On Triple Vision, hosts David Best and Hanna Leavitt bring you the history of Canadians who are blind, deafblind, and partially sighted, one story at a time, illuminating the challenges of the past, present, and future.
The Next Chapter: The History of Library Services for Canadians who are blind, deafblind and partially sighted
In the last podcast episode, The Opening Chapter, the Triple Vision team traced the history of library services for blind Canadians from the 19th century to 2014.
In this Next Chapter the team brings us up to date with interviews with representatives of the Centre for Equitable Library Access and the National Network for Equitable Library Services. David and Hanna explore how these public library systems are enhancing library access to Canadians with print disabilities. They also start asking key questions about why publishers themselves are not taking more of a leadership role in this area.
“In Canada, our public libraries are public service institutions. At their heart, they are meant to be inclusive and to provide equitable access to reading for all their users, including those with disabilities. I think that, historically, public libraries felt that that the services they were providing weren’t adequate and that they needed to be revisioned. This new approach is necessary to ensure a more equitable access to reading to those with print disabilities.”
The Opening Chapter: the history of library services for Canadians who are blind, deafblind, and partially sighted
In Canada, public libraries have been around in one form or another for about 200 years. On January 4, we celebrate the birthday of Louis Braille.
Born in 1809, Louis Braille invented his famous system of reading 400 years after the invention of the printing press. In this first episode on the evolution of library services, the Triple Vision team talks to CNIB archivist Jane Beaumont about the founding of the Free Library for the Blind. This service eventually became the Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s library until it evolved into the Centre for Equitable Library Access.
Joining Jane on this podcast is library user Albert Ruel, who talks about the variety of methods he uses to access his books. “I had done some research on audiobooks. It was fascinating to me to see that really this has just come full circle. We’ve come back to the way humankind was before the Gutenberg press. We are back to storytelling, the oral traditions. That’s part of our DNA that hasn’t evolved out of us yet.”
“Who’s Driving?” Reclaiming the narrative of blindness in Canada
In this sixth episode of Triple Vision, we do something different. We invite six members of the community to talk about how they see the current blindness narrative in Canada. What is wrong with the current narrative, and what should it be? Who is controlling the current Canadian blindness story?
“The sad part is, we all look at the news as a news and information source, and it isn’t. It’s a drama. It’s a dramatic work and belongs in the arts. A lot of people go there for their information. Unfortunately if it bleeds, it leads. And when it comes to blindness, we don’t bleed so much, but my goodness the narrative is pity filled.”
Join us for this fascinating journey, exploring the dangers of the single narrative of the blindness story in Canada.
Cane and Ableism
While people who are blind have used some sort of cane to navigate the world over the centuries, the white cane became a standard mobility device in the 1900s. But, in recent history, attitudes towards the white cane have shifted.
In this episode, David and Hanna take a world tour from Winnipeg to Zanzibar and the United States to explore the issues associated with white vs. coloured canes. Is it time for the white cane to have a make over?
“I have never had an issue using a cane other than white. The general public seems to understand that they are there for help. They offer their elbow, or they guide me to their vehicle, and they have never said, 'Why is your cane that colour?'”
Colonialism: Challenging the Rules at the Ontario School for the Blind
Join us on this week’s Triple Vision podcast, where Doreen Demas talks with us about the impacts of colonialism on her life as a First Nations woman from Manitoba living with vision loss.
Doreen traces her life, from attending the residential school for the blind in Brantford, Ontario, to a regular school, to an Indigenous residential school in Brandon. She speaks openly about the duality of service provision she experienced from the CNIB as a First Nations person. Listen as she talks about her work at the United Nations and her optimistic hope for the future.
“My family always allowed me and my siblings free to go about our community. We were able to go and visit friends, we were able to play in the back of our house. We had trees and could climb them. We could pick berries. We could do whatever made us happy and that is what we did. But when I got to Brantford, I found out I could never do those things. Everything I did was pretty much dictated either by the house parents or the teachers and the structures we had there.”
CNIB history with James Sanders
In this episode, David and Hanna speak with Jim Sanders, former Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Jim traces the history of the institute from its founding to its need to change in the current digital era.
"Some of the strongest advocates in Canada have come out of the concern of CNIB, in the 70s and 80s and 90s, that they considered the organization as paternalistic and patronizing. These advocates, in fact, have had very positive influences on the CNIB opening up from what it was."