Victoria GTT Meeting Summary, Jan 7, 2015

On a cool cloudy day in early January the Victoria GTT group met once again at the Knox Presbyterian Church Lounge on Richmond Road. This gathering was for the purpose of hearing a presentation by Allan Carlson from the Ministry of Education, for which approximately 28 blind and partially sighted participants attended. His expertise is in the area of Public Library services, and he was asked to present specifically on the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS) adopted by BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, North West Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.

Allan gave a brief overview of how NNELS came to be, and how print disabled Canadians can access it for the borrowing of the collections over 12,000 audio book titles. NNELS is a member of the BC Libraries Cooperative which has a budget to produce audio books. He further explained how users can request new titles if the book they’re seeking isn’t available, and that NNELS tries to provide those requests in approximately one week. NNELS has a limited budget with which to purchase new titles, however endeavours to add as many voice recorded titles as possible. New requests are mostly scanned and saved as synthesized speech DAISY or MP3 audio books. If the Library customer already owns the book it can quickly be scanned and converted free of charge.

Allan went on to indicate that Open Source software is used to store and deliver the collection via computer and other portable device internet downloads, and that if participants require assistance to search, download or burn to CD a book from the collection those services are, or soon will be available through local Libraries, or the NNELS Help Desk. After all, this service is entirely funded through your tax supported Provincial Public Library budgets, and as such are mandated to be delivered locally. If your Library isn’t currently a member you are urged to advocate to have them become involved.

He provided contact info for NNELS and briefly outlined how people can register even if their local Library hasn’t signed up yet. You will require a Library Card from your local Library in order to sign up for a temporary membership, then you can either request assistance or register online. Use the contact info found below.

National Network for Equitable Library Service
Phone: 1-855-383-5761, ext. 1017
Follow NNELS on Twitter: @NNELSca

During the second hour of the January 7 meeting a general discussion was undertaken around the use of iPhones verses Android smart phones, as well as a brief chat about accessible phones that might be just used to make phone calls. Some suggestions were offered, and people exchanged business cards in order to follow up after the meeting.

A question was asked about the use of free magnification on Apple and PC computers. Suggestions were offered, and people connected for ongoing support and strategies.

One participant asked whether he should make the move to the computer, or if he can find satisfaction with the DAISY player he currently owns. Albert will follow up to guide him in the exploration of his current device and ascertain his needs as they relate to his existing technology.

The high cost of assistive technology was also raised from the perspective of limited incomes with which to purchase/upgrade in order to keep up with ongoing improvements.

Due to the large number of Victoria residents currently battling the flu people were asked during this meeting to limit the amount of physical contact, however it seems that a couple of people came away with flues/colds regardless. Thanks to all who were so diligent in this regard.

The meeting ended at about 3:30 with several staying around to network and exchange contact info.

Respectfully Submitted on January 15, 2015

Albert A. Ruel, GTT Coordinator