Programs & Services
Newsletter - November 2019
In This Issue
- Message from the President (Natalie Martiniello - BLC President)
- Reminder about the November 30 Teleconference - Braille is Best: Out and About - Everyday Strategies for Advocating for the Use of Braille
- AGM 'Save the Date' and Thank You AMI! (Natalie Martiniello - BLC President)
- About Accessible Media Inc
- TD Gallery Exhibit on Books for Young People with Disabilities (Melanie Romer-Noel - BLC Director)
- BLC participates in McMillan LLP's Inclusion and Diversity Day (Melanie Romer-Noel - BLC Director)
- Santa Loves Braille!
- Recap: Connecting the Dots Conference (2019) (Kim Kilpatrick - BLC Secretary)
- 2020 Canadian Vision Teachers' Conference: Call for Presentations!
- Vancouver and Victoria BLC Walk-A-Thons: A resounding Success!
- Vancouver Walkathon For The Brailler Bounce Initiative (Betty Nobel)
- Results from the CNIB Braille Creative Writing Contest
- CNIB Foundation Printbraille Pilot Project
- BANA Awards Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award to Dr. Robert Englebretson (Braille Authority of North America)
- 2019 National Braille Association Conference summary (Jessica Blouin - BLC Director)
- 2020 Membership Renewals
- Social Media Updates
Message from the President
By Natalie Martiniello - BLC President
Dear BLC friends,
As we near the end of another year, it is customary to reflect on the past 12 months and to ponder the year ahead. We at BLC have so much gratitude, and it is all thanks to the continual support, enthusiasm and friendship each of our members and supporters have always shown.
The braille community is a strong and vibrant one. It is made so because we are connected by something profoundly essential and extraordinary: a mutual and shared appreciation and recognition of the vital importance of literacy for the blind. Every time I speak to our members, I am touched by this truth. Whether you are a teacher who first happened upon braille by mere chance that later launched a career in our field, or a parent of a blind child who witnessed first-hand the opportunities which braille literacy affords, or a transcriber who revels in the satisfaction of producing a book that can be read even beyond sight los, or if your life (like mine) was personally altered on the fateful day a teacher brought braille literacy to your world - we each have experienced the power unlocked in every braille symbol.
I (like many of you) occasionally have the privilege of speaking to future blindness professionals. For those who are in a similar position, you may understand when I say that it is a responsibility that I always accept both humbly and with seriousness. How can I communicate everything I want to tell them in a single talk? How can I dispel a lifetime of myths and misconceptions about blindness? How can I verbalize the unique role that braille plays in the history of blind people -- one that sets it quite apart from any other invention?
Sometimes, I will show them a picture from when I had the transformative opportunity to visit "la maison natale de Louis Braille". I tell them that outside his house is a plaque that reads:
In this house
on January 4, 1809
The inventor of the system of
writing in raised dots for use
by the blind.
He opened the doors of
knowledge to all those
who cannot see.
I explain to them that before the invention of braille, blind people could not read or write. We talk about the societal implications of limiting an entire group of individuals to the confines of illiteracy. It was only through the doors of literacy that we awakened to an equitable education that moves beyond the constraints of manual crafts. It was through literacy that we began to challenge the bounds of 'gainful' employment. For the most part, prior to braille, other people wrote about us. Other people spoke of us. Other people conjectured what it 'means' to be us. Other people imagined -- through a narrowed vision -- what we could and could not do. It is through literacy that we began to more fully challenge, reclaim and redefine all of this. Inventions come and go after this moment in history, but it is braille that launched us on a completely renewed path of equity and dignity.
This is because literacy in all its forms grants, above all else, a voice.
I -- or you -- may never truly find the proper words to articulate how profoundly braille is woven into our history (both past and future), our culture, our stories, and our identities. Perhaps the greatest tribute is conveyed each time we run our hands on a page of braille and find meaning there. Each time braille allows us to perform the tasks that generations before us could not. The words we read may be found on paper or on a display, but the gift which grants meaning to each of those words is found within us.
And maybe that's the crux of it. Even when a book is returned or a device stops working or anything else changes around us, we are still literate. The right to literacy is not only about what exists outside of us. It is fundamentally a question of what you believe should exist within each of us.
In these pages, you will find evidence of exciting accomplishments from our members and friends, and updates from our partners and supporters. Thank you to each of you for making Braille Literacy Canada what it continues to be as we reach forward into our 30th year of existence. A true community of passion and partnership!
President, Braile Literacy Canada
Reminder about the November 30 Teleconference - Braille is Best: Out and About - Everyday Strategies for Advocating for the Use of Braille
Inclusion of braille and braille accessibility is an ongoing challenge for those who read braille. Have you ever encountered a situation when braille was simply overlooked and you were asked if braille copy was really necessary?
Join us for the next teleconference where our knowledgeable panelists will share their experiences advocating for braille in post-secondary education and in everyday life. Whether you're a braille reader, a parent or a professional in the blindness field the solutions and strategies we'll discuss will equip you to advocate for braille literacy wherever it's needed.
Date: Saturday, November 30, 2019
Time: 1:00 -- 2:30 PM Eastern (Starting at 10 AM Pacific, 11 AM Mountain, 12 Noon Central/Saskatchewan and 2 PM Atlantic)
Cost: The teleconference is free for BLC members as well as those who are members of organizations that are corporate members of BLC. Cost for non-members is $20.
To Register: send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, November 28, 2019.
AGM 'Save the Date' and Thank You AMI!
By Natalie Martiniello - BLC President
The 2020 Braille Literacy Canada Annual General Meeting will be held in conjunction with the Canadian Vision Teachers Conference in Toronto on May 8th (more details coming soon -- but mark your calendars!).
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the CVTC organizing committee for including us in the planning process, and for once again partnering with us to bring the braille community together for our annual meeting. The conference will be a unique opportunity for Vision Teachers across Canada to network and learn about issues relevant to blind children and youth, including themes related to braille and tactile literacy.
We are in the process of organizing a special reception to take place immediately after our AGM on May 8th to celebrate the 30th anniversary of BLC. This will be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends and celebrate not only our vibrant organization, but also the story of braille in Canada since the inception of what was then the Canadian Braille Authority.
We are so excited to announce that Accessible Media Inc has graciously offered to sponsor a special wine and cheese for our 30th anniversary reception! AMI continues to be a valued partner who livs by example the importance of accessibility. Thanks to their contributions, this will be a celebration you will not want to miss!
On behalf of BLC, we thank you AMI for your generous support!
About Accessible Media Inc
Editor' s Note: We are so very grateful to AMI for sponsoring the BLC wine and cheese event that will be taking place in conjunction with our 2020 AGM (more details to come). Thank you to AMI for playing such an essential role in our 30th year anniversary celebrations!
Accessible Media Inc. is a not-for-profit media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Operating three broadcast services, AMI-tv and AMI-audio in English and AMI-télé in French, AMI's vision is to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal.
AMI-audio is an accessible television channel and streaming service offering a variety of compelling stories and engaging original content to Canadians who are blind, partially sighted or otherwise print restricted.
AMI-tv is a national English language television channel licensed by the CRTC as part of the basic digital package offered by cable systems and satellite direct-to-home services. You can also stream AMI-tv's original programming on demand at AMI.ca or accessible AMI-tv App for iOS and tvOS.
TD Gallery Exhibit on Books for Young People with Disabilities
By Melanie Romer-Noel - BLC Director
Exhibit on now at the TD Gallery: You, Me, Us: Outstanding Books For and About Young People with Disabilities, An exhibit highlighting "the best of the best" from the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Collection for Young People with Disabilities.
This exhibit features books published around the world that are recognized for their exceptional content and design.
November 16, 2019 to January 26, 2020
BLC participates in McMillan LLP's Inclusion and Diversity Day
By Melanie Romer-Noel - BLC Director
October afforded us an opportunity to put our braille advocacy into practice.
BLC was invited to take part in an Inclusion and Diversity Day celebration at a law firm with offices across Canada. The event was open to internal employees at McMillan LLP and several BLC board members were able to attend the events in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.
While the events were not identical in each city, some of the items that we brought with us were BLC braille bookmarks, information sheets with the braille alphabet and simbraille messages to decode, print/braille books, a copy of the New York Times in print and braille, tactile graphics, Perkins braillers, slate and stylus, and of course our enthusiasm for braille!
In the Toronto office, many of the attendees had questions about different eye conditions and shared stories about family members who are blind or partially sighted. Our "Guess the Tactile" activity was quite popular as well as the "Braille Your Name" with a Perkins brailler. After a brief introduction to the braille alphabet, staff were invited to use the Perkins to braille their names and my colleague would read the name back to them. Allowing the opportunity to learn the braille alphabet and try some of the gadgets in an informal setting seemed to engage the curiosity in many of the attendees.
I felt that the event was a success overall. BLC has been invited back to the Ottawa office to create a lunch and learn workshop and we acknowledge the need to include more information in both official languages.
Santa Loves Braille!
Santa has teamed up with T-Base Communications to respond in braille to children who are blind or low vision who send him a letter. If you or someone you know would like to send a wish list to Santa and receive a reply in braille, please mail a letter to him by Dec. 12, 2019.
(If you send one after, he might not have enough time to respond before Dec. 25!)
Please mail all letters to Santa's address:
North Pole H0H 0H0
Recap: Connecting the Dots Conference (2019)
By Kim Kilpatrick - BLC Secretary
I was excited to attend the "Connecting the Dots" conference in Toronto at the end of October. This used to be called "The Braille Conference" but CNIB has changed the name and is hoping to hold conferences in locations across Canada.
Several BLC members attended and presented at the conference and shared information about Braille Literacy Canada with attendees. As usual, I especially enjoyed hearing the winners of the braille creative writing contest who read their wonderful stories and poems. I love knowing that the next generation is passionate about braille!
I co-presented a workshop on the Canute 360 and attended interesting workshops on employment, blindness and mental health, and several on braille. I always love having my workshop numbers brailled on my name tag and having programs and information available in braille. I wish all conferences offered these services!
2020 Canadian Vision Teachers' Conference: Call for Presentations!
The CVTC conference will take place from May 6-8, 2020 in Toronto Ontario at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel & Conference Centre: 801 Dixon Rd, Toronto, ON, M9W 1J5.
The BLC AGM will take place on May 8th, as part of the conference schedule.
This conference welcomes all Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments, Orientation and Mobility Instructors, Deafblind Intervenors, Alternative Format Specialists, Students, Parents, Researchers, Health Care Practitioners, Adults, Early Childhood Educators, Community Partners and Agencies across Canada and beyond interested in the education, empowerment and advocacy of individuals with visual impairments.
Interested in Presenting at CVTC2020? The Call for Presentations is now open! Visit the 2020 CVTC website for more details:
Vancouver and Victoria BLC Walk-A-Thons: A resounding Success!
Impossible? That is a word our community does not know!
In October and November, walk-a-thons were held in Victoria and Vancouver to raise money for the Brailler Bounce program -- an initiative conceived by Myra Rodriques several years ago, which refurbishes and rehomes unused braillers to eagerly waiting recipients across Canada. To date, we have rehomed over 50 braillers to blind children and adults.
To keep this vital program going, we really needed to replenish funds to cover the cost of shipping, refurbishing and rehoming the braillers at no expense to our donors and recipients. You heard and responded with a resounding: challenge accepted!
Thanks to your collaborative efforts -- and the mighty direction of several dedicated members -- I am thrilled to share that the Brailler Bounce initiative will now be funded far into the future. The Victoria walk raised approximately $1,175 and the Vancouver walk raised another $605. Together the walks raised $1,780, and with an additional incredibly generous $2,500 anonymous donation made in memory of Joseph Yearnston, we now have roughly $4,200 to support the Brailler Bounce program into the future.
These events were a true demonstration of the commitment and dedication of many, especially young braille reading students who worked hard to fundraise through their individual efforts.
These two events and the generous donations from members and friends exceeded all our expectations! We are so excited to continue offering this program in the years to come. If you have a brailler to donate, or wish to receive a brailler in future, write to us at email@example.com
I would like to take this time to personally thank each of you who supported these two fundraisers by organizing walks, approaching donors and volunteers, or through your own generous donations. We are so grateful and so proud to celebrate this success with each of you!
From all of us at BLC, we thank you!
With great gratitude,
The BLC board
Vancouver Walkathon For The Brailler Bounce Initiative
By Betty Nobel
On November 2, Volunteer Carey Stoneberg, Betty Nobel, and Tami Grenon met at the Starbucks at 8th and Cambie in Vancouver. It was a beautiful sunny day. After fortifying ourselves with coffee, we began our walk.
Many thanks to Carey for keeping us on track and for helping with some very tricky crossings along the way. Our dogs took turns being in the lead, and the route was quiet and pleasant. One interesting experience was walking on the squishy sidewalk in front of the Arthritis centre. I wish all sidewalks could be made like that one. It was like walking on air!
We all had a great time and were pleased to support funding for the Brailler Bounce Initiative. Thank you to all those who donated. We raised a total of $605 which was really excellent considering the amount of time we had to prepare for the event. Now BLC can put braillers into the hands of adults and children.
Results from the CNIB Braille Creative Writing Contest
The 2019 winners of this annual contest have been selected, and a full list may be found at www.cnib.ca/braillecontest.
This year, at CNIB's 'Connecting the Dots' conference, we expect to have winners from British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, accepting their prizes in person.
Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to all the parents and teachers who support these students learning and using braille!
CNIB Foundation Printbraille Pilot Project
Over 550,000 print copies of 'My Heart Fills With Happiness' were distributed to students in Canada this September, as part of the TD Grade One Book Giveaway. This year, as a pilot project, CNIB Foundation's Literacy Program provided printbraille copies of the featured title to 14 students across Canada and placed copies in CNIB offices and Hubs.
The second phase of this project will involve having a small collection of printbraille books (funded by Adler Lipkus) delivered to the school libraries of these 14 students. Additionally, their classroom teachers will receive an assortment of braille resources including a tactile braille alphabet poster, braille alphabet magnets and a braille dymo labeller.
BANA Awards Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award to Dr. Robert Englebretson
By Braille Authority of North America
On Wednesday, November 13, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA), awarded the Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award to Dr. Robert Englebretson. BANA was proud to present this award at the 2019 biennial Getting In Touch with Literacy Conference held in Seattle, Washington.
Dr. Englebretson is Chair of the Linguistics Department at Rice University in Houston, Texas. As one of his many academic endeavors, Dr. Englebretson has developed and teaches a course that examines research on braille reading and writing from the perspective of the cognitive sciences. He has authored two books, numerous articles, and has co-edited a large research database of conversational English. He is currently collaborating on a major research project designed to explore the knowledge, skills, and strategies teachers of students with visual impairments need in order to effectively teach braille reading and writing. The project is funded by the Institute for Education Sciences (Department of Education).
Since the late 1980s, Dr. Englebretson has taken an active interest in braille notations of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), which is central to the field of linguistics. From 2005 to 2010, he served as the International Council on English Braille's U.S. Representative to UEB Committee for Foreign Languages and Linguistics, under the auspices of which he developed IPA Braille. IPA Braille presents an up-to-date braille notation for the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet, primarily aimed at braille-reading students and professionals in the language sciences, as well as braille transcribers wishing to produce braille versions of linguistics texts. He is frequently consulted by blind students in introductory linguistics or phonetics courses, as well as the faculty teaching these courses, asking questions related to braille and the IPA and ways of making class material more accessible.
Dr. Englebretson holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Prior to his graduate work, he lived and studied in Germany. During graduate school, he also lived in Central Java where he conducted field research on urban varieties of spoken Colloquial Indonesian. As a result, he is fluent in German contracted braille and is familiar with Indonesian braille as well as the code used for Mandarin Chinese braille.
BANA created its Braille Excellence Award in in honor of Louis Braille's 200th Birthday and renamed it the Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award in 2019 in Honor of the retirement of one of BANA's founding members. This will only be the sixth time awarding this prestigious award that recognizes people or organizations that have developed or contributed to a code, have developed code materials or software that supports codes, and/or who represent the highest
The mission of the Braille Authority of North America is to assure literacy for tactile readers through the standardization of braille and/or tactile graphics.
You can follow the work of BANA by signing up for BANA-Announce, a one-way email list that disseminates news and information. To join this list, send a blank email message to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the directions in the confirmation email that will be sent in response. You can also follow BANA on Facebook and Twitter!
Contact: Jennifer Dunnam, Chair, Braille Authority of North America, 410.659.9314 Ex. 2427
2019 National Braille Association Conference summary
By Jessica Blouin - BLC Director
Each fall, braille transcribers and teachers of the visually impaired gather for three days of training on Unified English Braille, Textbook formatting, Nemeth, and much more. The conference provides an opportunity for accessible media producers to learn face-to-face from leading experts in braille on an array of topics.
This year's conference was held in Phoenix, Arizona. I personally attended 3 fantastic workshops providing guidance on certain aspects of transcribing UEB Braille that can be a little tricky, such as keying braille as well as the integration of Nemeth within UEB context.
This conference was a great opportunity to network with professionals in the industry. This event was also very informative and has helped my professional development.
2020 Membership Renewals
It's that time of year again! BLC membership coincides with the calendar year. If you are not yet a member or haven't renewed for 2020 you can join or renew your membership now and it will be effective until December 31st, 2020.
All current personal members (who are not lifetime members) will be receiving an invoice from PayPal for your 2020 membership renewal. You can use this invoice to easily pay for your membership renewal. But, you do not need to pay online. You can mail a cheque or call us up if you would like to pay with your credit card over the phone: 1-877-861-4576. You can renew online by visiting: http://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/en/about-us/get-involved/become-a-member.
If you have any questions, you can write to us at email@example.com
We look forward to another exciting year ahead with all of you!
Social Media Updates
Here are just some of the gems posted on the BLC social media pages since the last issue. To receive these updates instantly, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
Discover Braille Bug -- A great website resource: http://braillebug.org/?fbclid=IwAR1-QmKoLHPclQUgiGSbOpmXEGdXkBzn8vz5v2-fT67KyxIV3P-in___f-8
Day of Caring at Darrell's Dream Boundless Playground in Warriors State Park: https://www.wjhl.com/news/day-of-caring-at-darrells-dream-boundless-playground-in-warriors-state-park/?fbclid=IwAR1s7HLfJzRNm9z8u2mq9kRhEVKXcXG0YbgfQAGe-_qpkyW3TzW1dV7I-fk
Beloved APH products get UEB update: https://www.aph.org/beloved-aph-products-get-ueb-update/?fbclid=IwAR06oUaRUTM1Ppch91oDu-4PbJmZAfDJd4ASt9i1bv9zDlwk3xOBBGXgZVE
Orbit Research announces support for new USB HID standard for braille displays: https://www.prweb.com/releases/orbit_research_announces_support_for_the_new_usb_hid_standard_for_braille_displays/prweb16610698.htm?fbclid=IwAR2lsF1-pRr1E5A2XXV4VrKrqHHR2GfoORzWGS3zrSRChRylc-c3Kx2OVEQ