Canadian Council of the Blind/GTT $10/Annual Membership Dues for the Year 2019 Are Now Due

December 12, 2018

 

Attention GTT-CCB Participants and Members in Western Canada:

 

Subject: Canadian Council of the Blind $10/Annual Membership Dues for the Year 2019 Are Now Due

 

Dear GTT Participants and Members.  The end of 2018 is fast approaching and a New Year is just around the corner, so I am tasked with the duty of collecting as many membership dues as I can for the GTT Vancouver, Victoria a Nanaimo Chapters.  This call to action is also directed at those who participate in other GTT activities and events like GTTSupport Email List, GTT National Conference Call and the GTTProgram Blog.  If you belong to any other CCB Chapter and have paid your dues through your Chapter as is best done, we thank you for that.

 

As the Get Together with Technology program (GTT) is an initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind, that is the organization to which we submit our annual dues.  So, if you have participated in any of the above noted Chapters, events or activities and wish to re-new, or to establish your CCB membership for the first time please check in with me directly.  You can E-Transfer or Interac $10 to my work email address, or I can be reached at that address and will be happy to make arrangements as best suit you.  Please call or email if you have any questions.

 

Albert Ruel, GTT Coordinator

iPhone: +1-250-240-2343 (call or text:

Albert.GTT@CCBNational.net

 

In order to complete your membership, especially if it’s your first time I’ll need the following information;

 

Name:

Phone Number:

Email Address:

Mailing Address:

Degree of Vision Loss:

Date of Birth:

 

Thx, Albert

 

***

 

Albert A. Ruel

From an Island in The Pacific

Parksville BC, Canada

Albert.GTT@CCBNational.net

iPhone: +1-250-240-2343

 

Life is a journey not a destination, enjoy the trip.

 

 

 

GTT Questionnaire: Top Ten iOS, Android, PC and Mac Apps of 2018, Due on December 21, 2018

Get Together with Technology

An Initiative of the

Canadian Council of the Blind

 

Top Ten iOS/Android/PC/Mac Apps for 2018

 

Hey GTT participants and friends, for the second year in a row I want to generate a list of the top 10 accessible iOS, Android, Mac and PC Apps you found/used in 2018. You don’t have to come up with 10, just tell me about your favourite 3 “can’t live without” apps, and I’ll do the rest. A final report will be tallied just before Christmas and so that you have time to plan your Boxing Day deal shopping.

 

To participate simply forward this note by December 21, 2018 to my email address, Albert.GTT@CCBNational.net with the below fields filled in.  Please replace the samples I’ve offered with your top 3 choices.  If you wish to read the 2017 final report a link is provided at the bottom of this note.

 

iOS Apps: (iPhone/iPad/iPod)

 

  1. Sample, Compass
  2. Sample, Audio Book Reader
  3. Sample, Vacation Planner

 

Android Apps: (Phone/Tablet)

 

  1. Sample, Compass
  2. Sample, Audio Book Reader
  3. Sample, Vacation Planner

 

PC Apps: (Screen Reader/Magnification/Productivity)

 

  1. Sample, Window Eyes
  2. Sample, Word Processer
  3. Sample, Vacation Planner

 

Mac Apps: (Screen Reader/Magnification/Productivity)

 

  1. Sample, Voice Over
  2. Sample, Word Processer
  3. Sample, Vacation Planner

 

If you haven’t seen the results of the previous survey titled, Top 10 iOS, Mac, PC and Android Apps according to GTT Participants Final 2018Jan05

 

If you have any questions please reach out to Kim Kilpatrick or Albert Ruel at, Toll Free: +1-877-304-0968, or GTTProgram@Gmail.com and Albert.GTT@CCBNational.net.

 

Thx, Albert

CCB National Newsletter, Visions, December 2018

A person in a warm sweater holds a textured christmas tree ball in their hands
Bell offers the Doro 824C and 824. These smartphones are designed with accessibility in mind. With your purchase of a Doro mobile device, you’ll also receive
a free pair of AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones.

Click this message to learn more.
VISIONS
Canadian Council of the Blind Newsletter
December 2018
“A lack of sight is not a lack of vision”
Canadian Council of the Blind Logo
President’s Message++
1Louise Gillis – CCB National President
63
A portrait of Louise Gillis
As many of us have experienced winter rather early this year it seems today happens to be a bright, sunny and slightly warmer day more typical of the season.
I hope that this continues for everyone so that we can enjoy a bit of family time as we prepare for the holiday season.
We continue to be very busy in many areas with a variety of CCB programs. GTT has been posting a lot of great information to assist in mobility, new apps
and some simple ideas to make life easier for those living with vision loss. Thank you to all the leaders working with GTT to continue to make it a successful
program.
The Canadian Senate sitting in session.
This has been a busy month with the
Accessible Canada Act which has now moved
through the third reading unanimously and on
to the Senate for consideration and hopefully
approval. We have sent in a written
submission to the Standing Committee as did
many other organizations of persons with disabilities. The Act, as it stands now does
not give time lines and some other concerns expressed by varying organizations, for a
fully accessible Canada by a specific date but what it has is standards for regulations
for federally run agencies which will have to comply with the Act. You can check out on
the “HUMA” website many of the submissions and the progress of Bill C-81.
http://www.ourcommons.ca/Committees/en/HUMA/StudyActivity?studyActivityId=10268658
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is busy making changes to regulations for air, rail and ferry services under federal jurisdiction. For those who
have computer access you can go on their website to follow what is transpiring. This is also taking place with CRTC as well for communications. The changes
are being made to comply with the anticipated Accessible Canada Act. CCB has been involved in providing input and submissions to both agencies. Thank you
to Kim Kilpatrick and Shelly Morris on their work with CRTC. Several CCB members have been working with rail, air and ferry services and thank you all
for your input.
414
We have recently completed a submission to Canadian Agency on Drugs and Technology (CADTH) for a new treatment (eye drops) for Glaucoma. It is the first
of its kind also there has not been any new drops in many years. What is CADTH? CADTH is an independent, not-for-profit organization responsible for providing
Canada’s health care decision-makers with objective evidence to help make informed decisions about the optimal use of drugs and medical devices in our
health care system. Created in 1989 by Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial governments, CADTH was born from the idea that Canada needs a coordinated
approach to assessing health technologies. The result was an organization that harnesses Canadian expertise from every region and produces evidence-informed
solutions that benefit patients in jurisdictions across the country.
CCB continues to work with Best Medicines Coalition, FFB, CNIB, and others to ensure that Canadians get the best care possible not only eye care but other
disease processes that many of our members may be dealing with in their lives health promotion and illness prevention.
The Mobile Eye Clinic continues to check children in the Ottawa region schools. Results still show that approximately twenty five percent of children attending
have previous undetected eye concerns needing further follow-up.
ll our committees have been very active over the fall. It takes a lot of time and important work to complete items as we make our way through to ensure
everything meets requirements that are set for compliance. Thank you for the work of the committee members for their great work and time commitment.
690
It is now time to enjoy holiday festivities with families and friends. As our country is made up of a vast number of nationalities I would like to wish
everyone a time of enjoyment, relaxation, spending time with fellow workers or neighbours as we will soon will be moving into a new year with lots of hope
for continued strength and growth.
Best wishes for the holidays and Happy New Year to all.
Louise Gillis, National President
Two grey pencils on a yellow background, behind the word Announcements.
Announcements
‘EXPERIENCE’ EXPO 2019++:
Ad for Experience Expo 2019 Saturday February 2 10am to 4pm, at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre 750 Spadina Ave. Toronto, ON. For more information
please visit http://www.ccbtorontovisionaries.ca
785
Thank-you!++
CCB would like to acknowledge and thank Ken Christie, from the Windsor Low Vision Chapter in Ontario for his many years of support and activity within
the Council. Ken joined CCB in 2005, after having volunteered with CNIB for over 25 years. He was already quite active in the blind bowling community,
and decided to bring his enthusiasm for bowling and community engagement to CCB. Ken pulled together the communities of Sarnia, Chatham and Windsor to
bowl, and each May, he would organize a tournament followed by a banquet. He worked closely with the local Lions Club, who ended up cosponsoring the bowling
tournament. Ken and the Windsor chapter could also always count on lots of support from his wife, Catherine, who volunteered to drive members to meetings
and help organize fundraising activities. Ken will be turning 89 years old in January, and he has decided it’s time to take a step back from his active
role in the chapter and reflect on the wonderful times he spent with the chapter members in CCB.
Two hands hold a card that says “thank you” over a bouquet of tulips.
Jim Tokos adds:
Two people shaking hands
Ken was a mentor to me, as when I first joined the Ontario Board, Ken, along with Don Grant, Theresa Dupuis, Doug Ayers, to name a few, always encouraged
me to move forward, and how can you not be motivated to succeed when you are surrounded by such wonderful and devoted persons.”
I have also been fortunate enough to know Ken quite well over the past and upon request from Ken have spoken to the Windsor Low Vision Chapter on many
occasions. Ken will certainly be missed as he touched a lot of hearts, and Ken and Kay, what more can the Council say but Thank You for your outstanding
service to the CCB.
CCB Toronto Ski Hawks Ski Club Chapter at the
Toronto Ski and Snowboard show.++:
In late October the Ski Hawks had an exhibit at the Ski and Snowboard show. This was the first time in many years that we have been at the show.
2CCB Toronto Ski Hawks Ski Club Chapter at the Toronto Ski and Snowboard Show.
1154
Some members of CCB Toronto Ski Hawks Ski Club Chapter at their booth at the Toronto Ski and Snowboard Show.
Over the course of the 4 day show the booth was staffed, in rotating shifts, by 9 of our blind skiers and several volunteer ski guides. Many of the visitors
to our booth were truly amazed that blind people actually ski downhill.
Of particular interest was our short video that describes how we ski with a guide. At the very least it definitely raised awareness that people with low
vision or no vision can be skiers.
One of our goals at the show was to recruit volunteers to be trained as guides and this was indeed a success! The other was to get some form of sponsorship
from the ski industry, we are currently pursuing some leads from the show.
3 Kelsey Serwa posing with her Gold Medal
Kelsey Serwa poses with as if she’s biting her gold medal
The highlight of the show for our blind skiers was when they had a visit with Kelsey Serwa winner of the gold medal in ladies ski cross at the 2018 winter
Olympics in Pyeongchang. Not only did they have the opportunity to ask her questions but also got to hold her gold medal and discovered that the edge was
inscribed in Braille.
1356
Submitted by Chris Wyvill
The Situation of Blind and Partially Sighted Persons
in Accessing their Human Rights – from the World
Blind Union
Persistent cultural, social, legal, physical and institutional barriers pose
restrictions to the full inclusion of visually impaired persons in society in all
areas of private and public life, including education; employment; health
care; cultural, recreational, sporting and leisure activities; and political
participation. They face huge barriers to personal mobility owing to lack of
accessibility. Poor access to justice limits their access to communications
and compounds their isolation and exclusion.
Unemployment of persons with visual
disabilities is a significant challenge and they
remain the poorest of the poor, unable to
compete with the labour market. Therefore,
disaggregation of data by disability, sex and age
is fundamental for understanding the situation of
blind and partially sighted persons and
informing policies to ensure their effective
inclusion and the full realization of their human
rights.
Black and White image of a homeless man from Melbourne, Australia
While significant progress has been made towards the inclusion of bind and partially sighted persons in the international human rights and development
frameworks, concerted advocacy efforts are still needed to ensure that these commitments are translated into an enabling environment that mobilizes stakeholders,
enhances participation of organizations of persons with disabilities and strengthen political will and the capacity of governments to implement to 2030
Agenda in line with all the UN International human rights instruments, together with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
This requires constant attention to ensure that human rights mechanisms uphold the highest CRPD standards and facilitating interconnections and consistency
of these mechanisms with normative development frameworks.
A woman wearing glasses lookes for a book on a bookself
We further celebrate the adoption and ratification of
the Marrakesh Treaty that calls upon researchers,
publishers, and the academia in line with the
intellectual property rights to ensure that persons with
visual disabilities receive and access information in
accessible formats of braille, large print, audio and
electronic formats. We celebrate this achievement,
but we call upon states to ratify this instrument and
domesticate it into their legal framework to ensure
that the obligations spelt under the treaty are met.
However, this is still a big challenge by many states, as this goal has not
been adequately implemented. This poses a barrier to our participation as
blind and partially sighted persons on an equal basis with others.
We advocate for the availability of resources to accommodate the different needs for blind and partially sighted persons. We appeal to governments and
international agencies to provide consistent statistical data for persons with visual disabilities to provide evidence during planning, budgeting, programming,
policy development and implementation.
4 people work with various graphs in the middle of a conference table.
We further request governments and development partners to promote the full and effective participation of persons with visual disabilities by ensuring
that their organizations and their representatives are permanently consulted on contentious issues and rights affecting them during development processes.

Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities
From:
Employment and Social Development Canada
News release
December 3, 2018 Ottawa, Ontario
Employment and Social Development Canada
The Government of Canada is working to create a truly accessible Canada. Today, as part of these efforts, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of
Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, along with the ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Canadian Heritage, announced that, with the
support of all provinces and territories, Canada has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Accession to the Optional Protocol means that Canadians will have additional recourse to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities, if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated.
Along with the proposed Accessible Canada Act, which was recently adopted by the House of Commons and is now before the Senate, today’s announcement shows
that the Government of Canada is taking another step towards creating a barrier-free Canada.
A fisheye photograph of the United Nations in session
Recently released data from Statistics Canada reinforce the importance of a more inclusive and accessible Canada. The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities
shows that the prevalence of disabilities among Canadians is greater than many realize, with 22% of Canadians identifying as having a disability. The new
data will be used by the federal government to help build a more inclusive society that benefits all people in Canada – especially persons with disabilities
– through the realization of a Canada without barriers.
Quick facts
list of 2 items
• The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) is an international human rights instrument that requires
State Parties to the Convention to promote, protect and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. Canada ratified the Convention in 2010.
• The Optional Protocol establishes two procedures. The first is a complaint procedure that allows individuals and groups to take complaints to the UN
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the case of an alleged violation of their rights under the Convention. The second is an inquiry
procedure that allows the Committee to inquire into allegations of grave or systematic violations of the Convention by a State Party.
list end
The members of the UN CRPD Committee
list of 7 items
• The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention by States
Parties.
• As of November 2018, there are 177 States Parties to the
Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities, with 93 States Parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention.
• Under Bill C-81, approximately $290 million over six years would serve to further the objectives of the proposed legislation.
• One in five people—22 percent of the Canadian population aged 15 years and over, or about 6.2 million individuals—had one or more disabilities, according
to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities.
• The survey also reports that people with severe disabilities aged 25 to 64 years are more likely to be living in poverty than their counterparts without
disabilities (17 percent) or with milder disabilities (23 percent).
list end
4The members of the UN CRPD Committee
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Close-up of colorful lines of code on a computer screen
Assistive Technology
Donna’s Low Tech Tips++
Meet the Talking First Aid Kit
Carl Augusto of the American Foundation for the Blind Blog posted the following about this great product.
I think it’s always important to keep safety in mind, so I thought I’d let you
know about a new product from Intelligent First Aid, the First Aid “talking”
Kit. The Kit includes nine injury-specific packs to help treat common injuries,
including Bleeding, Head & Spine Injury, and Shock. The packs are
individually labeled and color-coded, which I love because it would help
someone with low vision easily distinguish the packs. The best part, though,
is that with the press of a button, the audio component attached to each
card provides step-by-step instructions to manage the wound. Situations
often become chaotic when a loved one, an acquaintance, or even you,
experiences a minor injury.
With this tool, people with low vision can remain calm and have an idea of how to handle things without worrying about reading any print.
Check out the Intelligent First Aid website to purchase the product or get more information:
http://www.intelligentfirstaid.com/index.php
The site even allows you to listen to a sample of the audio component of the kit.
To contact Donna, send her an email at
info@sterlingcreations.ca
A person having their knee bandaged.
The edges of newspapers as a background to In the News
In
the
News
Disability Advocates Criticize Lack of Teeth in New
Manitoba Accessibility Regulations++
A new law is now in force for Manitoba businesses, but don’t expect a bylaw officer to show up at your door any time soon.
As of Nov 1, businesses and organizations in Manitoba should be following the letter of the law when it comes to providing accessibility for Manitobans
with disabilities.
The Customer Service Standard Regulation is the first of five areas to come into force under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, which passed in December
2013, but at this point, officials are more interested in educating the public than imposing penalties on businesses.
A couple walk down a sidewalk by several stores.
“We would take concerns and educate and support those organizations into complying with legislation. Turning to the stiffer penalties would be more of
a last resort for us,” said Jay Rodgers, deputy minister for the Department of Families.
‘Never a ramp’
That means that it could be a while before Megan Clarke can roll into one of her favourite restaurants in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.
When the restaurant first showed up a few years ago, she was excited about trying it out, only to find that a small lip in the sidewalk created a barrier
for her wheelchair. Clarke waited outside while her friend went into the restaurant to order and bring the matter to the owner’s attention.
“[The owner] said ‘We’ll get a ramp made,’ so for the course of the summer,
we went back and there was never a ramp, never a ramp, and then one day
my friend went in to talk to him and his response was, ‘Well, we don’t have
the ramp made yet, but she can have free dessert any time she comes,’ and
I was like, well, that’s the last time I’m going to come to your place,” said
Clarke.
Under the Customer Service Standard Regulation, any business or organization with one or more employees in Manitoba must provide its goods and services
in a barrier-free way.
A pink sign showing the direction for a step free route
The regulations cover everything from training staff to the built environment, but don’t prescribe specific measures, such as the installation of ramps
at doors with raised entryways.
“Our expectation, I think, would be that if the building is physically inaccessible that there might be other ways of offering the service to the customer,
whether it means coming out and meeting someone at the front or doing business over the phone. Our point would be that the alternative ways of accessing
the service need to be communicated broadly to the public,” said Rodgers.
Documentation required
The regulations also require every business with 20 or more employees to document customer service policies and procedures, and either post them publicly
or provide them on request, so those living with disabilities understand how the business is working toward eliminating barriers.
However, there are no clear guidelines for enforcing the standards, so businesses will be unlikely to comply, advocates say.
“Without effective enforcement, a law is a voluntary law, and a voluntary
law is really not very much of a law at all,” said David Lepofsky, a lawyer
and disability rights advocate who was highly influential in the creation of
Ontario’s accessibility laws.
Legislators in Manitoba looked at the Ontarians with Disabilities Act while creating Manitoba’s legislation, but Lepofsky warns poor enforcement means
Ontario’s law has failed in many areas.
A low shot of a tactile strip at a subway station
“We revealed through Freedom of Information Act applications and otherwise that [officials] were aware of rampant violations and yet deployed a paltry
number of enforcement staff and a paltry number of audits and therefore did a really ineffective job of enforcing [the act],” Lepofsky said.
Slow rollout
Manitoba is considering using its existing bylaw enforcement officers, such as those operating under Workplace Safety and Health, to enforce the act, Rodgers
said.
It’s a step above what Ontario is doing, Lepofsky said, but he is critical of the lack of a solid plan for enforcement.
“This law was passed half a decade ago in Manitoba and half a decade is more than enough time to plan to get something like this set up,” he said. “The
Manitoba government has had ample opportunity to contact Ontario, find out what they’ve learned, get this designed, get it up and running. They shouldn’t
just be looking at it now.”
Complaints and concerns
Bringing businesses into compliance with the act will take time, despite the
November 1 deadline, Rodgers said. Complaints and concerns about
business compliance should be directed to the Disabilities Issues Office, he
said. It is up to him as director to determine whether a complaint is
reasonable or not.
Despite the slow rollout, Clarke remains optimistic about what the act could mean for her. Already she is seeing small changes in her neighbourhood, such
as the addition of accessible buttons on an automatic door at her local Starbucks.
A push to open accessibility button for a door
“Whether it’s coffee or groceries or clothing or getting my hair cut, whatever service I’m going to, I’m going to be able to just go in and live my life.
That’s what it’s all about. It’s just access,” she said.
By Kim Kaschor, CBC
Guide Dog Users, Inc. Publishes Handbook to Help
People Who Are Blind Decide if the Guide Dog
Lifestyle is Right for them++
Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI), the largest membership and advocacy
organization representing guide dog handlers in the United States, is
pleased to announce the recent publication of a revised handbook for
perspective guide dog users which shares comprehensive information about
acquiring and using a guide dog for safe and independent travel.
A yellow lab sitting in leaves.
The guide, 90 pages in length, and available in e-book and print formats, “A Handbook for the Prospective Guide Dog Handler,” 4th Edition, updates a GDUI
publication, called “Making Impressions,” which GDUI members wrote and published a quarter of a century ago. The original manual assisted countless guide
dog users with applying for training with and adjusting to working with guide dogs. Many of those original readers are now working successfully with a
third or fourth or even an eighth, or tenth guide dog. Realizing how well their original publication had served guide dog users all over the country and
beyond, GDUI has spent the past several years updating the manual to reflect changes in guide dog training methodologies, growth in the community of guide
dog users, changes in the number of schools now available to provide training and dogs, and evolving attitudes among the public concerning acceptance of
guide dogs as reliable and respected aids for blind and visually impaired people who choose dogs for independent travel.
The informative handbook answers questions not only for the prospective guide dog team, but also for families of people who are blind, blindness rehabilitation
professionals and educators, and the general public.
Part One, Section One sets the stage with heartfelt accounts from many guide dog users who can speak with authority about the guide dog lifestyle which
pairs humans and canines in a relationship, unlike few others, that involves a 24-hour daily bond between dogs and their owners.
Then the handbook covers the whole process of deciding whether a guide
dog is the right choice for mobility and safety, choosing and applying to a
training program, learning to become a guide dog handler, returning home,
and spending the next several years bonding with a dog who is likely to
become an indispensable assistant and treasured companion.
Kim Kilpatrick relaxing on the floor with her guide dog Tulia
The manual outlines the indispensable support that an organization like GDUI can provide to guide dog users during times when their partnership can pose
uniquely stressful challenges, for example, when a guide dog team experiences denial of transit in a taxicab, or exclusion from a restaurant or other public
venue, when a treasured guide dog becomes ill or passes away, or when family or friends don’t understand how the team functions safely and independently.

5Kim and her guide dog Tulia
4087
GDUI encourages readers and members to share the handbook with family, friends, colleagues, blindness and disability advocacy organizations, and other
guide and service dog handlers. “A Handbook for the Prospective Guide Dog Handler” is available as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com, Smashwords,
and other online sellers. Visit this link for further information and to explore options for purchase:
http://www.dldbooks.com/GDUIHandbook/.
I live with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Here’s
which one you should pick++
Sure, you could chose a smart speaker based on sound or price. The go-to gadget gift of the season is available from Amazon, Apple and Google with better
acoustics, new touch screens and deep holiday discounts.
But you’re not just buying a talking jukebox. Alexa, Siri and Google
Assistant also want to adjust the thermostat, fill your picture frame or even
microwave your popcorn. Each artificial intelligence assistant has its own
ways of running a home. You’re choosing which tribe is yours.
Four people hanging out and dancing during a sunset.
I call it a tribe because each has a distinct culture — and demands loyalty. This decision will shape how you get information, what appliances you purchase,
where you shop and how you protect your privacy. One in 10 Americans plan to buy a smart speaker this year, according to the Consumer Technology Association.
And Amazon says its Echo Dot is the bestselling speaker, ever.
The last time we had to choose a tech tribe like this was when smartphones arrived. Did you go iPhone, Android, or cling to a BlackBerry? A decade later,
it’s increasingly hard to fathom switching between iPhone and Android. (A recent Match.com survey found iPhone and Android people don’t even like dating
one another.)
Now imagine how hard it will be to change
when you’ve literally wired stuff into your
walls.
Looking into a living room through an arch way at a blue armchair
In my test lab — I mean, living room — an Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod sit side by side, and the voice AIs battle it out to run my home like
genies in high-tech bottles. Here’s the shorthand I’ve learned: Alexa is for accessibility. Google Assistant is for brainpower. And Siri is for security.

Amazon’s aggressive expansion makes Alexa the one I recommend, and use, the most. Google’s Assistant is coming from behind, matching feature by feature
— and Siri, the original voice assistant, feels held back by Apple’s focus on privacy and its software shortcomings. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington
Post, but I review all tech with the same critical eye.)
Smart speakers are building the smart home that you never knew you needed. Inside the audio equipment, they’re home hub computers that work alongside smartphone
apps to connect and control disparate devices and services. Now with a speaker and the right connected gizmo, you can walk into a room and turn on the
lights without touching a button. Or control the TV without a remote. Amazon even sells an Alexa-operated microwave that cooks, tracks and reorders popcorn.

A modern lamp with a small house pant and decorative orb
But home assistants can also be Trojan horses for a specific set of devices and services that favour one company over another.
My buddy Matt recently asked me to help him
pick speakers and appliances for a big remodel.
He loves the Google Assistant on his Android phone, so selecting his tribe
should be easy, right? Hardly: He wanted to put Sonos speakers all around
the house, but they take voice commands directly via Alexa. (Sonos says
Google Assistant support is coming, though it’s been promising that for a
year.)
Figuring out which connected doodads are compatible can be like solving a 10,000-piece puzzle. The best smart home gadgets (like Lutron Caseta and Philips
Hue lights) work across all three tribes, but sometimes alliances and technical concerns make appliance makers take sides.
One man explaining something to a second man. Both are smiling and laughing.
Each AI has its limitations. They’re not all equally skilled at understanding accents — Southerners are misunderstood more with Google and Midwesterners
with Alexa. The price of ownership with some is letting a company surveil what goes on in your house. You can try, like me, to live with more than one,
but you’re left with a patchwork that won’t win you any favours with family.
How do you find your AI tribe? Here’s how I differentiate them.
Alexa
Supported smart home devices: Over 20,000.
Who loves it: Families who buy lots through Amazon and experiment with new gizmos.
The good: Alexa knows how to operate the most stuff, thanks to Amazon’s
superior deal making. The only connected things it can’t run in my house
are the app-operated garage door and some facets of my TV. Amazon also
has been successful at spawning new connected gadgets: Alexa’s voice
and microphone are built into more than 100 non-Amazon devices. And
Amazon recently announced plans to offer appliance makers a chip that lets
Alexa users voice command inexpensive everyday things, from wall plugs to
fans.
Alexa has also mastered some of the little details of home life. It will confirm a request to turn off the lights without repeating your command — super
helpful when someone nearby is napping.
An Amazon Echo Dot which is on and sitting on top of a pile of books
The bad: Alexa grows smarter by the week, but it can be a stickler about using specific syntax. It also has the weakest relationship with your phone, the
most important piece of technology for most people today. Amazon has bolstered a companion Alexa app for phones, making it better for communicating and
setting up smart home routines, but I still find it the most confusing of the lot.
Amazon doesn’t always show the highest concern for our privacy. This spring, when Alexa inadvertently recorded a family’s private conversations and sent
it to a contact, Amazon’s response boiled down to ‘whoopsie.’ And it records and keeps every conversation you have with the AI — including every bag of
popcorn it microwaves. (Amazon says it doesn’t use our queries to sell us stuff beyond making recommendations based on song and product searches).
Some love Alexa’s ability to order products by voice. But as long as Alexa runs your house, you’ll always be stuck buying those goods from Amazon. (That
microwave will only ever order popcorn from Amazon.) The coming generation of appliances built with the Alexa chip inside could similarly trap you forever
into Amazon-land.
Google Assistant
Supported smart home devices: Over 10,000.
Who loves it: People who are deep into Google’s services.
The good: Google Assistant comes the closest to having a conversation with an actual human helper. You don’t have to use exact language to make things
happen or get useful answers. Its intelligence can also be delightfully personal: It’s pretty good at differentiating the voices of family members. And
on the new Home Hub device with a screen, Assistant curates a highlights-only show from your Google Photos collection.
While Android phone owners are more likely to use lots of Assistant-friendly Google services, the Assistant doesn’t particularly care what kind of phone
you use — its simple companion apps work on iOS and Android.
A coral coloured Google home mini on a grey desk
And Google is neck and neck with Alexa on many of the nuances: Night mode reduces the volume of answers at night, and it can even require Junior to say
“pretty please.”
The bad: As a relative newcomer to the smart home, Google has been catching up fast. But in my house, it still can’t fully control my Ring doorbell or
send music to my Sonos speakers. And I’m not convinced that Google has Amazon’s negotiating sway, or the influence to bring the next generation of connected
things online.
The bigger problem is privacy. Google’s endgame is always getting you to
spend more time with its services, so it can gather more data to target ads
at you. Like Alexa, Google Assistant keeps a recording of all your queries —
every time you ask it to turn off the lights. Google treats this kind of like your
Web search history, and uses it to target ads elsewhere. (Thankfully, It still
keeps data from its Nest thermostat and home security division separate.)
The potential upside is that when Google discovers your habits in all that data, it might be able to better automate your home — like what time all the
lights should be off.
Siri
Supported smart home devices: Hundreds.
Who loves it: Privacy buffs and all-Apple households.
The good: Apple means business on security and privacy. Any device that wants to connect to HomeKit, its smart home software that works with Siri on the
HomePod and iPhone, requires special encryption.
An Apple HomePod sitting on a table
What’s more, your data is not attached to a personal profile, which aside from protecting your privacy also means that Apple is not using your home activity
to sell or advertise things. (While other smart speakers keep recordings and transcriptions of what you say, Siri controls devices by making a request
to its system through a random identifier, which cannot be tied to a specific user.)
And Apple is pretty good at keeping the smart home simple. Setting up a smart home device is mostly just scanning a special code. Even creating routines,
in which multiple accessories work in combination with a single command, is easier in the Siri’s companion Home app than with competitors.
The bad: You have to live in an all-Apple device world to reap these
benefits. Siri’s a pretty good DJ, but only if you subscribe to Apple Music.
You’re stuck with the HomePod as the one-size-fits-all smart speaker, and
Siri still isn’t as competent as her AI competitors.
And Apple’s security-first approach has kept too many appliance makers from joining its ecosystem. Sure, it’s quality not quantity, but Siri still can’t
interact with my Nest thermostat or Ring doorbell, just to name two. Apple did recently loosen up a tad: starting with Belkin Wemo’s Mini Smart Plug and
Dimmer, it no longer requires special hardware for authentication — that can now happen via software. The move should make it simpler to make new products

Siri compatible, and allow it access to existing ones.
By Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Washington Post
An elephant standing among grass.
REMINDERS
DON’T FORGET DONATIONS!++
Donations Received in the office in 2018 are the only ones that can be receipted for 2018. Remember to send those donations now if you want receipts for
the current year.
Membership Madness++
Hi Everyone! Becky from the office here. All chapters should have received their membership packages. The rebate time has passed, but there is still time
to get your chapters membership in for 2019!
All 2019 Memberships Due – December 28, 2018
WCW Orders and Insurance Requests Due – January 4, 2019
5969
http://www.ccbnational.net
1-877-304-0968
ccb@ccbnational.net

CCB Tech Articles, Donna’s Low Tech Tips, Privacy protection, December 10, 2018

December 10 2018

Privacy protection

 

Happy holidays everyone!

Hi there!  It’s Donna and thank you for allowing me to come into your inbox.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to my tip on privacy protection.

 

Privacy protection

You are planning to open banking accounts

The safest way for you to ensure that your personal banking details are kept private and confidential is for you to visit your bank and enlist the help of bank staff.

They will help you and you need not worry about your privacy being compromised.

You may want to see if they could provide you with electronic documentation but this should not be counted on.

 

The safest piece of advice that I can offer is for you to be stubborn and demand electronic documentation.  This is what I had to do several times.

 

 

That’s it from me for this week.

If you would like to become a member of  my CCB Mysteries chapter you can do so for the price of $10 annually and in return you will receive unlimited access to any of the following libraries.

Recipes – A collection of hard to find recipes

Audio mysteries for all ages – Comfort listening any time of the day

Home and garden – A collection of great articles for around the home and garden

Or you can subscribe to all 3 for the price of $30 annually.

Visit http://www.donnajodhan.com/subscription-libraries.html

 

To contact me, send me an email at info@sterlingcreations.ca and I’d be happy to respond.

Have yourselves a great day and see you next week.

Donna

GTT Duncan Meeting Invitation, Online Shopping, December 13, 2018

Get Together with Technology (GTT) Duncan

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind,

in Partnership with the

Vancouver Island Regional Library, N. Cowichan Branch

 

Theme: Online Shopping

Date:  December 13, 2018

Time:  4:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Where: Vancouver Island Regional Library, N. Cowichan Branch

2687 James Street Duncan BC

 

First Hour:

Albert Ruel will lead the group in discussion of some accessible/usable online shopping sites, as well as strategies, tips and techniques for staying safe online.

Second Hour:

The Library is still holding several audio books free for the taking, so bring along a shopping bag with which to take books home.  Also, bring those assistive gadgets you’re having trouble with and we’ll see if others in the group can assist in learning how to best use them.

 

For More Information:

Contact Albert Ruel at 250-240-2343, or by email at Albert.GTT@CCBNational.net

 

CCB Backgrounder:

 

The CCB was founded in 1944 by a coalition of blind war veterans, schools of the blind and local chapters to create a national self-governing organization. The CCB was incorporated by Letters Patent on May 10, 1950 and is a registered charity under the provisions of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

The purpose of the CCB is to give people with vision loss a distinctive and unique perspective before governments.  CCB deals with the ongoing effects of vision loss by encouraging active living and rehabilitation through peer support and social and recreational activities.

CCB promotes measures to conserve sight, create a close relationship with the sighted community and provide employment opportunities.

 

The CCB recognizes that vision loss has no boundaries with respect to gender, income, ethnicity, culture, other disabilities or age.

The CCB understands in many instances vision loss is preventable and sometimes is symptomatic of other health issues.  For the 21st century, the CCB is committed to an integrated proactive health approach for early detection to improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

As the largest membership organization of the blind and partially sighted in Canada the CCB is the “Voice of the Blind™”.

 

 

CCB National Office

100-20 James Street Ottawa ON  K2P 0T6

Toll Free: 1-877-304-0968 Email: info@ccbnational.net URL: http://www.ccbnational.net

 

Message from CCB President: Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

News release

December 3, 2018         Ottawa, Ontario                   Employment and Social Development Canada

The Government of Canada is working to create a truly accessible Canada. Today, as part of these efforts, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, along with the ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Canadian Heritage, announced that, with the support of all provinces and territories, Canada has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Accession to the Optional Protocol means that Canadians will have additional recourse to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated.

Along with the proposed Accessible Canada Act, which was recently adopted by the House of Commons and is now before the Senate, today’s announcement shows that the Government of Canada is taking another step towards creating a barrier-free Canada.

Recently released data from Statistics Canada reinforce the importance of a more inclusive and accessible Canada. The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities shows that the prevalence of disabilities among Canadians is greater than many realize, with 22% of Canadians identifying as having a disability. The new data will be used by the federal government to help build a more inclusive society that benefits all people in Canada – especially persons with disabilities – through the realization of a Canada without barriers.

Quotes

“Over the last year, our government has taken important steps to help realize a barrier-free Canada. Today, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we celebrate those accomplishments and look towards the future of accessibility in Canada with optimism. Canada’s accession to the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities builds on our work and sends a clear message that we are committed to the rights of persons with disabilities and committed to giving all Canadians a fair chance at success.”
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility

“Canada joining this UN convention is about protecting and promoting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. As a country, we need to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities and enjoys the same rights. Today is a step forward to making that goal a reality.”
– The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I am proud that the Government of Canada is taking this step to advance the rights of persons with disabilities. Enabling the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to consider complaints of violations of rights under the Convention is an important way to strengthen and protect the human rights of Canadians with disabilities.”
– The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“Promoting and advancing human rights for everyone is a fundamental part of our Canadian identity. It is important that federal, provincial and territorial governments continue to work together to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities. I am proud of the intergovernmental consultation held in support of Canada’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and I look forward to driving further change.”
The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism

“This announcement regarding the Optional Protocol, along with this government’s intention to pass the proposed Accessible Canada Act, sends a strong message to Canadians with and without disabilities that this government truly believes in inclusion and equality for all. This is one positive step to ensuring that Canadians with intellectual disabilities have their voices heard and that we are one step closer to ensuring we are not the left behind of the left behind.”
–  Kory Earle, President, People First of Canada

Quick facts

The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) is an international human rights instrument that requires State Parties to the Convention to promote, protect and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. Canada ratified the Convention in 2010.

The Optional Protocol establishes two procedures. The first is a complaint procedure that allows individuals and groups to take complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the case of an alleged violation of their rights under the Convention. The second is an inquiry procedure that allows the Committee to inquire into allegations of grave or systematic violations of the Convention by a State Party.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention by States Parties.

As of November 2018, there are 177 States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with 93 States Parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

Under Bill C-81, approximately $290 million over six years would serve to further the objectives of the proposed legislation.

One in five people—22 percent of the Canadian population aged 15 years and over, or about 6.2 million individuals—had one or more disabilities, according to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities.

The survey also reports that people with severe disabilities aged 25 to 64 years are more likely to be living in poverty than their counterparts without disabilities (17 percent) or with milder disabilities (23 percent).

Related products

Associated links

Contacts

Ashley Michnowski
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough
819-997-5421
ashley.michnowski@canada.ca

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
Follow us on Twitter

 

Louise

 

Louise Gillis

National President

The Canadian Council of the Blind

20 James St. Suite 100

Ottawa, ON. K2P 0T6

1-877-3040968

613-567-0311

(902)304-1276

ccbpresident@ccbnational.net

www.ccbnational.net

 

 

CCB Tech Articles, Donna’s Low Tech Tips, Apps Round Up, December 3, 2018

December 03 2018

Apps round up

 

Happy holidays everyone!

Hi there!  It’s Donna and thank you for allowing me to come into your inbox.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to my apps round up.

 

  1. Battery Monitor App (iOS, Free)

 

Battery Monitor, the most accurate battery life monitoring app on the App

Store. With its simple battery life calibration, you can get estimations

with down-to-the-minute accuracy (±1min)! It also have a handy widget to

access estimations anywhere!

 

This app contains calibration for battery usage, battery charging time and

much more, making it the most accurate on the App Store! Don’t download

those clones you find everywhere, download this FREE app now!

 

Features:

* ±1 min battery life accuracy*

* ±1 min charging time accuracy*

* Simple interface, easy to use

* iOS Widget for easy access

* One time battery calibration

 

Current Version: 1.1 (November 21, 2017)

Read Battery Monitor App’s AppleVis App Directory entry for more information

https://www.applevis.com/apps/ios/utilities/battery-monitor-app

Visit Battery Monitor App’s App Store page

https://itunes.apple.com/app/battery-monitor-simple-accurate/id1182374760

 

  1. Shortcuts (iOS, Free)

 

Siri Shortcuts deliver a quick way to get things done with your apps with

just a tap or by asking Siri. The Shortcuts app enables you to create

personal shortcuts with multiple steps from your favorite apps. Start from

hundreds of examples in the Gallery or drag and drop to create your own.

 

Shortcuts includes over 300 built-in actions and works with many of your

favorite apps including Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera,

Reminders, Safari, Health as well as any app that supports Siri Shortcuts.

 

Use the Shortcuts app to:

 

* Get directions home, send your ETA and start listening to the news, just

by asking Siri

* Add a home screen icon that calls a loved one

* Make animated GIFs

* Make PDFs from Safari or any app with a share sheet

* Get directions to the nearest coffee shop in one tap

* Tweet the song you’re listening to

* Get all of the images on a web page

* Send a message including the last screenshot you took

* And so much more…

 

Shortcuts can be launched from the Today widget, from Search or by asking

Siri. You can even add an app icon to your home screen for your favorite

Shortcuts.

 

Shortcuts opens up incredible possibilities to automate things you do

regularly on your iPhone and iPad.

 

Current Version: 2.0 (September 17, 2018)

Read Shortcuts’ AppleVis App Directory entry for more information

https://www.applevis.com/apps/ios/productivity/shortcuts

Visit Shortcuts’ App Store page

https://itunes.apple.com/app/workflow-powerful-automation/id915249334?ign-mpt=uo%3D8&at=11l4LS

 

That’s it from me for this week.

If you would like to become a member of  my CCB Mysteries chapter you can do so for the price of $10 annually and in return you will receive unlimited access to either of the following libraries.

Recipes –

http://www.donnajodhan.com/library-recipes.html

Audio mysteries for all ages –

http://www.donnajodhan.com/library-audio-mysteries.html

Or you can subscribe to both for the price of $20 annually.

Now you  can subscribe to “‘Let’s Talk Tips”‘ which is my monthly resource for the most current and reliable

informational tips available in the areas of Technology, Nutrition, Media,

Business, and Advocacy.

http://bit.ly/ADJSubscribe

 

To contact me, send me an email at info@sterlingcreations.ca and I’d be happy to respond.

Have yourselves a great day and see you next week.

Donna

 

Guest Post: Braille Literacy Canada Newsletter, November 30, 2018

November 2018 Newsletter

In This Issue

  1. Message from the President (Natalie Martiniello, BLC President)
  2. Braille is …
  3. Helping Santa Deliver Braille Letters: A T-Base Tradition (Cassandra Peterson)
  4. Report on the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference (Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Secretary)
  5. CELA Braille Services Update (Lindsay Tyler, Senior Manager, CELA)
  6. Titres en impression relief et en braille français (Rebecca Blaevoet (BLC Director) and Emmanuel Blaevoet)
  7. Braille Transcription Free of Charge!(CNIB Brailleroom)
  8. UEB Christmas Trees? (Jen Goulden, Past President)
  9. Braille and Technology Together: Braille Screen Input in iOS (Ashley Eve Shaw Galbraith)
  10. Social Media News Links

Message from the President

By Natalie Martiniello, BLC President

Dear BLC friends,

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

This is a quote by Anne Frank that often comes to mind when I observe a gesture – even a small one – that has an impact on someone else. When a hundred small gestures take place at once, then each one contributes to the end result – which is positive change of some kind. And surprisingly, sometimes there are trickle down effects that end up having positive impacts in ways one could not have imagined.

I am a firm believer that few things are “impossible” if you dream big enough, remain committed, and collaborate with the talented and equally passionate people around you.

Just over four months ago, BLC embarked upon a quite ambitious goal for a small volunteer-run organization – Raise $6,500 by November 30th, and a private donor would match every dollar. With this amount in hand, we would have enough to establish a permanent endowment to offer the Edie Mourre scholarship on an annual basis to those pursuing careers as braille transcribers and educators.

Today, as that campaign draws to a close, we have not only met that goal, but have surpassed it. This is a reflection of what is possible when we come together. With $14,000, the Edie Mourre fund will be self-sustaining for the years to come. What a wonderful legacy to Edie Mourre who committed so much of her time to the braille community, and what a wonderful example of how many small gestures could lead to a lasting wave!

The BLC board would like to thank every individual, both within and outside the organization, who supported this initiative in different ways. We would also like to thank two of our corporate members – T-Base Communications for donating $300 and Crawford Technologies for donating $2,500, ensuring that we’d speed through that finish line with a great big triple dot six!

I mentioned trickle down effects. In addition to raising funds, the campaign served as a powerful public education tool. The events held as a consequence educated members of the general public who, beforehand, new little or absolutely nothing at all about blindness and braille. After our storytelling fundraiser in Montreal (performed by our fabulous board Secretary, Kim Kilpatrick) we received a letter from someone who had attended our show and said that they had learned so much about braille, equal access and literacy for people who are blind. These moments are great triumphs – because every time we tackle misconceptions, we are chipping away at the inaccuracies that may exist about blindness, and which sometimes lead to questions like “is braille really important, anyway?” A few more people out there can now answer – Yes, of course it is! Right alongside us.

So, as we approach the holidays, the BLC board would like to thank all of you for your commitment and dedication – and may this serve as a reminder of what is possible when we come together!

You will find many treasures in the coming pages. Among them, T-Base tells us about their partnership with Santa himself and how blind children can receive a letter in braille from Santa this holiday season. Tactile Vision Graphics shares with us their French braille resources for children. Jen Goulden, Past President, tackles another transcription conundrum. Kim Kilpatrick, Secretary, gives us a recap of the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference. Over the past month, we’ve asked members to tell us what words and thoughts come to mind when they hear the word “braille”. The collection of responses is found in this issue, and the power of literacy rings true in every word!

Finally, remember that BLC runs on a calendar year from January 1st to December 31st, which means it is soon time to renew your membership. To learn more about membership options (annual, lifetime and corporate) and member benefits, visit our website at www.brailleliteracycanada.ca or write to us at info@blc-lbc.ca. Members who are due for renewal can expect to receive an invoice from PayPal in the coming days to make the process easy and painless.

From the entire BLC board to you, happy holidays! Here’s to another year of endless possibilities.

Yours truly,
Natalie Martiniello
President, Braille Literacy Canada

Braille is …

We’ve asked BLC members and friends to complete the sentence “braille is…”. Here is what they had to say!

Braille is…

…Independence (Tammy, braille reader)

…An excellent tool (Walter, Low Vision Therapist/Researcher)

…Fun to read in the dark under the covers so I don’t get cold! (Steph, adult braille learner)

…A necessity (Chantal, braille reader)

…rough! (Albert, blind technology trainer)

…magical (Kim, braille reader)

…A true “feeling” of beauty (Veena, Low Vision Therapist)

…Literacy (Elizabeth, braille reader)

…fun! I like playing braille bingo and braille memory games! (Ainsley, Grade 3)

…The best way to teach and learn!

…Memorizing

…The best way to help me learn

…Useful on elevators, money and medication (Ahmad, ESL student)

…Reading, writing and math

…Information

…Entertainment

…Helping (Santiago, ESL Student)

…The best way for blind people to study

…An international language for blind people

…Like a secret code! (I think you’re smarter if you can read braille, because not everyone on the street can read Braille!) (Fatlum, ESL student)

…the gateway to Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, Regency England, Green Gables … and so much more! (Jen, lifelong braille reader: so many books, so little time!)

…a lifetime of memories of storybooks, campfires, bedtimes, make-believing and library adventures (Natalie, lifelong braille reader)

…what print is to you: a door and a window to everything!

…B – Believing
R – Reaching
A – Achieving
I – Imagining
L – Limitless
L – Learning
E – Empowering

Helping Santa Deliver Braille Letters: A T-Base Tradition

By Cassandra Peterson

Editor’s Note: T-Base is a corporate member of BLC and Jessica Blouin sits on the BLC board as our T-Base representative. This article is reprinted with permission and can be found on the T-Base website at https://www.tbase.com/helping-santa-deliver-braille-letters-a-t-base-tradition/?fbclid=IwAR3KkhcZpniRS_3fqjkYemW5Th_av0GfFEi5oqr5LTKjvxAQe30UvpJFpo4.

Cassie Peterson, Marketing Coordinator at T-Base Communications, sat down with Jessica Blouin, Manager of Transcription Services, to talk about an initiative near and dear to our hearts here at T-Base: the Santa Letter Program. Every year we help Santa deliver braille letters to children who are blind or have low vision.

C: How long has T-Base been participating in the Santa Letter Program?

J: T-Base has been participating in the Santa Letter Program for over a decade.

C: Please tell us about the process.

J: Every year in the fall we receive a call from Kris Kringle himself. He tells us how many children he needs to respond to in braille, plus how many of those need a response in English and how many need a response in French. Santa provides us with his print response to each child’s letter, and then our Transcription team gets to work! As is the case with all documents we transcribe into braille (or other alternate formats), Santa’s letters go through rigorous quality assurance checks to ensure nothing is amiss and that the transcribed documents meet Santa’s high expectations. Finally, we help pack up the letters for Santa to deliver.

C: By which date should children send their letter to Santa?

J: Children should send their letters to Santa by the 10th of December. (If you send one after, he might not have enough time to respond before the big day!)

C: What address should children send their letters to?

J: Children should send their letters to Santa Claus at his North Pole address:

Santa Claus
North Pole HOH OHO
CANADA

C: Why is it important that T-Base participates in this program every year?

J: For children, receiving a letter from Santa Claus is a great joy during the holiday season, and it is one all children should have the opportunity to experience. I do remember how happy I was as a child receiving a letter back from Santa. Collaborating with Santa on this project is important to T-Base because we get to help ensure children who are blind or have low vision experience the same joy their sighted family members and friends experience. This is such a wonderful program.

C: What feedback have you received on this program?

J: T-Base has always received positive feedback on the Santa Letter Program. We have heard from both parents and teachers that children are always so happy and thankful to receive a braille letter from Santa in the mail.

C: In what other ways is T-Base committed to ensuring that people who are blind or low vision have access to information?

J: At T-Base, we believe that equal access to information is key to literacy and independent living, regardless of whether that information is in a simple letter from Santa Claus or a complex math textbook. Everyone has the same rights, and we are committed to ensuring that organizations have the resources they need to provide their customers who are blind or low vision with equal access to information. We produce statements, documents and textbooks in a wide range of alternate formats: accessible PDF, e-Text, audio, braille and reflowed large print. We also give $2,000 every year to one or two post-secondary students who are blind or low vision through the T-Base-AEBC Scholarship Program (in support of an accessible education).

C: What are some other holiday traditions at T-Base?

J: Typically, we host a potluck lunch at the office and Secret Santa gift exchange. This year we will have an ugly holiday sweater fashion show.

C: Wonderful! Thanks for letting our readers know about the program and T-Base’s involvement in it. Something else our readers might be interested in hearing about is your favourite memory from a T-Base holiday gathering.

J: My favourite memory from a T-Base holiday gathering is when Scott Bagshaw, Production Manager, dressed up as Santa Claus, sang karaoke and handed out candy canes to the team.

C: Before we wrap up, what is on your wish list this holiday season?

J: A puppy! Besides that, I know everyone here at T-Base wishes our readers a safe and happy holiday.

Report on the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference

By Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Secretary

The 2018 Braille conference took place for the first time at the Ontario Science Centre on October 18 and 19, 2018.

This was a wonderful venue and it was nice to have the braille conference in a public place where the many visitors saw people moving around with canes, guide dogs, and lots of braille in hand.

As usual, there were many workshops on a multitude of topics and several BLC board members presented on research, braille and technology, and more. Among these talks Past-President Jen Goulden and I (BLC Secretary) presented on the use of refreshable braille with iOS, President Natalie Martiniello presented the preliminary results from her qualitative study on the experiences of older adults who have learned braille, and director Rebecca Blaevoet presented on Tactile Vision Graphics. BLC board members also had the opportunity to circulate our new print-braille BLC bookmarks – available upon request!

The AMI Audio show Kelly and Companybroadcasted live from the conference on both days and several BLC members were featured on this show.

As usual, one highlight for me was hearing the winners of the braille creative writing contest for students in elementary and high schools from across Canada.

I was excited to touch for the first time, the first ever multi-line braille display (The Canute) which may be on the market within the next year or so.

As usual, it was wonderful and heart warming to be in a room filled with others who love braille as much as we all do.

CELA Braille Services Update

By Lindsay Tyler, Senior Manager, CELA

Braille readers who receive books from the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) are receiving books in a new way. Since April 2018, we emboss a fresh copy of each braille book we send. This procedure allows us to offer as many copies of each book as needed, so readers do not need to wait for others to return a book before they can receive it. Each copy we send is fresh and crisp.

Instead of sending braille books in a cloth bag, we send them in a cardboard box which can be recycled along with the book. Readers may choose to keep books, if they prefer.

Printbraille books (children’s picture books with braille added) are the exception to this new system; readers must continue to return them.

The formatting of the books is different, too. Newly transcribed books are formatted as a single volume with continuous page numbers. The title will appear in the header as well as at the beginning of the book. Previously transcribed books are split into parts of about 80 pages each.

Looking forward, CELA staff are planning a new website that will bring even more books to Canadian braille readers. The new website will bring together Bookshare’s braille offerings with CELA’s in a single, accessible site.

The new year will also bring the opportunity to exchange books with libraries for people with print disabilities in the United States and Europe, thanks to their recent ratifications of the Marrakesh Treaty. The goal of the Marrakesh Treaty is to remove barriers so that organizations like CELA can share accessible reading materials with other similar organizations in countries who have signed the Treaty.

As we work to improve our services and offer you greater access to books and information, we hope you will let us know how we are doing. Visit our website at http://www.celalibrary.ca, email us at help@celalibrary.ca or call 1-855-655-2273.

Those who are interested can also contact CELA to subscribe to the hard copy braille version of the BLC newsletter.

Titres en impression relief et en braille français

By Rebecca Blaevoet (BLC Director) and Emmanuel Blaevoet

Note: We’ve received several requests lately for information on where to purchase french print-braille books. In this article, Rebecca and Emmanuel from Tactile Vision Graphics describe their French collection. We will include an English translation of this article in the January issue.

Tactile Vision Graphics Inc. a toujours eu le but de produire toutes nos ressources et en Anglais et en Français. Notre entreprise est de très petite taille, donc nous n’avons pas encore été capables de produire en Français la totalité des titres qui existent en Anglais. Il nous a fallu faire des choix au départ. Il reste encore du travail.

Pour commencer, il nous a semblé que le domaine le plus important et celui par où il fallait commencer était les ressources pour le développement des concepts: la littératie et la numératie.

Chaque livre contient un peu de texte, en braille intégral, évidemment, et une image correspondante que les enfants peuvent toucher, (et même colorier) et discuter.

Les images tactiles enseignent des concepts importants:

  • Les formes de bases;
  • Accorder une image avec un mot qui le décrit;
  • L’orientation spatiale;
  • La directionalité;
  • La taille relative;
  • Le commencement de l’abstraction, qui est une connaissance critique pour le développement de l’enfant et la préparation à sa vie d’adulte;
  • Une représentation des choses qui sont plus difficiles à toucher en réalité (une maison par exemple)

Ainsi nous avons en catalogue un série de livres tactiles pour enfants, parmi eux « Mon Abécédaire », « Mon Livre des Chiffres » et « Discret Comme Une Souris: un Petit Livre des Similarités »

Au delà notre collection de livres pour enfants, nous avons aussi plusieurs cartes de vœux pour toutes les occasions et des livres à colorier avec les titres en impression relief et en braille français.

Nous vous invitons à visiter notre site web, chercher le “shop” et découvrir l’étendue de nos publications.

Vous pouvez aussi bien sûr nous appeler pour poser des questions ou pour placer une commande au (226) 221-8849

http://www.tactilevisiongraphics.com

Braille Transcription Free of Charge!

By CNIB Brailleroom

We’re all familiar with the adage “Nothing in life is free”; but the CNIB Brailleroom can braille just about anything, free of charge, for CNIB clients and their families.

  • Letters and greeting cards
  • Household labels
  • Music scores
  • Course materials
  • Prescription/medical information

Note that this is not an exhaustive list.

Email your text in a Word document to: brailleroom@cnib.ca

Mail or drop off your printed materials:

CNIB Brailleroom (Room 104)
1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4G 3E8

UEB Christmas Trees?

By Jen Goulden, Past President

It is that time of year again, and it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas where I live. You might be wondering how I could possibly make a connection between Christmas trees and UEB, but whether you prefer to decorate a pine, spruce or Douglas fir, they are all conifers … or coniferous.

So here’s the question for transcribers: Are they con-i-fer-ous or co-ni-fer-ous trees?

Section 10.6.1 of the UEB rule book states the following: Use the lower groupsign for “be”, “con” or “dis” when the letters it represents form the first syllable of a word (such as concept or control … or contraction). According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary the first syllable of both conifer and coniferous is “co”. This means that the “con” contraction cannot be used.

I think the main cause of the confusion is that DBT does use “con” in these words. Ironically, there was no “con” in conifer or coniferous before UEB either. This is just another example showing that not much has changed in literary braille with the update to UEB.

Of course, we could just avoid the co-nun-drum altogether by simply calling them evergreens!

Braille and Technology Together: Braille Screen Input in iOS

By Ashley Eve Shaw Galbraith

People often ask me if braille skills are still useful, given the recent development of technologically advanced accessibility solutions. There are many reasons why braille is still necessary, but some of my favorite examples are the ways in which braille and technology intersect. Braille screen input, for instance, provides touch screen users with a typing method that is both fast and efficient.

For users of Apple’s iOS, Braille Screen Input has been a standard feature of the screen reader VoiceOver for several years now. The option allows users to enter text by touching the screen with the combination of fingers associated with each Braille character, in either contracted or uncontracted Braille. Accessed through the Voiceover Rotor in any text field, this option allows Braille users to type much faster than with the touch screen’s qwerty keyboard. It also allows for a greater degree of discretion than the use of text dictation, and makes it possible to enter long passwords with ease and privacy. Since Unified English Braille is an available translation table, I’ve also been able to get a lot of practice with UEB whenever I use my iPhone.

Learning to use touch screen Braille takes a bit of initial effort. The user holds the device in landscape mode, either on a flat surface or with the screen facing outward. Touching and holding fingers on the screen will activate Explore Mode, and the device will report the corresponding combination of dots from the Braille cell. A single finger swipe to the right enters a space, a single swipe to the left erases the previous character, a two finger swipe to the left erases the previous word, and a two finger swipe to the right starts a new line. Swiping up and down after completing a word provides any alternative suggestions. After a bit of practice, the user will be able to type quickly and smoothly.

Before Braille screen input was available, I was stuck either carrying around a Bluetooth keyboard, or typing relatively slowly on the touch screen qwerty keyboard. Now I use Braille to type text messages, emails, web addresses and phone numbers. This is just one example of Braille’s versatility and efficiency when combined with technology.

Social Media News Links

Social Media Links

Here are just some of the gems posted on BLC social media platforms since the last issue: Follow us on twitter or like us on Facebook for more!

Time to celebrate – the United States ratifies the Marrakesh Treaty! https://benetech.org/united-states-ratifies-marrakesh-treaty/

Brick-A-Braille teaching system – available for testing: https://robotics.benedettelli.com/braille/?fbclid=IwAR3V7N-aUd-rKLS9NOBqO5vfW8NjDMM_vsPSg8c4pE9BX6WutB1Z9BHXQYA#download

A story about introducing braille to sighted children: https://www.wvnews.com/prestoncountynews/news/read-aloud-program-incorporates-fun-into-reading/article_d9588de6-f61d-5cdd-9bb3-5438a6cb1501.html?fbclid=IwAR0syl8PYUrtygJxvm-a4R3eZtbWbRuY1VNDREVLy2YgrOqucP2ghxCkvWI

Custom-made braille cards with your personalized messages – great for the holidays! https://www.sensorysun.org/blog/send-braille-cards/?fbclid=IwAR1j9358r3brESYoBBIjO7bbGF522Zb6ozirQDSqSpFeAi07y5Zmz6vxExI

Is braille still relevant in the 21st century workplace? spoiler alert Like print, the answer is… YES!! https://www.afb.org/blog/careerconnect-blog/is-braille-useful-on-the-job/12?fbclid=IwAR3uFG1xExtQzLj4nCUZjN0PBlxGZe01G-AMRbQzB7YI4fNvhF0wmtlsgbQ

Tips for teaching braille to students with decreased tactile sensitivity: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/blog/12-more-ideas-teaching-braille-students-decreased-tactile-sensitivity?fbclid=IwAR0XO6_SSqFDL9510HlCjG5UMStxwLA9AvM9GUaeXQp3HC1P3x33vmCOg4s

French alphabet print-braille book available through Tactile Vision Graphics: http://tactilevisiongraphics.com/product/livre-en-braille-mon-abcdaire/?fbclid=IwAR2RMKDsHCjPoQhS1a5mhph3U-bzkVWBJhcAbOWiU3jzMSc23AGblC6rpU0

The SENSEsational Alphabet Book is back in stock at Seedlings! This popular book for ages 0-5 features the English alphabet in print, braille and sign language. Kids can press the buttons to hear each letter, as well as feel and smell pictures of items starting with each letter: http://www.seedlings.org/details.php?id=1353&cat=0&search=SENSEsational&fbclid=IwAR0c0uwhFaej9mUPV0ShdVyWb9T_yqa6NNivyhnhD5Or4L5UWtOEAOIUdd8

The Bank of Canada has announced that it will begin to phase out the bank note reader program. It has been determined “that there are more modern devices that can be used to denominate bank notes”. For example, did you know that all paper money in Canada has tactile markings to help blind and LowVision people identify each bill? For more information, visit: https://cnib.ca/en/news/bank-note-reader-program-and-recall?region=qc&fbclid=IwAR3B5sHXRMs28PioUSfxZ8YR1feDLF3p_tldayH_yqyHh0UlC15VhMxZ-8A

A collection of high-interest short stories from National Braille Press for adults who are learning uncontracted braille! Visit: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/resources/short-stories-adults-learning-uncontracted-ueb?fbclid=IwAR2-MbIffsCryGdmfve9WQ-SAD1Tq1MUEC1UfnHw5Z7pl27V79MDjm81xT0


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Braille Literacy Canada / Littératie braille Canada · c/o CNIB · 1929 Bayview Avenue · Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8 · Canada

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GTT Toronto Meeting Invitation, The 2018 elves Tech Christmas Wish List, December 13, 2018 *Meeting location is changed

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group

December 13, 2018

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with the CNIB Foundation

 

*Note: The meeting place is changed for the December 2018 gathering.  See details below.

*Note: Reading Tip: These summary notes apply HTML headings to help navigate the document. With screen readers, you may press the H key to jump forward or Shift H to jump backward from heading to heading.

 

You’re Invited!

 

Theme: The 2018 elves Tech Christmas Wish List

 

The Date & Time:

Thursday, December 13, 6:00 PM til 8:00 PM

The Place:

CNIB Service Centre, 1929 Bayview Avenue

 

Hey Everyone!

 

As the holidays approach, the Get Together with Technology Toronto group is looking for the one piece of adaptive tech you’d really like to find in your stocking this Christmas!

 

Send us an email with the adaptive technology you’ve always wanted, your favourite cool tool, gadget, app, or device.  Or even a suggestion of a piece of tech that doesn’t yet exist, but that you wish did!  Send all stocking stuffer suggestions to

gtt.toronto@gmail.com

and our elves will share our Christmas Wish List at the next GTT Meeting on Thursday December 13 from 6pm to 8pm.

 

Please note: the meeting will be held at the CNIB Centre, 1929 Bayview Avenue, not at the Hub on Yonge Street.

As usual, light refreshments will be available.

So bring your adaptive tech, bring your questions, and Get Together with Technology!

 

To visit GTT Toronto’s web page for meeting announcements and summary notes visit this link.

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group Overview:

  • GTT Toronto is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Toronto promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:

http://www.GTTProgram.Blog/

There is a form at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.