Get Together With Technology (GTT) Victoria – August 5 2015 Meeting Notes
The meeting took place between 5:00 and 7:00 PM, at Fort Tectoria, 777 Fort Street. The nine participants who attended were, Hannah, Marcelina, Trevor, Susan, Colin, Shari, Albert, Corey and Tom. We would especially like to thank Hannah for volunteering to be organizational assistant to Tom Dekker, who has also volunteered as Chapter Coordinator. Though a relatively small group this time, everyone was very much engaged through a combination of discussion, demonstration and general sharing of information.
GTT Community Outreach was the first topic. Should we develop a brochure or poster with a brief and succinct explanation of GTT? Would people be willing to help distribute it? Doctors’ offices, ophthalmologists and optometrists, seniors’ groups and accessibility departments at school boards and post-secondary institutions would all be great targets for our outreach. It was suggested that we also contact BC Blind Sports.
CNIB will do a mailing, but we would have to provide all the material, ready to go, including the funding to pay for postage plus a CNIB service charge per item.
An additional aspect of the outreach discussion confirmed the idea that evenings might not be convenient. We had tried the library hoping to acquire a daytime meeting place but were led to believe that booking space there would be quite expensive. And along with that, Fort Tectoria could not continue its offer of free space during business hours. But thanks to Sabina at NNELS (National Network of Equitable Library Services) we have begun correspondence with Andrea Brimmell at the library, to whom we have already applied for free space. We will keep you posted.
There was also a brief discussion around funding for interpreters for our deaf-blind participants. We are still waiting a response from a Lions club.
We were informed that there is a Victoria book club for vision-impaired people. Meeting participants wondered if there might be a way for GTT members to work with this group; i.e., helping readers to master various reading technologies. We would appreciate anyone who knows more about the book club to get in touch.
In this regard, the Victoria Public Library has specifically asked if one of our members who knows Zoomtext would be available to assist one of their patrons. He would like to use Zoomtext to read books online.
Next came a discussion around BC Transit’s decision to install a Trekker Breeze on each bus in its fleet. This solution is unacceptable, as it demonstrates zero adherence to 21st century principles of Inclusive Design now being implemented in cities in all First World countries as well as in developing ones. Where is the readout for the deaf and hard of hearing, or for the tourists who may read, but not understand English? Where is the real-time GPS and transit data feed that would make life easier for the hundreds of thousands per year who travel throughout the Capital Region with smart phones in their hands. What is the cost comparison between making buses wheelchair-accessible, as opposed to that for providing full audio/visual/transit feed access?
The Trekker Breeze is specifically designed as a personal device for non-visual access only; there is no visual display. It is an inadequate application of technology.
It was agreed that we should write to the Editor of the Times-Colonist with an expression of our concern. However, after the meeting some of us realized that we should first submit a request to ride on one of the test buses, express our concerns and get their response before preparing the letter. We have already contacted BC Transit toward this end.
A number of GTT members have expressed an interest in the Vocal Eye live event description service. This group uses an FM system to broadcast description to listeners equipped with a receiver and headset. This has been done at theatres in Vancouver and Victoria. They certainly did an excellent job describing the Vancouver Pride parade for a group of vision-impaired spectators.
These Vocal Eye enthusiasts were wondering how to rekindle a Vocal Eye presence in Victoria i.e. how to generate local funding for it. It was agreed that since Vocal Eye uses special technology to provide access, that this is therefore a technological application to which GTT could lend its sponsorship via our charitable number to raise the funds required. There will be further discussion on this topic to be reported at future meetings. Let us know if you are interested in this project. It was also suggested that we have Vocal Eye as the theme for either the October or November meeting and inquire if they would actually like to make a presentation.
This meeting featured a presentation by Hannah Leavitt, who described some of her favourite shopping web sites, many of which are run by people with vision-impairment or other disabilities. These included:
Braille Jewelry: http://www.jewelryinbraille.com/brands/Jewelry-in-Braille.html
TravelEyes – Travel Options for People with Visual Disabilities: https://www.traveleyes-international.com/
Future Aids – The Braille Superstore: http://www.braillebookstore.com/
Lucky Touch Fortune Cookies in Braille or Large Print – California School for the Blind: http://www.csb-cde.ca.gov/luckytouch.htm
Braille Wall Posters: http://www.cafepress.ca/+braille+posters
Blind Bargains – Deals and the latest news on blindness products: http://www.blindbargains.com/
The September meeting will feature a presentation by Sky Mundell, comparing the four most popular screen-readers: JAWS; WindowEyes; NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access); and System Access.
The meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 2. It will be at Fort Tectoria from 5 to 7 PM unless we are able to arrange an afternoon time and location at the library. We will keep you posted.