Darleen Bogart, braille champion – Order of Canada 

Leaside People • Meet your Neighbours

Her Excellency presents the Officer insignia of the Order of Canada to Darleen Bogart, O.C.
 Credit: Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall, OSGG.
Her Excellency presents the Officer insignia of the Order of Canada to Darleen Bogart, O.C.
 Credit: Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall, OSGG.

Darleen Bogart was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in June of 2017, and invested into the Order during a ceremony on January 24, 2018.

This is a long way from Churchbridge, Sask., where Darleen was born – the youngest in a family of seven children.

The citation with Darleen’s award highlights that she was a key figure in the adoption of Unified English Braille (UEB) in 2004. Until then there were separate codes for mathematics, chemistry, computers, literature, and often differences from country to country.

Darleen was the chair of the Braille Authority of North America in 1991 when she brought a letter to the board from two American braille-reading code developers explaining this problem. Her skills were such that the organization proposed that the International Council on English Braille take over the project, and that she become its chair. “I thought it would take five years,” said Darleen, but the complexities turned that into more than 10, but now the braille codes for everything are unified in the English-speaking world.

Darleen’s route to the CNIB started when she and her husband Peter bought their house on Broadway in 1961. Her mother-in-law had been involved with the CNIB for many years and wanted daughters-in-law to be involved too. Since the CNIB was just up Bayview from Broadway, it seemed like an excellent volunteer opportunity when her son Christopher was born, and she stopped teaching at Danforth Tech. This also happened to be the time when children with vision problems were being integrated into regular classrooms, so there was a need for more resources in braille.

Darleen learned braille – she was “bitten by the braille bug” – and has been involved with the CNIB ever since. Now, more than 50 years later, she teaches correspondence courses across the country, and teaches a braille course every year at the CNIB for the sighted to learn to transcribe braille.

As if this weren’t enough volunteer involvement, she has also been with Women’s College Hospital for more than half a century as well.

Darleen’s philosophy is “to find something you love to do, and if it also does good for somebody else, that is nirvana.”

About Lorna Krawchuk 177 Articles
Lorna Krawchuk is publisher of Leaside Life. She is actively involved in St. Cuthbert’s Church. Her volunteer activities with the Leaside Property Owners’ Association led to her being elected a Councillor in the Borough of East York for 9 years before amalgamation in 1998. She also held a variety of volunteer leadership positions with the Girl Guides of Canada for over 30 years. Lorna has been a Leasider since 1968.