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, 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



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


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