After almost a year of effort, in partnership with the CNIB Lake Joseph Centre, the first ever technology training program geared to blind professionals took place. 27 participants and over a dozen trainers and support staff from across Canada gathered for five days to take part in this unique event. Outputs from the training intended for sharing with others can be retrieved by searching for #LJT12 on Twitter. The below letter sent from the CEO of the CNIB to my deputy minister best explains the rationale for offering such a program and my involvement in its conception and organization. Please find pictures from the week posted at the end of the letter.Dear Deputy Minister John Knubley,I’m writing to let you know about the timely and valuable support an individual in your employ is providing the CNIB, and to bring to your attention a training opportunity employees with visual disabilities in your department and the government in general should find of benefit.Mr. Lawrence Euteneier, a manager in the Rural and Cooperative Secretariat at Agriculture Canada, in his volunteer position on the Board of Directors for the CNIB Lake Joseph Centre, proposed that the CNIB provide Canadian professionals with visual disabilities technology training. The training would both assist with career advancement and productivity by training such professionals to make the most of advancements in information and communication technologies.The CNIB has since made Mr. Euteneier chair of an Advisory Committee on Technology Training. Mr. Euteneier has considerable experience in this area having both served as the “Advisor on Technical Accessibility for the Senate of Canada, and by developing and deploying world-leading technology aimed at closing Canada’s digital divide experienced by people with literacy or disability issues. Mr. Euteneier’s receipt of the “Public Service Award of Excellence” and the Governor General’s “Meritorious Service Medal” further speaks to his expertise and commitment in this regard.
As you are no doubt aware, advances in workplace technologies are being introduced at an ever increasing rate. What you may not know is that a number of these technologies are not necessarily built to comply with accessibility standards or best practices. Further challenging blind professionals is a nation-wide deficit in training programs developed for such individuals to maintain maximum proficiency through the use of technology.
The market the CNIB wishes to address by offering a technology training program includes those blind or visually impaired Canadians who currently use computers, but who would like to know more about how to better utilize what they have at hand and are interested in developing the skills needed to adopt more recent innovations relevant to the working professional. Programs such as Windows Seven and MS Office 10 are examples of two recent office place innovations for which customized training will be of assistance.Federal employees with vision loss will make up a sizeable portion of the CNIB technology training program’s intended beneficiaries. To this end, I have attached a description and registration form for the training program the CNIB plans to begin delivering this September. We hope this information will assist your employees with visual disabilities and their managers to plan their training objectives for the year. Please feel free to share this information with your counterparts in the other federal departments.
Should you have any questions or suggestions, your input would be highly valued. I thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide in disseminating this information.
John M. Rafferty President and CEO CNIB