The CNIB Foundation Ontario is stepping up its commitment to advocacy. The provincial funding we’ve received to cover Vision Loss Rehabilitation Ontario's services has enabled our Foundation to focus on providing programs to address the social and emotional needs of people with sight loss. We continue with advocacy to break down barriers and create an inclusive society.
Active advocacy campaigns in Ontario:
"Know Your Rights” project
This year, CNIB was awarded a grant by the Law Foundation of Ontario to launch the Know Your Rights project.
Running until June 2019, the project will develop plain language legal information resources that will help Ontarians who are blind, partially sighted or Deafblind to better understand their legal rights and challenge discrimination. The project will also train CNIB staff on how to connect individuals with legal resources and train legal professionals on how to better accommodate and serve our community members.
To date, we have recruited a diverse, talented team of volunteer lawyers and community advocates – the Know Your Rights “Working Group” – to help guide the project and develop the resources.
At CNIB, the project is led by Avery Au, a lawyer who is excited to share his passion for making legal information more user-friendly and accessible. He is coordinating the efforts of the working group and building our network of collaborators, which already includes Community Legal Education Ontario, Ontario Justice Education Network, ARCH Disability Law Clinic and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. To learn more or get involved with the working group, please email Avery Au, Project Lead, Know Your Rights.
Technology fosters inclusion, reducing feelings of isolation and depression for people who are blind, partially sighted or Deafblind – but only when it's accessible, available and affordable. But the fee structure for the Government of Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program (ADP) to make tools and tech more affordable hasn't been substantially reviewed in nearly 20 years. That means categories for visual aids haven't been updated to include modern devices. Our advocates are urging the province to recognize the immediate need to modernize the Assistive Devices Program.
The Government of Ontario should be proud of its Assistive Devices Program (ADP) – it is a lifeline for many Ontarians living with disabilities. Without ADP, many would be unable to afford an assistive device.
In 2017, through public meetings as well as telephone and online surveys, we spoke to more than 4,000 Canadians impacted by blindness. They told us about their experiences, needs, ambitions and what they want from CNIB. In Ontario, we received a clear message: government-funded assistive devices enable individuals with sight loss to lead active, independent lives. Through this process, we met with medical professionals, ADP vendors and authorizers, manufacturers and other disability groups. These consultations highlighted several areas of the ADP that require improvement.
CNIB response: Auditor General 2018 Annual Report – Re: Assistive Devices Program. Read the Summary Findings and Analysis.
ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled
We created pilot project ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled to help make retailers more welcoming for people with sight loss. About 150 local businesses around our Community Hub at 1525 Yonge St., Toronto installed beacons in their spaces. The beacons connect to the BlindSquare GPS app on an iPhone or iPad to give a spoken description of the business, including store name, layout and what it sells.
This pilot project is the start of a wider conversation about neighbourhood inclusiveness and accessibility and will encourage other Canadian communities to run similar projects. ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled is a Barrier Buster project made possible by The Rick Hansen Foundation Access4All Canada 150 Signature Project, supported by the Government of Canada.
CNIB responds to "For the Parents" consultation
In September, the Ontario Ministry of Education announced it was intending to make changes to the provincial education system (Kindergarten-Grade 12) in several areas. As part of this process, the Ministry issued a consultation, "For the Parents", to get feedback from parents, students, educators and interested individuals or organizations.
One area that was missing from the Ministry's consultation was how the government can help improve the educational outcomes for Ontario students with special educational needs, including students (K-12) living with sight loss. Even so, all the "For the Parents" topics affect students who are blind or partially sighted. Our community members have voiced their concerns and provided some solutions.
CNIB carried out two province-wide teleconferences, issued an online survey, and consulted with parent groups and advocacy groups. The information from our community consultations has been formally submitted to the Ministry of Education.
Read the full response: