Check out the virtual conference program for Connecting the Dots on October 22-23! With workshops, presentations and panels from AbleDocs, Australia Catholic University, The Canadian Council of the Blind, Braille Literacy Canada, BMO, The Brick, Canadian Association of Research Libraries, CNIB, Deloitte, Envision, Lawyers In House, HumanWare, KnowQuest, Microsoft, Moneris, Ontario Tech University, SunLife, Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada and more – there is no shortage of content to explore! The conference is customizable, so you can choose which sessions align most with your interests.
Register for a chance to win!
Thanks to the generosity of our partners and donors, you could walk away with one of several prizes including a new television from The Brick, a laptop from Lenovo, an Amazon Echo, or a $25 gift certificate! Registered attendees are automatically entered for a chance to win. Randomly selected winners will be announced throughout the duration of the conference. CNIB staff, volunteers, Connecting the Dots Sponsors and exhibitors are not eligible to participate.
Connecting the Dots 2021 Program – English Event
You can download a copy of the formal program here and/or continue reading this webpage for schedule and program information.
Your Virtual Swag Bag
A talented group of Canadian-owned small businesses are offering exclusive discounts at Connecting the Dots. Many of these businesses are BIPOC-owned, founded by women and/or led by people with sight loss. Upon logging into the vFairs platform, you’ll find their special promotions discounts in a downloadable PDF stored in your virtual swag bag!
Day 1 Schedule – Friday, October 22
All listed times are in Eastern Daylight Time.
9:30 a.m. – Vendor Alley Opens
In Vendor Alley, exhibitors may also be offering sessions and special events for you to participate in. Be sure to visit our virtual vendors and explore their products and services – you might even walk away with some swag! Exhibitors include: AbleDocs, Aille Design, AMI, Bell, Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA), CIBC, CNIB, CNIB Deafblind Community Services, CNIB SmartLife/Frontier Accessibility, Envision, Good Maps, HumanWare, Optelec Canada, Say Hello 2 Blindness Accessories, The Brick, Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada.
10:30 a.m. – Opening Remarks; with Angela Bonfanti, SVP, CNIB & Tim Rose, Senior Manager, Inclusion Partnerships, CIBC
10:50 a.m. – Opening Keynote: The Future of Work with Stephen Harrington, Partner, Human Capital, Deloitte
11:20 a.m. – Vendor Alley Announcement; Mental Health, Nutrition & Movement Break
11:40 a.m. – Concurrent Workshops, Session 1
12:40 p.m. – Energy Break with Neville Wright; Vendor Alley Announcement; Mental Health, Nutrition & Movement Break
1:00 p.m. – CNIB Braille Creative Writing Contest
1:30 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops, Session 2
2:30 p.m. – Mental Health, Nutrition & Movement Break
2:45 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops, Session 3
3:45 p.m. – Vendor Alley Announcement; Vendor Alley Announcement; Mental Health, Nutrition & Movement Break
4:00 p.m. – Out of the Woulds with Big Daddy Tazz
4:15 p.m. – Day 1 Closing Remarks
4:25 p.m. – Vendor Alley Announcement
5:45 p.m. – Vendor Alley Closes
Day 2 Schedule – Saturday, October 23
All listed times are in Eastern Daylight Time.
9:30 a.m. – Vendor Alley Opens
10:30 a.m. – Opening Remarks
10:35 a.m. – Opening Keynote: Paralympian Meghan Mahon
10:50 a.m. – Vendor Alley Announcement; Mental Health, Nutrition & Movement Break
11:15 a.m. – Concurrent Workshops, Session 4
12:15 p.m. – Energy Break with Hayley Wickenheiser; Vendor Alley Announcement; Mental Health, Nutrition & Movement Break
1:00 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops, Session 5
2:00 p.m. – Sizzler: CNIB’s New Youth Mentorship Program; Mental Health, Nutrition & Movement Break
2:15 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops, Session 6
3:15 p.m. – Vendor Alley Announcement; Mental Health, Nutrition & Movement Break
3:30 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops, Session 7
4:40 p.m. – Connecting the Dots Closing Celebration
Because I Said I Would – Keynote by Alex Sheen
Fake Romance – Musical performance by Alexa Marie
Day 1 Sessions – Friday, October 22
Clearing Space by April Michell-Boudreau
Join us for this unique smudging experience by April Mitchell-Boudreau, owner and founder of Lofttan. Owner/designer April Mitchell-Boudreau is a Turtle clan Mohawk with roots at Six Nations. She’s passionate about awakening and engaging the creator that lives inside all of us.
Our Stories by Kairyn Potts
Join us for this presentation from Kairyn Potts (or simply Kai) (he/him) who is Nakota Sioux from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation in Treaty 6 Territory. He recently moved and has now made his home in Tkaronto, Dish with One Spoon Territory. He is an advocate for youth; he currently works as a youth programs developer for an Indigenous non-profit organization in the GTA that focuses on providing supports and services to the Two-Spirit/IndigiQueer community.
Opening Keynote: The Future of Work
Stephen is Deloitte’s National Leader for Workforce Strategy and Future of Work Advisory and has been a writer and speaker on the future of work since 2011. With 20 years’ experience in Consulting, Stephen leads transformations in workforce strategy to fundamentally get at changes in work, workforce and workplace to fuel business strategy. Stephen’s experience spans from strategy to design – he helps clients set workforce strategy to fuel business strategy, and then designs programs not simply to chase elusive ‘best-practice’ but to craft implementation solutions to meet the unique needs of client’s and their employees.
Presenter: Stephen Harrington, Partner, Human Capital, Deloitte
101 Did You Know...and We’re Doing It – Dispelling Stigma and Smashing Barriers
Living with sight loss has many different experiences for youth when navigating education, employment and recreation. The members of CNIB’s National Youth Council join for an engaging and honest panel discussion exploring how they continue to break down stigmas around blindness and smashing barriers.
Speakers: CNIB National Youth Council Members; Alicia Chenier, Danica Frappier, Curtis Ruttle, Emilee Schevers
102 We said we would, and we did – Moneris Accessible Payment Terminals for All
Last year, at Connecting the Dots, it was announced that Canadians with sight loss would soon be able to make purchases on their own with reduced risk of compromising the security of their personal and financial information. CNIB has been working together with Moneris Solutions Corporation (‘Moneris’), and supported by the Government of Canada, to create an inclusive and accessible shopping experience for everyone. As or May 31, 2021, as part of National AccessAbility Week 2021, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, participated in the Payments Canada 2021 Summit and in the introduction of new accessibility features for electronic payment terminals by Moneris. Developed in collaboration with the CNIB and the Government of Canada, the new features unveiled by Moneris, such as enhanced font sizes, increased contrast, and bilingual audio prompts giving clear instructions, will help Canadians with visual disabilities when making a payment. Participants will learn more about the launch of the new payment terminals and the road ahead toward a barrier-free Canada.
Speaker: John M. Rafferty, President and CEO, CNIB
103 Mentoring – Table Stakes – Engaging to Enable
The value of Mentoring has often been spoken to, but it continues to be an asset. As we look at Mentoring as it pertains to Entrepreneurs ("Venture Pool"), the Spark Innovation Educational Centre is partnering with CNIB, the Venture Pool, and the wider community of Entrepreneurs to foster community collaboration, support, and re-usable resources to help enable for success.
Speaker: Rahi S. Tajzadeh, CEO, KnowQuest Inc. and CEO, The Big Leaf Inc.
Energy Break with Neville Wright
Sit back and enjoy this interactive energy break with Neville Wright! Neville is a multitalented individual who holds many titles: 3x Olympian, Performance Therapist, Coach, Mentor and most notably a Keynote Speaker. Prior to that, Neville spent 16 years as an Athlete representing Canada on the World Stage in Track and Field and Bobsleigh.
CNIB Braille Creative Writing Contest
Since 1997, CNIB has organized a Canada-wide Braille Creative Writing Contest for children and youth. This important competition celebrates braille literacy and encourages young people (ages K-12) to flex their creative muscles while practicing their braille skills. Join us to hear a collection of imaginative stories, essays and poems from our 2021 CNIB Braille Creative Writing Contest winners. Prepare to be entertained!
Presenter: Karen Brophey, Lead, Literacy, CNIB
201 Overview of the ARL/CARL Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Task Force project
It has been estimated that less than 10% of the world’s published books are available in accessible formats for people who are print disabled. The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) and our US sister organization, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) together represent the largest academic research libraries in North America, and collectively hold just under 760 million titles in print and electronic formats. Our Marrakesh Implementation project explores the issues related to the copyright, discovery, description and access to collectively enable our member libraries to describe, digitize, and make available content in alternate formats. In addition, the project looks to connect beneficiaries of the Marrakesh Treaty in both Canada and the US, to request and gain access to accessible versions of the materials held in our libraries.
Speaker: Gerald R. Beasley, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian
202 Me, My phone, and AI: Looking to the future
In the ORBIT project, we take a disability-first approach to build AI algorithms that work well for people who are blind or low vision. To ensure that, we are creating a large open-source dataset collected only by blind and low vision people. With this dataset, the ORBIT team will challenge researchers at Microsoft as well as the research community in general to develop techniques that would enable phones to recognize items that are specific to the user – this is what we call personalized object recognition.
Speaker: Cecily Morrison, Principal Researcher, Microsoft
203 Come to Work Panel: The Future of Work
Talent Pool members will learn what to expect from workplaces in the post Covid world; what new recruitment processes might be in place and why in person vs. home-based or a combination of both. The objective for participants is to learn about the evolution of work. New Tools being used (i.e., pre-screening, virtual interviewing), hybrid work (meaning combined work from anywhere and work from office), as well as the training/experience opportunities employers/managers are seeking out to engage previously un-tapped labor markets.
Derek Fraser, Manager, Talent Acquisition, Sun Life
Carole Mendonca, Senior Manager of Accessibility, Deloitte
Greg Swift, Chief Operating Officer, Lawyers in House
Olivia Weir, Advisor, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Recruitment, BMO
301 The Magic of Braille: How Six Dots Open the World to Everyone
This workshop seeks to demystify the brilliance and utility of braille. Participants will be introduced to the basics of the simple yet versatile braille code. Experts will be on hand to provide insights and answer questions about the myriad ways that braille can provide people with vision loss and their supporters access to everything that the world around them has to offer. From stories to wayfinding information, calendars to math and technical information, and so much more: braille unlocks it all. This is your opportunity to ask your questions about what braille can do for you --- and receive answers that you can understand. Parents are especially welcome.
Phillip Abrahams, UEB Instructor, CNIB
Lorraine Banks, UEB Instructor, CNIB
Darleen Bogart, National Braille Convenor, CNIB
Diane Lapidus, Braille Instructor, CNIB
Pamela Marzolini, Braille Transcriber, CNIB
302 Envision: AI For Your Eyes
Envision empowers visually impaired people to become more independent by speaking out the visual world around them. With features ranging from real-time text recognition to video calling, Envision Glasses opens the door for the future of wearable assistive technology. In this session, we will talk about everything Envision and give you insights on how technology can empower the blind and visually impaired community.
Speaker: Karthik Kannan, Co-Founder & CTO, Envision
303 Master's Program in Visual Impairment and Rehabilitation
In 2016, and in consultation with one national and two local vision rehabilitation centers, the Université de Montréal established a bilingual master's degree program in Visual Impairment and Rehabilitation to specifically train rehabilitation professionals in orientation & mobility (O&M), low vision (emphasis on individuals with functional vision) and vision rehabilitation therapy (emphasis on individuals who are blind). Trainees may choose between a professional track, leading to employment as vision rehabilitation professionals, or the research track, leading towards research and/or industry. Participants will Learn about career options in orientation and mobility, low vision, and blindness rehabilitation; Understand the application process and eligibility criteria for pursuing the Master’s in Vision Impairment and Rehabilitation at the Université de Montréal; and gain an overview of program options, courses, and internships within the master's program.
Natalina Martiniello, PhD, CVRT, Université de Montréal
Joseph Paul Nemargut, PhD, COMS, Assistant Professor, Université de Montréal
Dr. Olga Overbury, Professor, Université de Montréal
Dr. Walter Wittich, CLVT, Associate Professor, Université de Montréal
Out of The Woulds with Big Daddy Tazz
Possibilities over disabilities
Speaker: Big Daddy Tazz
Day 2 Sessions – Saturday, October 23
Opening Keynote: Paralympian Meghan Mahon
Born and raised in Northern Ontario Meghan is now living in Alberta and is the Program Lead for Children and Youth programming at CNIB, based out of the Calgary office. In addition to her full-time position Meghan is also an accomplished para-athlete and plays for the Canadian women’s goalball team and has competed previously in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and most recently at Tokyo 2020. Born with a genetic eye condition called Incomplete Achromatopsia, what Meghan sees every day is all she has ever known. The impact this condition has on her vision has certainly not prevented her from living her life to the fullest.
Presenter: Meghan Mahon, Program Lead, Children and Youth, CNIB, Paralympian & Player for Canadian Women’s Goalball National Team
401 Building Braille Excitement
Find out how the Braille Challenge feeds the hearts and minds of Canadian students learning and using braille. Hear about fun foundational braille games and activities especially designed to encourage young reluctant or struggling braille users. And when your student is ready to compete for prizes, the Braille Challenge offers testing options too. Did you know that this year four Canadian students placed among the top 50 (10 finalists per age category) in all of North America? As a teacher or parent of a braille user, you already know that braille literacy is key to your student’s future success in education and employment. Provincial Resource Centres, TVI’s and CNIB Foundation staff are ready, willing and able to support you and your student in this important braille literacy journey. Karen Brophey, Lead Literacy for CNIB Foundation, will introduce coordinators of Braille Challenge regional events from across Canada.
Karen Brophey, Program Lead, Literacy, CNIB
Suzanne Decary-van den Broek, Executive Director, CNIB
Stephanie Gee, Vision Specialist, Calgary Board of Education
Glenda Parsons, Director of Programs for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired, APSEA
Rhonda Underhill-Gray, Program Lead, Beyond the Classroom & SCORE, CNIB
Adam Wilton, Program Manager, Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI)
402 Code Breakers
Learn to Code! The power of putting technology in the hands of youth. As we hire youth, we have found that many of them do not have the technology skills that are needed in today’s digital environment. In Saskatchewan we have started a program called Learn to Code. This program uses the Code Jumper Program to teach kids the basics of coding using a tactile method. With building their interest in technology we see a growth in their confidence and ability to adapt to a digital world.
Speaker: Ashley Nemeth, Manager, Programs & Operations, CNIB
403 Micro Certificates
Learning re-imagined! As the future of work changes, the educational landscape must also swiftly adapt to ensure our workforce has the right knowledge and skills but also to reflect the needs of equity-seeking groups. Panelists from Ontario Tech University, Talent, Spark Innovation Education Centre and CNIB dive into current and future education needs and discuss effective ways (e.g., micro-credentials), to deliver flexible, dynamic, and inclusive learning to give more choices and employment opportunities to more people.
Dan Bordenave, CEO, Spark Innovation Education Centre
Fiona McArthur, PhD, Strategic Project Manager, Office of the President, Ontario Tech University
Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai, Director of Research and Chief Inclusion & Accessibility Officer, CNIB
Rachel Sumner, Executive Director, Ontario Tech Talent
Energy Break with Hayley Wickenheiser
Sit back and enjoy this interactive energy break with Hayley! Hayley Wickenheiser is a Canadian former ice hockey player, resident physician, and executive for the Toronto Maple Leafs. She was the first woman to play full-time professional men’s hockey in a position other than goalie.
501 Introducing LEGO Braille Bricks
The concept is play-based methodology that teaches braille to children who are blind or partially sighted. Each brick is identical to standard LEGO® except that the studs are arranged to correspond to numbers and letters in the Braille alphabet. Each brick shows the printed version of the symbol or letter, allowing sighted and blind children to play and learn together on equal terms. The concept opens a whole new world of playful learning that teaches children Braille in an enjoyable and tactile environment, and sighted peers can play and learn - a truly inclusive experience.
Suzanne Decary-van den Broek, Executive Director, CNIB
Shelly Marks, Vision Itinerant Teacher
Rhonda Underhill-Gray, Program Lead, Beyond the Classroom & SCORE, CNIB
502 Microsoft Soundscape: Opening the Door to New Experiences
Microsoft Soundscape uses 3D spatial audio to promote a person’s mobility and independence by enhancing their awareness of their surroundings by calling out landmarks and points of interest from where they actually are. As such, Soundscape can be considered a map which is delivered in 3D sound to augment a person’s experience through audio. Soundscape can function as your main wayfinding system, but it can also work in the background and provide you with effortless ambient awareness. This provides a greater sense of empowerment and choice and allows each and every one of us to be able enjoy the outdoors with greater confidence and less stress.
Jarnail Chudge, Innovation Architect, Microsoft
Mark Rankin, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Vision Loss Rehabilitation Ontario (VLRO)
503 The role and place of mentorship for young adults with blindness and low vision in Australia and Canada
We examined the experiences with mentorship within two distinct groups: school-aged children in Australia with blindness and low vision and working-aged individuals with blindness and low vision in Canada. Qualitative data was collected from semi structured individualized interviews regarding the experiences, understanding, and valuing of mentorship within these two groups. Participants will learn about the different roles that mentorship plays in the lives and career paths of young adolescents in Australia and working-age adults in Canada; how perceptions of and goals related to mentorship change with age and stage of life; the importance of social connectedness and a sense of belonging to a community to youth and young adults who are blind or partially sighted, and how formal and informal mentorship can serve to fill that need; and how effective mentorship programming can be built using the findings of this research.
Danika Blackstock, IDEA Specialist, CNIB
Dr. Melissa Cain, Senior Lecturer, Education, Australia Catholic University
Melissa Fanshawe, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Southern Queensland, Australia
Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai, Director of Research, CNIB
Sizzler: CNIB’s New Youth Mentorship Program
Featuring: Caelin Lloyd, Youth Volunteer, CNIB & Rhonda Underhill-Gray, Program Lead, Beyond the Classroom & SCORE
601 Come Read with Me! Creating Meaningful Approaches to Childhood Literacy
Children begin to read through observing print in their home and community, and by hearing word patterns as adults around them read aloud. They then play with print by pretending to read and repeating familiar sentences or word rhymes. For our children who are blind or have low vision, we must provide deliberate and purposeful opportunities to observe braille, tactile graphics, and large print in a variety of contexts and locations. Reading for our children is more than listening, it is taking an intentional role in the action of reading. Presenters will share practical ideas on how to create meaningful routines to include braille and tactile awareness.
Daphne Hitchcock, TSVI
Glenda Parsons, Director of Programs for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired, Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA)
602 Reflection of refreshable braille through the lens of HumanWare Technology
In terms of the expectations in any environment (work, school, play) we are all expected to do tasks no different to what was expected several years ago. In many cases multiple tools might need to be used to achieve one task, although we are seeing new assistive technology devices improving the workflow. Attendees will learn the impact refreshable Braille display now plays in the fast-paced world today; the different tools available in braille support categories; and the new era of intelligent refreshable Braille Displays.
Michel Pepin, Sales Director, HumanWare Technologies
Peter Tucic, Brand Ambassador, HumanWare Technologies
Learn how The Brick developed tools and resources to support their staff to deal with the challenges of the world today.
Speaker: Chantelle Painter, Human Resources Manager, Recruitment and Engagement, The Brick
701 Teaching Braille Displays Virtually: Ideas and Strategies for Preparing Visually Impaired and Deafblind Adult Users
As Braille and mobile technologies advance, the ability for a Braille Display or a Notetaker to interact with other devices (mobile phones, Macs and Pcs) is an incredibly useful feature. Yet many adults find themselves shut out from Braille display technology. We will present the GTT experience where weekly support sessions were provided for potential users via Zoom to bridge this gap. The presenters will provide their insights about preparing adult users for the transition to the world of Braille display technologies. They will share their ideas about teaching braille displays in a virtual environment and discuss how peer mentoring helps people to best use their Braille technology.
Dr. Leo Bissonnette, former Manager of the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities at Concordia University
Kim Kilpatrick, GTT Program Coordinator, Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)
702 Document Accessibility Testing with a Screen Reader
Passing an accessibility checker is only the beginning of ensuring your documents are accessible and provide a robust user experience. This session will provide numerous tips and techniques as well as pitfalls to avoid when testing documents for accessibility. We will walk through what to test, how to test various elements and some not-so-obvious barriers to accessibility that you should be looking for.
Speaker: Dax Castro, Vice President, ADAcademy at AbleDocs
703 Microsoft Windows 11 Accessibility
The new Microsoft Windows 11 is launching on October 6th! As new technologies come into play it is important to understand how those technologies are maintaining function and enabling new functionality for individuals to be successful in their daily lives through live, work and play. The Microsoft Canada team will be presenting the new accessibility features with an interactive question and answer session.
Connecting the Dots Closing Celebration
Because I Said I Would – Keynote by Alex Sheen
Fake Romance – Musical performance by Alexa Marie. Singer, Songwriter, Musician and Co-Founder/Director of A Million Voices Virtual Choir. Alexa is 14 years old and says, ‘I am visually impaired by it doesn’t stop me from pursing my dreams.’
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