GTT Victoria Summary Notes, BrailleMe, Be My Eyes and Aira, October 3, 2018

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria


A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with

Greater Victoria Public Library


Summary Notes

Wednesday October 3, 2018


The meeting was called to order at 1:00 pm by Tom Dekker.


Attendance, there were 15 individuals in Attendance.


Tom Decker welcomed everyone to the meeting and opened the session with a presentation and demonstration of a new low-cost Braille display. The item is called BrailleMe and is produced by Innovision Tech

Tom is quite impressed with the item, especially in relation to what it can do based on the very attractive price point. The unit sells for around $575 (USD). the item can produce .BRF and .TXT files, and can read from an SD Card, but holds no internal memory. Tom went around the room with the item and let everyone have a look/test,


Other low-end Braille products were discussed including the Orbit, however their seams to be some serious issues with that product and people not having much luck with it, even if they are able to get their hands on one.


During the second half, Albert Ruel presented a demo of both the Be My Eyes App

and the Aira service


Albert is a subscriber to the Aira service and wanted people to see the differences while highlighting the unique services offered by both apps.


First, he demonstrated BeMyEyes. it uses the camera on your phone. You connect via the app, cost is free, and you are connected to a volunteer who will assist you with whatever vision challenge you present. Today Albert spoke to a volunteer (randomly selected by the app) in Calgary. Albert asked her to read several cards he held in front of the camera, she did so with great ease and accuracy.


Then albert did the same test utilizing the Aira service. Although a cell phone camera can be used, Albert used the provided Austria glasses with an attached camera that one gets when subscribing to the service. Lining up the cards was a bit more of a challenge using the glasses due to a bit of a field of vision limitation. Albert also asked the Aira Agent to provide a brief description of the clothing being worn by some of the people sitting across the room, as well as to have some of the room described.  Interestingly enough, there is a fire extinguisher hanging on the wall across from where Albert was sitting, a fact not previously known by the blind people who attend GTT meetings monthly.  Aira is a “user pay” service and there are four plans available with varying prices based on the number of minutes you wish to purchase. They also have some referral promotions if people sign up from a referral from an existing user, who is referred to as an Explorer.


In closing a brief discussion was held about both the province-wide October 20, 2018 civic election, and the provincial referendum on Proportional Representation that will conclude on November 19, 2018. Albert said that CNIB will be contacting clients with particulars about the braille information and templates that can be requested for the latter, seeing as it is a mail in ballot. For accessibility features available for the Civic Election, please check with your City or region to ask about their what they’ve put in place for blind and partially sighted voters.


Albert also provided some sense of the poor intercity bus service available on Vancouver Island, particularly for communities North of Nanaimo.  If one is travelling beyond Nanaimo the last intercity bus leaving Victoria is at 2:55 PM.  Also, the first bus heading for Victoria leaves Parksville at 9:15 AM and doesn’t arrive in Victoria until after 1:00 PM if riding with Tofino Bus, and the IslandLink Express Bus leaves Parksville at 9:40 AM and arrives in Victoria at about 12:30 PM.  Sadly, if intercity bus riders have occasion to visit Victoria from Up Island communities their work/social day will last no more than 2- and one-half hours in total.


Finally, a topic for an upcoming meeting was discussed, that being “how do we feel about asking for visual help and how might technology play a role in how we answer that in a changing world.  How will we maintain our independence when accessing information in our home activities, work tasks and during our recreational pursuits?


The next meeting will be held on November 7, 2018, and it will have us receiving a presentation from Stephen Ricci from Frontier Computing in Toronto.  They are one of the largest assistive technology resellers in Canada, and while Stephen is in Victoria attending the Foundation Fighting Blindness Vision Quest the previous day he is pleased to stay one additional day to attend the GTT Victoria meeting.


Meeting was adjourned at 3pm

Next meeting, Wednesday November 7th, Same bat time, same bat channel. Happy Halloween everyone!


Meeting notes submitted by Corry Stuive


GTT Victoria Overview

  • GTT Victoria is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Victoria 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 across Canada as well as 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:

There is a Follow link at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.


National GTTSupport Email distribution List

CCB sponsors a GTT email support list to provide help and support with technology for blind and low vision Canadians.  To subscribe to the email list, send an empty email to:


[End of Document]



GTT Victoria Summary Notes, Low Tech Accessible Devices and Apps, May 2, 2018

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria


A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with

Greater Victoria Public Library


Summary Notes

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

GVPL Main branch, Community Meeting Room


The meeting was called to order at 1:00 pm by Albert Ruel


Attendance, There were 15 individuals in Attendance. Albert welcomed everyone to the meeting. We were privileged to welcome Kelvin Adams from the Campbell River CCB/GTT chapter (and the newest member of the CCB BC-Yukon Division Board) to our meeting.


Albert Gave everyone a brief overview of the 2018 CCB BC-Yukon Division AGM held on April 25th in Langley BC. Both Albert Ruel and Corry Stuive were in attendance. During the afternoon of the AGM a presentation was given on Emergency Preparedness. A lengthy discussion ensued amongst the group including our responsibilities as persons with disabilities, what to put into an emergency kit, where to keep it, etc. Albert stressed his number one takeaway from the CCB AGM session as being, It’s our responsibility to be prepared and as self sufficient as possible. Don’t simply expect the emergency responders to “look after us” just because we have vision issues.


Mike Carpenter added a great deal to the conversation including, if possible pack a little extra into a kit to perhaps help another person or two. Keep in mind there might not be cell, Hydro, internet or gas services available so be prepared. Make sure you have lots of water, food, medicine, some money and don’t forget your pets. Ham radio might in fact be one, if not the only source of communication still available in the event of really big emergencies.


The Nationwide Emergency Alert that will be tested next week was also discussed. The test in BC will take place on May 9th at 1:55pm. All radio, television and cell phones (connected to an LTE network) should receive a test notice at that time.


Low Tech Accessible and Affordable Solutions:

From there the topic moved to Low cost tech solutions and Albert informed the group that a new CCB Tech Email Distribution List is now available where you can buy, sell and/or trade used assistive equipment/software. To participate simply send an email to the following address:

Wanted items are welcome, as are Commercial venders to list previously enjoyed items but may not list new product offerings.


Older equipment seamed to be the preferred choice of many in the room as a solution for a low cost entry point into the assistive tech market, particularly in regards to smart phones. Some alternative software and apps were discussed (like BeMyEyes as opposed to Aira, or NVDA as opposed to JAWS, etc.)


Tom announced that a Major Windows 10 update is starting to roll out tonight for all users. Also for those using screen magnification apps on their PC computers, Tom recommended the following video be watched for help and guidance in setting it up and to learn more about some of the new magnification features:


QCast, QRead and Chicken Nugget were also talked about as very accessible and affordable means of accessing Podcasts, News Feeds and Twitter respectively from the PC computer.  Here’s what they say on their website:

“Accessible Apps creates high quality accessible software for the blind.


We make useful, innovative software, the kind blind people hope someone will make but can’t really find anywhere else. Why do we say this? Our development team is made up of blind people who have many of the same needs. We write software because we need to do something, and we can’t find an accessible way to do it. Our mission is to create software that improves the computing experience for blind and visually impaired people. We’re committed to innovation, and accessible, affordable software.”


The apps they produce are obtainable for demo or purchase at the following URL:


After a break the conversation continued and centered on some low tech ideas. A tactile sewing tape measure, Braille and talking watches, sock sorters and lock-Dots were discussed. The Braille Superstore, MaxiAids and Shop CNIB were three purchasing options suggested by group members.


Under the category of general discussion:

Downloading audio and electronic text based books from the library was raised and talked about. Some of the locations for such downloads are, BookShare, Dolphin EasyReader, Hoopla and Overdrive. More information will be forthcoming during the June 6, 2018 GTT Victoria meeting when Scott Munro from the Greater Victoria Public Library will give the group an overview of services and products available through GVPL.


In closing:

Mike Carpenter gave everyone a quick update on the CCB Health and Fitness initiative. Mike is a local champion with that CCB project, and he told us about a Nationwide Virtual 5K challenge coming up on June 1.  He invited everyone to get involved, and also generously offered his time and energy to anyone interested in improving/maintaining good health and fitness after vision loss.  He can be reached at any time by calling or emailing him at, +1-250-384-5644 or


Meeting adjourned at 2:50 PM.

Next meeting: June 6, 2018

(Note, the June meeting will be our last until September.)


Meeting notes submitted by Corry Stuive


GTT Victoria Overview

  • GTT Victoria is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Victoria 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 across Canada as well as 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:

There is a Follow link at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.


National GTTSupport Email distribution List

CCB sponsors a GTT email support list to provide help and support with technology for blind and low vision Canadians.  To subscribe to the email list, send an empty email to:


[End of Document]


GTT Victoria Summary Notes, O6 Remote Switch and WayAround Tags, April 4, 2018

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria


A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with

Greater Victoria Public Library


Summary Notes

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

GVPL Main branch, Community Meeting Room


The meeting was called to order at 1:00 pm by Albert Ruel


Attendance, There were 17 individuals in Attendance.


Albert welcomed everyone to the meeting including 3 “first timers”. Welcome Ken, Bevan and Suzanne to your first CCB GTT Victoria meeting.  Albert reviewed the agenda, that being 2 presentations during the first half, and open discussion following a break during the second half.


Albert welcomed Tom Decker, our presenter, who will demo and explain two relatively new products to the group, the O6 Remote Switch and the WayAround Tagging system.


The O6 Switch website is here:

And for more specific information about the accessibility features of the product go here:


This is a small, round device, approx 2 inches in diameter, that is battery powered (USB chargeable) that was designed primarily for mainstream hands free use of any iOS device. It would be very useful for folks that struggle with the on screen finger gestures. The entire screen can be navigated via a small wheel that clicks when turned, moving from app to app on the screen. By pressing the center button, it will open the desired application or app and again permit access via some additional movement to the device.


The product was developed in India. Approximate price is $100, (USD). It has an advanced mode that kicks in automatically when you are using the device with Voice Over, however it is also usable by sighted iOS users without VoiceOver.


For more information you can watch Tom Dekker do a demo here:

Or listen to David Woodbridge’s demo of the same device here:


The second product is called WayAround Tagging System:


It is a system, somewhat similar to the Pen Friend, however using NFC rather then RFID tags. Tom demoed the product by putting the info on a tag and highlighting the fact that the amount of info you can put on is endless. There are product categories and if what you want is not there, you can add it. For the demo, for example Tom tagged his coat, including color, washing instructions, etc.


The tags come in all sorts of shapes and sizes including magnets, pins etc. The tags are a bit pricey at $1 each, but can be reloaded. The system is waterproof and unlike the Pen Friend, your tag info is stored in the cloud, and will not disappear if the base unit goes down.


The unit will work with iPhone 7 and better, but you can buy a scanner for older phones. The scanner is approx $100 (USD) and a starter pack of labels is $60 (USD)


For a great video demo of the product watch Tom Dekker here:


A special thanks to Tom Decker for his top notch demonstrations. Tom, the Ihabilitation man, can be heard weekly on AMI Audio’s Kelly and Company.


After the break the group went to open discussion. The first topic was Fusion. A few members of the group were struggling a bit and there seams to be some confusion on compatibility with windows 10. Albert said he would deal with the issues on a one on one basis and forward a listing of the more common keystroke shortcuts to those who are interested.


Aira, a relatively new service was discussed at length. Detailed information on this product can be found by reading the Summary Notes for the March 14, 2018 CCB-GTT National Conference Call meeting.


Also, an excellent review of the product by Jonathan Mosen is available here.  Albert highly recommended it saying it was extremely detailed.


Where to buy low tech items like watches was discussed, options include several places on the net, CNIB and the Braille Superstore.


Topics for next meeting, Affordable Adaptive Technology was suggested.


Next meeting, Wednesday May 2, 2018 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM, same location.


Meeting notes submitted by Corry Stuive


GTT Victoria Overview

  • GTT Victoria is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Victoria 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 across Canada as well as 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:

There is a Follow link at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.


National GTTSupport Email distribution List

CCB sponsors a GTT email support list to provide help and support with technology for blind and low vision Canadians.  To subscribe to the email list, send an empty email to:


[End of Document]



GTT Victoria Summary Notes, Online Shopping, March 7, 2018

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria


A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with

Greater Victoria Public Library


Summary Notes

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

GVPL Main branch, Community Meeting Room


The meeting was called to order at 1:20 pm by chair Albert Ruel, There was a bit of confusion in regards to the meeting date and use of the room, thus the slight delay in getting started.


Attendance, There were 18 individuals in Attendance.


Albert welcomed everyone to the meeting,


Albert started the meeting with an explanation about the CCB GTTSupport email list and explained the difference between it and the Blog. The list is enjoying tremendous success and he invited everyone to come check it out. Albert did warn perspective participants that due to the lists popularity, the volume of emails one receives from the list could be an issue for some people, but remember the delete button is only a finger reach and click away.

*Note: Links for both the GTTProgram Blog and GTTSupport email list are found at the bottom of these notes.


From there the discussion moved to today’s topic matter, online shopping, banking etc.


Some questions about Talking ATMs were addressed and one of the concerns was the need for the end user to provide there own ear buds or listening device. It seams that all ATMs seam to be standardised in regards to function control commands and that the 2 command blanks the screen, offering an extra layer of security for a VI user, using voice.


From there online banking and its security were discussed. Mike Carpenter, a former bank employee reconfirmed that a bank like RBC has the maximum amount of security built into there online banking platform. Companies like Amazon would have the same.


Online grocery ordering was discussed and the Save on foods service seamed to be the most accessible thus far. Thrifty’s has come a long ways and was also used by a few in attendance. For some individuals the Apps associated with both grocery stores seem to be a little more user friendly than going to the company’s website, although the websites appear to be very accessible.


Save-On-Foods Online Grocery Shopping Link:

Save-On Foods iOS App:

Save-On Foods Android App:


Thrifty Foods Online Grocery Shopping Link:

Thrifty Foods iOS App:

Thrifty Foods Android App:


The importance of dealing with reputable service providers was talked about and also using a service like PayPal for the financial transaction of the purchase was discussed. Using PayPal means only one company has your credit card info, and it too is a large multinational company with a high level of security.


Phishing scams were talked about at length and reputable places like banks will never ask you to click on a link to update and account. When in doubt, don’t click. And call the provider to see if they are needing or wanting some sort of information from you. Voice mail messages are also to be viewed as potentially suspicious.  When you receive an email message or voice mail suggesting there’s something wrong with your Visa account for example, instead of accessing the link or toll free number provided in the message, go back to the toll free number on the back of your credit card, or the direct link to their official site to inquire with your service provider in question.


The meeting was adjourned at 2:45pm


Next meeting, Wednesday April 4 @ 1:00pm.


GTT Victoria Overview

  • GTT Victoria is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Victoria 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 across Canada as well as 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:

There is a Follow link at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.


National GTTSupport Email distribution List

CCB sponsors a GTT email support list to provide help and support with technology for blind and low vision Canadians.  To subscribe to the email list, send an empty email to:


[End of Document]


CCB-GTT News: Usability Tester Showcase: Bruce Turner’s Story — Knowbility

Fellow GTT Members and Participants.  Here’s a story about one of our own, Bruce Turner of the GTT Victoria Chapter.  Today was his 69th birthday, so we congratulated him during the GTT Victoria meeting.  The full story is below the link to the original page.


Bruce Turner’s Story — Knowbility


Bruce Turner’s Story — Knowbility

by Marine Menier


For several years now, Knowbility has recruited people with disabilities to participate in usability studies. During that time, we’ve added hundreds of

people from across the United States and beyond to our


user testing panel, which partners testers with disabilities with companies interested in improving the accessibility and usability of their products.

So, when a popular Canadian media company reached out to our AccessWorks team with a request for Canadian testers with different disabilities, we were

prepared. Bruce Turner was one of these testers, and we’re proud to share his experience.


Born with retinitis pigmentosa and profoundly deaf, Bruce uses a variety of assistive technologies to get things done. He uses ZoomText, a screen magnification

program to change the color scheme on his computer. Bruce prefers his text to be white on a black background.


To be more productive on the phone, Bruce uses a relay service. An operator types what is heard on the line, Bruce reads it, and then he responds. It was

with this suite of technology and the marvels of off-the-shelf video conferencing software that Bruce successfully completed the usability study. The retired

civil servant credits today’s tech in playing a role in promoting social and economic integration.


“If I didn’t have this technology in front of me I don’t think I would be doing as well as I am,” Bruce said. “This technology I wish the heck I had when

I was younger. I like the fact that I can do email, I can go online, I can do my banking, I can talk to people, I can communicate.”


Bruce says he enjoys learning how to accomplish tasks online, for example, the steps that are needed to arrive at a website’s homepage.


“It’s like playing a brand-new game for the first time, not knowing what to do, but simply getting there and getting my feet wet and see what I can do,”

Bruce said.


Bruce first heard about AccessWorks via a post on the website of

Get Together with Technology (GTT),

a program run by the Canadian Council of the Blind. Though at first leery about the program’s claims—that people with disabilities could earn extra money

working as usability testers—GTT’s Albert Ruel reassured him that Knowbility could be trusted.


“Bruce did a great job! He provided us with a different perspective. He actually helped us to consider other ways of communicating….and we actually did

it….we were so thrilled. We learned so much and as a result, we feel very confident going into it!” Marine Menier, AccessWorks Project Manager, said.


Bruce was born and raised in Kamloops, British Columbia. He graduated from the University of Victoria in 1973 and worked for the Canadian federal government

for 35 years. As a child, he attended school alongside people of many different ethnicities and varying abilities. He feels that this has influenced his

attitudes towards inclusiveness.


“The way I look at the word inclusiveness is getting along with people who have all kinds of disability,” he said. “People who are blind, people who are

low vision, people who are deaf, we all share a little bit of everything.”


He considers Knowbility’s usability tester program a force for good, both for companies that need knowledge about the accessibility of their products and

for people with disabilities who want to help make websites more accessible.


“The AccessWorks program also increases the self-esteem of those who participate, and that is an important benefit,” he added.


Now retired, Bruce lives with his wife in Victoria, British Columbia. In addition to reading online articles from ZDNet and GTT to learn about the latest

tech, he enjoys photography, gardening, and taking walks along the Gorge Waterway, a scenic inlet near his home.


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



Guest Post: Blind News Victoria Fall 2017, a Publication of the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind

Blind News Victoria


A publication of the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind



Fall 2017


After two months of sun and relaxation, its back to school for the Pacific Training Centre students.  Classes will commence the week of Monday September 11, with classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  .  All returning students will be contacted prior to their first class.  We are looking forward to an exciting year and will be expanding our program to serve students from outside the Victoria area.  We also hope to take on one more staff person to help us meet the growing demand for blindness skills training.


Please consider becoming a member of the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind Society.  Membership is only $5 per year.  The greater the membership, the more successful the Society will be in acquiring grants from the government which are essential to us carrying on the vital work of the PTCB.


To join call Elizabeth at 250-580-4910 or email



Mark Your Calendar


PTCB Annual General Meeting

Tuesday September 19 at 4:00

Disability Resource Centre Board Room – 817a Fort St.

The meeting is open to all PTCB current and perspective members and there will be a phone in option for those who cannot attend in person.  The meeting will be followed by pizza and refreshments.  Please RSVP if you plan to attend in person or need the conference call details.


RSVP 250-580-4910 or




Get Together with Technology (GTT)


Date: September 6, 2017

Time: 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Where: Community Room, GVPL, Main Branch 735 Broughton St


First Hour: Presentation from Heidi Likenby, Heidi works with the Public Service Agency in BC Government Digital Experience.  She is currently working on a project to bring disability awareness and accessibility to the IT forefront throughout government.  She is an accessibility advocate and is very interested in finding out more about GTT and also having the chance to meet some of the members, see first hand how they use assistive technology and hear their points of view on web design and accessibility.


2nd Hour: Steve Barclay, Canadian Assistive Technologies will provide a demonstration of what’s new in low vision and blindness tech, and offer a hands-on opportunity to those in attendance.


Contact Albert Ruel for more information or to receive future notices.

Phone: 250-240-2343,




VocalEye at the Belfry Theatre this fall

  1. The Children’s Republic

Sunday October 1 at 2 p.m.

  1. Onegin

Sunday, October 29 at 2 p.m.


Belfry Theatre, 1291 Gladstone Ave., Victoria


This year, the Belfry is offering an annual subscription to VocalEye patrons.  This subscription includes tickets to the VocalEye performances for each of their four main productions.  A subscription costs $98.68 including tax ($24.67 per show).  Single tickets are also available for $30.98 including tax.  There is no special rate for companions this year.


To purchase a single ticket or annual subscription call the Belfry box office:




VIP Singers first practice

Monday September 18, 10 – 12

The VIP Singers is a group of blind and sighted singers and musicians who meet once a week to learn the words and harmonies (by ear) for original arrangements of popular songs and old time favourites.  Anyone who likes to sing is welcome.  The VIP Singers perform gigs at seniors’ homes and hospitals.  Practices are on Mondays from 10 – 12 at the James Bay New Horizons, 234 Menzies St.


New members are always welcome.  No previous choir experience is required.  If you like to sing, please join us.  For more information call Marcelina 250-516- 0584.



Victoria Community Report on AMI Audio

September 21 6:00 a.m. (repeated at 8 a.m.)

Linda Bartram has been contracted by AMI Audio as a Community Reporter for Victoria and Vancouver Island.  Her interview can be heard on Live from Studio Five every fourth Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. (repeated at 8 a.m.).  She will be featuring cultural events and activities of interest to persons who are blind.  AMI Audio can be found at 889 on your television or on line at



About the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind


The Pacific Training Centre for the Blind (PTCB) is a Canadian grassroots nonprofit charitable service organization founded and run by blind people.  Its training fosters independence, where blind people empower blind people to be employed, independent and free.


The Blind People in Charge Program, provided by the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind, is the only program of its kind in Western Canada that offers regular, intensive rehabilitation to people who are blind or who are losing their vision; it is also the only program that uses an empowering, problem-solving model of instruction, where blind people are the teachers, planners, directors and administrators.


The program involves a collaborative, positive, and empowering approach to blindness, where blind people learn from and teach each other in a supportive, can-do atmosphere. Instructors and mentors teach the skills of independence such as Braille, adaptive technology, cane travel, cooking and other life skills, and develop strategies for coping with blindness and vision loss in a sighted world.


The Blind People in Charge Program held at the Victoria Disability Resource Centre 817a Fort St., runs two days a week from 10:00 – 4:00 and participants are encouraged to attend as full time students (12 hours a week).  Drop in students are also considered.  Teaching takes place in group and one-on-one sessions and participants progress at their own pace.  Past participants have ranged in age from 24 – 88.  Anyone over 18 who is blind or is experiencing significant vision loss may apply including those who are experiencing other challenges.  There is no charge to students; however donations are always welcome.  For more information, or to participate in our program, please contact us.


Phone: 250-580-4910




CCB-GTT Victoria Summary Notes, Year in Review and Stuff, June 7, 2017

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

Summary Notes
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
GVPL Main branch, Community Meeting Room

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

Attendance: 23 people.

Albert welcomed everyone to the meeting, After a one month absence (where we took the meeting to Shaw last month) it was good to be back at the GVPL, for our final meeting before the 2 month summer break. Seeing as this is our last meeting for awhile, no formal agenda was presented, rather a “year in review” and “open discussion” were encouraged.

BlueSky TV:
The meeting started with some discussion about The BlueSky offering from Shaw. Partisipants were asked if they enjoyed the demo and if any members did elect to subscribe to the service. At least 4 participants said they had signed up for BlueSky.

Mike Carpenter gave a complete description and overview of the service. He personally is delighted with BlueSky. Several members had questions pertaining to just how accessible is the service, and it was agreed that it does have it’s limitations in regards to presenting the program grid and/or external app content. Rather then calling it an accessible product, it might better be described as an inclusive product, developed for mainstream consumption that is usable by the blind .

There does not seam to be a lot of print, or even web information available about the service, however Albert has gathered some YouTube videos from the States that describe the ComCast service (same service as blueSky) that he will make available via the blog.

Must remember takeaways, you must have Shaw150 speed internet. Button A on remote turns voice guidance on/off . Shaw FreeRange app works great with Voiceover on iPhone and iPads.

Capital and Nanaimo Region BC Transit Stop Announcement Updates:
Albert reported that plans for a fully accessible transit “stop announcement” and external audible bus identifier system is moving forward. Nanaimo will be one of the first BC Transit cities to realise the Service. They should be fully installed in all 7 announced BC Transit service centers by the end of next year.

Victoria Bicycle Lane Update:
The new Downtown bike lanes were discussed, Linda reported that there were several issues including bus stops located on islands. Major concern for VI transit users whereas the must cross the two way bike lanes to get to and from the transit stop. Also location transit stop not identified on main sidewalk. Linda encouraged everyone with issues in this regard to be vocal, report your concerns, experiences and issues with the city of Victoria.

Music Writing Apps for the computer:
Some general discussion about music writing software like MusScore and Lime took place. Jaws 18 and the issue of upgrading was talked about and Albert spoke about how to create accessible MS Word tables (Albert will share info with those interested).

Access Technology Institute Accessible Textbooks:
Accessible textbooks by CathyAnn Murtha, one of which is called An Immersion Into Word2013-JFW, were discussed by Albert, although expensive they are in his opinion the best out there and worth the money. You will find information on all their textbooks and training sessions at Access Technology Institute (ATI)GTT Blog, Facebook and Email Engagement Streams:
Albert encouraged everyone to sign up for our GTT blog for updates, and to join our facebook group and email discussion list. More information will be distributed to all currently on the GTT Victoria mailing list.

the new GTT FaceBook group for youth was announced and for anyone interested more info is available from the CCB National office or on the Blog. Addressing the tech needs of blind youth was viewed by the group as being an extremely worthwhile and forward thinking initiative.

Eyes-free academy by iHabilitation:
Tom Decker informed the group of a new inclusive learning project that is now available via iHabilitation Canada. It’s called the Eyes-free academy. The first course is being offered free of charge as a beta. For more info visit Tom is eager to receive feedback on the project and looking forward to offering many more courses. Stay tuned.

iOS Updates Coming to an iDevice Near You:
A brief discussion took place about the new offerings that will be a part of iOS11 (to be released later this fall). many new and exciting changes that will be discussed when the group gathers again in September and beyond.

Special Thanks to Karen and the GVPL for Hosting GTT Victoria for the Past Year:
A special “thank you” went out to Karen for her help and participation in CCB GTT Victoria. The Greater Victoria Public Library has been a strong supporter of the program. Our thanks go out to everyone at the library, we are proud and honoured to call the GVPL our home base for GTT Victoria. Karen informed the group that Scott Minroe, GVPL staff might be joining us in the fall, with Karen dropping in from time to time.

Meeting was adjourned at 3:10pm. HAVE A GREAT SUMMER !!!!!

Next meeting, Wednesday September 6, 2017

Minutes prepared and Submitted by Corry Stuive


Shaw Communications has recently released a “Usable by the blind” TV Service called, BlueSky TV

BlueSky TV by Shaw Communications

Here is what I learned about the base technology that Shaw has imported into Canada and are now calling BlueSky TV. It’s originally a ComCast system called X1 and is licensed by Shaw exclusively in Western Canada and Rogers in Eastern Canada for the next 3 years.

I wouldn’t call it completely accessible, however thanks to the Voice Guidance it is, for the most part, usable by blind folks. This is a service designed for and promoted to the sighted TV viewer, so not necessarily built with blind accessibility in mind.

Check out these videos.

How to use X1 Voice Guidance Talking Guide:

How to learn the X1 Remote Control Layout:

How to Program your X1 Remote Control to your TV and Audio Device:
(Sighted assistance may be needed)

Graphical Layout of the X1 Remote Control:
(Not accessible to blind) computer users)

For the ComCast Support Page in the USA:

Thx, Albert Ruel, GTT Coordinator
The Canadian Council of the Blind
Mobile: 250-240-2343

GTT Victoria Summary Notes, How Do You Access The News, March 1, 2017

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

Summary Notes
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
GVPL Main branch, Community Meeting Room

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

Attendance: Kara, Bruce, Doug, Trever, Karen, Sky, Debra, Brent, Marion, Godwin, Barb S, Joan, Tom, Barbra A, Albert, Corry.

First Hour:
Albert welcomed everyone to the meeting, Nice to see three new faces out this meeting, a special welcome Debra, Goodwin and Barb S.

The meeting started with some discussion about an app that had been seen on the BBC news service similar to the BeMyEyes app. Various apps were discussed and the pros and cons of such apps. The liability involved in having someone identify potentially dangerous situations (like street crossing signals) was discussed. Albert mentioned that Kim had spoken about a new color detector app, being developed at Carlton, that might be available soon.

From there the discussion turned to some description about products that were available for loan from the library. Karen informed the group that tablets were available and that a 30 minute training session was also available to be booked. More training could be booked if the initial session did not suffice. Meeting participants had questions about what was on the tablets and the process involved in reading books on the loaned equipment.

Internet and email security were discussed and the importance of remembering your pass codes and access codes was communicated to all. Often, on sites like FaceBook and even on iDevices, access can not be obtained without this valuable information. Make a point of remembering your codes, Super important. There are smart phone and computer apps and programs available to help you remember like Password Vault and SplashID.

repurposing equipment was discussed. Bruce mentioned that iPhones were often available at Government Surplus. Deb expressed in interest in obtaining a used tablet and or phone. Albert will look into the matter. it was also noted that a original Victor Stream was required and requested by Barb A and Bruce was interested in a repurposed phone. Regarding the latter, Albert mentioned that the Lions of Victoria have a program that helps put an iPhone into the hands of blind and vision impaired users, More information at the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind.

Quick notes, SSD’s were discussed, is there a need to defrag, Sky will test…CELA is testing a new direct to player app, more details to come…CD with MP3 files are still available from the library…KNFB app, still one of the best, but also pricy, the app and what it does was discussed……The bookShare program was discussed.

remember the email address for this group is

Second Hour:
After a break the main meeting topic was discussed, that being NEWS. Where do you get your news, and how has the process evolved over the years based on technology advancements. Facebook and Twitter and other social media outlets were identified as sources, with the cautionary note that all news is not true. Fake news and the attention it has garnered recently was talked about, and how you can best judge it accuracy. The library of congress and the inability of Canadians to access this extensive resource was discussed. Albert mentioned the Newspapers that were available via CELA. How to source news via a web search was discussed.

Before closing the question of when we should hold meeting was raised. Should we attempt an evening meeting? Should we meet more or less then once a month? The consensus was to continue to meet once a month in the daytime.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:50

Next meeting Wednesday April 5, 2017

Meeting notes submitted by Corry Stuive

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 Victoria Summary Notes, General Discussion, December 7, 2016

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

A Chapter of

The Canadian Council of the Blind

Summary Notes
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Held in the Community Meeting Room of the GVPL Main branch

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

Attendance, 10 people, Kira, Bruce, Doug, Joan, Karen, Trevor, Yvette, Mike, Albert and Corry.

Over the last few days the poor weather in Victoria has made mobility somewhat difficult thus the reason for the smaller than usual number of attendees. Seeing as only a half dozen participants were there at the meeting outset, it was decided that today’s meeting would be very informal in nature. Let’s just talk, share tips and tricks and solve any problems or concerns you might have, was the decided upon format.

So, we proceeded as a group on that matter and as it turns out the discussion was extremely productive. Questions and discussion ranged in topics including CELA, Victor Stream and podcasts, Windows 10 and the need to upgrade, is it really essential is 7 is doing everything you want?, Siri vs VoiceOver, Texting without sight and getting started with tech.

The group was informed that we are selling 50/50 tickets for the CCB BC/Yukon division and CCB annual memberships are now due for the 2017 club year.

In total, the CCB GTT Victoria club now has 9 members, down substantially from last year. We encourage you to support the GTT initiative by becoming a member if you have not done so already.

It was decided that the January 4, 2017 meeting will be cancelled. the next CCB GTT Victoria meeting will take place just ahead of White Cane Week, on Wednesday February 1st. 2017.

We hope to see you there……For more info contact 250-240-2343, or email us at

Merry Christmas and all the best in 2017 to all and from all at the CCB GTT Victoria chapter.

The Get Together with Technology (GTT) program is an exciting program of the Canadian Council of the Blind. It is designed to help people who are blind, deaf-blind or have low vision to explore low vision and blindness related access technology. You can learn from and discuss assistive technology with others walking the same path of discovery.

The group is made up of blindness related assistive technology users, and those who have an interest in using assistive technology designed to help blind and vision impaired people level the playing field. GTT groups meet monthly to share their passions for assistive technology and to learn what others can offer from their individual perspectives.

In order to get information about upcoming GTT meetings and conference calls as well as meeting notes and resources, please subscribe to the GTT blog. To register please visit the web page below. Look near the bottom of the page for a link called, “Follow“. Press Enter on that link and leave your email address in the edit field that will appear. The final step is to Click on the Submit Button below the Edit Field. You will receive an email message asking you to confirm that you wish to be subscribed, and clicking on the “confirmation” link in that message will complete the process.

GTT Victoria: Summary Notes, Identifi and OrCam, November 2, 2016

Get together with Technology (GTT)
Victoria Meeting – GVPL Main branch, Meeting Room
Summary Notes

Wednesday November 2, 2016

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

Attendance, Karis, Bruce, Tom, Sabena, Karen, John, Sky, Shelly, Jenna, Evette, Steve, Corry and Albert. As well Barry Underwood, representing OrCam was in attendance for a second half presentation.

The group welcomed Shelly and Jenna from Salt Spring Island, who were both first time participants within the group and had made the trip over specifically for the GTT meeting.

During the first half, various topics were discussed. Albert started things off by introducing the group to a new app called identifi, Developed byAnmol Tukrel, a young Canadian residing in Toronto. Currently only available for iOS, the app lets one take pictures via the device camera and will provide an audio description of the item photographed. Albert demoed the app. Results took about 10 seconds. The app will not retain the photo and you can identify pictures from your camera roll. You must have iOS9 or higher on your iPhone, more info at the Apple Apps store.

John spoke in regards to needing an audible signal at the corner of Government and Humbolt/Warf, right by the tourist center. Extremely busy corner and an odd one for pedestrians to cross based on it’s configuration. Unanimous agreement.

Tom, communicated to the group that he is now featured as a regular guest on the Kelly and Company show on AMI Audio, more info at Tom also continues with his weekly world music program on Mushroom FM, more info at

Tom spoke of a new kitchen appliance he had purchased called the Onepot. The appliance can be controlled via an iPhone app, is Bluetooth enabled and to date Tom has no accessibility issues. Information on one such device can be found at

A discussion ensued about other appliance and home security apps and programs. The group also discussed driverless cars, and the rapid growth of technology in this regard.

Question, what is Bluetooth, summation, short range wireless, seamed to be the best description. The discussion continued around Bluetooth settings on one’s phone, on or off if not in use and how much battery does Bluetooth take. Off and very little were the verdicts. The “find my iPhone” feature was also discussed.

Tom spoke of a luggage identifier that is now available and is accessible tracking one luggage when away from the carrier. more info at

Tom informed the group how pleased he is with the iOS10 on screen braille keyboard. Perfect was his description,

After a short break Barry Underwood made his presentation.
He placed in front of 6 participants an OrCam device then walked them through the unboxing and activation process. OrCam has undergone an upgrade in 2016 and now includes the ability to pause and resume reading, and guidance on whether or not the text is centered in the camera view. There are two versions of the device, the OrCam Reader and the OrCam MyEye. Many questions were asked and answered, and if anyone has additional need for information about the OrCam Barry can be reached at the below contact info.

Next meeting, Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
Time 1:00pm
Topic: Open Discussion about Assistive Technology, and Santa’s Wish List. LOL

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

GTT Victoria Summary Notes, January 6, 2016

GTT Victoria Meeting, January 6, 2016

Summary Notes

The January meeting took place at the Central Library, 735 Broughton Street from 1-3:30 PM. There were 11 people in attendance.

This month’s meeting featured a presentation by Mike Gower from IBM Canada, regarding accessibility of the ribbons that replaced the traditional menus as of Microsoft Office 2007. He explained that Freedom Scientific added a new feature to the JAWS screen reader, enabling users to virtualize the ribbons. Thanks also to Linda Bartram, who experimented with virtualized ribbons after the meeting and producing the notes attached at the end of this report. Thanks also to Mike for offering to do occasional presentations on other topics that may be of interest to the group.

Tom then gave a brief presentation about Q-Seek, another convenient tool from Accessible Apps for Windows PC users. This is the same company that produces Q-cast for podcast management as well as the Chicken Nugget Twitter client, demonstrated at previous meetings.

Q-Seek provides the capability for a very flexible pop-up reference and search facility anywhere in Windows. Simply select text, then Alt-Control-Q to open the Q-seek window with the selected text automatically copied into the search field. Then tab to a list of the search types and use the arrow keys to select from ten choices. These include: word definitions; synonyms; antonyms; calculation; spell check; translate (into English); Wikipedia search; manage lookup (for programmers); stock quotes; and, urban dictionary. Press enter and the search result appears in a text box. Paste the result anywhere by pressing Alt-F4 to close Q-seek, place the cursor in a document and do the usual Control-V to paste.

Note that Accessible apps software is developed by blind programmers, so all of their apps are extremely screen-reader-friendly. All apps are available as free demos for a limited time, so you can try before you buy.

Tom also gave a very brief tour of what it is like to navigate around the screens of a Windows phone, as he has had the chance to use a Nokia Windows phone, running a beta of WindowsPhone 10. It looks like it has the potential to be quite accessible. The worst problem so far is that the on-screen keyboard is extremely sensitive and currently difficult to use, even for someone who has a lot of experience with the iPhone on-screen keyboard. We will provide feedback to Microsoft in this regard and will be watching for improved accessibility in the first public release of WindowsPhone 10.

Linda announced that there will be an open house at Pacific Training Centre for the Blind on Thursday January 21 from 4 PM to 7 PM.

The next VocalEyes described event at the Belfry Theater is “The Valley”, and takes place on Sunday, February 21 at 2 pm. The Belfry Theatre is located at 1291 Gladstone Avenue in Victoria (250-385-6815). Described by Rick Waines and followed by a Touch Tour. Ticket prices vary.

Suggested topics for our next meeting include, a discussion of accessible games and game apps, and music apps. Tom can share his experience with Apple Music. We also hope that members will do some exploring, or share their experience regarding other music apps and accessible games.

We will send out a notice a week or so before the next meeting, which will take place at the Central Library at 1 PM on Wednesday, February 3.

Information on Virtual Ribbons
from Linda Bartram

To turn on virtual ribbons:
1. Go to the Jaws screen
2. Press alt to open the menu bar
3. Right arrow to help
4. Down arrow to Start Up Wizard and press enter
5. Tab to next and press enter.
6. Tab to next again and press enter.
7. Jaws will say “use virtual ribbons” check box unchecked.
8. Press the space bar to check.
9. then tab to next and press enter three more times until you come to the finish button
10. Press the enter key. You will be back on the Jaws screen and the startup wizard will close. Virtual ribbons is now your default.

Get Together With Technology (GTT) Victoria – August 5 2015 Meeting Notes

Get Together With Technology (GTT) Victoria – August 5 2015 Meeting Notes

The meeting took place between 5:00 and 7:00 PM, at Fort Tectoria, 777 Fort Street. The nine participants who attended were, Hannah, Marcelina, Trevor, Susan, Colin, Shari, Albert, Corey and Tom. We would especially like to thank Hannah for volunteering to be organizational assistant to Tom Dekker, who has also volunteered as Chapter Coordinator. Though a relatively small group this time, everyone was very much engaged through a combination of discussion, demonstration and general sharing of information.

GTT Community Outreach was the first topic. Should we develop a brochure or poster with a brief and succinct explanation of GTT? Would people be willing to help distribute it? Doctors’ offices, ophthalmologists and optometrists, seniors’ groups and accessibility departments at school boards and post-secondary institutions would all be great targets for our outreach. It was suggested that we also contact BC Blind Sports.

CNIB will do a mailing, but we would have to provide all the material, ready to go, including the funding to pay for postage plus a CNIB service charge per item.

An additional aspect of the outreach discussion confirmed the idea that evenings might not be convenient. We had tried the library hoping to acquire a daytime meeting place but were led to believe that booking space there would be quite expensive. And along with that, Fort Tectoria could not continue its offer of free space during business hours. But thanks to Sabina at NNELS (National Network of Equitable Library Services) we have begun correspondence with Andrea Brimmell at the library, to whom we have already applied for free space. We will keep you posted.

There was also a brief discussion around funding for interpreters for our deaf-blind participants. We are still waiting a response from a Lions club.

We were informed that there is a Victoria book club for vision-impaired people. Meeting participants wondered if there might be a way for GTT members to work with this group; i.e., helping readers to master various reading technologies. We would appreciate anyone who knows more about the book club to get in touch.

In this regard, the Victoria Public Library has specifically asked if one of our members who knows Zoomtext would be available to assist one of their patrons. He would like to use Zoomtext to read books online.

Next came a discussion around BC Transit’s decision to install a Trekker Breeze on each bus in its fleet. This solution is unacceptable, as it demonstrates zero adherence to 21st century principles of Inclusive Design now being implemented in cities in all First World countries as well as in developing ones. Where is the readout for the deaf and hard of hearing, or for the tourists who may read, but not understand English? Where is the real-time GPS and transit data feed that would make life easier for the hundreds of thousands per year who travel throughout the Capital Region with smart phones in their hands. What is the cost comparison between making buses wheelchair-accessible, as opposed to that for providing full audio/visual/transit feed access?

The Trekker Breeze is specifically designed as a personal device for non-visual access only; there is no visual display. It is an inadequate application of technology.

It was agreed that we should write to the Editor of the Times-Colonist with an expression of our concern. However, after the meeting some of us realized that we should first submit a request to ride on one of the test buses, express our concerns and get their response before preparing the letter. We have already contacted BC Transit toward this end.

A number of GTT members have expressed an interest in the Vocal Eye live event description service. This group uses an FM system to broadcast description to listeners equipped with a receiver and headset. This has been done at theatres in Vancouver and Victoria. They certainly did an excellent job describing the Vancouver Pride parade for a group of vision-impaired spectators.

These Vocal Eye enthusiasts were wondering how to rekindle a Vocal Eye presence in Victoria i.e. how to generate local funding for it. It was agreed that since Vocal Eye uses special technology to provide access, that this is therefore a technological application to which GTT could lend its sponsorship via our charitable number to raise the funds required. There will be further discussion on this topic to be reported at future meetings. Let us know if you are interested in this project. It was also suggested that we have Vocal Eye as the theme for either the October or November meeting and inquire if they would actually like to make a presentation.

This meeting featured a presentation by Hannah Leavitt, who described some of her favourite shopping web sites, many of which are run by people with vision-impairment or other disabilities. These included:

Braille Jewelry:

TravelEyes – Travel Options for People with Visual Disabilities:

Future Aids – The Braille Superstore:

The Chocolate Experience, Inc. E-mail:,, or

Lucky Touch Fortune Cookies in Braille or Large Print – California School for the Blind:

Braille Wall Posters:

Blind Bargains – Deals and the latest news on blindness products:

The September meeting will feature a presentation by Sky Mundell, comparing the four most popular screen-readers: JAWS; WindowEyes; NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access); and System Access.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 2. It will be at Fort Tectoria from 5 to 7 PM unless we are able to arrange an afternoon time and location at the library. We will keep you posted.


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