Resource: COVID-19 Keeping us indoors, with unique opportunities supported by BlindSquare and NaviLens

COVID-19 Keeping us indoors, with unique opportunities supported by BlindSquare and NaviLens.


May 21st is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, focusing on digital access and inclusion for the more than one billion people with disabilities.

Across our globe, the impact of the pandemic is found. Some impacts are led by common sense (avoid exposures, battle all exposures with “be clean” responses), and some by country/local laws restricting travel entirely or by degree.

BlindSquare and NaviLens join to serve on the frontline.

Being stuck indoors.
Has the pandemic created a greater impact for persons who are blind, deafblind, or partially sighted?  Absolutely. These persons now have a heightened need to “be aware” of current locations and planned destinations. They need to know where they are and limit their exposures.

A new opportunity to experience your environment.
BlindSquare and NaviLens, leaders in improving the lives for those who are blind/deafblind or partially sighted, bring you an opportunity to discover abilities and equip yourself in anticipation of a return to a new normal, and to provide you greater independence, comfort, and location awareness with immediate and long term rewards.

BlindSquare is the world’s most widely used accessible GPS iOS app developed for persons who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted. Paired with third-party navigation apps, BlindSquare’s self-voicing app delivers detailed points of interest and intersections for safe, reliable travel. Paired with NaviLens, the app that scans proprietary codes to deliver situational information instantly, this duo offers an unmatched experience for users to navigate independently and more importantly in today’s environment, safely.

While our products have been helpful for our current users, we pondered, why it can’t be great for all during this stress-filled time? We looked for a way to solve this, without cost.

BlindSquare’s reputation, across its 8 years of service, is replete with personal success stories such as those that extoll the value of travel information for making informed choices and the ability to “simulate” future destinations for adventure.  When using simulation, BlindSquare behaves just as if you’re there! And with NaviLens on board  your device, you have access to their award-winning technology to create personal tags that can be used to “label your world” for such things as cupboard content, prescription bottles, fridge contents (including best before dates!), contents of your bar, contents of your freezer, and more. NaviLens is enjoyed by thousands.

So, in co-operation and consultation with many educators and organizations supporting persons who are blind, deafblind, or partially sighted, we have committed to make BlindSquare EVENT (v. 4.9967+) and NaviLens available—free of charge—until November 2020. During this time, free access to BlindSquare EVENT means a full-featured version of BlindSquare for iOS users that is geofenced to the continents of New Zealand, Australia, North America (Canada and the USA), Greenland, Mexico, Spain, Portugal and Japan—well over 25 million square miles! Mid November, BlindSquare EVENT will return to Demonstration mode, NaviLens will continue.

There are no strings attached and no obligations implied by this offering. Our mutual goals are to reduce the impact of the pandemic to you, to provide you with the ability to plan future travel, and to become familiar with the enablement that our solutions provide.

BlindSquare resources

NaviLens resources

Your feedback is welcomed

Please complete this short survey, your insights are important to usCREDITS

In Canada, this initiative is gratefully sponsored by Bell Mobility, additional information and Bell Mobility offers can be found here.

Help us spread the word! Follow us on social media and share your experience with us and with others.





GTT National Conference Call Summary Notes: White Canes and other Mobility Aids, February 8, 2017

GTT National Conference Call.

Sponsored by the Canadian Council of the Blind

Summary Notes

February 8, 2017.

Questions from previous GTT NatConCall:
How do I find an Insert Key on my small PC laptop:
• To have the Caps Lock Key become an Insert Key do the following; Press Alt + the letter H to access the Help menu of jaws, arrow to the Start-up wizzard, Tab through the dialog box and change keyboard layout to Laptop. Press the Enter Key to save the changes. This will have the Caps Lock Key turned into an Insert Key, which means that pressing it twice quickly will toggle the actual Caps Lock on and off.
• Alternatively, from Staples, London Drugs or Best Buy you can purchase a USB Numeric Keypad that will allow you to access JAWS navigation from the Numpad.
• Some people carry a full-sized external keyboard, however Lap top bags are often not able to hold it all. Weight is also a consideration for some. Albert usually travels with a lap top, scanner and MS Ergo keyboard.
• For Mac desktop and laptops there is available a trackpad instead of using the laptop built-in trackpad. It is approximately the same size as an iPhone/iPod and allows the user to use the regular and familiar swiping gestures to do things such as:
1. Start and stop speech
2. Select an item
3. Read continuously
4. Scroll down by page
5. Turn screen curtain or speech on and off
These are done just like on the i devices so people using them will be familiar with the gestures.

GPS for Mobility:
• Another question was related to the use of GPS devices while travelling in our communities: How do you multitask with mobile GPS devices.
• Some indicated they use their stand-alone and iOS GpS apps, but they turn a lot of the POI and other verbosity off. Maybe just approaching streets need to be spoken while walking.
• When you are in unfamiliar areas, you can quickly turn these things on if you wish.
• Albert likes the clip on speaker from the trekker Maestro. The Breeze one doesn’t seem to work with iPhones. Kim uses the aftershokz headphones and likes them very much.
• If anyone knows of any other available clip on speaker please let us know through the comments on the web site.

White Canes and Mobility Preferences:
• Several participants indicated they use Dog Guides, with folded white canes used for locating items or for indoor use.
• Cane Tips people like the roller tip that is like a ball.
• Cyramic tip; sharp sound and because it is hard it never wears out.
• What to do with the cane when signing documents at a counter etc; Stick folded cane in a back pocket or handbag.
• One person indicated that she shoves the cane down her sock.

Do you wash the cane tips when entering your home or public buildings:
• Some people wash their canes regularly, and others only when they’ve gotten particularly dirty.
• Instead of setting a dirty cane on counters/tables, try placing the cane on the floor between your feet when sitting at a restaurant.
• Using the elastic, attach the folded cane to your chair.
• Using the elastic, atach the cane to your purse strap or backpack.
• There are holders/pouches/hooks you can buy for folded mobility canes that attach to your purse-strap or belt.
• Ambutech is one place where White Mobility Cane Holsters, Pouches and Hooks can be purchased.

Is it wise to have the elastic attached to your wrist when walking with a mobility cane:
• Most recommended that it isn’t wise to do so.
• It is safer to drop your cane than put it around your wrist in the event it gets caught up by a passing bike or motor vehicle.

What styles of canes are most often used:
• Few on the call use the Rigid cane. It is too cumbersome to store on buses, trains and airplanes. Albert prefers the rigid for most excursions, however uses a folding cane when travelling with sighted guides.
• One can carry folding canes in backpacks or purses when using Dog Guides if needed.
• It was thought by some that drivers seem to be better able to see white canes than Dog Guides. Perhaps it’s because of the increased usage of service dogs.
• Some thought the red stripe at the bottom of the cane is to show drivers that you want to cross the street when it is held out in front of the user horizontal to the ground.
• Some believe that the red stripe at the bottom of the cane is for depicting deaf blindness.
• Some have noted that the cane disappears from view when walking on painted street crossings.

Multi-Coloured Canes:
• Some people use them without issue, and the first time Albert used his the Greyhound Driver in Victoria didn’t recognize it.
• Once colour wears off one user said she cannot buy replacement tape.
• Does a coloured cane really show that you are blind?

BuzzClip and Amutech Glasses:
• No one on the call is currently using BuzzClip or Ambutech glasses, however they have been trialled by some.
• BuzzClip or Ambutech glasses are good for staying abreast of the person in front of you in line-ups, for finding open doorways in malls, locating bus stop sign posts, etc.
• One person who tried the Ambutech glasses while using their white cane thought they were receiving too much information and were distracted by it.
• One participant uses the Mowat sensor, which sends out a beam, or beams that causes the device to vibrate when the user approaches a person or thing. This device is no longer manufactured, however operates on the same principal as the BuzzClip and Ambutech Glasses.

Monoculars for low vision mobility:
• Some people use them for reading the names/numbers on the front of buses and menus/signs on the wall when out in public places.
• One person indicated that she uses the iPhone camera and the magnification app instead of a monocular.
• Kim has heard that SuperVision is a great free magnifyer app for the iPhone.

How to be more visible when travelling with a mobility aid:
• Make sure you are visible with reflecters, flashing lights or other high-visibility wearable devices.
• Some ideas of what is available are, collars for guide dogs in red or blue, continuous or flashing.
• Construction worker high-viz vests have stripes and lots of pockets etc.
• Some people wear helmets or other protective gear in the winter.
• One option is the Ice halo head protection Padded head band. Check the bottom of this document for details on how to order.

How to keep hands warm when travelling with a mobiliby aid in winter:
• Hot pockets in gloves, which can be purchased at cosco, London Drugs and many outdoor/sports stores.
• Someone in Vancouver sews battery operated warmers into gloves, socks, shirts and pants that is operated by a battery pack worn by the user.

Appendix 1:


Several styles and many colours to choose from!

Ice Halo, the Canadian owned and manufacturer of the innovative head band protection for sports or pleasure. Check out the new styles that now include Halo Hats at .

Don’t risk losing ice time in your favourite activity – Don’t hold back your best because of that nagging fear of a nasty fall. Its lightweight, closed cell construction doesn’t make your head hot and the Velcro closures make it adjustable and secure. The choice of material and colour make it easy to find the right one for you. It’s available in team colours, and you can customize with your corporate logo. The Ice Halo is a great way to keep you or your friends and loved ones safer on the ice.


All Pro Hats have an inner vinyl lining of nitrile High Density foam (the same foam used in many Hockey Helmets) to help lessen the impact of a fall. All Halo products have been tested to Hockey helmet standards and exceed the requirements for front, sides and back impacts where padded. The toque and knitted caps have padding wrapping all around the head. The baseball and army caps have padding in the back and sides of the cap for added protection.

Lori Fry continues in her role as representative for the Blind in Canada with Ice Halo and is able to provide discounted prices to curlers or others looking for stylish head protection. Many thanks to Barbara Armstrong, President of Ice Halo for her sponsorship of the 100 Mile House Blind Curling Team and such strong support to the vision impaired and blind community of Canada.

In order to receive special reduced pricing on your order, please contact Lori at 250-395-2452 or

Guest Article: High Tech Tools for the Visually Impaired

High Tech Tools for the Visually Impaired

Image by Erikawittlieb (via Pixabay)

Assistive technology for those who are visually impaired is a personal topic to me. My sister-in-law has limited vision and recently came to live with my husband and me. We knew had a lot of work to do in order to prepare our old farmhouse for her and her guide dog, but we didn’t know where to start. I’m so glad we did our research, because as it turns out, technology has come a long way in making the home a more accessible place for those who can’t rely on their vision to guide them!

The technology behind things like voice recognition, GPS and speech to text has continued to get more and more advanced. With each advancement comes a wide range of uses for those who are blind or partially-sighted. When preparing your home for a new resident with a visual impairment, it might be useful to explore some of the high tech appliances, applications and gadgets out there to make daily living easier for those with disabilities. Explore these new high-tech products for the blind or visually impaired.

Talking Microwave

Imagine the convenience of a microwave that is just a little bit smarter. This microwave comes equipped with a voice that walks the user through each function and setting for the unit. It comes with the same functionality of a standard microwave including the rotating plate for even cooking as well as the added features for independent use.

Apple Watch and the iPhone

Wearable technology like the Apple Watch can be useful for those with visual impairments when paired with applications for voice recognition, personal GPS, and voice to text. In order for the Apple Watch to work in this manner, it needs to be paired with an iPhone.Personal GPS Apps

Moving to a new area can be challenging for anyone, but for a blind person learning a new apartment building or city block can be especially challenging. Personal GPS applications use the standard GPS technology and customize it for someone with limited vision. An app like Seeing Eye GPS adapts GPS for someone who uses a white cane or a guide dog in the community. LowViz Guide uses GPS technology to assist those with low vision to navigate inside buildings. Nearby Explorer not only provides directions to those who are blind, but also describes surrounding environments in such a way that the user knows what landmarks are in the area. Similarly, Trekker Breeze is a handy GPS device that “speaks” directions, and is a good option for those who don’t have a smartphone and can’t download an assistive app.

Smart Light Bulbs

The average light bulb gets an amazing update in the Smart Light Bulb. These lights can be controlled from a smart application or via programming that includes changing color, brightness, and timers. The bulbs have a variety of features that can be useful for those with visual impairments including being able to adapt light to the user with the best colors of light for the individual, brighter lights as needed and even controlling timed intervals.

Moshi Interactive Voice Response Clock

Instead of using those tiny buttons and hard to control dials to set an alarm clock, Moshi is interactive and voice controlled. The oversized digital read out is great for those with limited vision while the voice activation feature works for the full range of vision abilities.

Recognition Apps

For someone with a visual impairment, something as simple as recognizing color can make dressing independently impossible. While recognition apps started with things like identifying a popular song, they are now being used to turn a smartphone into a tool for identifying color, denominations of money and more. The Color Identifier uses the camera on the smartphone to scan, identify and then verbally share the name of the color scanned.

High tech gadgets are often made in order to make life easier, and this is the case for those with visual impairments. Talking appliances, smartphone apps and even light bulbs with a brain give users a bit more freedom and independence as they navigate through daily life and give them an opportunity to pursue their passions, whatever they may be. Things like recognition software will only continue to expand and open up more possibilities for uses by those with visual impairments.

Submitted by,
Jackie Waters

GTT Victoria Summary Notes, White Canes and Mobility, February 1, 2017

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria
A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

Summary Notes, Wednesday February 1, 2017
GVPL Main branch, Coomunity Meeting Room

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

Attendance, Kara, Bruce, Brent, Evett, Karen, Sky, Elizabeth Lalonde, Elizabeth Syringe, Joan, Albert and Corry.

Albert welcomed everyone back for another calendar year of the CCB GTT program in Victoria.

BC Transit, Victoria Trekker Breeze Issue:
The meeting started with some discussion and an update on the Local Transit situation, that being that BC Transit has publicly stated that they will have a fully operational GPS system up and running within the next 18 months. The importance of having a fully inclusive system in place was reinforced by several members including Bruce who stated that the readout of stop locations was a must in his world. The question of whether this new system would include a speaker by the front door identifying the bus route name and number. It was agreed that we should communicate to transit the importance of this specific feature to ensure that it is given high priority and does become a reality.

Transit App:
The Transit app was discussed at great length and highly recommended by both Tom and Corry. Although the service does not feature real time tracking yet in Victoria, the app is great for letting you know when you are approaching your desired stop.

GPS Apps:
From there the discussion centered around the various types of GPS apps available, Albert spoke briefly about some of the differences. Data usage was also discussed and tips on how to minimise data requirements were discussed. Mapmywalk and Runtastic are two apps that seam to use minimal data and can be very helpful if you wish to incorporate a fitness component to your daily activities.

White Cane Week:
After a short break, the White Cane was discussed at length (White Cane Week is Feb 5 – 11, 2017). Elizabeth Lalonde gave us a great overview of the various types of canes available and the great work that is going on at the Pacific Training Center in regards to mobility training and cane usage.

Tom Decker spoke about a new initiative going on at Ihabilitation, they have purchased a new program called Screen Flow Recorder and will be producing inclusive “how to” videos in the near future. Tom will keep us posted on the progress.

White Canes:
During the final portion, several types of White Canes were passed out and the members had an opportunity to try different types and lengths.

Meeting adjourned at 3:45 PM
Next meeting, Wednesday March 1, 2015
Submitted by Corry Stuive

GTT Victoria: Report on Trekker Breeze on BC Transit Busses, December 21, 2016

December 21, 2016

Two: Get Together with Technology (GTT) Victoria Members
RE: Victoria Regional Transit Street Announcements System, Trekker Breeze

We are very pleased to advise that the BC Transit Commission has approved an automatic vehicle locater system for the capital regional district fleet. This new system, once installed will allow BC Transit to implement accessible stop announcement systems that we have discussed in the briefing note you’ve seen earlier this fall. Christy Ridout, Director, Corporate and Strategic Planning for BC Transit has sent a note to us concerning it. We have had a recent discussion with her checking that we’re on the same page, which we appear to be. We’re meeting with her early in January, and we have offered the assistance of our membership as the process unfolds, which she was quite pleased to accept. Please see the full text of that email message below.

The new system will be implemented in Victoria, Kelowna, Kamloops, Nanaimo and the Comox Valley over the next 18 months, with the Request for Proposals being readied for Mid-January 2017. See the links at the bottom of this note to a couple of Times Colonist articles on the matter.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Have a wonderful Christmas holiday season, and a very safe, happy, healthy and successful New Year. We will continue to report progress as it unfolds.

Greg Koyl and Albert Ruel

From: Ridout, Christy
Date: December 16, 2016 at 4:14:09 PM PST
Subject: Letter regarding Trekker Breeze and Automatic Voice Annunciators
Dear Mr. Koyl and Mr. Ruel,

Your letter to the Victoria Regional Transit Commission was provided to me as the representative of BC Transit’s SmartBus Program.

Thank you for taking the time to reach out to discuss the future of BC Transit’s existing automatic voice annunciator system, Trekker Breeze. Your timing is excellent, given the Commission just recently approved a memorandum of understanding to move to a real-time technology solution for the fleet.

Under BC Transit’s new SmartBus program, Victoria’s conventional fleet of buses will be equipped with automatic vehicle locators by 2018. This technology, which is linked to schedules, will enable real-time tracking of buses in operation. Customers will be able to determine the expected arrival or departure time of their bus from a their selected stop either via BC Transit’s website, a mobile app, or passenger information displays at major locations. The technology will also enable next-stop announcements that are linked to bus stops, not just cross-roads as the Trekker device does now. As a result, the Trekker device will be removed when the real-time technology is installed. Although subject to negotiations with the preferred vendor through a competitive process, it is our desire to also equip all buses with passenger information displays so that upcoming bus stops are not only announced, but textually displayed for customers inside the bus.

While the existing voice annunciation system has assisted us in meeting an immediate need within our transit system, we are confident that our upcoming real-time technology will further enhance our services and better meet the needs of individuals with accessibility challenges.

Please let me know if you have any further questions about this project and I’d be happy to discuss further.

Best regards,

Christy Ridout
Director, Corporate and Strategic Planning

*Note: To read a couple of articles covering this event please access the below links:

Times Colonist Editorial, December 15, 2016:

Times Colonist Article, December 14, 2016:

GTT Calgary: All Things GPS, October 17, 2016

Get Together with Technology (GTT) Calgary

The following are the notes from the GTT meeting on October 17, 2016:

Our GTT meeting was held at the CCB office at the CNIB, featuring GPS aps. We had 10 people in attendance with 2 late arrivals.

Since it was a cold day in Calgary, not much time was spent outside testing aps, but there was quite a bit of discussion on the different GPS aps available and their pros and cons. Jesse mentioned an android ap called Get there. A couple of our android users located the ap and did some preliminary testing of the ap.

The other aps covered in general discussion were Arieadney GPS, Nearby Explorer, Nearby Explorer on the web, Navagon, Auteur, and Blind Square.

Cherryl took those who were willing to brave the cold outside for a brief demonstration of Blind Square.

Auteur would not work at the time, but has since been updated and now works as expected.

Thank you for your attention.

Ted Phillips

CCB Calgary Club Secretary

GTT Vancouver and New Westminster Summary Notes, GPS and OrCam, September and October Meetings, 2016

GTT Vancouver
Summary Notes

Topic: GPS and the OrCam

Session 1, GPS and the OrCam
Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Present: 16 participants; Shawn, Corey, Lilo, Nora, John, Louise, Fay, Carol, Pat, Mary, Lynn, Peg, Ryan, Albert, Clement, and Barry from OrCam

Session 2, GPS
Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Present: 8 participants; Shawn, Albert, Geri, John, Fay, Carol, Louise, Kari-Lyn

First Saturday Meeting which dealt with GPS,
Date: Saturday, October 22, 2016 at VCC
Present: 24 participants; John, Jeremy, Nora, Rita, Tammy, John, Peg, Bev, Pat, Bridget, Mary, Mo, Richard, Perry, Icy, Tracey, Shawn, Sean, Matthew, Monty, Cathy, Becky, Owen and Anna

What is GPS – Global Positioning System?
• What is it and how does it work?
• -type of technology that tells someone or something where it is on planet earth
• relies on a series of satellites in the sky
• there used to be 24, now there are many more
• your technology communicates, gets a message to tell you where you are in relation to the satellite
• The accuracy ranges from 1 metre in military technology to 2-3 metres, or as bad as five, depending on the service provider

History and Evolution
• Satellites were used initially for GPS
• GPS is used for anything that does long distance travel
• Nowadays everybody has GPS – it now is enhanced by Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cell towers, and satellites.
• Some store maps so you can look at them even when there is no satellite signal or data connection.
• Portable GPS started in the late 90’s and were the size of back-packs and Laptops.
• The trekker was a PDA with special software added which was very expensive. Came with many components and wires to connect everything.
• It was full featured, would tell you points of interest, could browse a route, and was a very handy device. It had no Internet connection and relied on satellites. So, if it was rainy or cloudy it’s difficult to reach the satellites and would not work.
• Trekker Breeze had some improvements but was harder to relabel points of interest.
• At this point they started integrating GPS into note takers you could carry your one device.
• Freedom Scientific included it in the Pacmate which no longer exists. They used infrared for the receiver which meant you had to line it up perfectly in order to work.
• Then there was the BrailleNote which included GPS. You could add additional software for another $1500 which came with maps and a receiver. They used Bluetooth – Wi-Fi___33 without Internet – good for about 30 feet. This was more stable connection.
• Then BrrailleSense added GPS. Worked reasonably well.
• At the same time GPS were starting to be integrated into cars
• Then we started integrating into phones.
• Using 3G and cell networks.
• Apple came up with Maps on the IPhone so you did not need to purchase additional software.
• Google came up with google maps
• Now there is location tracking with phones.
• The more things you have transmitting on your phone the easier it will be for the GPS to work.
• Blue tooth will suck your battery life faster when turned on.

GPS apps – BlindSquare, Apple Maps, Navacon, Smartphone GPS, Seeing Eye, Nearby Explorer, AuTour.
• Google Maps, Apple Maps, and AuTour are free
• You do need data on your phone to use GPS on the go
• You may want an external battery pack or a phone case that charges it twice
• When you ask Siri to take you somewhere the phone will automatically use Apple Maps. Whenever you choose Get Directions uses Apple Maps
• Tell it to find a place and get directions or ask Siri to take you somewhere – tracking isn’t bad and directions usually will get you there.
• Apple maps will tell you when to switch lanes so it can be helpful if you are trying to help navigate for your driver
• Google Maps is more refined, better control, and you can do more stuff with it.
• You can find it in the app store, it’s free, and includes transit stops locally but not for every system.
• Five options driving walking, transit, biking, and ride services
• When you open google maps it opens a menu with an edit field. You can dictate as long as you have good service and your environment isn’t too loud.
• Menu will get you into settings, save your location
• When you click query you get a search field, recent history will give you the last places you’ve searched for, explore food and drinks, gas stations, pharmacy’s, nearby.
• Maps on the Trekker could be 2 years old but Google Maps are updated regularly.
• Not every business will show up but if you enter an address it will be able to find those smaller businesses
• You need location services on for GPS to work.

Seeing Eye has a look around arm that will tell you what is in each direction. It updates every 15 seconds which is why it sucks the battery so fast.
• Once it catches where you are it will tell you what is to your southeast or northwest. It will tell you what street is running from your left to right, or behind to forward.
• Seeing Eye uses worldwide maps. It pulls from foursquare or google maps.
• You can pay $13 per month, $60 per year, or buy it outright for $300.
• You can create routes, mark points of interest.

BlindSquare won’t give you turn by turn instruction
• It has a “look around” arm to see what is nearby
• It has a 15 minute sleep timer

Nearby Explorer is less than a third of the money but does pretty much the same as Seeing Eye.
• Both give route options, virtual walk abouts, include buses
• It also has a “look around” arm
• Nearby Explorer is $109. Covers North America. Downloads 4 gigs of maps into your phone and uses google maps and apple maps. It requires a lot of storage.

AuTour is a new free app
• You can point your phone at something and it will tell you what you are pointed at
• Radar will scan what’s around you 360 degrees. Beam tells you what you are pointed at.

Seeing assistant move, Lite and paid versions available
• -has a suite of applications, colour detector, light detector
• -it is an app, somewhere around nine or ten dollars
• -reason it is ten and not one hundred, is because it does not pay map companies to license expensive maps from third parties
• -instead it makes use of a project called OpenStreet Map, a project where people all over the world, have designed the map for the company
• anywhere people go, they log their current location, and open street map shares it with the rest of the users
• takes advantage of free mapping from countries
• -not as good as the ones that use really detailed third party maps, but probably about 90% as good, and much more affordable
• -don’t always need a data connection, but will need to download maps at some point
• -the presenter demonstrates the app to the group
• the presenter shows a point close to our location that he added to the open map
• the presenter hits the where am I button, gives a slightly different address, but that is probably the closest address to this classroom
• This app can also identify cross streets
• now giving an example of a route
• the presenter goes to all categories, clicks entertainment, to see what is around, and looks for close by restaurants
• clicks actions, hits add to track
• the app also tells you by clock face where your destination is, so as you approach it will say the place is at 11 clock, 10 o’clock, and so on, orienting you to the building
• calculate a turn by turn route
• start point, my location, end point, restaurant, route type, fastest
• designate and track route
• -drawbacks
• the simulate location feature
• tell your phone where you will be in the future, choose a place, and it can simulate that location, and then you can explore that area in the same way you would with the app if you were actually there
• this feature stopped working in parts of the app, however when the presenter contacted the developers, they were receptive and thanked him for pointing out the error

Which is the best GPS App:

Blind Square is inexpensive
• Accessible overlay that uses the compass, apple maps, transit app and makes it accessible
• Tells you where you are in relation to your destination but no turn by turn directions

• Ask your I-phone to find directions to an address
• Choose whether you are driving, walking and then it will talk you through the directions
• I-Beacon technology requires Bluetooth which will work indoors
• GPS doesn’t work in a mall
• Tap with 4 fingers at the bottom of the screen brings cursor to bottom or at top of the screen brings you to the top
• Four Square – you can pull up the restaurant where you are and rate your meal. The more places you check in at, the more places end up on Four Square
• Blind Square uses four square
• You can search for arts and entertainment, food, residences, shops, outdoor and recreation, colleges and universities, etc
• Sometimes it will tell you about a restaurant that is now closed

Nearby Explorer – need more than a 16 gig phone – a bit more expensive but does give turn by turn directions
• Costs more than Blind Square but less than Seeing Eye.
• Increase or decrease radius to hear what is closer or father away
• You can turn on a setting to tell you every street you cross, city boundaries, addresses, etc. You can choose as little or as much as you want
• Guidance can be turned on to give you guidance to get to your location
• Nearby Explorer was developed by American Printing House and it has been running on Android for 4 years.
• Once you have maps loaded on the app and you use only onboard apps, you don’t need data

Seeing Eye requires data for maps which is why it doesn’t require as much space.

OrCam demo from Barry Underwood
• Comes with glasses with a small camera attached. The camera can attach to any set of glasses
• Once the device is turned on, you hit the single button which is a trigger to take a photo of what you are looking at.
• You can also use your finger and point to the document and it will also take a picture and start reading

The next meeting topic is to be determined

November 23 will be the next Daytime GTT Vancouver Meeting at Blind Beginnings.
December 3 will be the next Saturday GTT Vancouver Meeting at VCC

GTT Victoria Summary Notes, Accessible GPS, October 5, 2016

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

Sponsored by

The Canadian Council of the Blind

Summary Notes
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Held in the Community Meeting Room of the GVPL Main branch

The meeting was called to order at 1:15 pm by chair Albert Ruel

Attendance, 18

Hanna has communicated to Albert that she is no longer able to take meeting minutes, Moving forward we are looking for a new individual to assume this role. Corry agreed to take notes at this meeting.

The first portion of the meeting was devoted exclusively to discussion about the past, present and future of the GTT group in Victoria. Input from participants was encouraged along the lines of What do you like, what don’t you like, topic suggestions, etc. Input was also sought regarding the groups meeting day, time and location. Some suggestions included…..

Advertising, get the word out more
Streamline the amount of GTT material we receive, only interested in Victoria
More information for beginners, get back to the basics.
Access to room used at library is a bit tricky, is it possible to use at side entrance.
Product demo’s were liked, but perhaps go beyond “hi tech” items
More “one on one” mentoring, “one on two” if support people are limited
Participants liked day of week and time.

After a great deal of discussion it was decided that future meeting of the GTT Victoria group will be broken up into two distant halves, the first hour will be devoted exclusively to topic matter for new tech users, and the second hour (after a 15 minute break) will be targeted towards the more advanced user. Participants are welcome to attend ether or both. If additional “one on one” support is required, and the appropriate support personnel is available, participants from the first half might be able to break away to a smaller room for additional help beyond the first hour. This format will be evaluated after a few months to see how the process is working out.

Corry informed the group that GTT Victoria has a new email address. PLEASE direct all GTT related correspondence to

Alex Jurgenson informed the group that he does contract iOS training work at Simply Computing, 102-2000 Cadboro Bay Road, Victoria , British Columbia V8R 5G5 , Phone: 250-412-6899

Tom suggested that John Mossen has put together a great resource for iOS10 users titled iOS10 Without the Eye. find out more at

John inquired about Apps available to have Newspapers read to you. Tom will look into it, and perhaps this would be a great topic for a future meeting.

Albert informed the group of a great series of Training videos available via the Hadley Institute for the Blind called iFocus. He has loaded them into a Shared GTT dropbox folder and can make copies available to anyone who is interested. The folder was shared with the Pacific Training Center.

Tom informed the group of a major accessibility flaw with the Facebook App for iOS resulting from a recent Facebook app update and his frustration to communicate with the folks at Facebook.

Bruce informed the group that he was testing a new App on the iPad that will/is helping him communicate more effectively. He is extremely happy with the iPAD and his ability to participate dispite a hearing loss.

Tom informed the group the Braille onscreen keyboard and the connectivity to braille displays in iOS10 is “amazing”. Contact him at

There were a couple of questions about Fusion. Sky Mundell is a Fusion trainer, and he can be reached at

Alex asked the group to brainstorm on “apps that have not been invented yet. His question, what would you like an app to do that is currently not available. Some ideas generated were, Detection of soiled clothes, and identification of stores in malls.

The last 30 minutes of the meeting were devoted to GPS, Albert lead the discussion talking about the different options available like the Trekker Breeze, Google maps, Apple Maps, Seeing Eye GPS app, Blind Square and his new personal favourite Nearby Explorer. Most can be found at ether the Android or Apple app stores. Cost of Nearby Explorer is $123.00 Canadian funds

Alex informed the group that he was making a presentation to BC Transit over the next few days in regards to providing an alternative to the “street identifier” currently being used on the Victoria Public Transit System. The project is called StopsPro. Alex suggested that his new system would call stops, identify buses and could be modified to accommodate a visual display. He let the group hear some audio samplings of a voice used in the testing process. Alex will keep the group informed of his progress.

Corry informed the group that CCB memberships for the 2017 year are now being collected. Cost is ten dollars, Please see Albert or Corry for more information.

Meeting adjourned at 3:50pm

Next Meeting is Wednesday November 2nd, 2016
1:15 for the “beginners” tech group
2:30 for the Regular GTT meeting with more advanced topic matter

GPS App Podcast Revised: Nearby Explorer for Android Comparison with Sendero Seeing Eye GPS

Recently the American Printing House for the Blind released the Nearby Explorer GPS app for iOS, so GTT posted Mike Arrigo’s podcast showing us how it works, so, it’s only fair that we also post Mike’s thoughts on the Android version as he compares it to the Sendero Seeing Eye GPS on iOS. Here is that post again with a working link I hope. Podcast Comparing Nearby Explorer GPS on Android with Sendero Seeing Eye GPS on iOS

GPS App Podcast: Nearby Explorer for Android Comparison with Sendero Seeing Eye GPS

Recently the American Printing House for the Blind released the Nearby Explorer GPS app for iOS, so GTT posted Mike Arrigo’s podcast showing us how it works, so, it’s only fair that we also post Mike’s thoughts on the Android version as he compares it to the Sendero Seeing Eye GPS on iOS. Here is that post from some time ago
target=”_blank”>Podcast Comparing Nearby Explorer GPS on Android with Sendero Seeing Eye GPS on iOS

New app podcast: nearby explorer for the iPhone

I have recently purchased this newly released iPhone app called Nearby Explorer, which our friends using android smartphones have had access to for quite some time. I will let you know how I like it once I have run it around the block a few times. In the meantime, if you are interested in what appears to be a very good iPhone GPS app, here is a podcast telling you all about it. explorer for iPhone podcast

THe new app autour

There is a new app worth checking out for some help with navigation if you are blind.
It is called Autour and is made by Magill University in Montreal.
It is a free app in the app store and you need to use some kind of open ear headphone such as aftershokz to use it.
It speaks in the ear on the side where a business, bus stop, etc is.
If you are walking and a coffee shop is on your left side, that is spoken in your left ear. If an intersection is straight ahead of you, the names of the two streets are spoken in both ears.
It is a really interesting app.
You do have to be holding your phone in your hand for the moment but this is still in development and they mention wearing it in a neck pouch.
The app is not available for Ipad or Ipod touch.
I can see it as being very useful if you are lost as you can point the phone in a direction and it will speak what is ahead of you in that direction.
Take it for a spin and see what you think.
Always be safe when travelling with these GpS apps and know they are not a replacement for good orientation and mobility skills.

Kim Kilpatrick

GTT Victoria Meeting Summary, February 4, 2015



*Note: The March, April, May and June meetings will be at a new location, 777 Fort Street between Douglas and Blanshard.  See below for more details.


On February 4 The Victoria GTT group saw another great day in the Capital Regional District that had about 28 blind and partially sighted turn up to share their skills, passions and inquiries about assistive technology.  Thank you to all who braved the elements to attend this meeting.


We started with self-introductions of all who attended, then rolled into a presentation by Wendy Cox about the Neil Squire Society Employ-Ability online program.  Wendy is the local Victoria Coordinator/Facilitator for this program, so she gave the group a taste of what the program offers, who it serves and how accessibility is viewed where blind and partially sighted participants are concerned.  You can learn more about the program by following the below link, or by contacting Wendy directly.


Wendy Cox – Career Facilitator

Neil Squire Society’s Employ-Ability Program

Victoria Disability Resource Centre

817-A Fort Street Victoria BC  V8W 1H6

Phone: 250-595-0044 ext. 108



As this meeting was taking place during White Cane Week we then embarked on a discussion of the many tools used for mobility as blind and partially sighted travelers.  Danielle gave an overview and history of the white cane, along with some of her own experiences as she trialled Dog Guides and canes before settling on her current long white cane.  The members shared some ideas, frustrations, benefits and the devices they employ.


Tom allowed us a glimpse into life with a Dog Guide as his chosen mobility tool, and although Abe would have loved to be handed around the crowd, Tom managed to keep him at his feet for the duration of the presentation.  Following a brief coffee break Tom took us through a demonstration of the Blind Square app on his iPhone.  This is a very user friendly talking GPS app that provides great navigation as the user travels through his/her community.  It however doesn’t provide turn by turn instructions to pre-programmed addresses.  Where Am I and Look Around features exist to help the traveler along the way, as well as street announcements and other helpful information.


Other talking GPS devices such as the Trekker Breeze were talked about from the perspective of the different features they all have.  Check with a Mobility Specialist and/or other blind travelers if you have questions about the type of cane that will best serve your needs.  Elizabeth Lalonde, the founding Executive Director of the Pacific Training Center for the Blind was there to also offer her knowledge and the Center’s support for those who need mobility services.  Elizabeth can be contacted through a Contact Form on their web site:


The break had us enjoying coffee and tea from Tim Horton’s following the first public performance of the newly formed Pawsitive Performers choir who sang three songs.  One of which was the Terry Kelly classic, Power of the Dream.  If anyone has an interest in joining the Pawsitive Performers please contact Linda Bartram at (250) 595-5888 or


A brief discussion was undertaken regarding formalizing a GTT Victoria Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind.  More information will be provided during the next meeting about the CCB and the GTT Program.  A Membership Form will be found attached to this announcement.  If you wish to join the GTT Victoria Chapter please complete the form and bring it to the March 4th meeting.  To learn more about the CCB check out our web site at:


On February 5, 2015 four GTT members, Tom, Ken, Corry and Albert met with Devan in downtown Victoria to look at a potential new meeting site.  It was checked over quite carefully and believed to be ideal for GTT, and a wonderful match in terms of relationship between the building’s owners and our program.  The accessibility of the building seems to match our needs, and it boasts the highest internet speeds in Victoria.  It’s called Fort Tectoria and is operated by VIATeC.  Please follow the links below and thank them for their generosity each time you post on Facebook or Twitter.  That’s all they’re asking us for at this point, and their Twitter and Facebook contacts can be found at the Link below.


Upon entering the building you will walk through a Coffee Shop with a very friendly staff.  The counter will be on your right with a few small tables across the aisle on your left.  Once you’ve purchased your favourite cup of java you will return to your original line of travel when entering the building, which will have you moving straight through that portion of the building to a set of double doors into a larger work lounge with many tables and chairs.  We found this room to be quiet with several people working on laptops or talking in low tones.  As you move through that room keeping a straight line you will encounter the door into the Shaw Conference Room where we will meet.  The room will be laid out with one large conference table in the center with chairs all around it.  Upon entering the room you will find the table stretching out to your left and right, with the head of the room to your left.


Washrooms are found to your right just before entering the Shaw Conference Room. There are three, with one of them equipped for wheelchairs.  They are not gender specific.


VIATeC is the building’s owner, and the service/initiative is called, Fort Tectoria

777 Fort Street Victoria BC  V8W 1G9


The building is about 4 doors west of Blanshard Street on the South side of Fort Street. If you favourite this location on your GPS iPhone app, Blind Square you will be notified very near its doors according to Tom.


Upcoming GTT Victoria meetings will be held at Fort Tectoria on these dates:

March 4, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM

April 1, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM

*May 4, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM *(Note this is a Monday)

June 3, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM



Blind square intro.

An audio introduction to the GPS app blind square

Posted by Kim KIlpatrick


I have been enjoying this app for a few months now.

Thanks to one of our GTT Ottawa members who told me to get it.

This is a GPS app for I devices which costs 30 dollars.

It is well worth that.

Enjoy this audio introduction.