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On Target – January 2019

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On Target – Issue #1 – January 2019

Welcome to On Target, our quarterly e-newsletter highlighting how the CNIB Foundation in Ontario and Quebec is changing what it is to be blind. 

When we asked more than 4,000 Canadians impacted by blindness what they want from life and how CNIB can help, they told us, quite simply: “We want it all.” And, we couldn’t agree more.

Through our strategic plan, “Bold dreams, bright futures”, we’re going to take bold action to create the bright future they want, expect and deserve.

Blindness should never be a reason for anyone to settle for less. Everyone should have an equal chance to realize their dreams, whatever they may be. Bold Dreams, Bright Futures was built on the voices of thousands of people we serve right across Canada. They called on us to be more innovative and forward-thinking than ever before and On Target is committed to keeping you informed about our progress – we're working to answer the call and achieve true equality, universal accessibility and absolute inclusion for people living with sight loss.  

-CNIB Foundation Ontario & Quebec


Ambition #1: Boosting participation in the world of work

A job is so much more than just a paycheque: it's a means to self-reliance, a source of identity and pride and a gateway to a brighter future. From the moment children are old enough to dream what they'll be when they grow up, through every stage of their education and careers, we'll fuel their ambition and champion their equal participation in the world of work.

In the News


Ambition #2: Unleashing the power of technology

Technology can level the playing field for people who are blind or partially sighted – but only when it's accessible, available and affordable. We'll fight to connect people of all ages with the cutting-edge technology they need and want and help them build the skills to capitalize on its potential.

In the News


Ambition #3: Driving achievement and equality

Life is a beautiful, wonderful, crazy thing. Life with blindness should be no different. We'll embolden people who are blind or partially sighted to lead independent, active lives and chase their dreams – and we'll smash the stigma and barriers that stand in their way.

In the News


Ambition #1: Boosting participation in the world of work

CNIB Foundation launches Come to Work  

"CNIB Come to Work." A cartoon drawing of a briefcase with a yellow lid. Text below "Cometowork.ca"

Opening doors to talent with sight loss.

Research released in November confirms what we've been hearing for years. The CNIB Foundation, Vision Australia, and the Blind Foundation of New Zealand survey found people with sight loss are significantly less likely to be employed full time compared to their sighted counterparts. Results showed Canada had a full-time employment rate of 28 per cent.

It's shocking to see such a stark disparity when it comes to full-time employment rates for people who are blind. With all the technological advancements and educational opportunities available, people with sight loss should be able to come to work.

In November, the CNIB Foundation launched Come to Work – a new program that introduces employers to an innovative talent pool of Canadians who are blind or partially sighted and provides job seekers with work experience. 

We're partnering with top employers to create full-time, part-time and contract work, and paid internships/returnships. Our partners are committed to engaging talent with different perspectives to create a culture of collaboration and innovation to enhance company culture and maintain a competitive edge. 

To boost participation in the world of work, we are:

  • offering job-readiness workshops and technology training;
  • partnering with employers to create full-time, part-time and contract work, and paid internships/returnships;
  • fostering professional development through innovative mentorships
  • and, enhancing company culture to provide a competitive edge.

Together, we're creating a Canada where everyone can come to work.

Visit cometowork.ca to learn more. 

To become a partner, join our talent pool or volunteer as a mentor, contact career.support@cnib.ca or call 1-800-563-2642 ext. 7573.

Ambition #2: Unleashing the power of technology

CNIB Foundation launches #PhoneItForward 

3 icons; a hand holding a phone, a phone with circular arrows surrounding it, two people, a guide dog and a hand holding a phone. A phone icon and the website www.phoneitforward.ca on a yellow background

In September, we formally unveiled Phone It Forward – a new program that gives Canadians a unique opportunity to donate their old smartphones, receive a tax receipt, and empower people who are blind.

Forty-six per cent of Canadians who are blind don't own a smartphone that's advanced enough to help them in their daily lives. Phone It Forward lets us put an all-in-one communications and accessibility solution into their hands that will help reduce barriers and drive independence.

Donated smartphones are wiped to the highest data security standards, loaded with accessible apps and provided to people with sight loss who need them, along with technical training, discounted maintenance and data plan support.

Donations are simple to make: a person or company registers their old smartphone(s) online at phoneitforward.ca, picks up a prepaid envelope, sends in their donation(s), and receives a tax receipt from the CNIB Foundation. 

Visit phoneitforward.ca to donate a smartphone.

CNIB Foundation partners with Aira, Blindsquare and Key2Access 

Representatives from Aira, Key2Access, BlindSquare and CNIB pose for a photo outside of the CNIB Community Hub

Accessible technology is more than the familiar magnifiers and braillers. Mobile phones, tablets, wearables, apps and other innovative digital tools are game-changers in every part of life for people who are blind. Recently, we announced partnerships with three innovators in the accessible technology space:

  1. Aira: Using video-equipped smart glasses and an iOS or Android app, Aira provides one-button access to a network of sighted professional agents who can remotely assist people with almost anything they want to do. For those who do not use smartphones, Aira's new Horizon smart glasses are an all-in-one kit that directly connects an Aira user to a professionally trained agent.
  2. BlindSquare: Used in 160 countries, BlindSquare allows people who are blind or partially sighted to freely navigate their communities using their iPhone. With over 100 million global points of interest, BlindSquare describes internal and external environments, public transit and UBER services, and announces points of interest, intersections and user-defined points using synthetic speech.
  3. Key2Access: A Canadian tech start-up that makes crossing intersections safer and easier for people with sight loss and other disabilities. Using an iOS or Android app that connects to a "smart" accessible pedestrian signal, users can remotely activate the crossing signal and receive real-time audible information to help them cross safely.

Through these partnerships, CNIB will continue to play an active role in connecting governments, businesses and public institutions with these innovative technologies to improve accessibility for blind citizens. 

CNIB Tech Fairs 

A male vendor demos and displays accessible tech products on a table. A woman stands at the table and touches a few technology accessories.

Technology is transforming the lives of people with sight loss, and the CNIB Foundation is excited to continue to bring the latest in cutting-edge technology to local communities at CNIB Tech Fairs.

In the fall, tech fairs were held in Barrie, Belleville, Hamilton, London, Ottawa and Peterborough.

Featuring a wide range of technology vendors from across the region, visitors have an opportunity to explore a variety of low-tech and high-tech devices that can make living with sight loss easier.

Come tech out with CNIB! Stay tuned for more #CNIBTechFairs coming your way in Spring 2019, including the TechnoVision+ in Quebec City! 


Ambition #3: Driving achievement and equality

CNIB Guide Dogs celebrates first guide dog graduates 

CNIB Guide Dogs graduating class with training staff. A yellow sign in the background reads "Class of 2018"

In November, we celebrated two milestones: the graduation of our inaugural guide dog class and the legal accreditation of the CNIB Guide Dogs program.

Launched in 2017, the program was designed to train guide dogs to specifically meet the needs of people with sight loss, with training philosophies focused on maximizing success.

Under the Blind Person's Rights Act 1990, the Ministry of the Attorney General is responsible for accrediting guide dog training facilities in Ontario and issuing an identification card which identifies a blind person and their guide dog as a service animal under law. For the past 18 months, CNIB has been advocating the Ministry of the Attorney General to ensure handlers who receive a guide dog from CNIB are protected from discrimination under law and recognize CNIB Guide Dogs as an accredited guide dog training facility. 

At the formal graduation ceremony in Toronto, we celebrated the successful matches of six guide dogs and their handlers from across the country and officially announced the legal accreditation of the CNIB Guide Dogs program in Ontario. The event was attended by Lindsey Park, Member of Provincial Parliament for Durham and Parliamentary Assistant to the Attorney General. We are thankful to the Ministry of the Attorney General for designating CNIB as an accredited guide dog facility and committing to protecting the rights of guide dog handlers.

CNIB recommends amendments to the Accessible Canada Act 

Angela Bonfanti, Vice President, CNIB Foundation (Ontario & Quebec) and Robbi Weldon, Lead, Peer Support & Leisure, CNIB Foundation Ontario East before Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

CNIB has been engaging in bold advocacy efforts with the federal government to recommend amendments to Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, that we feel will strengthen the legislation for Canadians who are blind and partially sighted. 

We sent a survey to Canadians who are blind or partially sighted to hear what they thought. Respondents to our survey are generally satisfied with Bill C-81, with 57 per cent having a favourable impression of the Bill. Most of our respondents think the introduction of the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) is the strongest piece of the legislation, followed by the new monetary penalties for accessibility violations.

Though these parts of Bill C-81 were generally viewed favourably, CNIB received many suggestions for improvement. Almost all the qualitative responses we received had six recurring themes: enforcement, representation, timelines, procurement, processes for complaints, and rights for guide dog users. 

We used this feedback to inform our recommended amendments and sent copies of our survey analysis to Members of Parliament from each party. CNIB also appeared before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities to present our recommended amendments on the Bill. We have been part of this historical legislation from the beginning, and we plan to engage in this process until the Bill receives Royal Assent – and beyond! 



Your Impact: Changing the life of someone who is blind 

Louise  smiles for a photo.I had the privilege of joining a peer support group. The personal bonds that are created during these meetings is incredible. We've shared our feelings and had deep conversations. We have developed compassion for our peers. Thanks to this group, even my dark thoughts have quietly evaporated! There is much hope in listening to everyone explain their struggle, and their acceptance. I definitely recommend CNIB peer support groups! 
-Louise, participant, CNIB Foundation Quebec




Make the Future Bright 

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