CNIB has Turned its Back on Blind Canadians, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians Charges

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 20, 2009

“The CNIB, founded in 1918 to assist blind Canadians, continues to turn its back on those Canadians it was established to assist,” charges Robin East of Saskatoon, the President of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, a national organization of rights holders who are blind, deaf-blind and partially blind.

The AEBC says the CNIB’s lack of consultation with blind Canadians, fundraising campaigns that demean their clients, and now the appointment of a sighted CEO, have left blind Canadians frustrated and in search of alternative sources of the services they need.

Mr. East explains that until last year, CNIB’s bylaws required that its President/CEO must be a blind person. However, in September that provision was repealed, and “predictably, CNIB’s new CEO is sighted, with no first hand experience living with blindness.”

“This is yet another backward step,” charges Robin East, President of the AEBC. “Without in-depth experience living as we do as blind Canadians, we have no reason to expect that the new CEO will reverse CNIB’s misguided approach to serving those Canadians it was founded to assist.”

At one time, CNIB was a major employer of blind Canadians, East continues, “But the percentage of blind employees within CNIB has steadily declined over the years and is now less than ten percent. Replacing a blind person as CEO with a sighted person in CNIB’s top job sends the wrong message, especially in these tough times” adds East.

The CNIB’s approach to fundraising over the years has also upset many blind Canadians.The CNIB has often resorted to portraying blind people as pitiful in order to raise money.According to East, “Blind Canadians are working hard to change negative attitudes about blindness, and yet the CNIB is perpetuating the myths and misconceptions we’re trying to dispel”.

“It is time that CNIB began listening to blind Canadians and refocused its priorities on the individuals that it was established to serve – blind persons in Canada,” comments East.

For comments, please contact:

Robin East, President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

306-934-1547 or 1-800-561-4774