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Barriers for the Visually Impaired Broken by Canadian Youth

It takes strength to champion awareness for the visually impaired in Canada. Saskatoon’s Charlene Young was recently acknowledged for her more than a decade’s worth of work to furthering the cause by the CNIB National Youth Council.


Young was named the first recipient of the CNIB National Youth Council Leadership award for her 13 years of volunteering as a spokesperson for CNIB EmployAbility campaign, dinner coach for seven Dining in the Dark fund raising/awareness events, participant in the CNIB Champions program, and a member of the Barrier-Free Saskatchewan steering committee.


“It’s definitely symbolic of all the work I’ve done so far,” said Young. “I’m quite honoured to receive the award, raising awareness on issues affecting the blind.”


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Caption: Charlene Young was presented the CNIB National Youth Council Leadership award in Winnipeg at the CNIB National AGM by Scott Best, National Youth Council member.


Brandon Snow of the CNIB National Youth Council said she was selected for the award for her commitment to breaking down attitudinal barriers and stigmas commonly held of persons who are blind.


“Charlene is a great example of what the leadership award was created for,” said Snow. “We had very strong applicants apply. Each had their strengths, so it was a challenging decision.”


Living With Vision Loss

It’s no surprise to learn that those living with sight impairment face obstacles. Young says her goal is to teach those without vision loss about how to appropriately treat someone who does.


“I have faced some barriers,” she said. “A sighted person will come up and tell me I shouldn’t be crossing a street when there is no audible signal. But I’ve been taught to learn to listen for traffic. I let them help me, but then I wanted to prove it to them that I am capable of doing this myself. I have ears.”


Another time she felt discriminated against was when she was at a coffee shop counter and the cashier asked Young’s friend—and not her—what she wanted to order.


“My friend responded by saying, well I don’t know. You can ask her!”


Young is motivated to spread awareness that the visually impaired are still people, they are still capable, and they will ask for help if they need it.


“The first problem I would like to solve is creating awareness of people with all disabilities,” she said. “We are not aliens. We are normal people like everybody else and we expect to be treated like normal people.”

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Call for 2018 Nominations

The award was introduced to recognize the contributions of youth between 15 and 30, living with sight loss who are making a positive contribution to their community. The recipient was selected from candidates across Canada all of whom are striving, in their own way, to "change what it is to be blind."


The leadership award application will become available on CNIB's website on Jan. 22. Winners receive a $250 monetary reward and are presented with a plaque at their home province’s Annual General Meeting.


FYidoctors takes a special interest on issues dealing with accessibility and the visually impaired. Make sure to stay on top of your vision correction needs by visiting one of our eye care specialists at your nearest FYidoctors location.