GTT Ottawa meeting notes September 21 2015.

GTT Ottawa Meeting

Date: Monday Sept 20 2015
This meeting was live-streamed
Location:  CCB office 20 James Street
The meeting was also attended by vendors who were in town in order to attend the annual CNIB Tech Fair taking place in Ottawa on Tuesday September 21. The vendors all described their products, and told us what was new.

Bram Caron:  Aroga Technologies

–Canada-wide ; hi and low  tech products for people with disabilities including communication, mobility and vision.  Aroga also distributes Ambutech canes.
–The canes are available in any colour you want
–Classic white canes are also available.
–For every cane you choose, there are also lots of different kinds of tips.
–Canes available in white with coloured handles, joints and tips.
— Canes with a red base are still available
–Colours include; royal blue, purple, gold, red, and many more. 
–The solid coloured cane is available
–The hybrid cane is a little less durable than the standard mobility cane but is very light weight and easy to carry around.  Many guide dog users carry them around to have a cane when needed. between mobility and identification  cane; these are good for the not-so-heavy cane users.  These are also called slim-line canes.
–Kiddie canes are also available.
— A question was asked about whether or not people who are blind traveling around with these types of canes confuse the public?    Aroga and ambutech have not noticed this.  These canes are becoming more popular and are causing some people (especially kids and youth who might not otherwise use a cane) to begin carrying one around. 

–You can usually tell that a person is blind, regardless of the colour cane he/she is using
–There are now different ways people use their canes to get around. There are tappers and swipers who use canes differently.  Cane choice is a personal preference — Society still recognizes them as canes for vision-impaired.
–Some canes have lights on them in Europe.  The lights are hard to replace, and the batteries are easily-broken  
–There are many cane handles to choose from although the hybrid (slim line)  canes come with cork handles only at the moment. 
The other canes can come with foam, cork, carved wood and like a golf-club.  Wood handles are heavy. As with cane preference,  handles also are a matter of preference.  It often amounts to what  transmits information best for each user.  
–There is quite a new cane tip called Dakota disc:  It feels like a mini-frisbee–good for grass, sand, gravel There are also tips that are roller-balls now have high-mileage. There are also marshmallow and pencil tips. 
Again tip preference varies for each cane user. 

–What’s the best cane/tip for snow?  There are  different kinds of snow and snow like conditions.   It would depend on where you are living and what kind of walking you do.
Something that glides over snow.  Dakota tips are good for gliding but heavier and possibly not as durable as roller or marshmallow tips. 
 There is a support cane that you use for support while walking.  It is not a mobility cane. 
Canes are used for support, mobility, identity.
–Aroga has 15 different kinds of canes
–Aroga has other products, including the vibrating glasses that warn the blind person about objects and obstacles that are above the waist and above the sweep of a cane.
–When a product breaks, Aroga tries to get it back to the customer as soon as possible.
Their web site is
–Their phone number is  1-800-561-6222

David Greenich: Canadialog

–The  company has  been around for 5 years
–They have products from Freedom Scientific, JAWS, Magic, and focus Braille Displays.
–You can try before you buy for about a week before you make the commitment.
–This company is nationwide with offices throughout Canada.
–David demonstrated a portable CCTV that weighs less than 5 lbs and can be connected to a laptop.
The book goes under the camera like a CCTV There is also a bigger model of CCTV, weighing about 8 lbs.
–Another product they sell is the Topaz, costing $2,700.00.  This may qualify for ADP funding  
–They also sell the Ruby magnifier–hand held.
–Reminder Rosie–a talking alarm clock that saves up to 25 reminders is a new product they  are starting to sell.  They will be selling other household products too. 

— Clients are looking for more the low tech products such as clocks, microwaves etc.Their web site is 

Stephen Ricci: Frontier Computing

–He has also been a customer, having used the products himself.
— This company was founded by someone who is blind.
–They sell products for people with other kinds of disabilities; It is a one-stop shop for high  and low-tech as well as an ADP vendor; corporate, educational institutions, libraries, government and individuals, at home, work, play and school. Their products hope to level the playing field, and to help people feel independent, self-confident and successful.
–Some equipment is loaned.
–They represent all the manufacturers but don’t have a large supply of materials.  
–Frontier staff use the products.  
–if a product should break, they try to get it back to the customer as soon as possible. They also offer tech  support to customers.

–The Zoomtext keyboard is of better quality.  The letters are in large print and high-contrast and specialized keys that control some of the functions. This can be found on AISquared.  

Michel: Humanware

–A manufacturer of innovative solutions like the Braille Note Apex note taker and the Victor Readers Prodigy–video magnifier assistant that works on a tablet.
–Humanware does market surveys to find out what the consumer wants.
–The Trekker Breeze 2 has been revamped and more efficient, like a talking GPS–walking or riding public transportation.
–The Victor Reader Stream allows you to listen to radio shows over Wi-Fi.  It also allows you to download podcasts and download books from CNIB/CELA library and bookshare.

–Questions arose about transferring CDs onto the Stream.
–There are different options for braille displays to connect to computers and smart phones.  
The human ware line up includes the brailliant braille displays as well as the braille note family of note takers.  
There was a question about getting a braille display that had limited note taking capabilities. 

–We don’t need all the features as these are available on our phones.  
–Humanware can be contacted at 1-888-722-3393 

Claude Harris: Locus Engineering

–Developing an echolocation device
–Not everyone can echolocate
–The device consists of a small board sends out an ultrasonic pulse and makes tones. Each frequency represents a distance, with close objects making a high-frequency tone and getting lower the further away the object is from you
–It is meant to be an extension of a white cane–a succession of echoes that warn us about obstacles ahead.  
–Users can change the chirp rate. You can send a pulse out or have it set to automatic–there are 6 frequency bands. He is just in the process of developing this product.  He is very keen to have some of us test this product once he has developed it more. 
In a few months we can try it out.
–Can it be fitted onto a white cane? If not on the cane, it could be clipped on or worn.
–As a cane is angled, it may not be able to get a straight echo.
–What about people who are blind and also need to use walkers?  Could it be put onto the front of a mobility device like a walker or wheelchair?   
–Hand-guide; set to beep or vibrate
–Every 6 inches, users will hear a new musical tone.  You can hear things ahead of you.  You would aim the device like a flashlight as it has a very directional beam.  
— Claude’s website is

Issues discussed:

— CNIB ID cards question. If you are totally blind, you don’t need an eye assessment to get a new CNIB ID card.   This new practice was put into place because there have been so many changes and advancements in ophthalmology and optometry.  We will be required to show proof of legal blindness.  You can obtain an eye report through your optometrist or ophthalmologist just before your ID card is due.

We brainstormed topics  for  future meetings

–using braille displays with iphones
–comparing braille displays
–using hand-held magnifiers
–What is new in IOS 9?

— AODA; where to turn if you have a question or concern
–Ottawa Public Library now has 3-D printers–what do they do?  
–Will there be a workshop on 3d printing–is the software accessible?  
–all about spreadsheets How to use them. 
–A workshop on photography–using your camera and KNFB Reader and other barcode readers  to get information
–Useable, exchangeable and nice-to-have apps
–Household and kitchen items touchscreens and menus labelling and identifying
Comparison of screen readers

Next Meeting

Monday, October 26
CCB Office, 20 James Street
We will divide into two groups. 
Group 1. All about braille displays. 
Group 2. All about hand held magnifyers.