Well, the first month is nearly over and I am still alive. We will be having our first executive meeting on the 26th of May and a board meeting on June the 3rd.
I hope all that attended the AGM enjoyed themselves. It was so nice to see everyone,it was a long time since our last one.
We will be working with all the clubs on public relations, so some phones will be ringing to see who in your chapter would be interested in working with the people in their area.
Of course, we will be doing a lot more than that, but at this point it is very important to reach as many people as possible.
Thank you and as I have said in the past, I am reachable by phone 7 days a week 9am to 9pm at 250-339-3904.
– May 4, 2022Comox Valley Record by Terry Farrell
Pat Chicquen has been named president of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) BC-Yukon Division. Chicquen accepted the three-year term at the recent provincial annual general meeting. It was a natural progression after her term as vice-president. Chicquen said her goal is to improve awareness of the CCB.
“We need to get people to know who we are,” said Chicquen. “A lot of people think we are CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) just because it’s similar… CNIB actually did start the CCB 78 years ago. It was started at the end of the Second World War, when a lot of soldiers came home blinded.”
Chicquen is also the long-time president of the Canadian Council of the Blind Comox Valley Chapter – White Cane Club. She has held that position since 2015.
“We have our elections in June but if no one else wants to run, I will retain that,” she said.
The CCB mission statements is “To work together as a community of peers that acts to improve the individual and community quality of life of people who are blind, deaf-blind, or living with low vision.”
Our thanks go out to everyone who made our 2022 Triennial Conference a success. From incoming to outgoing board members, from Chapter delegates to attending members whether in person or on Zoom, from guest speakers to the people who attended our Open House – you all as members and friends of the Division deserve our thanks and appreciation!
Following are some comments we received:
“I want to express my sincere and warm kudos and thanks to you, your Board, staff and volunteers for putting together the wonderful CCB BC-Yukon Division’s triennial conference and AGM this year in Courtenay. It was truly a spectacular event. I found the workshops to be very informative, particularly the one from Ophthalmologist Doctor Hoar on Tuesday. I felt that Corry’s interactive presentation on Wednesday discussing the vision for our Division was very positive. Hopefully the discussion that took place will help to fuel lots of new energy into the Division… the afternoon bus tour was such a pleasure with lots of information about the areas of the Comox Valley. It was truly a highlight. The stop near the ocean for a breath of fresh air and the one later at the Comox Wings Taphouse both added extra special touches to the excursion. The lovely turkey dinner along with the presentations at the Comox Legion was a very heartwarming treat for us all. It was a wonderful end to the day. The open house on Wednesday afternoon enabled me and others to connect with people and to see items of interest. The banquet was a happy time for us all and the food was great. The many door prizes throughout the week and the goody bags full of fine treasures helped fill our suitcases with extra memories of a very awesome week. I really appreciate all the effort you, your Board, staff and other volunteers took to ensure everyone was comfortable and safe during the time and how you all went the extra mile to assist people to enjoy their stay. You were all such a fine, hard-working team. You all had everyone’s interests truly at heart, both leading up to the event and while we attended it. After the long spell of connecting virtually, this in-person event was extra special for all of us.”
“First and foremost, Congratulations in the success of the conference. A good time was had by all and it was a nice mix of social activities and information sharing. You and your team pulled off the hosting of this event during extremely difficult times, covid and all, so extra points for a job well done.”
“As a delegate, this is to thank everyone who made my attendance so useful. I learned a lot and intend to keep in touch as my sight deteriorates further.”
Congratulations to the incoming Division Board of Directors: President Pat Chicquen, 1st Vice President Bill Conway, 2nd Vice President Darren Douma, 3rd Vice President Kelvin Adams, Past President Ann McNabb; and Directors Fraser Hiltz, Terry Pipkey, Rose Pokeda and Vern Short. And lots of thanks and appreciation to outgoing Board members Geraldine Braak, Brodie McKenzie and Iris Thompson. Your new Board of Directors contact information is at the end of this newsletter, if you have questions or need assistance.
The 2022 CCB BC-Yukon Division Triennial Conference gave us the opportunity to recognize some of our members for their outstanding dedication and contributions to the Division. It is exciting and a pleasure to announce the following recipients:
The CCB BC-Yukon Division Book of Honour Award for a blind/vision impaired member was given to CCB Provincial Book Club Chapter President Kathy Sanness. Kathy began her relationship with the Division when she became a member of the CCB 100 Mile House & District Blind & Visually Impaired White Cane Club approximately 20 years ago when she began to lose her vision. She was born and raised in 100 Mile House and has an extensive ranching background. Kathy raised three sons, one of which has autism. She worked with youth at the high school level including sex education with many funny antics. Kathy has been a long time Lioness and Lions Club member mainly in the 100 Mile House community. Kathy participated in blind curling as well as many white cane week events manning information tables in 100 Mile House and Kelowna. Kathy relocated to Kelowna for more opportunities for her son. Kathy has held many positions in the 100 Mile House & District chapter over the years, has served on the Division board of directors, was involved in the starting of the Provincial Book Club Chapter and is currently the chapter president. There have been many glowing reviews of how beneficial the Book Club has been to many across Canada especially during the pandemic. Kathy most currently was a part of the Division nominations committee for the 2022 elections. Kathy is fully supportive of the CCB and all that the mission statement stands for. Unfortunately, Kathy was not able to make the trek to our Triennial Conference; and we are hoping to arrange a presentation at the Division Sports Days in October.
Dr. Geraldine Braak OC, OBC, hPHD LLD or Gerry as she likes to be called was granted a CCB BC-Yukon Division Honourary Membership Award. Gerry has been involved with the Division since 1973. She pioneered the Powell River White Cane Club which is now known as the CCB Powell River Chapter. Geraldine is well known and respected for her exceptional and extensive knowledge. Geraldine was elected as a delegate to a Division Conference where she was elected as a Division board member. She served as Director of Legislation, 2nd Vice President and 1st Vice President and was then elected to the CCB National Board of Directors. Gerry served as Director of Legislation and 1st Vice President and became the CCB National President for an 8 year period. The CCB is a member of the World’s Blind Union which she attended as a delegate in a variety of different countries. Geraldine served as 1st Vice President for the North American, Caribbean Division of the World Blind Union (WBU) and served as chair person of the Women’s Committee and as an executive member of the WBU board of directors. She represented the CCB in a variety of different countries. Gerry has been very involved in the CCB for more than 40 years. Gerry has also received the CCB National Award of Merit and been awarded a Life Membership in the CCB. She has also represented the CCB on many provincial and national committees and was chair person of the advisory committee on the Accessible Transportation for the federal ministry. She was very involved in the start up of the Canadian Braille Authority and served as Past President. Geraldine has received the Order of British Columbia and has been invested as an officer in the Order of Canada and received an Honorary Doctorate of Law Degree. Most recently Geraldine has been the National Representative and 3rd Vice President for the Division Board since 2019 to 2022. Unfortunately, Gerry was unable to attend our Triennial Conference and be recognized in person, but newly elected Division President Pat Chicquen will be visiting Powell River in the near future to present Gerry with her certificate in recognition of her Division Honourary Membership status.
In 2019, the Division Board awarded Lori Fry with CCB BC-Yukon Division Honorary Director status. Lori was unable to attend the 2019 Triennial Conference and her presentation was again delayed due to the unforeseen pandemic. Unfortunately, again this year Lori was unable to attend our Triennial Conference and fellow Chapter member Judy Macdonald accepted on Lori’s behalf. Lori Fry joined the CCB as a member and volunteer in 1991 serving 31 years consecutively on the CCB local chapter executive committee, joined the CCB BC-Yukon Division Board of Directors in 2002 and the CCB National Board of Directors in 2009. Lori was a Director and National Rep at the provincial level and held the position as the National 1st Vice President, also the CCB National Membership Committee Chair and served on the CCB National Bylaws Committee along with several other divisional committees until 2019. She was awarded the National White Cane Week Person of the Year in 2009. Lori was instrumental in hosting many Blind Curling Bonspiels over the years. These positions encompass a wide variety of duties which included many tasks related to everyday administration operations of the charity at all levels. Including leadership roles, supervision, fundraising including grant writing, creating and improving policies and procedures. As well she continued in a major role of sustaining the current membership, recruiting new members and development of new chapters. Many of these duties included event planning for conferences, workshops, open houses, information sessions and membership drives, peer counselling and mentorship. She continuously promoted, planned and supported social and recreational activities combined with creating awareness and education along with advocacy for the blind with all levels of government through integration with the sighted community. Lori continues this education and awareness through the CCB chapter in her home town of 100 Mile House.
The first CCB BC-Yukon Division Book of Honour Award for a posthumous member went to Stan Bradshaw from Prince George. Stan was an active and deeply involved member of the Division spanning over two decades, also holding the position of President for many years. Stan was an extensive volunteer with his chapter, and gave many years of service to the CCB from 1982 to 2005. He also held the Division’s National Representative position on the National Board. Working as a pastor for the Lutheran Church in Prince George he was well respected in all aspects of his life. Some would describe Stan as a person who demonstrated leadership. He created awareness of the CCB and vision loss in his community as well as elsewhere. Stan promoted and supported CCB membership, White Cane Week as well as other community involvement and volunteer activities through the years. He had many original ideas and initiatives that came to fruition for the good of those with vision loss. Stan participated in acquiring a large sum of gaming funds. After a careful and thorough examination of options, these funds were invested in the Vancouver Community Foundation. This investment stipulates no principle funds can ever be withdrawn and the CCB BC-Yukon Division receives the interest each year assisting to sustain the future of the Division.
– submitted by Iris Thompson
Guests we have had join our chapter call ins over the last couple of months . In April Ken Gray photographer gave an interesting presentation on his passion for photography. Ken is legally blind and even though he has limited vision he finds photography very rewarding. Ken is involved in a photography club in Kamloops where he lives. Ken gives a lot of insight to photographers who have no problems with their vision.
In May Steve Barclay from Canadian Assistive Technology gave an update of devices that are available through his company.
Stay tuned to guests that will be joining our meetings in the next few months.
– from your Division Sports and Rec Committee
DATES: Wednesday & Thursday October 12 & 13, 2022 (travel days: arrival Tuesday October 11th & departure Friday October 14th)
All Division members who have never experienced curling or bowling, or would like to give it a try again please consider registering. Priority will be for those wanting to learn, but depending on space, there may also be an opportunity for the experienced to participate. Participation in both sports is expected.
Everyone is encouraged to share this information with blind and partially sighted individuals who may be interested in joining the CCB and trying out both curling and bowling. As well, this event is an opportunity for local residents to get involved with the CCB and be a part of the blind curling chapter in Kelowna.
Wednesday October 12th will feature curling – with a morning introductory instruction session and in the afternoon playing mini ends of curling (games). A lunch will be provided in between the morning and afternoon sessions.
Thursday October 13th will feature 5 pin bowling – playing 3 games with lunch provided between the second and third games.
Accommodations will be provided at the Coast Capri Hotel, 1171 Harvey Avenue in Kelowna BC. Those coming solo will be asked to share a room with two queen beds.
On the evening of Tuesday October 11th, our “travel day” everyone will have an opportunity to socialize in the hospitality suite. And on Wednesday evening come out and have fun playing “Guess that Tune” and/or try your hand at cribbage, Skip Bo, or another game available for your playing pleasure! The Sports Days Wrap Up dinner will be Thursday evening at the hotel. Following dinner, everyone is welcome to socialize in the hospitality suite. Friday, October 14th, after breakfast we travel home.
Regarding transportation, the Division will make every effort to ensure we provide transportation and cover most if not all costs (on a case-by-case basis).
***What do you get for $50.?
3 nights’ accommodation
Breakfasts, 2 lunches and a wrap up meal
Transportation assistance as much as possible
All costs associated with the sports
All the fun you can have in two days!!!
Please email us at email@example.com if you did not receive your registration form; it needs to be to us by June 30, 2022.
– submitted by Lori Fry
Since reporting in April 2020, this Chapter has not held regular meetings of any kind due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, members have been connected and kept informed through email updates and messages including any business that required input and voting from the membership.
When the pandemic hit hard in the spring of 2020, this Chapter was in the midst of a Year-long campaign in collaboration with the local optometrist. The idea was to use the “20/20” theme as a platform in order to create awareness and provide education regarding vision loss and blindness in correlation of the year “2020,” “20/20” vision and hind sight being “20/20.”
An application was made for the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) grant through the Community Foundations of Canada (CFC). The Chapter was fortunate to have received a $5,000.00 ECSF grant to be used for emergency services for our members and in conjunction with this grant application, the Chapter also received another $4,500.00 grant from the South Cariboo Community Enhancement Foundation (SCCEF) to be used to help maintain the Chapter’s regular pre-COVID Eye Care Subsidy and Assistive Devices Programs until further Chapter revenue was generated.
This funding also allowed the Chapter to implement our new Health and Wellness Program. The first component of this program was the Health & Safety which provided members with care packages on three separate occasions during the pandemic and included items such as masks, hand sanitizer, grocery subsidies and a few other essentials. This Health and Wellness Program has since added the Lawn Care Maintenance component.
Chapter fundraising opportunities were put on hold including our Sunday Sales at the local Thrift Store. This Chapter has had the good fortune of collaborating with the Cedar Crest Thrift Store since 2015 by providing Chapter members to volunteer to run the store every week in exchange for the proceeds from Sunday sales.
Due to the interim financial support, the Chapter was able to continue all operations including support for the Guide Dog Walk and several other community needs throughout the pandemic.
White Cane Week 2021 and 2022 were promoted through an ad campaign utilizing radio, newspaper and online media outlets. In addition to these purchased ads, the Chapter was able to secure an on-going community time slot on air every second week at no cost.
In the spring of 2021, the Chapter was able to continue their “High Visibility Painting Project” which was to be part of the “20/20” year-long campaign. Following a walk-about with the local Mayor, Public Works staff and a newspaper reporter along with the financial support of a Cariboo Regional District Community grant matched by the Chapter, an awareness campaign was started.This would improve accessibility for everyone not just those with low vision. Businesses and other locations were invited to join in the campaign at no cost to themselves as the Chapter would incur the basic costs with funds permitting. This project remains on-going.
As spring rolled into summer, 100 Mile House and much of the surrounding area were on wildfire evacuation alert once again bringing back less fond memories of the evacuations we endured in 2017. Despite the local and global hurdles, the Chapter has been able to stay visible within the community. Sadly, a few members have left us, but we were also able to recruit three new members during this difficult time.
Unfortunately, the Chapter was not able to send a delegate to the 2022 Triennial Conference as no member was able to attend.
Recently on May 5th with COVID caution still in the air, fourteen of our twenty six members met in-person for their first get together in two years.
– submitted by Pat Chicquen
We have been busy in the last couple of weeks. There was an out to lunch bunch, our annual car wash with lots of members and guests washing cars – Kathy from Kingston and Martin from Victoria and also local guest helpers. Thanks so much all of you.
WE are having our June meeting at the Comox Legion bar and it will be a lunch meeting. Our picnic is in July at Anderton Gardens in Comox. We also have two new members that joined at the AGM open house. Everyone have a great summer!
– submitted by Kathy Sanness
The Provincial Book Club meets on the fourth Friday, every month, at 9 AM Pacific time, on Zoom. We read one book, chosen by our members, rather than one on a prescribed reading list. By now, we know each other’s preferences quite well. We get most of our books from CELA or with help from one of our members. As well as discussing books, we also discuss subjects that interest us. For example, modern technology, etc. Most of our members live in BC, but we also have members in other provinces as well.
Here is a list of the books we are reading over the next few months:
June24th All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
July 22nd Before we were yours by Lisa Wingate
August 26th Sea of tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
September 23rd Dancing After TEN by Vivian Chong
If you would like to check us out or find out more about us, please contact me, Kathy Sanness at 250 395 0395 or firstname.lastname@example.org
– from an email from Amy Amantea
Hello friends, I am excited to announce that the Festival of live Digital Arts (FOLDA) has commissioned a digital version of my piece “Through My Lens”. There will be an online sharing of the works on June 10 from 5-630PST.
I hope that you consider purchasing a ticket and joining us! If you are blind/partially sighted, you can register for the watch party (online) hosted by Kim Kilpatrick at 430pm PST/730pm EST on Friday June 10th.
Blind/low vision folks are invited to attend free of charge but will need to register their interest by email at email@example.com by phone at 1-877-693-6532.
There will be ASL interpretation and Deaf folks are also welcome to join free of charge and are asked to register by email at firstname.lastname@example.org by phone at 1-877-693-6532.
For others who want to join, you can purchase tickets online. there are flex prices offered at $15, $25 and $50 at:
This is the first step in this work. The plan will be to continue to develop this project over the next few years and present it in person, and a live interactive experience, and possible tour it across Canada. These are exciting times for me as an artist and the first time I am developing my own professional work from start to finish! Thank you to Theatre Replacement for supporting the development and producing the work.
Come support disability art! And please help spread the word and share with your networks! Any questions, please let me know! Warmly, Amy Amantea604-763-2695 or email@example.com
– On the Island by Ruth Bieber
For those of you, who have managed to keep up with me during the past year (five different living locations in twelve months) I am happy to report, that I have landed, more or less, permanently in Parksville BC. To be clear, I quite love it here, and maybe it is the constant acclimatising to new surroundings talking, but turns out Parksville is just a bit quirky. This fact, coupled with being blind has led to no shortage of confusing, if not entertaining experiences for me. I will endeavour to share just one. Stick with me, however, as it might end up being one of those, ‘you had to be there’, kind of stories. Let us see?
Since moving here end of March, I have had three sets of friends visiting. Turns out people love coming to the Island! The last visitor was my eldest son, who does not drive, by the way. So, before he arrived, I put my nose to the Google grindstone in way of trying to understand the local transportation system. Afterall, we for sure wanted to hear the sea lions at French Creek, take in the goats on the roof at Coombs, and maybe make our way up Island a bit. This is where things got interesting for me while trying to figure out which bus route to take, when, and where. Further more, why oh why were there so many different bus systems! It was frankly daunting! I found the Island Link, the Vancouver Island Connector, the BC Transit, the Six Connector and something called the Roman, Which I understood was a bit of creative terminology. “Why not?” I thought. I just couldn’t figure out the differences between all these different bus systems. Google was just not cutting it, and anytime I tried to ask folks in my social circle, I just got more confused. In way of managing some of my mounting stress over it all, I turned to my trusty journal. Well, if that didn’t result in a good old belly laugh! For all you screen reader users out there, see what happens when you type the letters ‘V’ and ‘I’ together as in the initialized form of Vancouver Island. Remember to capitalize both letters, and type them without a space between the letters. The smarty pants among you will have already figured out the source of some of my confusion, but the rest of you might need to reread the list of bus systems above. Too funny! I’m still quite confused about public transportation on the Island, but not as confused as previous. Plus, there’s nothing more soul filling than a good old belly laugh. Stick with me, there’s more where that came from. Till next time.
PS: Thank you to Ann McNabb and the organizers of the conference for the hybrid model of conference attendance, which under the circumstances, I very much appreciated.
– submitted by Sherry Salsbury
I shared what my world is like living as a Hard of Hearing and Blind person recently on a CCB BC Yukon Division Open House call.
My world is black & white due to my severe to profound hearing loss and I wear two hearing aids. My hearing loss and speech is a hidden impairment as I don’t present these until I tell people I have a hearing impairment. What I hear is monotone and I can not hear the inflection in people’s voices to tell is they are sad, happy, angry, or joking, this is due to the mechanics of Hearing Aids and how a person perceives sounds and for me this is my world. I can not be in a noisy physical room or a zoom room as I can not understand what is being said at any given moment, therefore, I am in a constant state of frustration of wanting to belong and can’t because I misunderstand what was said and at times get into a heap of trouble and others, we have a good laugh over the mishap. This also goes for when I’m talking to someone on a one-to-one basis, I have learned to clarify what I have thought I have heard.
Being blind on top of being Hard of Hearing presents another challenge as I can not travel independently in my community by transit or walking the sidewalks or crossing the streets. I can not differentiate between a car, truck, city bus and First Responding vehicle.
My means of transportation is Taxi’s and I call all stores before going to make sure they have staff available to assist me. As for medical tests this is communicated with all specialists and then it is written on all reports, and I get the help from the front door of the hospital to the procedure room and back to the taxi.
My world since childhood has been very frustrating due to my hearing challenges and now sight and the traumas I have gone through and am getting help to over come. I also have other hidden challenges which is managed, like others have more than one challenge in life to deal with and I am no different.
What I am most proud of is I have done this advocacy work on my own with no support and no alphabet agencies advocating on my behalf.
– submitted by Kelvin J Adams
Like many I had heard about Helen Keller growing up. My basic understanding of her was that she was a blind and deaf girl that learned to speak and even become a famous author. This was the extent of my understanding of Helen until the summer of 2014 when she started to become a personal part of my life.
I had started on a journey towards blindness back in 2013 which left me totally blind in my left eye by the end of that year. In the beginning of 2014 my right eye was starting to go blind also. With aggressive eye treatments we were managing to keep some functioning sight in that eye but there was no promise it would remain. After being on the road working that summer, I was home between jobs. I was on the patio with my partner of several years enjoying a wonderful lunch she had prepared us. She asked me an interesting question about what we would do for money if I went totally blind. Being a person of faith, I never worried that much about it since things have a way of working out. It was clear she was concerned and wanted an answer. So I smiled and said, “ I will become an author and write a best selling book.” That did not sit well with her, mocking me she responded, “ how will you write a book if you can not see?” Defending myself I responded,” why not Helen Keller could not see or hear and she wrote a best selling book when there was no computers”.
As I found out a few months later it would not matter to us since she had already started making plans to move on without me. For me it would matter because Helen Keller was now becoming a personal part of my journey in life. The thought was deeply seated in my mind, how did she overcome her challenges and move forward? She is truly an endless inspiration to all that travel the road of total blindness and severe vision loss.
Helen Adams Keller was born to Kate Adams Keller and Arthur H Keller on June 27th 1880. When she was only 19 months old an illness robbed her of her sight and hearing. By the age of 10 she had learned sign language and braille after which she was determined to learn how to speak. She attended the Cambridge School of Weston from 1896 to 1900 then Radcliffe College from 1900 to 1904. It is claimed that Helen had an IQ of 160 that she put to good use before her passing on June 1st 1968. Besides being a famous author, she was an educator, disability rights advocate, political activist and a lecturer.
Just a few days ago I had the pleasure of listening to a woman speak of her journey with being blind and deaf. With severe loss of sight I struggle with many things I once had taken for granted. One of them is depending on others to get around leaves one feeling isolated at times. As she told her story I was totally inspired by her. Never before did I imagine what it was like to not see or hear. As this woman told us, “ imagine not being able to see”, which many of us listening knew personally, “then imagine also not being able to hear.” Living life in the dark and total silence all the time. Helen had a room with a lock that was off limits to everyone. I have a feeling it was her safe place. A place where she could enter and be alone and rest assured she was alone.
There is no doubt in my mind that Helen developed a strong desire to leave her world of being alone that she was in 140 years ago. To overcome the barriers in her life and learn how to communicate with the silent dark world around her, and be included in that world. For me my journey towards blindness started the better part of 10 years ago. My fear of losing the life I once had and most of all to feel I was not alone pushed me to find solutions. One of the solutions I found was the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). An organization started almost 80 years ago by blind war vets across Canada. Our organization is run by the blind, blind/deaf and those with limited sight. Over six years ago I become part of this group and began to set aside my ego and learn new tools to help me overcome the obstacles in my life. When people see me using a mobility cane (white cane) they might see only a disability. For me I see, an Overcomer, someone like Helen that has the courage to overcome the obstacles and be included in society.
Many of us receive information through our eyes and ears, whether from our televisions, conversations with neighbours, headlines on a mobile device, or weather reports on an app.These seemingly minor bits of information, which most of us take for granted, could present many barriers for a person who is deafblind.
But what is deafblindness? Deafblindness is a disability in which an individual has a substantial degree of loss of both sight and hearing, the combination of which results in significant difficulties in accessing information and in pursuing educational, vocational, recreational, and social goals. Deafblindness is a unique and separate disability from deafness or blindness. An individual with a combined loss of hearing and vision requires specialized services, including adapted communication methods.
Intervenors are professionally trained to provide auditory and visual information to people who are deafblind. Acting as the eyes and ears, an intervenor provides complete information about the environment and surrounding circumstances to the person who is deafblind who is unable to attain this information for him or herself because of a dual sensory loss. By using various modes of communication, they provide opportunities for people who are deafblind to gain independence, pursue goals, have control over their lives/make choices and interact with the environment.
June celebrates National Deafblind Awareness Month, marking the birth month of Helen Keller, unquestionably the most famous person who was deafblind—both deaf and blind.
Helen Keller’s journey is an inspiring story that took her from no communication with the world around her to a life of vision and advocacy, thanks to the support of her intervenor.She engaged in a seemingly impossible battle to participate and break down barriers in a world some might consider she had lost. Through her actions and achievements, Helen Keller is one of the most powerful symbols of triumph over adversity.
Many people are familiar with the story of Helen Keller, but unaware that her experience with deafblindness is all too real for over 466,420 Canadians who are deafblind.
In 1925, as an ambassador for the newly formed American Foundation for the Blind, Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio.
“Try to imagine how you would feel if you were suddenly stricken blind today,” Keller asked Lions members packed into the convention hall. “Picture yourself stumbling and groping at noonday as in the night; your work, your independence gone.”
Keller knew exactly what this was like. Blind and deaf since the age of 19 months, she had once lived in virtual isolation, unable to effectively communicate. Then, a teacher from the Perkins School for the Blind named Anne Sullivan came to live and work with Keller and taught her to connect with the world through sign language. Keller eventually learned to read and write, earned a bachelor’s degree and learned how to speak.
Most Lions at the time were familiar with her well-publicized story. Some Lions in the audience had already been involved with service projects to the blind. But witnessing Keller share her heart and soul for the plight of the blind brought the reality of being visually impaired crashing home for everyone present. The Lions and their guests were captivated.
Keller saved her most stirring words for the end of her speech, hoping that the Lions would partner with the American Foundation for the Blind and lend their support as an organization to those who had lost their sight.
“Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught; no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you Lion, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves knights of the blind in this crusade against darkness?”
She had no idea just how far the association would take her challenge. Before the convention was over, the association unreservedly dedicated itself to making Keller’s dream a reality. Lions would become Keller’s Knights of the Blind.
Since 1925, hundreds of millions of lives have been changed through the vision-related work of Lions around the world, and today the association is as dedicated as ever to hastening the day when no one should suffer unnecessarily from vision problems. Through eye centers and hospitals, medicines and surgeries, eye glasses and eye banks, Lions are working to end preventable blindness and aid the visually impaired.
“It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks, to go forward with a great desire forever beating at the door of our hearts as we travel toward our distant goal.”
Official Lions Clubs International Eyeglass Recycling Centre provides recycled eyewear free of charge to people in developing countries.
Click the link to find a glasses donation box near you.
– June 1, 2022News Release from Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
A new initiative will improve the quality of life for British Columbians living with hearing and sight loss, which is known as deafblindness. CNIB Deafblind Community Services, a non-profit organization that provides support to Canadians who are deafblind, will use $740,000 in provincial funding over two years to hire four specially trained staff known as intervenors to work with clients one on one.
“June is Deafblind Awareness Month in B.C., which is a good time for all of us to become more aware of the barriers that people who are deafblind face, as well as the unique services that help them better access the world around them,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This funding for intervenor services will help address communication challenges and provide critical supports for individuals who are deafblind so they can stay connected in their communities.”
CNIB Deafblind Community Services is one of Canada’s leading providers of specialized services for people who are deafblind to help them maximize their independence and engagement. The organization estimates that approximately 1,033 British Columbians are deafblind.
“While Deafblind Awareness Month is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions that individuals who are deafblind make in communities around B.C., it’s also a chance for us to ask if we are doing enough to address barriers for the deafblind community,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “It’s our goal, as we continue to implement the Accessible B.C. Act, to make sure that people who are deafblind have every opportunity to work, learn and contribute to the best of their ability.”
Intervenors are trained to act as the eyes and ears of a person who is deafblind, making it easier for them to navigate day-to-day activities such as grocery shopping, banking and attending doctor’s appointments. Different from sign-language interpreters, intervenors relay visual information about a client’s surroundings to them using the client’s preferred communication methods, which may or may not include sign language.
“We at CNIB Deafblind Community Services are thrilled to be moving into B.C. to help British Columbians who are deafblind increase their independence and engagement with the world around them,” said Sherry Grabowski, vice-president, CNIB Deafblind Community Services. “Intervenor services are not just nice to have but are imperative to the well-being of people who are deafblind, and we could not be more pleased to be bringing this vital service to many people in B.C. who need it.”
Providing the right tools and services for people who are deafblind is just one way government supports lives lived fully with independence, purpose and dignity. Raising awareness about deafblindness and shifting people’s attitudes are important elements of removing barriers and creating a more accessible and inclusive province for everyone.
– submitted by Bill Conway
It’s Accessibility Week from May 29 to June 4, 2022, with June 4th being the 25th anniversary of Access Awareness Day in the province of BC. To me, it is a time in which we should examine how to enhance our accessibility to the fast-moving changes in today’s world. We should examine our ways in which we get around and the barriers we face daily. By doing so, we can make positive, and sometimes, creative suggestions to our community leaders. The consistent reminders to the designers of the multitude of social media platforms, web sites and devices, that uses technology to use, is starting to become more accessible to the blind and visually impaired community. We must be vigilant when it comes to the self-service check outs. This is becoming the new norm, in some businesses. If we must use them, let’s provide suggestions to the businesses how to improve our access to them. When it comes to new residential units, they should have accessibility features built into the designs and not have renovations done down the road. For all of us, that speak up, keep on doing it. Rome was not built in a day and collectively we have, can, and will make our communities as accessible for one and all.
– from Rob Sleath from an ASIC News email May 24, 2022
Good morning ASIC News Subscribers, one of our primary objectives at present is to uncover a detailed understanding of how the BC Ministry of Health and a closed group of retinal specialists came to develop off the record and behind-the-scenes the BC Retinal Diseases Program initially launched back in 2009. Currently, we are concerned by the BC Ministry of Health underwriting the expense of an off-label anti-VEGF medication under this program. Additionally, the program rewards specialists for maintaining an 85% use of the off-label medication with a claw back of medical fees if the use of alternate medication exceeds 15%. And with significant advancement in the creation of more effective anti-VEGF medications that have been approved by Health Canada, why is the Health Ministry not prepared to fund these newer, more effective medications? Furthermore we are alarmed by the numerous stories we’ve received from patients affected by AMD, DME and glaucoma with respect to ill-timed requests by medical staff for these patients to provide what amounts to non-informed consent. And we’re hearing of the doctors failing to disclose potential adverse medication reactions to their patients. Of the five Freedom of Information requests submitted to the Provincial Health Services Authority in May 2021, one response which was extensively redacted gave us pause and grounds to file an appeal with the Office of the Information and Privacy Protection Commissioner this past December. Our appeal has been acknowledged by the Commissioner’s office and while we await the outcome of his investigation, we wish to share with you a detailed overview of our history and progress on this initiative including videos with expert medical analysis, medication monographs and warnings from the Health Canada web site. Subscribers in Alberta will be pleased to learn we have initiated similar inquiries into that province’s Retina Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Program for Intraocular Disease (RAPID). And will report our progress as information comes to light.
– submitted by Rose Pokeda
Hopefully everyone made it home safely after our triennial conference and AGM. It took me a few days before I felt rested and back to normal. It was rewarding to be back face to face again, but I must admit it will take some time to feel comfortable being in large group situations. I would like to thank everyone who came to the conference to help to make it a success. Also thank you for voting for me to secure my position as a Board member of the CCB BC-Yukon Division. As a new board member I have lots to learn and hope to be an asset to the team.
At a local level we have been busy planning our annual Car Wash which we haven’t been able to do for a few years. Our plan is to incorporate a White Cane Awareness event at the same time with handouts of questions to ASSESS YOUR RISK OF VISION LOSS , the AMSLER GRID and BOOKMARKS with stickers with contact information. This will be our first public event since Covid hit so it will be interesting to see the response from the community.
As May is Vision Health Month, we felt it necessary to do some public awareness and education. I strongly urge everyone to SIGN THE PETITION at https://www.fightingblindness.ca/stop-vision-loss/ for a national vision health plan if you haven’t already done so. All that is required is your first and last name, email address and postal code [phone number only if you wish]. This campaign is hosted by Fighting Blindness Canada and the Canadian Council of the Blind. Over 8 million Canadians are living with diseases that can lead to blindness; act now – their time is running out. Let’s stop the crisis of preventable vision loss and blindness.
– submitted by Denis Bessette
Hi, I am a member of the Chilliwack white cane Chapter and I was asked to share my online gaming activities accessible for the blind and partially sighted.
First, RSGames – Accessible Games for the Blind at:
Since 2009, RS Games has developed online board, card, and dice games that are accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Over 20 games are currently available including Monopoly, Uno, Rummy, Blackjack, Yahtzee, Farkle, and Scrabble. Each game gives directions on how to play and all the key commands. This site is really easy to use and will bring you many hours of pleasure (smile).
Second, QuentinC’s playroom. A free online gaming platform, especially made to be accessible to visually impaired people at:
There are over 30 accessible games. Many card games including Spades, Poker, Rummy, Cribbage; plus, dice games including Yahtzee, Farkle and Shut the Boxes; and other games like Chess, Backgammon and Connect Four. Sighted persons may play along since it has a screen. And you can play from others from around the world.
Hope to see you there, look me up, my user name is DeniDog – I have made many friends throughout the world. Enjoy!
– submitted anonymously
Are you tired of hearing about “sleep”? Someone recommended trying a marijuana gummy. And if I ever go this route, I’ll tell you all about it. Google says it can last up to six to eight hours. But for now I’ll just close my eyes and think about it!
Remember your Division Board of Directors is here to help you. Do not hesitate to email or call for more information or clarification on any matters concerning the CCB BC-Yukon Division.
Pat Chicquen, President – 250-339-3904 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Conway, 1st Vice President – 604-740-5896 – email@example.com
Darren Douma, 2nd Vice President – 250-428-1807 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Kelvin Adams, 3rd Vice President– 250-895-9835 – email@example.com
Ann McNabb, Past President – 604-795-7230 –firstname.lastname@example.org
Fraser Hiltz, Director – 604-379-0035 – email@example.com
Terry Pipkey, Director – 250-562-1892 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rose Pokeda, Director – 250-334-8565 – email@example.com
Vern Short, Director – 250-819-9152 – firstname.lastname@example.org