Board of Directors 2015-2016
I began learning braille in kindergarten and have been an avid reader ever since. Thanks to my mother's persistence with the school board I attended public school from then until the end of high school.
I earned a Master's degree in linguistics from the University of Ottawa. Since then I have done some second language teaching and have worked as an advisor/mentor to university students. In 2004 I obtained braille proofreading certification from CNIB. Although I worked as a proofreader for a few years I am currently employed as a Human Resources Advisor for the federal government. I have been involved in this organization since 2008 and became president in 2011.
Aimée is currently a Document Accessibility Specialist with Crawford Technologies Inc. Since 1998, she has been working with the print industry meeting Fortune 500 Companies alternate format legal requirements. With a background in graphic design/desktop publishing and project management, Aimée specializes in the design and dissemination of confidential transactional documents for the visually impaired. Since the beginning of her career, she has with worked with software developers to design statements ready for automated production adhering to strict security standards and tight service level agreements. Familiar with the common barriers companies encounter meeting this legal requirement, her focus assists in the development of timely and cost efficient transactional documents.
Anthony is a lawyer with Merchant Law Group LLP, and his practice focuses on civil, class action, and human rights litigation. Since 2006, he has served on numerous charitable and not-for-profit boards, including the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, Guide Dog Users of Canada, Media Access Canada, and Braille Literacy Canada. With a business/commerce and IT background, Anthony brings a variety of skills to the BLC board from a managerial, accounting, information technology, and legal perspective.
Natalie is a long-time braille user, and has devoted much of her personal and professional life to educating others about the importance of braille literacy and access. She works as a Vision Rehabilitation Specialist, and has taught both braille and assistive technology to learners with visual impairments of all ages (children through seniors). She has a BA in English and Educational Studies from McGill University, a M.Sc in Vision Science (Vision Rehabilitation Teaching) from the University of Montreal, and is currently completing doctoral studies with a research focus on braille teaching and learning, also from the University of Montreal. Her most recent research explores the ways in which new technologies can enhance the teaching and learning of braille. Since 2007, she has been a member of the Adaptech Research Network, and has worked on a number of research projects related to the factors that help and hinder the success of post-secondary students with disabilities. She has presented research at a number of conferences, including the International Conference on Low Vision, the Canadian Vision Teachers Conference and the Paris International Colloquium on Learning through Touch (toucher pour savoir).
Through her involvement with a number of advocacy organizations, Natalie has organized panels to educate pre-service and in-service general education teachers about braille and to address the stereotypes and misconceptions that are often associated with blindness. With the aim of addressing the stigma that sometimes is associated with braille for those who experience vision loss later on in life, she developed the first group-based braille learning curriculum for adults at the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre, a program that has continued to flourish since its creation. In collaboration with the Quebec Ministry of Education (MELS) in 2014, Natalie conducted the training workshops to update braille teachers, transcribers and rehabilitation specialists in the province of Quebec on the newly implemented Unified English Braille code. In collaboration with representatives from other organizations, she helped organize the first All Hands on Braille summer program for blind children in Canada, developed curriculum content and functioned as an instructor.
Natalie has been a board member of Braille Literacy Canada since 2012, and has served on the World Braille Day, UEB Implementation, and Braille Promotions committees.
Betty Nobel is a native British Columbian. She has been a Braille user since age five, and still loves to read and write Braille. After graduating from Killarney Secondary School in 1969, Betty attended UBC where she graduated first with a BA and later with a diploma in adult education. Betty has worked at Vancouver Community College for 32 years teaching adults who are blind and visually impaired. She teaches Braille, English and computer courses there. In 1996 Betty obtained an MA degree in Higher Education. Her many volunteer activities include serving on the board of Accessible Media Inc., and the library board of the CNIB.
Betty serves on the BLC board and the Teaching and Learning Committee. Betty is also active in the International Council on English Braille where she is a member of the executive. Throughout her career, she has been committed to Braille as a primary literacy format for people who are blind. She believes that Unified English Braille will make Braille easier to learn and more available to those who need it. In the year 2000, Betty received the YWCA Woman of Distinction award in the category of Education Training and Development.
Cay Holbrook, Ph.D.
Cay Holbrook is currently a professor at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada where she has lived since 1998. She has also held faculty positions at Johns Hopkins University and The University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She taught children with visual impairments in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida in the United States. Cay's research agenda has focused on literacy for students with visual impairments. She has authored, edited, or co-edited eight textbooks that are used in university programs preparing teachers. Cay has been actively involved in professional organizations and advocacy activities designed to increase the quality of educational services provided to students who are blind.
My name is Kim Kilpatrick. I have been totally blind
since birth and a braille reader and writer since age 6. I am forever
passionate about braille and have used:a Perkins brailler, Slate and stylus, Electronic braille displays and notetakers.
I am so excited about the future of braille and want to
use braille whenever I can. I studied music therapy and worked for many years in
long-term and palliative care settings. Next I took volunteer resource management and worked as a
volunteer coordinator. I also became a professional storyteller and now I
started and coordinate the GTT (Get Together with Technology) program which
allows peer mentoring as people who are blind or have low vision train and
support each other in learning and using technology. I am proud of this program which I founded and is now
spreading to many locations. I have served on many boards and committees and have done
a lot of volunteer work. I travel through life with my fourth guide dog (black lab
Tulia) and I am so excited about being on the board of BLC.
Jen grew up with low vision and was taught to read both print and
braille in elementary school, although she primarily used print until she
started university and began using braille for most of her coursework. After
graduating from high school, Jen attended Simon Fraser University where she
graduated with a BA in English in 2005 followed by a BEd in Elementary Education
in 2007. After several years of teaching, she also completed an MA in Special
Education with a specialization in students with visual impairments from the
University of British Columbia in 2014. Jen also has credentials to teach
students with learning disabilities and a certificate in teaching English as a
Second Language. Jen has worked with children and adults with visual
impairments in a variety of roles over the past decade. These have included
positions as an itinerant vision teacher for students in kindergarten to grade
12; as an instructor teaching adults with visual impairments at Vancouver
Community College; and as an Assistive Technology Specialist with CNIB, as well
as through many volunteer opportunities. Currently, Jen is a Vision Outreach
Coordinator at the Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired and
supports vision teachers and students throughout the province of BC. Jen uses
both print and braille on a daily basis and is passionate about braille
literacy for children and adults who are blind or visually impaired. She is an
active volunteer and has served on the boards of several advocacy
organizations, including Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers and at the
chapter, provincial, and national level of the Alliance for Equality of Blind
Myra Rodrigues (CNIB Rep.)
Dr. Rodrigues is a long-time resident of Ontario, but was born in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Diagnosed with glaucoma in early childhood, she registered with the CNIB at the age of four, and attended the W. Ross MacDonald School in Brantford from 1948-1960. She then trained as a rehabilitation teacher and worked for the CNIB from 1962-1970, leaving the Institute to pursue further education.
After earning an Honors BA at York University, Dr. Rodrigues attended the University of Toronto and completed an MA in psychology and PhD in educational theory.
From 1980-2001, Dr. Rodrigues was employed by the Ontario Government in a variety of capacities including consultant for residential care programs, senior policy analyst for federal/provincial cost sharing arrangements, and senior research analyst with the Ontario Attorney General.
Dr. Rodrigues retired in 2001 and now enjoys volunteer work, and a wide range of leisure activities including gardening, music, theatre, reading, cycling, travel and power walking. She is a former member of the CNIB National Board and CNIB Library Board, a committee member of the Canadian Braille Literacy Foundation and a volunteer Braille instructor. She is co-author of the new Canadian Braille Textbook “Celebrating Braille: A Canadian Approach”, and co-editor of a series of little books of quotes and a little book of riddles all produced in UEB and available through CNIB.
Rebecca Blaevoet has worked in the field of Braille for twenty years as a proofreader, transcriber, teacher of adults and children and now as the director of a Braille production company based in Britain. In 2013, she was invited to add her experience to the work of tactile Vision Inc., a Canadian company which produces materials in Braille and tactile formats.
I was born and raised in Toronto. When I was 13 years old, I lost my sight due to retina detachments. I then attended W. Ross school for the Blind in Brantford for the next three years. It was here that I was introduced to braille. Although I resisted at first, braille soon became one of the most important skills I have ever learned.
As an adult, I have worked for the CNIB as a Rehabilitation Teacher. In this role, I had the opportunity and honour to teach braille to people of all ages and abilities. Words can not express how incredible it was to witness the confidence people gained as they learned to read and write again.
Currently, I am working as a high school teacher at W. Ross. I am always stressing to my students how important braille literacy is. Often times, I have heard people say that technology has replaced braille. This infuriates me because I am such a strong braille advocate. I believe that "Braille is Literacy" and it can not be replaced by technology just as there is no replacement for the printed word.
I am also serving on the Board for VIEWS. I have a strong commitment to the growth and learning of children who are blind and visually impaired. I feel that braille is an essential skill and I would like to be involved in any opportunity to promote the importance of braille literacy.
Cheryl is employed with the Province of Manitoba as leader of the Braille, Tactiles, and E-text Production Team, and has been in this position for 8 years. She is responsible for ensuring that current braille standards for educational materials are communicated and maintained. She is certified in UEB, braille instruction, music braille transcription, and Nemeth Code.
As a member of Manitoba's UEB Implementation Committee, Cheryl works closely with braille transcribers, and communicates with vision teachers on UEB implementation for students in Manitoba. Cheryl is also an instructor for CNIB braille courses for Manitoba school staff who have made a commitment to improve their braille skills and to achieve Literary or UEB braille certification. She has written and facilitated workshops on changes in braille standards, and workshops on using braille translation software for production in the classroom.
As the daughter of a Canadian Air Force pilot, Cheryl attended schools throughout Canada and the United States. This experience taught her to celebrate diversity and to appreciate cultural differences. Her education includes a University Certificate in Adult Learning, and a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Psychology.