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Members of the Advisory Group for Disability Issues

Membership


Mike Ciarciello

Michael Ciarciello is an educator and computer instructor based in Montréal, Québec. He teaches students who are blind how to use screen readers, scanning and reading software, and other assistive devices used by the blind.

Mike's passion for music has defined much of his personal and professional endeavours over the years. Inspired by his grandfather's love for the accordion, he was strongly encouraged to pursue his musical interests by his family, ultimately learning the accordion, piano and guitar. He works part-time for DancingDots, a braille music software and assistive music technology company.

Mike is currently completing his master's degree in educational technology at Concordia University.


Jewelles Smith, PhD(c)

Jewelles Smith is a strong voice for human rights in Canada; she is a feminist disability activist, scholar, writer, and artist. Her work focuses on topics such as mental health, disabled student rights, mothering, voter rights, housing and ending violence against women. Jewelles is a PhD candidate at UBC-O. Her dissertation will document narratives of disabled mothers in Canada. Jewelles is Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, and is an advisor to the board of directors of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students. Smith is the Policy and Political Affairs Coordinator, Kwantlen University Student's Association. She resides in British Columbia with her service dog, DaVinci.


Diane Bergeron

Diane Bergeron is currently the Executive Director of Strategic Relations and Engagement at the CNIB.

CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure that Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life.

CNIB's dedicated specialists work with people of all ages in their own homes, communities or local CNIB offices providing the personalized rehabilitation support they need to see beyond vision loss, build their independence and lead the lives they want.

In addition to community-based services, CNIB also works hand-in-hand with Canadians who are blind or partially sighted to advocate for a barrier-free society, and strive to eliminate avoidable sight loss with world-class research and by promoting the importance of vision health through public education.

Ms. Bergeron holds a Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University. She is an alumnus of both the Management Studies and Rehabilitation Practitioner diploma programs at Grant MacEwan University. She also holds a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration program from Grant MacEwan University.


Dr. Gary Birch

Dr. Gary Birch is the Executive Director of the Neil Squire Society. He has been with the organization since 1988.

The Neil Squire Society is a national not-for-profit organization in Canada that has, for over 30 years, empowered Canadians with disabilities through the use of computer-based assistive technologies, research and development, and various employment programs. The Society helps clients remove barriers so that they can live independent lives and become active members of the workplace and our society. Specializing in education and workplace empowerment, the Society has served over 29,000 people since 1984.

The Neil Squire Society's headquarters are in Burnaby, British Columbia, with research and development labs in both Burnaby and Vancouver, British Columbia. Regional offices are located in Regina, Saskatchewan; Ottawa, Ontario; and Fredericton and Moncton, New Brunswick.

Dr. Birch holds a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering (Biomedical Signal Processing) and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of British Columbia.


Kory Earle

Kory Earle is the President of People First of Canada.

People First of Canada is a national organization representing people with intellectual disabilities. The organization carries out its work through peer support, sharing personal stories, developing leadership skills, advocating for the right to choose where and with whom to live, and by ensuring that the voices of people with intellectual disabilities are heard and respected.

People First of Canada works to educate and influence communities and government to ensure that all people with intellectual disabilities are fully included and supported to live as equal citizens in Canada.

Mr. Earle is also the Inclusive Education Representative for People First of Canada.


Shelley Fletcher

Shelley Fletcher is the Executive Director of People First of Canada.

People First of Canada is a national organization representing people with intellectual disabilities. The organization carries out its work through peer support, sharing personal stories, developing leadership skills, advocating for the right to choose where and with whom to live, and by ensuring that the voices of people with intellectual disabilities are heard and respected.

People First of Canada works to educate and influence communities and government to ensure that all people with intellectual disabilities are fully included and supported to live as equal citizens in Canada.

Ms. Fletcher is also a representative on the Canadian Joint Task Force on the Right to Live in Community.


Frank Folino

Frank Folino is the President of the Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada (CAD-ASC).

Founded in 1940, the CAD-ASC is the national consumer organization of Canada's 357,000 Deaf citizens. The CAD-ASC provides consultation and information on Deaf needs and interests to the public, business, media, educators, governments and others. The CAD-ASC conducts research and collects data regarding Deaf issues; produces reports and provides expertise on these studies; and develops and implements pilot programs. The CAD-ASC offers assistance to Deaf organizations and service agencies across the country and also provides a library and resource centre on deafness at their office in Ottawa, Ontario. The CAD-ASC promotes and protects the rights, needs and concerns of those who are linguistically and culturally Deaf who use American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ).

Mr. Folino was born Deaf in Toronto, Ontario. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Political Science from York University.


Laurence Parent

Laurence Parent is a PhD candidate in Humanities at Concordia University. She holds a Master of Arts in Critical Disability Studies from York University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Université du Québec à Montréal. She lives in Montréal and is passionate about disability activism, disability history and mobility. She is the co-founder of Québec accessible. Ms. Parent is involved with the Critical Disability Studies Working Group based at Concordia University. Her doctoral research examines the mobility of people with disabilities in Montréal and in New York City.


Christopher T. Sutton

Christopher T. Sutton is the National Executive Director of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association. Mr. Sutton's career has spanned across the non-profit, private and public sectors in both the United States and Canada, where he has worked in various leadership capacities for some of the largest organizations serving people with disabilities.

Established in 1982, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) is the nation's leading consumer advocacy organization representing people with hearing loss throughout Canada. With a network of 22 branches, 6 provincial chapters and a national office, CHHA provides assistance and resources for people with hearing loss and their families to learn how to adjust to living with hearing loss.

CHHA has a global reputation in developing and delivering a wide range of initiatives that have challenged the status quo when working with people with hearing loss. As a leader in the sector, CHHA is often sought after to provide comments and feedback on various policy initiatives, to help and identify best practices, and to develop and test technology, which in return has advanced the quality of life for people living with hearing loss.

Mr. Sutton holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Gallaudet University, and a Masters in Business Administration from Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario, in addition to a number of professional certifications.