The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Edmonton Chapter was held May 8 at 7pm at Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 83 Street in Edmonton.
16 people attended.
May Topic – iPhone demos and Training
Russell demonstrated how to use the Uber app with VoiceOver on his iPhone. He first showed how to book a trip for pick up right away by tapping on the “Where To” button, and then choosing the pickup and destination addresses, and then tapping on the “Request UberX” button. He talked about how the app shows the ETA as well as the amount the trip will cost.
Russell then demonstrated how to schedule a trip for a later date by tapping on the “Schedule a ride” button, choosing the date and time from a “Picker” list, choosing the button to “set” the date and time, and then tapping a button to schedule the trip.
The Uber app allows you to contact the driver once the trip has been booked either by phone or text message. This is helpful to let the driver know that you are blind and will need assistance to the vehicle. There is a “Menu” button that gives options to change your profile information, change your payment method, and view past or upcoming trips. There is also a button on the main screen that gives access to more content and actions like sharing coupons with friends and ordering food through Uber Eats.
Yellow Cab App
Lorne demonstrated the Yellow Cab Edmonton (Y C Edmonton) app with VoiceOver on his iPhone.
From the main screen, you can start the booking process by tapping on Book a Taxi, or by tapping on one of your frequent addresses (they call them Favorites).
the next screen is where you enter all the details of your trip, such as the pickup address, destination address, type of taxi (regular sedan or van), scheduling the trip for now or some date in the future, as well as giving any info you want the driver to have, such as asking for a call upon arrival, etc.) When choosing your pickup address, you can do so either by using your phone’s GPS (which isn’t always exact), or by typing it in, or choosing one of your phone’s contacts.
All the buttons in this app are labelled with what they do, but some of them don’t say Button, so a VoiceOver user might not know to tap on them, such as when you’ve finished entering all the trip details and you’re ready to send it off. You must tap where it says Book, but it won’t say button.
If you enter a destination address(optional), it will give you an estimate of the cost, however this is just an estimate, and the final price may be more. This is one of the major differences between this app and the Uber one, Uber charges you as soon as the trip starts, based on the calculated distance. If your cab driver gets lost, etc., then your trip might be more expensive.
This app advertises the ability to set up a credit card and pay from within the app, however that feature either has since been removed, or perhaps must be set up through contacting the company.
This app shows a map on screen when the cab is on its way to you, however that part is not accessible with Voiceover, however it does tell you the 3-digit number of your cab, which might be useful if you ever get denied because of your Guide Dog, etc.
One of the biggest advantages of using an app instead of just calling their dispatch centre like in the past, is the app will send you notifications if your cab is late, and you can send and receive updates back and forth to the driver. no more wondering if your cab is still on the way, etc.
Here is more info about the app from the app store: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/yellow-cab-edmonton/id717512908
Gerry provided training on basic iPhone usage was presented to 2 people who are considering using and iPhone or iPad to help them with everyday tasks.
Next Meeting (Monday June 12at 7pm)
• As usual, we will provide one-on-one training especially iPhone and DAISY players. If you have other training requests email your interests to us so we can try to accommodate you.
• As always, for help with technology bring your devices and/or questions to the meeting.
Meeting Location and Logistics
• Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 – 83 Street NW, Edmonton.
• We meet in the basement hall. There is elevator access.
• Enter the church from the back door. There is parking at the back and drop off space for taxis, DATS.
• Meetings are every second Monday of the month at 7pm.
• If you have someone helping you your assistant is welcome to remain for the meeting.
GTT Edmonton Overview
• GTT Edmonton is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
• GTT Edmonton promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
• Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
• Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
• There are GTT groups in Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston, Northern Ontario, Pembroke, Halifax, Sydney, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver, and more to come.
• There is also a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit: http://www.gttprogram.wordpress.com/
There is a form at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.
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The Albert A. Ruel Road to Blindness
A 21 year old man stood on the beach at the Sproat Lake Provincial Park with friends early in May of 1977, and upon gazing across the lake found the Gulf Oil sign missing from the dock-side filling station there. When this fact was shared with his companions they glanced at him with puzzled looks and said, “No Albert, the sign is still there”.
That was the beginning of a road through confusion, anger, isolation, loneliness and discovery for me. It all began with a visit to a local Optometrist who could see that my vision wasn’t right, but that corrective lenses wouldn’t help. He then referred me to a General Practitioner, where I received a clean bill of health and an additional referral. This time to an Ophthalmologist. Immediately upon peering through the dilated pupils, Dr. McKerricher was able to see the problem, Retinal Vasculitis.
Now, you would think that all would start to improve at this point, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, CNIB, from 1918 until 1985 only served the needs of people who were “Legally Blind”, a level of vision loss I wouldn’t reach until November of 1979. The words of Dr. McKerricher still echo in my mind today, “Albert, I don’t know what has caused this and nothing we’ve tried is helping to stop it, and you’re not blind enough for me to refer you to CNIB”!
In the middle of this transition from 20/20 vision to “Legally Blind” came the Motor Vehicle Branch and it’s rules of the road. On August 3, 1978 I drove a car for the last time as my vision had reached the level at which operating a motor vehicle became too dangerous, further intensifying feelings of fear, isolation and anger. Sadly, through this period the only available guidance and support was through family and friends, but not the experienced professionals I needed at the time. Although these support systems are critically important they can often be smothering and facilitating, rather than encouraging and supportive.
With gratitude, and some trepidation I finally was able to access CNIB services in November of 1979, and the world opened up then. There I was able to meet other blind people and receive the daily living and mobility skills required to live independently in this sighted world. I learned elementary braille and began to discover technology as necessary tools of independence.
Thankfully, in 1985 CNIB’s National Board altered the course of service to visually impaired Canadians forever. They added a third prong to their Mission Statement, “To promote sight enhancement services”. This opened the door to all Canadians who were beginning to lose sight, as well as those who had a fear of vision loss to access the full range of CNIB Support and Rehabilitation Services. So now, whether it’s someone’s Mother who is experiencing Macular Degeneration, or an Uncle experiencing the affects of Glaucoma, all have the ability to seek information, guidance and support as all involved deal with the fear and anxiety that accompanies such life altering experiences.
With the help of professional Rehabilitation Workers and Employment Counselors I was able to continue traveling independently within my own community, and even more remarkably anywhere in the world I desired to go. I managed to attend College in Nanaimo and New Westminster, as well as traveling to the Mayo Clinic and to doctor’s appointments in Nanaimo and Vancouver without assistance. All of this while living with some usable vision, but not yet needing a white cane for travel.
During the mid 1980’s I was a stay-at-home Dad and did all that was required of that challenging work, from changing diapers to preparing meals, and from cutting the grass to maintaining our home. I even took a woodworking course through Alberni’s Adult Education program and built and restored several pieces of furniture. Of course the 1958 Chevy Impala in the garage was my pride and joy, and I devised ways to do much of the work it required.
I also joined and participated in many community activities, like the local Car Club, and a disability support group that catered to the needs of people with many different disabilities. Of course, continued participation in family life remained of critical importance through this period.
In 1989 a secondary condition began to extinguish the vision that remained, which set into motion a new stream of professional rehabilitation services and supports. By the spring of 1990 Glaucoma had turned out the lights completely, and the darkness I had feared so desperately was upon me. Strangely though, I found this to be a great relief rather than the tragedy I had imagined it would be.
Through several professional rehabilitation sessions, and by joining peer mentoring and advocacy groups I was able to come to terms with this strange feeling, and to learn additional skills and strategies for living with no visual cues of the world around me. This is also about the time that I decided to explore CNIB as an employer, and to see if I could provide the sort of guidance and support to others that had been my pleasure to receive. Those 14 years were a wonderful experience of ongoing discovery for me, as teaching may be the best way to solidify one’s own learning. In other words, those we assist through this transition in turn help us all as we develop best practices and improved service.
Following a 14 year career with CNIB I also served the blind community as the first National Equality Director employed by the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), and as a Basic Computer Literacy Trainer with the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). Most recently I have enjoyed coordinating the CCB’s newly launched Get Together with Technology Program in Western Canada, which brings to the fore my passion for assistive technology and the power of peer mentoring.
Without sight I have continued to travel far and wide, with trips to Conventions of and for the Blind in Anaheim California and Melbourne Australia, as well as to many events and activities in Toronto and Vancouver. Of course my work has taken me to many communities throughout Western Canada, and most particularly nearly all regions of BC and on Vancouver Island. None of which would have been possible without the services and support of organizations like CCB, AEBC and CNIB.
For most people blindness generates a fear of extended movement, both within one’s home and community, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Independence comes from personal desire and increased skill. Many community organizations can assist with both through their mentoring and skill development programs. I remember always that life has little to do with what happens to me and 100% what I do about/with it. There is a quote I like to use from the National Federation of the Blind in the USA, “With adequate skill development and opportunity blindness can be reduced to the level of a nuisance”, and nothing could be closer to the truth.
Helen Keller said many years ago, “There is nothing more tragic than someone who has sight, but no vision”. She also challenged the Lions Clubs of the world to become the “Knights of the Blind, and to take up the crusade against darkness”. I too joined a Lions Club in 1992 and continue to work on the crusade that Helen Keller began in the 1920-s.
View all posts by Albert Ruel