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Connecting the Dots - Virtual Program

National Virtual Conference

Date: Wednesday February 28, 2024

Time Zone: Please note all times outlined are in Eastern Standard Time.

Location: vFairs Virtual Event Platform

Registration required.

By agreeing to attend, please know there is a chance you could be filmed or photographed during the event. If you have an issue with this, please do not hesitate to contact us at connectingthedots@cnib.ca 

Conference Schedule

9:00 a.m. EST Registration Opens.

9:00 a.m.  EST Vendor Alley opens.

10:00 a.m. EST Indigenous Community Member Presentation and Opening Remarks. 

10:20 a.m. EST Opening Keynote.

10:50 a.m. EST Mental Health, Nutrition and Movement Break.  

11:00 a.m. EST Connecting the Dots Spotlight Speaker Series 1.

12:00 p.m. EST Follow the Ripple: Spotlight Series 1 Debrief and Discussion.

12:00 p.m. EST Vendor Alley Open.

12:30 p.m. EST Lunch | Mental Health, Nutrition and Movement Break.  

1:30 p.m. EST Connecting the Dots Spotlight Speaker Series 2.

2:30 p.m. EST Follow the Ripple: Spotlight Series 2 Debrief and Discussion.

3:00 p.m. EST Mental Health, Nutrition and Movement Break.

3:15 p.m. EST Connecting the Dots Spotlight Speaker Series 3.

4:15 p.m. EST Follow the Ripple: Spotlight Series 3 Debrief and Discussion.

5:15 p.m. EST Closing Remarks, Prize Announcements.

5:30 p.m.  EST Event Close.

Evening Networking Reception: Invite Only

6:00 p.m. EST Connecting the Dots Networking Reception Opens, Welcoming Remarks.

6:30 p.m. EST Networking – Navigate and make connections.

8:15 p.m. EST Closing Remarks, Prize Announcements.

8:30 p.m. EST Event Close.

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Session Descriptions

Opening Keynote

Perspective Matters: Exploring Canada’s Economic Outlook From Different Vantage Points

Scotiabank economists will provide a brief overview of how Canada’s economy has evolved over the course of the pandemic from serial shocks, to persistent uncertainty, to surprise resilience. They will explore what lay ahead for the economy. Importantly, they will demonstrate how perspective matters: not all parts of society experience the economy in the same way. They will highlight both the imperative and the opportunities to ensuring the economy and labour markets work for all Canadians.

Speakers: Rebekah Young, VP & Head of Inclusion and Resilience Economics, Scotiabank Economics and Neha Sarraf, Climate and Socio-Economic Research Analyst, Scotiabank Economics.

Connecting the Dots Spotlight Speaker Series

Exhibitors, vendors, and partners of CNIB will share ideas about issues affecting people with sight loss, cutting-edge and tried-and-true products, assistive technologies and services. Talks are on a first come first served basis and will be 10 minutes in length with the opportunity to network and connect further with speakers on their topics.

Spotlight Speaker Series 1

Time: 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Session Length: 10 minutes per speaker.

Session 101

CNIB – SmartLife, It's More Than Just a Store

You probably know that SmartLife is Canada’s biggest retailer of assistive devices for people living with vision loss.  Did you know that SmartLife supports, not only individuals, but also businesses and educational institutions throughout their journey to accommodate?  When working with SmartLife, you can expect to receive expert guidance from SmartLife coaches, business development managers, as well as program and tech leads to showcase solutions that meet your unique requirements. Come and learn about the collaborations with partners and the latest innovative offerings that SmartLife can provide for home, work, and school.

Speaker: Andrea Voss, Manager, SmartLife Business Development, CNIB  

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Session 102

HumanWare – Monarch: A Dynamic Tactile Display – Enabling Braille Dots to Serve 21st Century Needs

This session will discuss the upcoming Monarch Braille and tactile graphics display developed by HumanWare and the American Printing House for the Blind with their technology provider DOT Inc. Using a new innovation in braille cell technology, this tool will be capable of displaying tactile graphics and traditional braille on the same surface, unlocking access to instant information like never before.

Speakers: Andrew Flatres, Braille Product Manager, HumanWare

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Session 103

PAC – Myth-busting Federal Government Procurement

Did you know that the Government of Canada buys $15-20 billion worth of goods and services each year? Do you think they only buy from big companies? Would you be surprised to learn that many of these contracts are awarded to small businesses in Canada? Let us help you decide if selling to the Government of Canada is appropriate for you.

Speaker: Menelaos (Manny) Argiropoulos, Acting Regional Director Procurement Assistance Canada (PAC)

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Session 104

CNIB – ABCs of iOS: Swipe and Double Tap into Phase 2 Development

CNIB has developed an educational app, ABCs of iOS, to address the technology gap for blind or partially sighted children under 6 years of age. This app will enable these kids to begin school as tech savvy as their sighted peers across Canada. The project is piloting an education app with games to teach digital literacy skills; providing education and hands-on technology training to caregivers; and ensuring young blind and partially sighted children are fully immersed in learning from the moment they start school. With a research component, we will capture best practices for teaching digital literacy skills to kids in the early years.

Speaker: Monika Borchert, Manager, Early Years Digital Literacy Project, CNIB

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Session 105

Microsoft – Copilot in Excel: Analyze, understand, and visualize your data with ease

Microsoft Copilot in Excel helps you do more with your data in Excel tables by generating formula column suggestions, showing insights in charts and PivotTables, and highlighting interesting portions of data. The next era of business applications is being transformed by generative AI. Users will increasingly expect their CRM and ERP applications to include AI-powered expertise. Dynamics 365 Copilot brings the latest AI breakthroughs to every line of business, improving customer experience, employee experience and operational efficiency. Essential to our approach as we bring these latest advancements to customers is our commitment to responsible AI by design – our framework for the safe deployment of AI technologies.

Speakers: Ioana Tanase, Accessibility Program Manager and Jeremy Curry, Senior Support Escalation Engineer, Microsoft

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Spotlight Speaker Series 2

Time: 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Session Length: 10 minutes per speaker.

Session 201

CIBC – Financial Literacy Across the Generations

This session will cover all things financial literacy! What does it mean and what does it look like? Learn about all the small steps you can take to improve your financial well-being and all the various tools and products CIBC offers for financial planning like cash flow calculator, SmartPlanner, GoalPlanner, CIBC Insights, and RDSP. Leave feeling more financially savvy and empowered.

Speaker: Babar Baig, Senior Financial Advisor, CIBC

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Session 202

CNIB – Brain-based Visual Impairment in Children

What if you're born with a form of profound, and correctable, vision loss? What if it isn't detected and corrected early, and you lived without vision for a year or five or ten? Do you think treating your eyes would allow you to see? Would you interpret visual input differently than your peers? Could you learn to see? By storytelling and sharing the results of our recent research project, we will discuss the implications of early extended visual deprivation for children.

Speaker: Dr. Mahadeo A. Sukhai, Ph.D., Vice-President Research and International Affairs & Chief Accessibility Officer, CNIB

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Session 203

CELA, TMU & CNIB – Reimaginations: Creating Inclusive Graphic Novel Experiences

Learn about CELA's accessible graphic novel collection and eBOUND's new system of describing illustrated books that is more expressive and entertaining than standard alt text. This presentation will discuss CELA's pilot project, Toronto Metro University's (TMU) research with print-disabled fans of graphic novels, and the Literary Image Descriptions Best Practices Guide funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage, now available to publishers to encourage the creation of born-accessible picture books and graphic novels.

Speakers: Joanne Pak, Producer, Audio Publishing, CNIB, Margot Whitfield, MMSt, BFA, Ontario Certified Teacher, Lab Manager, TMU, and Theresa Power, Content and Access Librarian, CELA

Session 204

Deloitte - Breaking Barriers: Deloitte’s Commitment to Accessible Built Environments

Learn about our commitment to an Accessibility Action Plan and how Deloitte is incorporating inclusivity for all in our agile work environments. Through our philosophy and principle of building with purpose we are embracing a journey forward.  

Speaker: Kendra Earle, Senior Designer, Workplace Strategy and Design and Manager, Corporate Real Estate

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Session 205

Scotiabank – The Candidate Networking Journey

This session will explore the candidate networking journey from leveraging CNIB's Come to Work networking sessions with our recruiters to our career portal to attending events through to LinkedIn. Attendees will learn how to make the most out of those touchpoints and how to introduce yourself, the importance of an elevator pitch, doing research, and setting goals.

Speaker: Loran Upton, DE&I Program Manager, Global Talent Acquisition Strategies, Scotiabank

Spotlight Speaker Series 3

Time: 3:15-4:15 p.m.

Session Length: 10 minutes per speaker.

Session 301

Ontario Tech U - GoodMaps Explore: Post-secondary Institution Pilot

Ontario Tech University will highlight their ongoing partnership with CNIB and in particular the roll out of GoodMaps Explore as a pilot project on campus. Together we are enabling inclusive spaces.

Speaker: Lindsay Coolidge, Director, External Relations and Partnerships, Kelsey Ford, Manager of Student Accessibility Services, and Chris Woods, Director, Digital Development and User Experience, Ontario Tech University. 

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Session 302

Our Kids Will Thrive – Improving Access and Advocating for Change.

During consultations for the development of CNIB’s new strategic plan, The Way Forward, we heard from thousands of parents across the country that they want better support and outcomes for their children, both in and out of school. Parents are saying it loud and clear: children who are blind or have low vision aren’t receiving the classroom support they need to excel. Parents also report a distinct lack of awareness about living with sight loss among health care professionals, which leads to a lack of information, resources, and guidance. This is why one of our three commitments in this new strategic plan, Our Kids Will Thrive, is focused squarely on improving outcomes for children with sight loss and their families. In this session, we will discuss specific tactics CNIB is employing to level the playing field for children with sight loss, increase access to supports and resources for families and advocate for change within education and health care systems.

Speaker: Suzanne Decary-van den Broek, VP, Central Canada, CNIB

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Session 303

Bonocle From Learning to Living: How Bonocle Enhances Braille Skills and Independence 

Learn about Bonocle, an innovative technology that's changing the way we approach Braille learning with interactivity and gamification. Discover what makes Bonocle a game-changer and why it's crucial for enhancing accessibility, education, and independent living. 

Speaker: Ramy Abdulzaher, Co-founder and COO at Bonocle 

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Session 304

CNIB – Buying Change via Accessible Procurement

Buying new products and services, whether by the public, private, not-for-profit and small and medium enterprise has the potential to drive and improve inclusion for persons with disabilities not only in employment and community participation, but through economic inclusion. We will discuss best practices and current guidance on accessible procurement from around the world. Despite implementation gaps and barriers, accessible procurement can transform businesses and the world for the better.

Speaker: Dr. Mahadeo A. Sukhai, Vice-President Research and International Affairs & Chief Accessibility Officer

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Session 305

KPMG - This Changes Everything: Generative AI and the Next Competitive Advantage

Generative AI is no longer a future concept but a present reality. This presentation navigates the transformative impact of AI on businesses, exploring why technological disruption can be difficult to see, and what you’ll need to turn AI Readiness and experimentation into competitive advantage. Join us as we explore real-life applications, challenges, and practical advice to help prepare you for responsible and effective AI adoption.

Speaker: Marc Low, Director of Innovation & Emerging Technology, KMPG

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