Orbit Reader 20 Removed from APH Catalog
Author: APH Blogger
Date Written: Apr 3, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Date Saved: 4/5/19, 12:44 PM
Photo of the Orbit Reader 20 on a white background.
After months of ongoing negotiations between the Transforming Braille Group (of which APH is a member) and Orbit Research (the manufacturer of the Orbit Reader 20), American Printing House has removed the Orbit Reader 20 from its catalog and shopping site. This comes after discussions have stalled regarding the terms of distribution to TBG partners. The global nonprofits that make up the TBG collaborate as a group to purchase Orbit Reader 20s as part of an effort to keep costs low.
“Working with the TBG, APH has negotiated in good faith for many months, balancing the needs of our customers and organization, our interest in driving a low-cost braille market, and our valuable partnerships with TBG members,” says APH President Craig Meador. “Despite our best efforts, we have not found alignment on the issues at hand. APH must now move forward, and focus our energies on our mission to support students with braille literacy and adults in their independence.”
The Orbit Reader 20 started with a question: “how do we make refreshable braille more affordable?” To that end leaders in the field of blindness from around the world, including APH, gathered to create the Transforming Braille Group. Creating low cost refreshable braille is a difficult task, and there were a lot of setbacks throughout the process. Thankfully the effort had an impact.
“APH was proud to be the company that stood up to be the first to bring this ground-breaking technology to market,” says Meador, “It was all worth it to be an innovator, and show that we could bring prices down. That part worked. We now have competition in the low-cost braille market that wasn’t happening five years ago. Sometimes you have to take a risk – that’s what we did.”
The drop in prices created more access by showing what can be possible. For example, the National Library Service has announced they plan to offer free refreshable braille devices to their readers in the coming years.
APH will continue its efforts to support low cost braille. “Braille cells cost a lot of money to manufacture, and the demand isn’t high enough to drive that price down – we’ll keep trying. Although it’s not an easy journey, we believe everyone who needs braille should have access to it.”
APH and the TBG are continuing to negotiate with Orbit Research in hopes that a resolution can be found. In the meantime, APH is looking at other possible low-cost refreshable braille options to include in its catalog. They will complement new premium refreshable braille devices built for students and educational use now and soon available from APH through a partnership with HumanWare.
Orbit Research is expected to honor the warranty and continue repairs for already purchased Orbit Readers. Any requests for repairs should continue to come through APH. Supporting documentation, like the Orbit User Guide and user videos, will remain available to customers who have purchased an Orbit Reader from APH.
Google Inbox was the Gmail we desperately needed — but now it’s dead
Author: Jackson Ryan
Date Written: Apr 2, 2019 at 10:10 PM
Date Saved: 4/3/19, 8:46 AM
Google Inbox, the much-loved, experimental email client that launched in 2014, is officially dead. And I am officially heartbroken.
I knew this was going to happen. We all did. It still hurts.
Google announced that Inbox’s time was up on Sept. 12, 2018, writing in a blog post the company was shutting it down and “planning to focus solely on Gmail.” Over the past two weeks, incessant warnings have popped up on the desktop and across my phone screen whenever I opened the app.
“This app will be going away in 5 days” it would tell me like a passive-aggressive Doomsday Clock. Each time, it would ask me to switch to Gmail and I’d wave it away with a push: “Not now.”
But it’s all over. This morning, I got this message:
Screenshot by Jackson Ryan/CNET via Google
Gmail was unleashed on the world 15 years ago on April 1 and is now used by around 1.5 billion people every day. It allowed the search engine provider to reach lofty new heights, giving it the confidence to take over the world. When it rolled into town in 2004, it slowly began swallowing up every email client in its path.
AOL Mail? More like LOL Mail. Hotmail? More like… cold mail. Yahoo? Bye.
Slowly we all became engulfed by the email version of The Blob. Email became monotonous, slinking into the shadows, filling up with spam and social media blasts. It gradually became normal. It became boring.
Then in 2014, Google announced Inbox and email was Great Again. It Marie Kondo’d my online life before I even knew who Marie Kondo was. When Sarah Mitroff reviewed Inbox in October 2014, she laid all manner of compliments on the app: “Visually appealing”, “equal parts colorful, clean and cheerful” and “fresh”. Gmail felt like a harsh, sterile hospital next to Inbox’s bright, buoyant Happy-Time-Fun-Land.
Now Inbox is dead, Google has said it will be bringing some of the service’s most popular features over to Gmail. As I’ve finally been forced to switch over, there’s a hole in my heart. Gmail still lacks many of the features that made Inbox so powerful — and so beloved.
There’s work to do to make email Great Again, Again. What can Gmail do to ease the pain?
(, but let’s pretend we can answer that question anyway.)
Bundle of joy
When you read about Inbox’s premature demise, you will no doubt read plenty about “bundles”. Inbox’s clever bundling system was the best thing to ever happen to me, a nearly 30-year-old unmarried man with zero children in a stable, loving relationship.
Inbox had that galaxy-brain energy. The real BDE. Supported by Google’s powerful algorithms, Inbox was able to sort your life out for you. It saw what was dropping in your Inbox and automatically filed it away in its own category via the voodoo magic of machine learning.
It was powerful for bundling all your receipts, purchases, holidays and business trips, placing all that information in easy-to-navigate, simple-to-find locations. I never even had to think about manually labeling or filing emails with Inbox — it just worked, from Day One. And it continued to work until it was dead.
Finding details about a trip home took seconds in Inbox, a one-click process that returned my booking, accommodation, the car I’d hired and any tours I’d booked while I was away. In Gmail, I have to sift through a torrent of banking statements, receipts, a regretful order I made for Thai food when I was sloshed three nights ago and a random PR email about their genius April Fools’ Day stunt.
There have been rumblings that Google will also be bringing bundles across to Gmail, though a timeline for that update is currently unknown so, thanks, big G — my life is now a living hell.
This is how you remind me
Besides bundles, Inbox quickly became the place where I started my day because it centralized my to-do list.
Email is, essentially, just a place where tasks get filed and Inbox’s “Reminders” feature was critical to this. In the same way you would compose an email, you could set yourself a reminder that would jump to the top of your Inbox. At the end of a busy day, I’d whip a few little reminders in for the following morning.
And sure, I can do this with Gmail’s “Tasks” integration but this opens an entirely new window on the side of my desktop. That’s a game of hide-and-seek that I don’t want to play. Because reminders were able to be pinned or snoozed, they were unobtrusive, nesting neatly within the inbox like a digital post-it note.
I don’t know why Gmail doesn’t have reminders. I can’t tell you why. They exist in other G suite services, like Calendar and Keep, but not in Gmail.
Inbox is like the Carly Rae Jepsen of email. It swept in and took the world by surprise with its spark and smarts and brightness and now, every waking moment without it is torture. Gmail, in contrast, is the Nickelback of modern email clients. It’s the homogenized radio-rock version of email.
In fact, maybe it’s worse. Maybe it’s Smash Mouth.
Attention spans are being obliterated by the internet and my apartment is a disorganized mess.
I mean, it’s tidy — but there’s no rhyme or reason to how I file away important tax documents, receipts or mementos. Invoking the holy name of Kondo, I tried to improve my systems a month ago. That amounted to buying more boxes and storing more things in those boxes.
I couldn’t organize myself in the real world, but with the power of machine learning and AI, Google Inbox made sure I could do it when I was inside the internet.
And I wasn’t alone.
Search for Google Inbox on Twitter and you’ll find tales of woe and misery. You’ll find users decrying the switch to Gmail. You’ll find them celebrating the life of an email service as if it were their own flesh and blood. Like the untimely deaths at Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding, we’re all watching on in horror at the injustice.
No one is celebrating. Everybody’s mourning.
New world order
But it’s all over.
Inbox was so good because it was so easy. It was . It was . It bundled emails together long before Gmail was doing anything of the sort. It felt like it was made for me and only me. I didn’t have to spend mornings sifting through mountains of internet text. I could get what I needed and get on with life.
It was also a calming, soft blue rather than an alarming, CHECK-YOUR-EMAIL-NOW red. That’s a fact that gets lost in this funeral. Even the logo is an open letter with a positive, life-affirming tick, rather than the closed, menacing red “M” made famous in Gmail.
I could go on and on, but I digress.
Google has slowly integrated some of Inbox’s best features into Gmail. Snoozing emails, smart replies and nudges to remind you to follow up on your to-do list were all pioneered in Inbox. On Gmail’s 15th birthday, it even brought in a host of new features, like enabling emails to be scheduled and sent at a later time and improving its Smart Compose feature, which offers suggestions to make writing email a lot faster.
I’m holding on as long as possible. The mobile version of Inbox is now six feet under, taking its place in the Google Graveyard next to Reader, Hangouts, Google Plus and Allo, but the desktop version of Inbox lives on (at least, for now). Inbox clones are popping up, aiming to make the transition period easier, but its fate is sealed.
I can do without Hangouts or Plus. Somehow, I even survived after the transition away from Reader.
But this one really stings.
Google Photos Will Now Automatically Detect Your Documents
Author: Paul Monckton
Date Written: Mar 30, 2019 at 8:00 AM
Date Saved: 3/30/19, 11:01 PM
Smartphone cameras are useful for a lot more than selfies and landscapes; they also make very handy portable document scanners. Now Google Photos has launched a new feature designed specifically to make your documents look more presentable and legible.
Google’s new Crop and Adjust feature takes care of photographed documents and receipts Documents, unlike people or places, are designed to be read rather than admired and this usually requires an entirely different approach when it comes to processing them and making them look their best. This often involves using functions such as rotating, cropping, sharpening and perhaps converting them to black and white for maximum readability.
The new “Crop and Adjust” feature in Google Photos will detect any photographed documents and suggest suitable edits such as those listed above which can then be implemented automatically in a single tap.
The result is a correctly-rotated document with the background removed and any text made as clear as possible.
Google Photos users will find the Crop and Adjust rolling out soon on iOS and Android.
If you find this function useful, then it’s worth checking out the ‘Scan’ function built into the Google Drive app. The app provides a similar set of automatic enhancements to the new Google Photos function, with the added facility of saving your documents directly to your Google Drive as a PDF rather than a jpeg. Android users can also place a Google Scan widget for one-touch access to the document scanning function.
Breaking barriers: accessibility at home a costly process
Author: Blair Crawford
Date Written: Mar 29, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Date Saved: 3/30/19, 9:34 PM
Jennifer and Eli Glanz with daughter Emilia in the master bathroom they had modified to accommodate Jenifer’s wheelchair.
It’s just a few centimetres high, but the sill of the sliding glass door that leads to the back deck of her Barrhaven home is a mountain to Jennifer Glanz.
“It’s little, but I can’t get over it,” said Glanz, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair. Glanz and her husband, Eli, have already installed a $4,000 electric lift in their garage so that Jennifer can get out of the house, and recently completed a renovation to make their bathroom barrier free.
They moved with their daughter Emelia, 3 1/2, to a bungalow a few years ago when Jennifer’s deteriorating condition made it impossible for her to manage the stairs in their former two-storey home. The small ramp over the door sill is the next item on their reno list for summer — “if we ever get a summer,” Jennifer jokes.
“It’s the next project. And a ramp down to the grass. Emilia will be playing on the grass this summer and it would be nice to be there with her.”
Whether it’s a senior who wants to age in place in her own home, a person battling a debilitating illness, or someone injured in a sudden, catastrophic tragedy like the Westboro OC Transpo bus crash, those facing disability find that barriers abound in the home. In fact, 22 per cent Canadians live with some sort of physical disability, according to Statistics Canada.
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“The older you get, the more likely you are to have a disability,” says Patrick Curran, national executive director of Independent Living Canada, a national non-profit agency that advocates for those living with disabilities and promotes independent living.
“And if you live long enough, you will have a disability.”
Many of the modifications needed to make a home accessible are obvious: a wheelchair ramp to the front door, for example. Others aren’t so apparent.
“One item that’s a really big, especially for someone with head injuries, is lighting,” said Sean MacGinnis, co-founder BuildAble, an Ottawa company that specializes in building and renovating homes for accessibility. “You want lighting that won’t put a strain on your eyes. Or if it’s for someone who has a visual impairment, better lighting will eliminate shadows and help them see any changes in elevation in their home.”
MacGinnis founded BuildAble five years ago with partner Kyla Cullain, a registered nurse. The company works closely with their clients’ medical teams — their family doctor or occupational therapist, for example — to develop an appropriate construction plan, he said.
“We started the company out focusing on people who are aging in place, but we’ve found the majority of our clients are people who have had a medical crisis, MS or a stroke or something like that … and we do have a lot of people who’ve been in vehicle accidents too. They’re in mid-life and they want to stay in their homes or they have family that they don’t want to move.”
For Eli and Jennifer Glanz, that meant redoing their bathroom to make it accessible. BuildAble installed a barrier free bathroom that Jennifer can roll up to and swing herself into a spare wheelchair that stays in the shower. The tile floor slopes gently to a drain and a waterproof barrier under the entire bathroom floor means spills or floods cause no damage.
The old sink and vanity was replaced with a “floating sink” that lets Jennifer wheel up to it like a desk. Three heavy-duty handrails give support and stability at the toilet.
“For the longest time we had a standard tub and shower that you see in most showers. Jennifer can’t transfer herself into a standard tub, even if there’s a shower seat. It would be me physically lifting her up and into the tub. That was hard for both of us,” Eli said.
“She keeps reminding me, I only have one back.”
“It brought more independence to me,” Jennifer said. “Before, I would have to have him home and helping me have a shower. Now I don’t. He doesn’t know how many times I shower.”
It cost $15,000 to renovate the bathroom, about 80 per cent of which was paid for with grants from March of Dimes. The family had to cover the cost of the garage lift on their own.
Another clever addition are offset hinges that allow doors to swing completely out of the way, adding a crucial extra five centimetres width to the doorway for Jennifer’s chair to pass.
The simplest and most common modification to a home is to add grab bars and handrails, MacGinnis said, including railings on both sides of a staircase. In the kitchen, countertops and cabinets can be made to lower to wheelchair level, while full-extension drawers are easier to access without awkward reaching.
One of BuildAble’s biggest jobs was to add a full elevator to a home for a man with Parkinson’s Disease, he said.
The cost can vary widely. The cost of home modifications are often included in the insurance payout for accident victims or — as in the case of an Ottawa Public servant who is suing the city for $6.3 million for injuries in the Westboro bus crash — part of the lawsuit claim. Others are helped with the cost through grants from the March of Dimes and other charities or through tax breaks.
“There’s a lot of low-cost things we can do that have a high impact,” MacGinnis said. A grab bar might cost $100. A second staircase railing $1,000. A wooden ramp to the door can range from $500 to $5,000, while a more aesthetically pleasing ramp of interlocking brick could cost $15,000 to $20,000.
A barrier-free bathroom costs between $12,000 and $15,000 while a full reno to make a kitchen full accessible can run up to $30,000, he said.
In Ontario, someone who has suffered catastrophic injuries in a car crash is eligible for $1 million in under the province’s the province’s Statutory Accident Benefit Schedule. But for non-catastrophic injuries, that benefit is capped at $65,000 and will only last five years, said lawyer Najma Rashid, a partner in Howard Yegendorf & Associates.
“Just because someone’s injuries aren’t catastrophic, doesn’t mean they’re not serious,” Rashid said. “Many people with serious injuries might be stuck with that $65,000 and it’s only available for five years so they have to make a judgment call as to whether they’re going to use part of the money for changes to their home or for ongoing treatment needs.”
Additional costs could become part of a lawsuit claim, she said. Lawyers would work with their clients medical team or hire an occupational therapist or consultant to determine what renovations are needed and their cost.
“And if they do claim it in a lawsuit, they have to wait for that lawsuit to be over. Or self fund it and look for a reimbursement, but most people don’t have the money to pay for it themselves.”
Those looking for more information on improving accessibility will be able to find it Independent Living Canada’s AccessABLE Technology Expo on May 30 at the Ottawa Conference and Events Centre on Coventry Road. The one-day expo will bring together 20 exhibitors with a broad range of products for disabilities such as visual or hearing loss, cognitive impairment and mental health issues. Admission is free, Curran said.
“We’re doing this to build awareness for Independent Living Canada,” Curran said. “But we also want to give to hope to people who have disabilities — to show them that there are people out there doing research and introducing new products that will be of interest to them.”
For more information, visit ilcanada.ca
Bonjour, Alexa! How Amazon’s virtual assistant learned to speak Canadian French
Author: Morgan Lowrie
Date Written: Mar 30, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Date Saved: 3/31/19, 9:40 PM
MONTREAL—Last September, Hans Laroche embarked on an unusual teaching assignment. He and a few thousand fellow Quebecers were enlisted to help Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa learn the finer points of Canadian French, from the distinctive accent to so-called “joual” expressions and the linguistic mishmash known as “Franglais.”
With Amazon’s official release of its French Canadian language option for Alexa on March 21, the results are now available for all to hear.
With Amazon’s official release of its French Canadian language option for Alexa on March 21, the results are now available for all to hear.
Because Alexa’s algorithm requires a great deal of data, Laroche says he and his fellow testers were given a free Echo device and asked to interact with it on a regular basis by asking it questions, getting it to perform household tasks or using it to play music, audiobooks or news. Every week or two, they were asked to provide feedback to developers, who worked to further refine the algorithm and its language capabilities.
Laroche, who runs a Facebook page for Quebec Alexa enthusiasts from his home near Victoriaville, Que., said he was impressed with how well the device picked up on his requests.
“It was pretty surprising the things Alexa can understand, especially in Canadian French,” he said. “The French language from France has been available for a while, but it’s not the same as the language Quebecers use.”
Amazon and Google are harvesting data in your home by demanding smart-home gadget makers to share it As an example, he said Quebecers tend to use English verbs such as “check” or “cancel” rather than their French counterparts, “verifier” or “annuler.”
“If Alexa is in (European) French and I ask it to ‘cancel le timer,’ it won’t understand,” he said. “But if I’m in Canadian French and I say it, it will understand what I’m saying.”
Laroche noted that Amazon still has some catching up to do, since competitors such as Google Assistant already have French Canadian language support.
Nicolas Maynard, the man in charge of Alexa in Canada, said teaching the virtual assistant to understand French was a difficult challenge, due to the complexity of the language and the prevalence of homonyms, contractions, and a vocabulary that differs widely by region.
Adapting it to a French-Canadian audience meant ensuring it would understand commands delivered using local colloquialisms and pronunciations, he said in a phone interview from Seattle.
Maynard said that while French speakers in France use as many, or possibly more, English words than their North American linguistic counterparts, the inflection is very different.
“The pronunciation of English words in Quebec is much closer to the English pronunciation than in France,” said Maynard.
“If you ask a French person to say the name of an American song, you’ll clearly hear the French accent. But if you ask a Canadian (francophone), you’ll get a pronunciation that is very close to English.”
But while Alexa may understand local slang, its own voice was given an accent designed to be as neutral as possible while still being that of a Quebecer.
“I think it’s more or less a Montreal accent, but you’ll tell me,” Maynard said.
He said it was also important to ensure the voice service is equipped with general knowledge from each region by being able to answer basic questions about politics and culture.
As a result, Alexa can recite the poem “Le vaisseau d’or” by celebrated Quebec writer Emile Nelligan, and has a repertoire of jokes to tell on demand.
Laroche said he has noted a lot of improvement in this department since he first began interacting with the device.
“If you ask who is Montreal’s mayor, who is the prime minister of Canada, it knows the answer, which was not the case in the beginning,” he said.
He says the voice assistant is still not perfect, however, and there are still many times when it answers a question with “Je ne sais pas” (I don’t know.) But he’s still pleased to have a product that will start his coffee maker in the morning and turn on the equipment in his home gym when he announces he’s ready for a workout.
Guillaume Dufour, the founder of enthusiast group Alexa Quebec, was also an early user of the experimental “beta” version.
He was impressed with Alexa’s ability to understand mixed-language commands, such as when he asks it in French to play an English-language song. He said the virtual assistant understands his normal accent perfectly, although he sometimes has to repeat himself when he tries out the stronger accent of his native Charlevoix region.
“We can see that Amazon’s language recognition training was excellent,” said Dufour, an IT expert and programmer who also creates “skills” for the devices.
And he would know, having amassed an impressive collection of voice-activated assistants including four Echo devices, a Google Home, Apple HomePod and a Harman Kardon Invoke.
Dufour said he has noticed only one true “glitch” — the device sometimes delivers the weather report in a jumble of English and French — but he has found that some of Alexa’s jokes are told “in a slightly jerky intonation that does not quite follow the rhythm of the French language.”
As for Maynard, he said Alexa’s education is far from complete.
He won’t say how many Quebecers are currently using Echo or other Alexa devices, but he says the virtual assistant’s artificial intelligence-driven algorithm will continue to absorb new data and refine its capabilities the more it is used.
“I see the launch as just the beginning of my job,” he said.
Google Home tips and tricks – Here are the best features of this Amazon Echo rival
Author: Joseph Carey
Date Written: Mar 23, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Date Saved: 3/24/19, 11:11 PM
All models of the Google Home are incredibly capable thanks to their vast array of features
Google Home is available in three models; the standard Google Home, the Google Home Mini and Google Home Max.
Back in October, the Mountain View firm also debuted its first smart display, dubbed the Google Home Hub.
The Home Hub has the same Assistant functionality as the other Home speakers but adds a screen that can display contextual information.
All models of the Google Home are incredibly capable thanks to their vast array of features.
Here is Express.co.uk’s compiled list of the best you can take advantage of right now.
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At CES in January Google announced an “interpreter mode” for its Home line of devices.
Once enabled, the feature will translate any speech from one language into another.
If the tool is harnesses on Google Home speakers, audio will provide the translation.
However, if a smart display such as the Google Home Hub is used, the translation will also appear on the product’s screen.
Discussing the feature, Google said: “Speaking a different language no longer has to be a barrier to having a good conversation.
“With Interpreter Mode, a new feature rolling out over the next few weeks on Google Home devices and Smart Displays, you can ask the Google Assistant to help you have a conversation in dozens of languages.
“Just say ‘Hey Google, be my French interpreter’ to start Interpreter Mode and get real-time spoken and (on Smart Displays) written translation to aid the conversation.
“We see this technology expanding to more places—it could help you check in at a foreign hotel or help you understand the bus schedule.”
The Google Home can remember for you
Google Home’s reminder functionality is incredibly useful and can be harnessed in more ways than you might think.
For instance, if you are someone who frequently forgets where things are placed, the smart speaker can help.
If an owner places their phone in their living room drawer, they can say “okay Google, my phone is in the living room drawer”.
That means if the user then forgets where they placed their phone they can say “okay Google, where’s my phone?” and it will respond with the last noted location.
One of the most tedious parts about using the Google Home is the fact the user previously had to repeat phrases such as “okay Google” in order to continue a conversation with the Assistant or ask it added questions.
However, a new feature dubbed Continued Conversations recently arrived for UK owners and allows the user to ask follow-up questions instantly.
Essentially, once the feature has been enabled the Google Assistant will continue listening after it has answered a question in case the user wants further clarification on the matter or to discuss something else entirely.
Continued Conversations can be turned on using the Google Home app.
Dedicated feature to find your phone
For those that want a little help finding their phone, the Google Home is able to make your device ring to make it easier to recover.
To harness the tool, users will need to make sure they have signed in on the same Google account on both their Google Home device and smartphone.
It is worth noting your handset will need to be connected to either a mobile network or Wi-Fi in order for the feature to work.
Google Home is able to provide owners with word definitions, meaning there is no need to pull out your phone or a dictionary.
Additionally, the smart speaker also has a feature that will give users a new word every day in an attempt to bolster their vocabulary.
Google Home games
Google Home is able to provide users with entertainment in the form of games and jokes.
If users load the Google Home app they are able to see a full list of the games on offer.
These range from quizzes to trivia.
Google Home can gain increased functionality thanks to a cavalcade of Assistant apps that are available for users to download.
Owners are able to see a full list of programmes on offer by going to assistant.google.com/explore or via the Google Home app.
If fans are using the latter, they can find them by summoning the side menu present.
After it has emerged, press explore and a search bar will appear where apps can be located.
Assistant apps range from games to those concerned with providing added smart home control.
Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-67
Date Written: Mar 10, 2019 at 8:00 PM
Date Saved: 2019-03-11, 8:35 PM
Call for comments on an amendment proposed by Bell Media Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc. and Rogers Media Inc. to their condition of licence that requires prime time programming to be broadcast with described video
The Commission calls for comments on an application by Bell Media Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc. and Rogers Media Inc., on behalf of their licensees (the Licensees), requesting that the Commission amend their condition of licence that requires prime time programming (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) to be broadcast with described video effective 1 September 2019.
Specifically, the Licensees requested an exception to that condition of licence to be allowed to air non-Canadian programs received less than 72 hours prior to broadcast without described video. For such programming, repeat airings with described video would be scheduled in prime time at a time greater than 72 hours from delivery.
The deadline for the receipt of interventions is 25 April 2019. Only parties that file interventions may file a reply to matters raised during the intervention phase. The deadline to file replies is 13 May 2019.
- The Commission is committed to improving the accessibility of the broadcasting system for persons with disabilities. This objective of Canada’s broadcasting policy is prescribed in section 3(1)(p) of the Broadcasting Act, which states that programming accessible by disabled persons should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system as resources become available for the purpose.
- Television plays an important role in shaping Canadian society. It is a primary source of news, entertainment and sports programming, and plays a critical role in making Canadians aware of the wide range of ideas and perspectives that make up the rich fabric of our society. As a result, it is important that all Canadians have access to what television has to offer.
- Described video is a narrated description of a program’s main visual elements, such as setting, costumes and body language. It helps to make television programming accessible for people with visual disabilities by allowing them to better understand what is occurring on the screen. Described video thus enables accessibility of broadcast information, entertainment, ideas and perspectives that all Canadians enjoy.
- Recognizing the importance of described video, the Commission has incrementally increased the availability of programming with described video in the Canadian broadcasting system since 2001 to ensure the continual availability of a greater diversity of described video content.
- In Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2015-104, the Commission stated that it would implement a tiered approach to the provision of described video. This approach would ramp up described video requirements over time in accordance with the size and resources of broadcasters. Specifically, by 1 September 2019, broadcasters currently subject to described video requirements, as well as those that belong to vertically integrated entities, will be required to provide described video for their prime time programming (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) that falls under the identified program categories1 seven days per week.
- In Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2016-436, the Commission established standard conditions of licence to that effect that would be imposed during the subsequent television licence renewals. However, the Commission also noted in that regulatory policy that requirements relating to the provision of described video for undertakings for which more substantial levels are appropriate would be discussed with those undertakings at licence renewals and imposed on a case-by-case basis. Accordingly, when the Commission renewed the broadcasting licences for the English- and French-language stations and services belonging to large ownership groups in 2017, it imposed the described video requirement as a standard condition of licence, which reads as follows: The licensee shall, by 1 September 2019, provide described video for all English- and French-language programming that is broadcast during prime time (i.e., from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) and that is drawn from program categories 2(b) Long-form documentary, 7 Drama and comedy, 9 Variety, 11(a) General entertainment and human interest and 11(b) Reality television, and/or is programming targeting preschool children (0-5 years of age) and children (6-12 years of age).
Experience of Canadians
- Users of described video have consistently expressed to the Commission the value of traditional and conventional television programming. Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have stated that television continues to be their primary source of media and that described video programming directly contributes to a higher quality of life.
- In past proceedings, Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have requested that the Commission increase described video programming specifically during prime time hours, arguing that such programming aired solely at daytime and/or nighttime hours neither meets their viewing needs nor provides for an equitable level of programming available to other viewers. They stated that while they often pay the same price for programming as other television subscribers, they can access only a fraction of the programming.
Application requesting an exception to described video requirements
- On 28 November 2018, Bell Media Inc. (Bell), Corus Entertainment Inc. (Corus) and Rogers Media Inc. (Rogers), on behalf of their licensees (the Licensees), filed a Part 1 application requesting that the Commission amend their condition of licence that requires prime time programming (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) to be broadcast with described video effective 1 September 2019.
- Specifically, the Licensees requested an exception to that condition of licence to be allowed to air non-Canadian programs received less than 72 hours prior to broadcast without described video. For such programming, repeat airings with described video would be scheduled in prime time at a time greater than 72 hours from delivery.
- The Licensees argued that the exception is necessary because a significant amount of U.S. content arrives without embedded described video very close to the time of broadcast and that there is insufficient time to produce or outsource described video in these circumstances. They added that live described video is not a viable option.
- Without being granted this amendment, the Licensees stated that they would be unable to meet the prime time described video requirements by 1 September 2019. They also proposed that broadcasters be required to keep a log detailing the receipt date of all U.S. programs received without described video and broadcast in prime time, and provided a template for that purpose.
- The application includes letters from described video production houses and various U.S.-based production/distribution studios that specify timeframes for delivery to Canada for first-run television series. The application and supporting letters can be found on the Commission’s website.
Call for comments
- The Commission calls for comments on the Licensees’ proposal to amend the condition of licence on described video,2 as follows (changes are in bold): The licensee shall, by 1 September 2019, provide described video for all English- and French-language programming that is broadcast during prime time (i.e., from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) and that is drawn from program categories 2(b) Long-form documentary, 7 Drama and comedy, 9 Variety, 11(a) General entertainment and human interest and 11(b) Reality television, and/or is programming targeting preschool children (0-5 years of age) and children (6-12 years of age) with the exception of non-Canadian programs that are received less than 72 hours prior to air. Such programs will be broadcast with described video for repeat airings scheduled in prime time greater than 72 hours from delivery.
- Further, the Commission is seeking comments regarding issues raised by the application, such as:
◦ the specific first-run prime time programs that are at issue in this application;
◦ the impact on viewers;
◦ the manner in which viewers could find accurate information concerning the scheduling of repeat airings of the programming at issue;
◦ the reason(s) why a significant amount of non-Canadian programming arrives without embedded described video;
◦ the commercial arrangements that the Licensees have with their suppliers of non-Canadian programming to procure first-run prime time programming with embedded described video;
◦ alternative approaches that would allow the Licensees to meet their described video requirements; and
◦ measures the Commission should take, if any, to be satisfied that the Licensees would be compliant with the proposed exception, should the Commission grant it.
- Though the specific questions are set out in the appendix to this notice, interventions may address any issue relevant to the proposed amendment.
Disposal of application
- The Commission considers that the requests made by the Licensees would be better addressed through this notice of consultation. Bell, Corus and Rogers are therefore made parties to this proceeding, and their 28 November 2018 application and supporting letters referenced above are made part of the record of this proceeding.
- Consequently, the application is closed, and the matters raised therein will be dealt with according to the procedure set out in this notice.
- The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Rules of Practice and Procedure (the Rules of Procedure) apply to the present proceeding. The Rules of Procedure set out, among other things, the rules for content, format, filing and service of interventions, answers, replies and requests for information; the procedure for filing confidential information and requesting its disclosure; and the conduct of public hearings. Accordingly, the procedure set out below must be read in conjunction with the Rules of Procedure and related documents, which can be found on the Commission’s website under “Statutes and Regulations.” The guidelines set out in Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin 2010-959 provide information to help interested persons and parties understand the Rules of Procedure so that they can more effectively participate in Commission proceedings.
- The Commission invites interventions that address the issues and questions set out in the appendix to this notice. The Commission will accept interventions that it receives on or before 25 April 2019. Only parties that file interventions may file a reply to matters raised during the intervention phase. The deadline for the filing of replies is 13 May 2019. The Commission may request information, in the form of interrogatories, from any party to the proceeding.
- The Commission encourages interested persons and parties to monitor the record of the proceeding, available on the Commission’s website, for additional information that they may find useful when preparing their submissions.
- Submissions longer than five pages should include a summary. Each paragraph of all submissions should be numbered, and the line ***End of document*** should follow the last paragraph. This will help the Commission verify that the document has not been damaged during electronic transmission.
- Pursuant to Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin 2015-242, the Commission expects incorporated entities and associations, and encourages all Canadians, to file submissions for Commission proceedings in accessible formats (for example, text-based file formats that allow text to be enlarged or modified, or read by screen readers). To provide assistance in this regard, the Commission has posted on its website guidelines for preparing documents in accessible formats.
- Submissions must be filed by sending them to the Secretary General of the Commission using only one of the following means: by completing the [Intervention/comment/answer form] or by mail to CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2 or by fax at 819-994-0218
- Parties who send documents electronically must ensure that they will be able to prove, upon Commission request, that filing, or where required, service of a particular document was completed. Accordingly, parties must keep proof of the sending and receipt of each document for 180 days after the date on which the document is filed or served. The Commission advises parties who file or serve documents by electronic means to exercise caution when using email for the service of documents, as it may be difficult to establish that service has occurred.
- In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, a document must be received by the Commission and all relevant parties by 5 p.m. Vancouver time (8 p.m. Ottawa time) on the date it is due. Parties are responsible for ensuring the timely delivery of their submissions and will not be notified if their submissions are received after the deadline. Late submissions, including those due to postal delays, will not be considered by the Commission and will not be made part of the public record.
- The Commission will not formally acknowledge submissions. It will, however, fully consider all submissions, which will form part of the public record of the proceeding, provided that the procedure for filing set out above has been followed.
- All information that parties provide as part of this public process, except information designated confidential, whether sent by postal mail, fax, email or through the Commission’s website at www.crtc.gc.ca, becomes part of a publicly accessible file and will be posted on the Commission’s website. This information includes personal information, such as full names, email addresses, postal/street addresses, telephone and fax numbers, etc.
- The personal information that parties provide will be used and may be disclosed for the purpose for which the information was obtained or compiled by the Commission, or for a use consistent with that purpose.
- Documents received electronically or otherwise will be put on the Commission’s website in their entirety exactly as received, including any personal information contained therein, in the official language and format in which they are received. Documents not received electronically will be available in PDF format.
- The information that parties provide to the Commission as part of this public process is entered into an unsearchable database dedicated to this specific public process. This database is accessible only from the web page of this particular public process. As a result, a general search of the Commission’s website with the help of either its own search engine or a third-party search engine will not provide access to the information that was provided as part of this public process.
Availability of documents
- Electronic versions of the interventions and of other documents referred to in this notice, are available on the Commission’s website at www.crtc.gc.ca by visiting the “Have your say!” section, then selecting “our open processes.” Documents can then be accessed by clicking on the links in the “Subject” and “Related Documents” columns associated with this particular notice.
- Documents are also available at the following address, upon request, during normal business hours. Les Terrasses de la Chaudière Central Building 1 Promenade du Portage, Room 206 Gatineau, Quebec J8X 4B1 Tel.: 819-997-2429 Fax: 819-994-0218 Toll-free telephone: 1-877-249-2782 Toll-free TTY: 1-877-909-2782
- Rogers Media Inc. – Licence renewals for English-language television stations, services and network, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-151, 15 May 2017
- Corus Entertainment Inc. – Licence renewals for English-language television stations and services, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-150, 15 May 2017
- Bell Media Inc. – Licence renewals for English-language television stations and services, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-149, 15 May 2017
- Standard requirements for television stations, discretionary services, and on-demand services, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-436, 2 November 2016
- Filing submissions for Commission proceedings in accessible formats, Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin CRTC 2015-242, 8 June 2015
- Let’s Talk TV – Navigating the Road Ahead – Making informed choices about television providers and improving accessibility to television programming, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2015-104, 26 March 2015
- Guidelines on the CRTC Rules of Practice and Procedure, Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin CRTC 2010-959, 23 December 2010
Appendix to Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-67
Questions regarding described video requirements
Questions for Canadian viewers
Q1. In a scenario in which the Commission grants the amendment proposed by the Licensees, what would be the impact on your viewing experience? Include in your answer any steps that the Licensees could take to address these impacts.
Q2. How would granting the proposed amendment affect your ability to find out about when and how the programming at issue will be rebroadcast with described video? Include in your answer any actions that the Licensees could take to address this concern.
Questions for Bell, Corus and Rogers
Q3. This application raises what appears to be a procurement issue that could be resolved through amendments to existing procurement/licensing agreements with suppliers or in future negotiations. As such, the need for an exception as proposed by the Licensees would appear to be temporary in nature. Provide comment on the period of time required for the proposed exception, with supporting rationale.
Q4. Should the Commission agree with the need for an exception, the amended condition of licence, as proposed, would exclude “non-Canadian programs that are received less than 72 hours prior to air.” The proposed wording would, in theory, include non-Canadian programming that contains embedded described video. Provide comment on whether the proposed wording of the condition of licence accurately reflects the exception sought and, if not, propose alternative wording.
Q5. In a scenario in which the Commission grants the proposed amendment:
- Describe the approach that your organization would take to schedule the repeat programming at issue during prime time. In your response, specify the proximity of the repeat airing with described video to the first-run airing without described video in hours, days, weeks or months, as applicable for each program.
- Describe how you will clearly communicate the repeat airings of the programming with described video to your customers who rely on described video to ensure that they know when and how they can access this programming.
- Identify the reporting requirements, if any, that in your view would be appropriate to satisfy the Commission and Canadians that you have met the scheduling and communication commitments that you have detailed in your response to 5a. and b.
Q6. Provide your assessment of the impact of the proposed amendment on the viewing experience of your customers who rely on described video in accessing and enjoying first-run prime time programming. Include in your response input from consultations held with these customers.
Work-Able Graduate Internship Program for People with Disabilities
BC Public Service
Salary $1,761.54 bi-weekly
Multiple Locations – Abbottsford, Burnaby, Courtenay, Kamloops, Kelowna, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, Penticton, Prince George, Smithers, Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria
21 Temporary Part/Full-time Position from September 3, 2019 to August 28, 2020
The Work-Able Internship Program is a paid twelve month BC Public Service work experience program for recent post-secondary graduates who self-identify as having a disability. This unique program provides learning, coaching and mentorship throughout the internship and interns will gain valuable skills and public service experience.
We offer extensive training, growth and development opportunities, a competitive salary and a balance between work and life commitments. We are committed to continuing to be an employer of choice and providing a professional environment where ideas work.
To be eligible for the Work-Able Internship Program you must:
- Self-identify as a person with a disability;
- Reside in B.C.; and
- Have completed the graduation requirements for a 2-year Diploma, Associate Degree, Under-graduate Degree or a Graduate Degree from a recognized post-secondary institution between the dates of April 1, 2016 and September 3, 2019.
This is a challenging and rewarding program where you will gain an increased understanding of public service roles and learn about possible future employment opportunities with the provincial government. Visit our Career Page to find out more.
To learn more and apply before April 30, 2019, please go to:
Attention: only applications submitted through the BC Public Service’s employment website (see link above) will be accepted.
Are you an avid chess player living in Canada?
Or maybe you are an aspiring one who is looking for ways to play chess and have some fun while at the same time make new chess friends?
Then the Canadian Blind Chess Association may be what you are looking for.
Why not become a member and join our group!
Come on in and let’s play chess together!
We want to invite you to register for the Quebec chess tournament to be held in April.
It’s opened to everyone!
for more information about the Quebec City tournament and to look for the Canadian Blind Chess Association on Facebook, contact Rebecca at
Siri Shortcuts gets more useful: A shortcut guide to animating routines on your iPhone
By Edward C. Baig,
USA TODAY, 11:01 a.m. PST Feb. 28, 2019
The Siri Shortcuts feature that Apple launched last fall as part of iOS 12 has always had oodles of potential. And for some of you this feature, which lets you use your voice to automate a string of tasks or routines, may have just gotten a whole lot more useful.
On Thursday, Apple announced a fresh set of integrated Siri Shortcuts, which are just now available or coming soon, and which the company says joins the thousands of other apps that already take advantage of the feature. American Airlines and Airbnb join existing app partners such as Marriott’s Bonvoy, Pandora, Waze and The Weather Channel.
The basic idea behind the Shortcuts feature is that Siri can learn your app preferences and routines over a period of time to suggest shortcuts that can streamline tasks or commands on your iPhone or iPad, and in more limited instances on the Apple Watch, HomePod or AirPods. (The feature doesn’t work with Macs or on Apple TV, despite Siri’s presence on the hardware.)
Shortcuts work with the apps you already have on your devices. Some suggested shortcuts will appear automatically on the lock screen of your device or when you do a search, recommending, right then and there, for example, to call or message your spouse. You tap the button to activate the particular shortcut that shows up. You can initiate other shortcuts yourself by uttering a short designated phrase out loud.
What’s more, though fewer of you are likely to do so, you can also fetch the Apple Shortcuts app for free in the App Store and create your own custom shortcuts built around a personalized voice phrase you record.
The Amazon smart home: From Echo to Ring doorbell and Fire TV, are you comfortable with Amazon controlling your smart home?
Fortnite dip: Has ‘Fortnite’ peaked? As season 8 arrives, research suggests revenue dipped in January Apple is seeking ways to make Siri more helpful, especially in light of the fact that many pundits believe that its digital assistant lags Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant, both of which also let you create customized routines via voice, often through Echo or Google Home smart speakers.
Samsung has similar designs with the Quick Commands feature associated with its Bixby assistant.
Among the newly announced Siri Shortcuts is one from American Airlines that will let you summon flight updates by voice (“Hey Siri, flight update”).
Such updates are contextual: Before leaving your house, you can get the drive time to the airport along with a map. After checking in, you’ll receive an updated flight status with a map of the terminal showing the gate location, walking time to that gate and boarding time.
Another new shortcut, from Merriam Webster Dictionary, will let you ask Siri for the word of the day.
A third new shortcut, from the Caviar local food delivery app, responds to commands such as “Hey Siri, order my usual pizza” or “Hey Siri, Caviar order status.”
Some of the Apple shortcuts integrate with some of your connected smart home appliances For example, shortcuts tied to the Drop and Smarter apps will let you control coffee makers by voice.
Others shortcuts are meant to work with health devices you may use in conjunction with the iPhone. The Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring System, for example, launched a shortcut that enables diabetics better manage glucose levels through their app (“Hey Siri, what’s my blood glucose?”).
Coming soon is a shortcut for ReSound hearing aids that will enable a person who is hard of hearing change the device settings, depending on the environment (“Hey Siri, restaurant mode.”) Building your own shortcuts To see which of your favorite apps have shortcut integrations, on your iPhone, visit Settings > Siri & Search > All Shortcuts.
To build your own shortcut, launch the Shortcuts app, and choose actions or building blocks, which are each of the basic steps that will make up your app. Apple presents a number of suggestions inside the app. For example, if you want to add a shortcut called Log Workout in conjunction with the Health app on your phone, you’d choose the type of activity (running, swimming, etc.), the duration, the calories burned or distance. You can then record the personalized phrase that would tell Siri to run the shortcut.
Inside the app you’ll also find a Gallery of premade Shortcuts that you might take advantage of. Among the Morning Routine options, you’ll see, are shortcuts that let you know when to leave home so you won’t be late for work, as well as a brushing teeth timer that will make you sure you’re at it for a full two minutes.
Since shortcuts can be shared, you might want to pass that one along to your kids.