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Penny Hartin, LLD

Board Member

Penny Hartin is active in the area of advancing the rights of blind and partially sighted women as well as for persons with low vision.


Penny Hartin recently retired as the Chief Executive Officer of the World Blind Union, which represents the views and needs of some 253 Million blind and partially sighted persons at the global level.Prior to joining the WBU in 2006 as its first CEO, when the international head office was established in Toronto, Penny spent over 25 years in senior management roles in several provinces with the CNIB, the major provider of rehabilitation services for blind and partially sighted persons in Canada.At the international level, she served for six years on the first UN Panel of Experts to monitor the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for persons with Disabilities, worked on the UNCRPD development and implementation work and advocated for and supported the adoption and implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty for access to printed works for visually impaired persons. She has been particularly active in the area of advancing the rights of blind and partially sighted women as well as for persons with low vision. Penny frequently represented the WBU at the international arena including the United Nations and its agencies as well as other international bodies.She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the CNIB Foundation Board, and a Director of the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (a Governor in Council Appointment)Penny grew up and attended school in Haliburton Ontario; she has severe low vision, uses speech and screen magnification access technology and cherishes her guide dog named “Chicory”. Now that Penny is retired, she is enjoying sailing, gardening, reading, fitness and her various volunteer activities.


IFA Town Hall
The International Federation on Ageing

September 08, 2021

August’s DR Barometer’s Diabetes Alert! Series town hall featured Dr. Penny Hartin, Chief Executive Officer, World Blind Union (Retd.), who discussed accessibility measures and recommendations for blind/partially sighted persons.

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Challenges & Change with Craig Oliver

February 15, 2017

World Blind Union CEO Dr. Penny Hartin joins Craig Oliver to discuss the threat of silent cars to pedestrians and the global effort to find a solution.

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Area of Expertise


World Blind Union (WBU) : CEO, 2006 - Present

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) : Board of Directors, 2017 - Present

Canadian Blind Sailing Association : Treasurer, 2018 - 2021

World Braille Foundation : Board of Directors, 2017 - 2018

Canadian Network on Disability & Development : Co-founder and Chair, 2006 - 2011


Niagara Institute :

Laurentian University : Honorary Doctor of Laws

University of New Brunswick : Fredericton New Brunswick

University of Toronto :

Sault College :

Ontario Teacher Education College :

Laurentian University : Honours Bachelor of Science in Language

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