GTT Victoria Summary Notes, BC Government Accessibility and General Discussion, September 6, 2017

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria


A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind


Summary Notes

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

GVPL Main branch, Community Meeting Room


The meeting was called to order at 1:05 pm by chair Albert Ruel


Attendance: 13 people with 4 visiters from Vancouver.  Heidi, Albert, Tom, Richard from Vancouver, John, Scott from the Library, Karen from the library, Lynn from Vancouver, Pegg from Vancouver, John from Vancouver, Douglas, Bruce and Kira who is the Captionist.  Regrets from Corry.


Albert- Welcome back folks after a smoky summer.


Heidi Leckenby is from the provincial government and she works in the webaccessibility area. She was visiting to learn more about the methods and strategies we use to access information online, and she hopes to be able to return to future meetings.  She indicated that she was there to hear stories, learn from the group and just have open conversations and share.


Scott indicated that the GVPL Community Room will be available to us the second Wednesday of October and November.


Daphne Wood, who works at the library introduced 2 people who are working on both a publication and a podcast for the victoria foundation. It’s a community foundation that funds many initiatives. The library has been a beneficiary of grants, like the olive outreach vehicle that takes the library to various events in the Victoria area. We were joined by 2 people, one from the victoria foundation doing a story in their next issue of Vital Signs about belonging. They want to do a story on how the library supports inclusion and togetherness in our communities. A photographer was also in attendance, and with the group’s permission took some photos. Someone else will do a podcast to talk about the initiatives the library works on, and GTT may be featured therein.


Assistive Tech talked about:

  • No one has seen the Orbit Braille Display yet, however you can buy it early.
  • The Victor Reader Trek is a combination device which includes a talking GPS and a Daisy talking book player in one device. The Victor Reader Stream will still be available as a stand-alone device.
  • The Blaze EZ and ET that includes OCR, as wwell as talking books, podcasts, Direct to Player downloads and so much more was also discussed. The ET version includes a refreshable Braille display.
  • The free iOS Seeing AI app by Microsoft is a major advancement because it offers OCR, bar code reading, facial recognition and it can give descriptions of scenes around you. The AI part of the name means artificial intelligence. Some said it will read street signs, menus in the windows at starbucks and it’ll allow the user to read posters in a window.  The app works best on iPhone 6 and newer, and they are working on an Android version.
  • Aira was discussed as well. For about $89 a month you can have a trained human being narrate the world in front of you through your earbuds.
  • BeMyEyes is still free and available, however they are volunteers with no specific blindness training.
  • The google Home Speaker was finally released in Canada, and it allows the user to make phone calls all over north America. It can do conversions, give you the weather, play trivia and flip a coin.


Main presentation by Heidi Leckenby:>

Heidi gave us some background on where she works.  She’s with the provincial government and works in the areas of communications and public engagement. The area she’s in is in the online services area. The online services is to do with the government.bc. website. She was given the portfolio of being the web accessibility lead. She thought it was for our area but they realised across government, they don’t have people with the skill set or understanding on how to make services accessible. So she’s it.


She’s had the portfolio for 2 years and has had to learn along the way. The information is broad and deep but also she’s trying to have access to real conversations with people. So right now she’s working on a project with where they’re at in the government and she’s also looking at creating relationships in our communities with different people in different areas to understand their needs. Also the more she speaks to people, the more she realises that there’s such a broad spectrum of abilities. Some who are techsavy and ones who don’t want to touch it at all. So she’s delighted by the experience of learning alongside us and to hear everyone’s stories. She wants to translate it back to the work they do.


Heidi indicated they are looking at it from all types of barriers, the hard of hearing as well as the cognitive side. They are looking at the larger demographic areas but they’re trying to make it accessible for everyone. They want universal design,


Heidi has been on the road across BC to talk to citizens about how to generally access Government services online. And the large majority of people don’t use computers. Some are very techsavy that are comfortable, but there’s also a need for person to person interaction.


Heidi said, accessibility 2024 is in motion, and it’s to do with accessibility across the board, IE. online, physical, internet access in remote areas.


This is where public libraries have a role to play. They can be as accessible as they can but sometimes the problem is between the chair and the keyboard. Its training. If you don’t know how to do it, you still don’t get access. There needs to be what the provincial government needs to know. It’s great to have these workshops.


Scott indicated that The library is in a unique position, They have a new website, and he’s talked to the communications officer and she wants a session with testers to look at the website and make comments on the lack of accessibility.  The communication director would be there to make notes how to make it better.


Following the break Heidi indicated that it has been fruitful to share what she’s going through and to hear from the group regarding their online experiences.


More assistive tech talked about:

  • Albert demonstrated a set of magnets purchased at a local farmer’s market in parksville. It was designed by a young fellow. It’s a set of 3 magnets designed for Iphone earbuds that has the earbuds snap together so we don’t have to untangle them. They come with a third one to put on the plug in so they all get put together and its never tangled.  Albert purchased some so if anyone wants any, I can send you the website information. I will put it in the notes for this meeting. You can order them online, or Albert has a few that will be available during the next meeting.

  • Albert also discussed the Fopydo iPhone scanning stand that allows the user to set up the iPhone to take photos of text for OCR. Shipped to Albert’s home they are $22 each. If anyone wants one, Albert has 3 of the 5 originally ordered. Albert will bring them to the next meeting if anyone is interested in purchasing one.

  • The Dolphin Easy Reader app has been updated, so those who are accessing the CELA Direct to Player service might want to look at this iPhone app.
  • The GTTSupport email discussion list was talked about briefly. If anyone hasn’t yet checked it out, you can subscribe by sending a blank message with Subscribe in the Subject Line to the below address:

The GTTSupport list is for anyone, blind and visually impaired to talk to each other about assistive technology.  it’s an email list where we can share information and ask questions.


Next Meeting: October 11, 2017

The next GTT Victoria meeting will have a presentation from Steve Barclay, formerly from Aroga Technologies, now operating Canadian Assistive Technologies out of the Vancouver area.  He will demo some new and emerging blindness and low vision assistive tech.


Albert reminded the group that the October and November meetings will be on the second Wednesday, and that the December meeting will be back to the first Wednesday.


Respectfully submitted by,

Albert A. Ruel



2 thoughts on “GTT Victoria Summary Notes, BC Government Accessibility and General Discussion, September 6, 2017

  1. Wow!! Aira is about $3.00 a day? That’s $1,095.00 a year! Hmmm… It’s definitely not for me! Besides, I would not like people, even trained professionals, to be looking over my shoulder, so to speak! On the other hand, if one had lots of visual tasks to do in a specific period of time, and could pay $3.00 a day to use Aira, that would be great! So, how does Amazon’s Echo make phone calls? Do you have to have an “app” for calling/messaging, as you would for any IO device? By the way, and not on an unrelated matter, has there been confirmation that the brand-new Apple TV will accept “HEY SIRI” commands? Thanks. Jim


    1. Jim, with the Aira app nobody looks over your shoulder on till you tap the button and invite them to do so. I don’t know if the new AppleTV will be able to use hey Siri, nor do I know anything about the Amazon echo. I use the Google Home device.


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