blind

The Lions Club has been a longtime supporter of the CNIB and one of the many ways that they've made meaningful contributions to our clients is through the White Cane Program. 2 years ago, the Lions, also known as 'Knights of the Blind', pledged to fund white canes for CNIB clients throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. Thus far the pledge has amounted to nearly $10,000 in support! We'd like to offer a very big 'thank you' to the Lions for their continuing relationship with CNIB and their ongoing assistance to the visually impaired in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Vision's Lounge

In September, the CNIB hosted its annual Vision's Lounge fundraiser at Portobello's on Duckworth Street. A beautiful venue with an amazing scenic view of St. John's Harbour, Portobello's provided the setting for a very successful event that was attended by 90 sponsors, donors, and volunteers who were graciously thanked and recognized in the October 1st edition of the Evening Telegram. All told, our fundraising team planned and organized a wonderful, uplifting event that raised a grand total of $51,000! Many thanks again to the generosity of our sponsors and donors for helping make the event a success.

Dining in the Dark at the Gypsy Tea Room

November 23rd, CNIB will be hosting its annual Dining in the Dark fundraising dinner at the Gypsy Tea Room. A unique dining experience with exceptional food and an inspirational atmosphere, our Dining in the dark events are uniformly enjoyed by all who attend, with the crucial benefit of raising funds to support our clients. The night at Gypsy on November 23rd is an excellent occasion for clients, their families and friends to enjoy the Dining in the Dark experience. If interested, please contact Deborah Wearn at (709) 754 1180 extension 5804 or

We're always happy to welcome new fundraisers. Every year people find creative ways to help the CNIB through Facebook online auctions, bake sales, casual day 'toonie' drives, and hosting BBQs and casino nights, to name a few. If you have an idea for a fundraiser please contact us at 1-800-563-2642.

The TechTalk Corner:

By Yong Ko, CNIB Volunteer

Prototype of Orbit Reader 20, with notes about the control keysOrbit Braille Reader 20 soon to be available at CNIB

After a 3 year development process, Orbit Braille Reader 20 is about to be introduced during late Fall in order to improve the literacy of people with low vision. Thanks to the initiative of Kevin Kerry from RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) in England and 10 organizations involved, including CNIB, many people will be able to enjoy reading and writing, using Orbit Braille Reader 20, which is priced at very reasonable $ 400 compared to $3,000 for other products currently available.

As soon as the testing stage is finalized, Orbit Research (where the name "Orbit" came from) plans to commercialize the product and CNIB clients can purchase the product at CNIB's online webstore (

The cost reduction was achieved by innovative technology that differentiates Orbit Braille Reader from other similar products on the market. This versatile portable device can be used either stand alone or with mobile devices. It also supports braille reading and note taking using files saved on an SD (Secure Digital) card. Sending or reading a text message or email is also possible when it is connected to the computer or mobile devices with USB (or Bluetooth).

Debbie Gillespie (CNIB Toronto office) is a go-to person who has much information about the device. She believes the Transforming Braille Group, a group of 10 organizations that have worked together to develop an Orbit Reader 20, was a great initiative. Nonetheless, in her opinion, there are still many areas (such as GPS or 3D printing tactile graphics) that those organizations could sit down together to further enhance the quality of clients' lives going forward.
For more information about the product, please contact CNIB (709) 754-1180 (St. John's office) or 1-800-563-2642 (CNIB helpline).

Orbit Reader 20 ports 
Orbit Reader 20: Source, American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.



Inspirational Quote

Submitted by: CNIB Volunteer, Courtney Gosse

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.

-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Confronted with the task of re-inventing her life, young widow Priya grieves by researching spiritualism for a new age magazine and spending time in the garden her late husband, Gabe, had tended. In this sequel to the author's earlier novel, Priya's World, Priya's life is mired in uncertainty, but as spring begins to stir, the garden Gabe planted begins to speak to her of new life and fresh possibilities.

"Dawning of a New Garden flows like a magical river through issues of bereavement and self-realization. It's a beautifully written story with a lightness of touch that belies its richness and complexity. A terrific novel!"

—Paul Butler, author of The Good Doctor and the upcoming The Widow's Fire

Post-Secondary Students with Vision Loss Group

Photo of counsellor Lynsey Soper speaking with group member through SkypeAttending a post-secondary institution opens the doors to life-changing opportunities, but can also be stressful and challenging. For the past three years, CNIB has had a Post-Secondary Students with Vision Loss Group, which gives group members the opportunity to meet others who are blind or partially sighted and share tips and information about coping in a post-secondary setting and everyday life. The group is open to individuals with vision loss who are currently attending a post-secondary institution or for high school students or mature students interested in attending university or college.

roup members are able to talk in a confidential setting about the issues they are having and find positive ways to adapt and overcome barriers and challenges. The group meets every second week during the evening throughout the fall and winter semester at Memorial University, St. John's. If group members are unable to attend in person, Skype is available so members can participate from all areas of Newfoundland and Labrador. Group members also have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers about the services and resources that may benefit them; such as new assistive technologies or techniques for independent living. Social events are also planned by the group throughout the semester for a chance to de-stress.

The group gives everyone the opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills, share knowledge with others, and have some fun! If you think this is a group that would benefit you or someone you know, or if you have any further questions, please contact Lynsey Soper, at 754-1180 ext. 5802, 1-800-563-2642, or e-mail

Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) Updates

By Yong Ko, CNIB Volunteer

CCB chapters are excited to announce the following fundraising activities during the 4th quarter.

  • Lewisporte and Area Chapter: A walk-a-thon in Lewisporte on            September 10th
  • E.A. Baker Chapter in St. John's: A walk-a-thon at Mundy Pond,         St. John's on September 10th
  • Corner Brook Chapter: A walk-a-thon on September 27th
  • Grand Falls-Windsor Chapter: A walk-a-thon expected but not planned yet

Aside from a walk-a-thon, CCB chapters hold regular monthly meetings from September to June. CCB members participate in activities such as curling, snow shoeing, ice hockey, cross country skiing, skating, lawn bowling, croquet, bocce, golf, darts, bowling, swimming, goalball and various track and field activities. Activities vary by chapter. Clients living in St. John's area can enjoy croquet and bocce every Monday near 6:30pm at the St. John's Lions Club on Bonaventure Avenue.

Announcements from CCB:

  • In August, a week-long rehabilitation camp for adults with low vision was coordinated by CCB with the assistance of CNIB at the Lion Max  Simms Memorial Camp in Bishop's Falls. This camp runs every year in August.

Related News:

NL-VISRA (NL-Visually Impaired Sports and Recreation Association) is a new group that encourages people with low vision to be more actively involved in sports and recreational activities. One way NL-VISRA does that is by seeking assistance from local communities.

For more information on Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) or NL-VISRA, please call Nadine Green, President, CCB - NL Division and President of NL-VISRA at 745-6797 or email or or Facebook: Canadian Council of the Blind, Eastern NL Chapter.

Inspirational Quote

Submitted by: Courtney Gosse, CNIB Volunteer

What we think, we become


Classifieds Section of CNIB-NL Newsletter

Do you have any independent living aids or technology you would like to sell or give away to a fellow newsletter reader, or would you like to put up a wanted ad for one? If so, send us a request by mail at 70 The Boulevard, A1A 1K2, St. John's, fax at (709) 754 2018  or email at

We Are Here For You - Contact Us

St. John's Office
70 The Boulevard
A1A 1K2
(709) 754-1180

Corner Brook
3 Herald Avenue, 1st Floor
A2H 4B8
(709) 639-9167

Grand Falls-Windsor
1A O'Neill Avenue
P.O. Box 442
A2A 2J8
(709) 489-6515

Happy Valley – Goose Bay
49 Grenfell Street
A0P 1E0
(709) 896-8302

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