Roll Call: Tom, Albert, Bruce, Douglas, Kristine, Peter, Greg, Alan Perry, Cory, Colin, Lorna, Josette, Linda, Trevor, Jackeline, Oscar, Andrea, Darcy, Wendy Cox (Neil Squire Society), Barbara, Judy, Mike, Tom, Allen, Hanna.
- Tom Dekker welcomed everyone to the first-anniversary meeting of the GTT Victoria Chapter. Some 31 people were in attendance at the first meeting in 2014, and Tom was pleased to announce we had a full house for today’s meeting as well.
- Tom shared that Prime Minister Trudeau had announced his new cabinet and that we now have a minister responsible for disabled people in Canada. Her name is Carla Qualtrough, a lawyer who is vision impaired.
- There was a general discussion as to whether members felt the need for a Victoria chapter of the AEBC or whether GTT could serve the same function. Tom explained that CCB President, Jim Prouse, has given us the go-ahead to take on any issues that may be important to Victorians i.e., lobby for a fully inclusive announcement and information system on our public transit.
- Further to the latter issue, Tom reported that real headway is being made with BC Transit regarding improvements to services for people with disabilities. The Mayor of Victoria has struck a working group to address these and other concerns and since she also sits on the BC Transit Board, she is in a great position to convey our concerns directly to the Board.
- Tom introduced Albert Ruel who presented on the OrCam, an Israeli piece of technology designed for persons with vision disabilities.
Albert explained that the OrCam device Is an intuitive portable device which harnesses the power of Artificial Vision to assist people who are visually disabled. The unit consists of a smart camera which is mounted to the frame of a pair of glasses, a mini earpiece and a hand-held trigger unit for the camera. Albert demonstrated the use of the unit. The camera must be facing the object you want interpreted. Push the button on the trigger unit and the camera takes a picture. Within seconds, it provides feedback.
Albert demonstrated that with the OrCam, he is able to read printed text, identify people’s faces, shop and recognize products. He can also read newspapers, signs, receipts and text on a computer or smartphone screen. The user can also point to an area on the printed page, activate the camera and it will read the document from the indicated area onwards. Printed material must be right-side up in order for the OrCam to read it. If it isn’t, the unit will tell the user it is upside down. The company is planning to add colour recognition capability as well.
Members asked how the OrCam compared with the KNFB Reader. Tom reported that it is quicker than the KNFB Reader but has far fewer features.
The unit is just now being marketed in Canada at a cost of between $3,500 and $4,000.00. Barry Underwood is the West Coast representative for OrCam.
For more information about the OrCam: http://www.orcam.com/
- Tom announced a new iPhone app called NavCog, a combination navigation and environmental info program, not unlike the OrCam in what it can do but it runs on the iPhone. He said this technology is exploding so don’t rush out to buy the OrCam just yet.
Check out the video for the NavCog unit.
- Tom introduced Alan Perry from CFAX Radio and Greg Koyl who uses a new program called Talk and Send.
Greg shared that he has lost 95% of his vision in the last year due to aggressive glaucoma. He felt very isolated and depressed during this adjustment period. He mostly missed being able to electronically communicate with family, friends and former colleagues. Alan Perry and Peter Young, of Priority 1 Computers, approached Greg to beta-test some new communications software. It is called Talk and Send and is a modified for the blind version of a program called Voice on the Go. Greg agreed to try it out and within minutes, he was able to send text messages and emails. It also can access Twitter, Facebook and Calendars.
The service functions through the user’s home-phone system. It is set up using a computer but once it’s set up, a computer is no longer necessary. The user phones a central number, enters the PIN code and is in the system. Talk and Send uses an easy-to-follow voice-menu system and the user simply responds by choosing an option. The software leads you through the process, one option at a time until the action is complete. Emails and texts are easily sent and retrieved using the system.
Alan and Greg demonstrated how the system works and with its voice-prompts and it was easy for those present to follow along. Text and email can be listened to with synthetic or human voice.
Alan graciously offered to set it up for free for anyone who is interested in trying it. It costs $9 per month, with no contract. All you need is a telephone. You can call in from anywhere in the world. It does German, English, Italian and French.
Members were informed that neither Greg, Alan nor Peter from Priority 1 are making any money from this product or service. If you have any questions, Greg is happy to speak with you about it.
Greg Koyl, GKOYL@islandnet.com, Phone: 778-265-8828.
- Albert reminded members that their annual membership fee of $10 is due by year-end.
- Tom also let everyone know about the inaugural meeting of the new Barrier-Free BC organization founded to promote the implementation of a British Columbians with Disabilities Act. The meeting took place on October 28 at CNIB in Vancouver. The next meeting is November 25th from 1 to 4 pm. Those who cannot attend in person may participate by teleconference as follows: dial 1-866-783-7393. After the tone, enter security code 13634920. For more information and to receive ongoing updates, contact: email@example.com. You can also follow on Twitter @barrierfreebc
- Skye Mundell has been contracted by the Neil Squire Society to provide tutoring for screenreader users looking to improve their skills. There is no fee for the service. Contact Skye at: 250-812-4307 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Albert announced a described-theatre event at the Belfry on Sunday, November 8 from 2 pm to 4 pm. VocalEye will be providing descriptive-audio services. Please register beforehand to ensure availability of headsets.
- Tom announced that he will be on the TechTalk program on CFAX 1070 radio the last Saturday of every month to promote and talk about the GTT Program and to inform listeners about helpful technological innovations.
- Tom thanked everyone for coming and invited them to check out the OrCam and connect with other guests, and the presentation segment of the meeting was adjourned.
The December meeting will take place on Wednesday, December 2, in the same location. Stay tuned for the agenda, and we hope to see everyone there.