Connecting the Dots logo. A bright, yellow wallpaper featuring the CNIB Foundation Logo. Text: CNIB Foundation Connecting the Dots. Braille, Technology and Employment Conference.

Event Program – Toronto

Main Content

The conference agenda is customizable, so you can choose which sessions align most with your interests!

Day 1 – Wednesday, October 7
 Day 1 Evening – Opening Doors to Opportunity Networking Event
Day 2  – Wednesday, October 8
Day 1 Keynote Presentation: Microsoft Accessibility Session – 10:30 a.m.

With over 5 million Canadians with some form of a disability - nearly one in 10 working-age -  an unemployment rate exceeding those without and an ongoing talent war, accessibility must be an imperative for all organizations. Inclusive organizations can attract and retain top talent. They can also outperform their peers. But as important, when we’re all more inclusive, it drive innovation for all! Join this “unplugged” presentation to learn Microsoft’s own accessibility journey, in hopes that it inspires you. 

Presenter: Ricardo Wagner, Accessibility Lead, Microsoft Canada.

Ricardo Wagner is the Accessibility Lead for Microsoft Canada. He believes technology elevates the education, employment, and living standards for billions of people around the world, especially people with disabilities. It’s his personal mission to play a role in that transformation. He is the Microsoft’s 2019 Hackathon Grand Prize Winner, awarded as the most influential Accessibility Advocate worldwide for Microsoft in 2020, and won several recognitions including 2019 The Jim Flaherty Award for Leadership in Accessibility and Inclusion (Canada) and Microsoft’s Platinum Club in 2018. More info at:

101. Learn Braille at Home: A Parent's Perspective 
For a sighted parent of a child with sight loss, learning braille might seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are many low cost, fast and fun ways to help you learn braille at home and become more actively involved in your child's education. This session is designed for families of children with sight loss, educators, and professionals alike.

Presenter: Mabel Chow, Parent of a child with sight loss.

102. Adventure with Microsoft Soundscape
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. This session will go into what Soundscape is and how it works, cover the lessons we have learnt since release and describe the various ways in which people are using it every day across a range of different activities.

Presenters: Jarnail Chudge, Design and Innovation Architect at Microsoft Technology &  Mark Rankin, Specialist, Orientation and Mobility, Vision Loss Rehabilitation Ontario.

103. A Conversation on Networking in the New World
This session will focus on successful tips and strategies for networking – both in-person and virtually. Learn how you can effectively utilize the LinkedIn (the world's largest professional networking platform) to boost your visibility, make connections and generate leads.

Presenters: Darryl Jullot, Managing Lead, Digital Main Street & Swish Goswami, CEO & Co-Founder, Trufan.

Day 1 Session 2 Workshops – 1:00 p.m. 

201. Post-Secondary Education Panel


  • CNIB National Youth Council Members: Alicia Chenier, Danica Frappier & Will Honcharuk.
  • Mahadeo Sukhai, Ph.D., Head of Research and Chief Accessibility Officer, CNIB Foundation.

202. Code Jumper
In this workshop, you will gain hands on experience with Code Jumper, the newest innovation to assist children, regardless of their level of vision, in learning computer coding and programming skills through a unique physical system. Discover a coding curriculum that is accessible to all. Originally designed by Microsoft and developed by APH, this educational device bridges the skills gap and opens up the world of coding to every student.

Presenters: Michel Pépin, Canada Sales Director, HumanWare & Rolande Saliba, Product Manager, HumanWare.

203. Phoning it Forward in the Workplace

Presenters: Leanna Smashnuk, Monika Borchert & Ali Khalil, CNIB Foundation.


Day 1 Session 3 Workshops – 2:10 p.m. 

301. CNIB Summer Academy
The CNIB Foundation Summer Academy program was piloted to offer an accessible post-secondary education preparation curriculum to 15 high school student participants, with sight loss, across Canada. Daily sessions entailed a combination of lectures, panels, discussions, and interactive group activities related to post-secondary education, disability disclosure, advocacy, career exploration, and selfcare. The qualitative results from this program will be utilized to tailor the program to meet future participant needs. We'll also discuss the overall impact of a one-month intensive program and the success of post-secondary and career preparation programs for youth with sight loss.

Presenters: Rhonda Underhill-Gray, Program Lead, Beyond the Classroom & SCORE, CNIB Foundation; Stephanie Pilon, Program Lead, Children and Youth Engagement, CNIB Foundation & Danika Blackstock, Coordinator, Children and Youth Engagement, CNIB Foundation. 

302. VR and Inclusive Design
Virtual reality continues positioning as a disruptive technology, however, there are several gaps to be addressed in terms of inclusive design. Recently, there has been an increased focus on designing experiences that account for the variability of users and technologies. This session will present the fundamentals of virtual reality, challenges, and will run a demo to show attendees some of the trends in this field to elicit a discussion surrounding possible applications.

Presenters: Alvaro Uribe Quevedo, Assistant Professor, Ontario Tech University; Peter Coppin, Associate Professor OCAD U; Teresa Lee, Accessibility and UDL Lead, Centennial College & Robert Ingino, CEO, SenseTech Solutions Inc.

303. Career Panel: What Are Employers Looking For...Really?

  • Florence Chapman, Manager, Diversity & Inclusion at Sobeys Inc.
  • Lindsey Colquhoun, Director of Culture at Myplanet.
  • Dave Robitaille, Chief Operating Officer at Spark Niagara.
  • Chantelle Painter, HR Recruitment & Engagement Manager at The Brick.
Day 1 Session 4 Workshops – 3:20 p.m. 

401. Post-Secondary Education Outcomes
The CNIB Research Team conducted a Post-Secondary Education Outcomes Survey In the winter of 2020, to understand the college and university experiences of students with sight loss in Canada. This presentation will highlight the key findings of that study, including access to academic and co-curricular accommodations; barriers to accessing and succeeding in postsecondary education; community engagement while in college or university; access to disability services offices; and, access to high school to postsecondary transition programming.

Presenter: Mahadeo Sukhai, Ph.D., Head of Research and Chief Accessibility Officer, CNIB Foundation.

402.  VRAI OP – Blending Technology to Enable Confidence
Introducing VRAI OP – a virtual reality interview simulator that provides realistic job readiness training. This software is made with accessibility in mind and provides an excellent way for individuals to practice their interview skills through digital simulation with visual, sound and tactile feedback. The simulation also provides feedback on your performance, which allows for the user to view their progress and improve through repetitive use.

Presenters: Robert Ingino, CEO, SenseTech Solutions Inc. & Ali Raza Syed, CTO, SenseTech Solutions Inc.

403. CNIB Market
Presenting the CNIB Market, our new e-commerce platform for entrepreneurs with sight loss! We'll discuss why e-commerce is important and a viable business model in today's environment, what the Market is and how to apply to sell with us.

Presenters: Jacklyn Gilmor, Assistant Program Coordinator - Entrepreneurship, CNIB Foundation and Emilee & Hannah Schevers, co-founders, Tru Faces.

Day 1 Evening – Opening Doors to Opportunity Networking Event

Speaker 1: Louise Michaud, Assistant Deputy Minister, Government of Yukon – 6:10 p.m.

Presenter: Louise Michaud

Louise lives in Whitehorse with her husband Jim and her new CNIB Guide Dog Jess. For more than 25 years, she held positions in both government and the not-for-profit sector that enabled her to develop the skills and competencies that have helped her grow into the leadership role of Assistant Deputy Minister with Yukon’s Department of Community Services. 

Speaker 2: Mary Mammoliti, How to Build Your Personal Brand  – 6:25 p.m.
Tips, strategy, planning what steps to take when building your personal brand. 

Presenter: Mary Mammoliti

Food blogger, recipe developer, TV and Radio personality and Host/Producer of the Kitchen Confession Podcast. In her early twenties Mary was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Her love for cooking brightens her days. Educating and speaking about vision loss is her passion, inspiring others to find their light of happiness is what drives her. 

Networking Sessions Begin – 6:40 p.m.

Meet Representatives From: AMI, The Brick, CNIB, Deloitte, eSight, Export Development Canada, The Government of Canada, Myplanet, Scotiabank, Shopify, Spark Niagara, Sobeys Inc., Tangerine.

Day 2 Keynote Presentation: Life After Sight Loss – 10:15 a.m.

Christopher Warner will share some of his own experiences as a person who lost his sight later in life. In this presentation, he will talk about getting back into the world of work and share stories of good and bad interviews he’s been in. He'll talk about life after sight loss, what he’s learned from the experience, and what he’s been able to accomplish as an entrepreneur. 

Presenter: Christopher Warner, Author & Program Lead, Community Education, CNIB Foundation.

Christopher Warner wears many hats, which he says is good because it keeps him from burning the top of his head on warm, sunny days. He is the Program Lead for Community Education with the CNIB Foundation in southern Alberta. He has written and self-published two books, and he’s also active in his community, being a member the City of Calgary’s Advisory Committee on Accessibility, and co-chair of the Calgary Ability Network’s Transportation table.

Day 2 Session 5 Workshops – 11:00 a.m. 

501. Braille Transcription & Instruction
Those instructing braille transcribers will learn the answers to questions asked by transcriber course-students and how to present the answers in a meaningful way. Transcriber students will expand their knowledge of braille solutions and references that they may not have considered.

Presenter: Darleen Bogart, National Braille Convenor, CNIB.

502. Accessible POS Announcement
Join us for the launch of a new and exciting project that will help make the shopping experience for Canadian’s who are blind or partially sighted more accessible. CNIB President and CEO John Rafferty and Angela Brown, President and CEO of Moneris Solutions, will discuss current problems with payment terminals and the future of accessible payment terminals in Canada.

Presenters: Angela Brown, President and CEO, Moneris Solutions; John M. Rafferty, President and CEO, CNIB & Angela Bonfanti, Senior Vice President, CNIB Foundation.

503. COVID-19 Impact Survey
An analysis of key findings of the COVID-19 Impact Survey distributed throughout Canada by CNIB in April 2020. The survey questions aimed to identify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on those with sight loss in eight sectors. This presentation outlines key themes and concerns identified in technology, healthcare, transportation, employment, education, social experiences, and food accessibility.

Presenters: Elaine Gatzios, Master of Public Health Practicum Student & Mahadeo Sukhai, Ph.D., Head of Research and Chief Accessibility Officer, CNIB Foundation.

Day 2 Session 6 Workshops – 1:00 p.m. 

601. Braille Zoomers
In response to the growing need to support adults and seniors who pursue braille instruction to regain their independence, Braille Literacy Canada (BLC), introduces a new initiative, Braille Zoomers. Based on a mentorship model, Braille Zoomers provides peer-support, information and resources to adults and seniors with sight loss who pursue braille training in Canada.  

Presenters: Daphne Hitchcock, Vice President, BLC; Kim Kilpatrick, Secretary, BLC; Shelley Ann Morris, Braille Zoomer; Jen Goulden, Past President, BLC & Natalie Martiniello, President, BLC.

602. Meet eSight 4: The Future of Sight Enhancement
The session will dive into how eSight 4 is setting a new standard for vision technology by providing greater visual clarity, a more versatile design to enable mobility, and incorporating new cloud-based capabilities. eSight’s goal is to empower people during work, school, and throughout their lives, which will be discussed with real user examples.

Presenters: York Barrington III, Sales Director, eSight & Samuel Peluso, Clinical Account Manager, eSight.

603. Recreation Panel – It is not just about the joy…it is a Networking Opportunity!

  • CNIB National Youth Council Members: Curtis Ruttle, Emilee Schevers & Stela Trudeau.
  • Laura Mark, Coordinator, Team Operations, CNIB Foundation.
Day 2 Session 7 Workshops – 2:10 p.m. 

701. How the CNIB Foundation responded to a global pandemic
When COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, many organizations were forced to scale down their operations or close their doors indefinitely. As a non-profit organization with a mandate to remove barriers for Canadians impacted by blindness, we knew the need for our programs would be at an all-time high during this unprecedented time of isolation. Hear from members of our Executive Leadership Team to learn how a 102-year-old charity took immediate measures to help minimize the impact of a global pandemic on the people we serve. Join us for a fireside chat as we share what we learned through empowerment, inclusion, innovation, passion, collaboration and integrity. 

Presenters: John M. Rafferty, President and CEO; Maria Ash, Senior Vice President, Business Support Services; Angela Bonfanti, Senior Vice President, Foundation Programs; Elizabeth Charles, Senior Director, People & Culture; Frank Lombardo, Senior Director, Technology & Mahadeo Sukhai, Head of Research and Chief Accessibility Officer.

702. Barrier-free of reading scores with SM Music Reader app
The SM Music Reader is a free and fully accessible Android app for everyone to read music scores. Developed by Sao Mai Center for the Blind, it also includes a simple guitar tuner and the Metronome. Besides the functions to draw music scores and play MIDI files, SM Music Reader also offers full accessibility options to read notes with speech via screen readers and Braille shown on the connected Braille display via the SM Braille Viewer app. In addition, users can access freely to thousands of scores on our music library. It’s the first music reading app for the blind on Android platform!

Presenter: Dang Hoai Phuc, Executive Director, Sao Mai Center.

703. Microsoft Teams with Screen Readers

Presenter: Runa Patel, Business Sales Team, Microsoft Canada.

Day 2 Session 8 Workshops – 3:20 p.m. 

801. Refreshable Braille Tech
It is important to take all aspects of a blind student’s learning of technology into account. Whether learning contractions, typing on a qwerty keyboard or submitting assignments via the cloud, refreshable Braille technology can be used to promote successful classroom outcomes that can be carried forward throughout the rest of one’s life. In this session, participants will explore how and when to first introduce a refreshable Braille device to a student, identify ways a student can access course material via electronic means, learn about a new device to promote the learning of the QWERTTY keyboard, and how a Braille reader can directly interact with mainstream applications via an iOS device or Braille notetaker. 

Presenters: Peter Tucic, Brand Ambassador, HumanWare & Michel Pépin, Canada Sales Director, HumanWare. 

802. Creating Accessible Social Media Content
Learn the ins and outs of creating accessible social media content for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn! By the end of this interactive session, participants will know how to create content for their social media platforms that is both engaging and accessible to a wider audience.

Presenter: Matisse Hamel-Nelis, Manager, Internal and Accessible Communications, CNIB Foundation.

803. Startups: How to get started on your idea. How to measure your progress.
There is nothing simple, streamlined, or easy about making ideas happen. In this session, we'll discuss the dark art of how to turn an idea into a successful start-up and how to harness passion, action, and results.

Presenter: Hussein Hallak, Partner, Unleashed Ventures.


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Thank you to our sponsors

AMI Logo



Bell Mobility Logo.

The Brick Logo


Export Development Canada Logo.


eSight Logo.

Fighting Blindness Canada Logo.

HumanWare Logo


Lyft Logo

Mercer Canada Logo

Microsoft Logo


Moneris Logo


Myplanet Logo

Say Hello Logo


Sobeys Logo


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