*Note: The March, April, May and June meetings will be at a new location, 777 Fort Street between Douglas and Blanshard. See below for more details.
On February 4 The Victoria GTT group saw another great day in the Capital Regional District that had about 28 blind and partially sighted turn up to share their skills, passions and inquiries about assistive technology. Thank you to all who braved the elements to attend this meeting.
We started with self-introductions of all who attended, then rolled into a presentation by Wendy Cox about the Neil Squire Society Employ-Ability online program. Wendy is the local Victoria Coordinator/Facilitator for this program, so she gave the group a taste of what the program offers, who it serves and how accessibility is viewed where blind and partially sighted participants are concerned. You can learn more about the program by following the below link, or by contacting Wendy directly.
Wendy Cox – Career Facilitator
Neil Squire Society’s Employ-Ability Program
Victoria Disability Resource Centre
817-A Fort Street Victoria BC V8W 1H6
Phone: 250-595-0044 ext. 108
As this meeting was taking place during White Cane Week we then embarked on a discussion of the many tools used for mobility as blind and partially sighted travelers. Danielle gave an overview and history of the white cane, along with some of her own experiences as she trialled Dog Guides and canes before settling on her current long white cane. The members shared some ideas, frustrations, benefits and the devices they employ.
Tom allowed us a glimpse into life with a Dog Guide as his chosen mobility tool, and although Abe would have loved to be handed around the crowd, Tom managed to keep him at his feet for the duration of the presentation. Following a brief coffee break Tom took us through a demonstration of the Blind Square app on his iPhone. This is a very user friendly talking GPS app that provides great navigation as the user travels through his/her community. It however doesn’t provide turn by turn instructions to pre-programmed addresses. Where Am I and Look Around features exist to help the traveler along the way, as well as street announcements and other helpful information.
Other talking GPS devices such as the Trekker Breeze were talked about from the perspective of the different features they all have. Check with a Mobility Specialist and/or other blind travelers if you have questions about the type of cane that will best serve your needs. Elizabeth Lalonde, the founding Executive Director of the Pacific Training Center for the Blind was there to also offer her knowledge and the Center’s support for those who need mobility services. Elizabeth can be contacted through a Contact Form on their web site:
The break had us enjoying coffee and tea from Tim Horton’s following the first public performance of the newly formed Pawsitive Performers choir who sang three songs. One of which was the Terry Kelly classic, Power of the Dream. If anyone has an interest in joining the Pawsitive Performers please contact Linda Bartram at (250) 595-5888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A brief discussion was undertaken regarding formalizing a GTT Victoria Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind. More information will be provided during the next meeting about the CCB and the GTT Program. A Membership Form will be found attached to this announcement. If you wish to join the GTT Victoria Chapter please complete the form and bring it to the March 4th meeting. To learn more about the CCB check out our web site at:
On February 5, 2015 four GTT members, Tom, Ken, Corry and Albert met with Devan in downtown Victoria to look at a potential new meeting site. It was checked over quite carefully and believed to be ideal for GTT, and a wonderful match in terms of relationship between the building’s owners and our program. The accessibility of the building seems to match our needs, and it boasts the highest internet speeds in Victoria. It’s called Fort Tectoria and is operated by VIATeC. Please follow the links below and thank them for their generosity each time you post on Facebook or Twitter. That’s all they’re asking us for at this point, and their Twitter and Facebook contacts can be found at the Link below.
Upon entering the building you will walk through a Coffee Shop with a very friendly staff. The counter will be on your right with a few small tables across the aisle on your left. Once you’ve purchased your favourite cup of java you will return to your original line of travel when entering the building, which will have you moving straight through that portion of the building to a set of double doors into a larger work lounge with many tables and chairs. We found this room to be quiet with several people working on laptops or talking in low tones. As you move through that room keeping a straight line you will encounter the door into the Shaw Conference Room where we will meet. The room will be laid out with one large conference table in the center with chairs all around it. Upon entering the room you will find the table stretching out to your left and right, with the head of the room to your left.
Washrooms are found to your right just before entering the Shaw Conference Room. There are three, with one of them equipped for wheelchairs. They are not gender specific.
VIATeC is the building’s owner, and the service/initiative is called, Fort Tectoria
777 Fort Street Victoria BC V8W 1G9
The building is about 4 doors west of Blanshard Street on the South side of Fort Street. If you favourite this location on your GPS iPhone app, Blind Square you will be notified very near its doors according to Tom.
Upcoming GTT Victoria meetings will be held at Fort Tectoria on these dates:
March 4, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM
April 1, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM
*May 4, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM *(Note this is a Monday)
June 3, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM