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Vision 2020 White Papers

The year 2020 is symbolic for those living with vision loss, and in Canada it is a reminder that more needs to be done to address the complex issues that affect this growing community. To mark the occasion, Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC), the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), CNIB Foundation, and other stakeholders have collaborated to draft three white papers that discuss key issues facing Canada’s vision loss community.

The white papers cover three topics: living with vision loss, vision research, and access to vision care. To develop the papers, online feedback was collected from over 300 community members, including patients, caregivers, scientists, policymakers, and more. In-person feedback was also collected at an event held in Ottawa, generously sponsored by Bell Canada, on February 12. The issues were discussed by leaders in science, policy, and advocacy, including Yazmine Laroche, Canada’s Deputy Minister of Public Service Accessibility. Both online and in-person, a range of perspectives were presented; the papers attempt to synthesize those views and lay the foundations for effective advocacy in 2020 and beyond.

In the area of lived experience, responses made it clear that Canada should invest broadly in community initiatives, public awareness campaigns, and accessibility programs. Feedback on vision research emphasized the need for new funding and review structures, including a vision-specific institute as part of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s main funding body for scientific research. And in relation to equity and access, there is consensus that work should be done within Canada’s health agencies to facilitate the uptake of revolutionary gene therapies and stem cell treatments for rare eye diseases, and that this should not be done at the cost of access to existing or more conventional medicines.

According to the recent Canadian Survey on Disability, vision loss affects approximately 1.5 million Canadians. Other studies show that as our population ages, this number will grow significantly over the next two decades. The white papers are intended to orient and mobilize our efforts to create a better, brighter, more inclusive future for these individuals.

Review our White Papers

Watch the keynote presentation from Yazmine Laroche, Deputy Minister, Public Service Accessibility, Government of Canada.

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