The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) is the Voice of the BlindTM in Canada, a membership-based organization of and for Canadians who are blind and partially-sighted that, along with other stakeholders and advocacy groups, is dedicated to enhancing their quality of life by changing what it means to be blind.

2018 was a special year for the CCB, with a wealth of opportunities that supported our members and staff in highlighting our abilities and keeping a steady focus on our vision for a truly accessible future.

Shaping tomorrow's technologies

We collaborated with service providers and various levels of government to improve the current standard of service regarding accessibility and quality of life. Our partnership with the Neil Squires Society and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind resulted in greater awareness of the need for wider access to retail payment systems to reduce the service gap faced by Canadians with blindness or low vision who are not offered the necessary assurances of payment security.

CCB's National Advocacy Committee also assisted in bringing innovative technologies, such as ScripTalk, to the public. The device reads prescription labels and provides the information in an audio format for patients and it will soon be widely available at Sobeys and related pharmacies.

2018 was a special year for the CCB, with a wealth of opportunities that supported our members and staff in highlighting our abilities and keeping a steady focus on our vision for a truly accessible future.

Building awareness and understanding

I was invited to participate in a panel discussion with experts from the World Health Organization, the International Federation on Ageing, and leading Canadian ophthalmologists to address, among other things, the myth that vision deterioration is a part of the ageing process. Vision loss is not solely related to age, yet among adult at-risk populations there is a relatively low level of awareness of the condition and treatment options. This is just one of the areas of need where we will continue to focus our programming.

In August, the CCB was invited to Anatolia, Turkey by the Turkish Federation of the Blind to take part in the writing of a declaration for world peace along with other organizations of the blind. The blind are the most sincere and determined opponents of war as it increases the population of the blind to a significant extent. We will continue to collaborate with our colleagues around the globe for a conflict-free world.

Continuing the legacy

This year we will celebrate our 75th anniversary under the banner of our national theme, "Our Year of Accessibility." This focus will anchor our outreach and awareness efforts as we anticipate the passing of the Accessible Canada Act, Bill C-81, which will introduce new accessibility legislation that will mandate the proactive identification, removal, and prevention of barriers to accessibility wherever Canadians interact with areas under federal jurisdiction.

I look forward to more success working alongside our members and volunteers who contributed over 30,000 hours of their time to coordinating our programs and initiatives. Although there is much more to be done in the future, the CCB is very pleased that we were part of the efforts to get to this point. We will continue to work earnestly towards a barrier-free Canada.