News Release – New funding supports deafblind people in B.C.

Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.


News Release


Wednesday, June 1, 2022 8:30 AM

Media Contacts

Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Media Relations
778 974-3851


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.


Quick Facts:

  • This is the second year that B.C. has proclaimed June Deafblind Awareness Month.
  • Helen Keller, a person who was deafblind, was known internationally for her achievements. She was born in June.


Learn More:

Canadian National Institute for the Blind in B.C.:

Deafblind Awareness Month proclamation:

Accessibility in B.C.:



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Joint statement on AccessAbility Week 2022, ASIC and Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, May 29, 2022

Access for Sight Impaired Consumers



Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

For Immediate Release

May 29, 2022


Joint statement on AccessAbility Week 2022


VICTORIA – Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility, have released the following statement about AccessAbility Week:


“May 29 to June 4, 2022, is AccessAbility Week in British Columbia and in Canada. While this is the fifth year our province has celebrated AccessAbility Week, it is the first time since the introduction of the new Accessible British Columbia Act.


“This year, we recognize the many contributions people with disabilities have made toward making B.C. more accessible. We thank the individuals, communities and organizations actively removing barriers. We celebrate the steps we are taking toward a more accessible and inclusive province under the new act. This includes the recently announced Accessible British Columbia Regulation that requires more than 750 public-sector organizations to establish an accessibility committee, an accessibility plan and a feedback tool to improve accessibility.


“AccessAbility Week is a time to remember that an inclusive society is one where all people can participate equally in their communities and workplaces. Accessibility Week is also a time for government to highlight support for people with disabilities and organizations that advocate for people with disabilities.


“Again this year, government is providing $500,000 in community grants to improve accessibility and inclusion. The grants will be distributed by Disability Alliance BC (DABC) to support local accessibility projects in communities throughout B.C. DABC will issue a call for proposals on its website this summer. Projects should focus on accessible education, learning, sports and recreation, arts, culture and tourism, community participation, emergency planning and response, or accessible employment.


“People with disabilities have diverse interests, talents and experiences that contribute richly to our society, culture and economy. We all benefit when their voices are heard and listened to.


“And we are creating a new path that breaks down barriers, promotes fairness and equity, and creates a culture of inclusion.


“This Accessibility Week, we invite all British Columbians to celebrate the people who are working to achieve a barrier-free B.C.”


Quick Facts:

  • In 2021, 15 organizations received funding for accessibility projects.
  • As of 2017, there are more than 926,000 British Columbians older than 15 who have some form of disability.


Learn More:

Information about the new accessibility project grants can be found on the DABC website:


Accessibility in B.C.:


A short video promoting AccessAbility Week:



Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Media Relations 778-974-5809


Connect with the Province of B.C. at:


Comox resident named Canadian Council of the Blind BC-Yukon Division president – Comox Valley Record, May 4, 2022

Comox resident named Canadian Council of the Blind BC-Yukon Division president – Comox Valley Record


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.


Audiobooks, AI, and humans – where do they stand? – Good e-Reader

The audiobook segment is easily the most lucrative at the moment. With demand ever on the rise, one might have the impression the voice artists are having a
— Read on

World Braille Day | National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS)

In celebration of World Braille Day, Braille Literacy Canada (BLC), the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), the CNIB Foundation, the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA), the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS), and the Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) are organizing a series of online events.
— Read on

The Legacy of Blinded War Veterans, October 26, 2021, A Triple Vision Podcast on AMI Audio

Triple Vision, a Podcast on AMI Audio

On Triple Vision, hosts David Best and Hanna Leavitt bring you the history of Canadians who are blind, deafblind, and partially sighted, one story at a time, illuminating the challenges of the past, present, and future.

Triple Vision AMI-audio

OCT 26, 2021

The Legacy of Blinded War Veterans

This week, Hanna Leavitt and David Best speak with Dr. Serge Durflinger, a professor of history at the University of Ottawa. Serge penned a book called, “Veterans With A Vision: Canada’s War Blinded in Peace and War,” about how First World War wounded were the first advocates in canada to establish reshaped the way Canadians and successive governments perceived war disability and, in particular, blindness.



“The Duty to Accommodate People with Disabilities 101 – An Introduction to the Duty to Accommodate.” by David Lepofsky

A New Captioned Video Gives You a Practical Guide to the Duty to Accommodate People with Disabilities

Have you heard something about the duty to accommodate people with disabilities, but wanted to know what it actually means? Who owes this duty? To which people with disabilities? What does the duty include? What kinds of accommodations does it require? When does the duty to accommodate arise? Have you heard before that it is a duty to accommodate up to the point of “undue hardship,” but wondered what “undue hardship means?

Here’s a brand new captioned video that answers all these questions. It is called “The Duty to Accommodate People with Disabilities 101 – An Introduction to the Duty to Accommodate.” It is presented by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, who is also a visiting professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School.

This presentation talks about the duty to accommodate in a wide range of situations. It includes the duty of employers to accommodate employees and job applicants with disabilities. It also addresses the duty of those in the public and private sectors who provide goods, services or facilities to the public to accommodate people with disabilities. That includes a diverse range of organizations, like stores, restaurants, hotels, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and other health care providers, public and private transportation providers, and so on.

Anyone involved in human resources work, or in direct customer service, or the management of an organization in the public or private sector can also benefit from this video. You don’t need any background in the law to benefit from this video.

It can be helpful to you if you are a member of a municipality’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, or of a school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee, or of a Standards Development Committee appointed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

We encourage you to watch this video and to share it with others, including via social media. Post a link to it on your organization’s website. If you teach a course in college, university or other educational setting, feel free to use all or part of it as part of your instructional materials. Use this video as a tool to help in the campaign to make Ontario fully accessible to all ,people with disabilities.

The video runs about one and a quarter hours. To make is easier to use, and for those who don’t have time to watch it all, we provide links below to each of the major headings or topics addressed in the video.

Let us know what you think of this video. Send your feedback to

An Introduction to the Duty to Accommodate People with Disabilities”

The video is available at

Here are links to key topics in the video:

  1. Introduction and Overview 00:00
  2. Where does the Duty to Accommodate Come From? 2:27
  3. Who Must Accommodate People with Disabilities? Who Has the Duty to Accommodate? 5:12
  4. What is the Purpose of the Duty to Accommodate? 8:25
  5. What are the Benefits of Fulfilling the Duty to Accommodate? 11:15
  6. What Disabilities are Included within the Duty to Accommodate? 15:40
  7. Examples of Accommodations that Can be Required 17:26
  8. What is the Content of the Duty to Accommodate? What Must an Organization Do? 26:05
  9. Some Red Herrings We Can Eliminate from Discussion About the Duty to Accommodate 34:05
  10. When Does the Duty to Accommodate Arise? 35:25
  11. When, If Ever, Can You Ask a Person, Requesting Accommodation, for Medical Documentation of Their Disability? 37:50

12 The Undue Hardship Defence – General Principles 39:33

  1. When Can the Cost of Accommodation Justify a Failure to Accommodate? 49:14
  2. When Can Health and Safety Considerations Justify a Refusal to Accommodate? 57:42
  3. Can the Failure to Accommodate Be Defended on the Basis that It Adversely Affects the Morale of Other Workers? 59:10
  4. How Does the Duty to Accommodate Apply to Trade Unions and Collective Agreements? 1:00:49
  5. What Happens if Fulfillment of the Duty to Accommodate May Conflict with Other Rights of Other People? 1:03:48
  6. A Short, Punchy List of Defences or Arguments that Cannot Justify a Failure to Accommodate 1:06:56
  7. Concluding Thoughts 1:11:18



Public Engagement Invite: BC Building Code Accessibility

Public Engagement Invite: BC Building Code Accessibility

From: BC Government Accessibility Directorate

Dear Partner:

As you may know, the Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing and I are committed to achieve our shared mandate to ensure the next iteration of the BC Building Code includes changes to make new buildings more accessible for all people.

I am writing to invite you to participate in an online survey to provide feedback to help improve accessibility in new buildings.

The online survey will be available on the govTogetherBC website, from October 28 to December 9, 2021.

Information about the BC Building Code accessibility requirements is available on the Building and Safety Standard’s website.

Your feedback will help inform proposed changes to the next BC Building Code. In the second phase of our engagement, planned to occur in 2023, we will provide an opportunity for you to comment on the proposed BC Building Code changes.

Please email, if you have any questions about the survey or wish to submit supplementary materials related to accessibility in new buildings. Please ensure documents are publicly available and unlocked.

Removing barriers to accessibility and inclusion experienced by British Columbians will help create better buildings and stronger communities for all people.

Please share this information as appropriate with others in your organization.


Yours truly,


Dan Coulter

Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility

Government of British Columbia


An open letter to all federal parties to fast track a Canada Disability Benefit – Disability Without Poverty

An open letter to all federal parties to fast track a Canada Disability Benefit – Disability Without Poverty
— Read on

New Report: COVID-19’s impact on Canada’s crisis of Preventable Blindness

Dear Canadians living with vision loss,


A few months ago, the Canadian Council of the Blind released our Cost of Vision Loss & Blindness in Canada report. Today, we’d like to share some recent startling discoveries we’ve made about the impact COVID-19 has had on vision loss in Canada. We hope this new information will encourage you to Sign our Petition asking the Canadian government to keep its long-overdue promise and develop a Vision Health Plan for Canada.


Did you know that 75% of vision loss cases in Canada are preventable? Over 8 million Canadians are living with diseases that can lead to blindness. Thanks to research, our health care system has the treatments, surgeries, and knowledge to ensure effective vision health for 3 out 4 if diagnosed early. Unfortunately, because of broad restrictions due to COVID-19, vision care was deprioritized. As a result, 143,000 eye surgeries were cancelled or delayed last year.


Wait times for cataract surgery increased by 31 days for a total of 93 days. 93 days of waiting. 93 days that could push a treatable eye condition to irreparable damage and possible blindness. In some parts of Canada, it’s over a year now. When facing life-altering vision loss, nobody can afford to wait that long.


Join the Canadian Council of the Blind in our call to stop the crisis of preventable vision loss and blindness.


For more details, download the full report and Sign our Petition demanding the Canadian government keep its long-overdue promise and develop a Vision Health Plan for Canada.




Jim Tokos

National President

Canadian Council of the Blind


P.S. Join us on October 26 (5:00-6:00 p.m. EDT) for our Webinar on COVID-19’s Impact on Vision Loss and Blindness in Canada to learn more about the Report’s findings and recommendations. Featuring Dr. Keith Gordon, the Report’s Principal Investigator; Louise Gillis, immediate Past President of CCB; Doug Earle, President and CEO of FBC; Dr. Harry Bohnsack, President of CAO and Dr. Colin Mann, President of COS.

Register for the Free Webinar Now


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