Summary report of the Elections Canada TeleTownHall Hosted by Sterling Creations and the Canadian Council of the Blind, June 6, 2019

Logo for Canadian Council of the Blind. On the left, CCB written in blue text. In the center, a dark blue and light blue human silouhette linking arms. On the right, CCB name in French in blue text. Sterling Creations Logo. On the right, a yellow key with the letters S and C intertwined attached to the key from the top. On the right, the words Sterling Creations in a blue text.

 

Summary Report of the Elections

Canada TeleTownHall

 

TeleTownHall date:  June 6, 2019

Report Finalized on: August 23, 2019

Prepared by The Canadian accessible elections TeleTownHall organizing committee

 

 

 

 

 

Important note:

This report has been generated based on an audio recording that will not be shared with any external organizations or individuals.  In addition, and in order to preserve anonymity and confidentiality, the names of those participants who asked questions and made comments and suggestions will not be identified in this report. To contact the Committee write to CAET2019@Gmail.com.

 

 

Introduction

This TeleTownHall was held countrywide and was hosted by the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) and Sterling Creations in collaboration with Elections Canada.

  • The main speaker for Elections Canada was Susan Torosian.
  • Technical support was provided by Albert Ruel of the CCB.
  • Moderator services was provided by Donna Jodhan of Sterling Creations.
  • The face to face hosting of participants in Ottawa was provided by Kim Kilpatrick and Shelly Morris of the CCB.
  • The TeleTownHall commenced shortly after 6 pm Eastern and ended shortly after 8:15 pm Eastern. There were approximately 92 registrants and our estimates reveal that there were about 62 participants not including those who were brought in by others.
  • The meeting began with the moderator reiterating the rules of engagement and introducing the main speaker.
  • The main speaker then gave an outline of some of the services that Elections Canada is planning to offer to blind, deaf/blind, and vision impaired electors for the upcoming Federal Elections to be held on October 21 2019.
  • The technical support person gave some final instructions and then the main session of the meeting commenced.

 

Outline from Susan Torosian

Sue highlighted the following points in her introduction.

  • The recognition of diverse needs.
  • Accessibility could mean different things to different people based on various requirements.
  • The long term approach by Elections Canada is to have a universal design approach in terms of providing and designing their services.  The objective would be to provide flexibility
  • Elections Canada has come a long way but it recognizes that there is still a lot of work to be done.
  • In 2015 Elections Canada conducted an extensive review of all of its polling stations across Canada which totalled about 27,000 and the emphasis was placed on accessibility.
  • A criteria of 35 check lists were developed in collaboration with the community along with returning officers.
  • 15 of these 35 check lists were mandatory and a 98% accessibility compliance was achieved.
  • This process has been repeated for this upcoming Federal Election.
  • Tools have also been made available at the polling stations for persons with varying disabilities.
  • On Election Day, Braille lists of candidates are to be made available along with Braille templates.
  • Lit magnifiers with four times magnification, signature guides, and an easy to grip pencil for easier use are just some of the tools being made available.
  • Options would include sign language interpretation to be requested by the Tuesday before the actual date of the election (October 21), and to bring along a helper if required.
  • For the previous and upcoming Election, voters with a disability would be asked to identify their needs when they arrive at the polling station.
  • The emphasis for poll workers would be not to assume the needs of any voter but instead, to listen and to react to the need of the voter.

 

Summary of points from participants

 

TeleTownHall Organizing Committee Member Observations:

Based on the questions asked by participants during the meeting and feedback received by the Committee it appears the major concerns for Canadians who are blind, deaf-blind and low vision are as follows:

  • Appreciation for the improved accessibility of the Elections Canada Website;
  • Lack of accessible electronic/online voting;
  • Lack of accessible voter info generally, and lack of accessible candidate lists at Advance Polls;
  • Insufficient access to polling stations – access by transit, physical facility layout and low vision signage.

 

The following is a high level list of points raised by participants.  A more in depth break down of queries, comments, questions and feedback and responses from Elections Canada follows this.

 

List of highlights

  • Participants were most concerned about not being able to vote independently and to vote online.
  • They were concerned that there were no assistive voting machines available for use at this Federal Election.
  • They wanted to know how soon would or could these voting machines be made available given that they were already being used at the Provincial and Municipal levels.
  • They expressed the hope that they would be available by the time of the first by election following the forthcoming Federal Election.
  • They raised concerns about not being able to have Braille lists of candidates at the advanced polls.
  • They suggested that Elections Canada make better use of resources in the Provinces to provide Braille lists of candidates on a timely basis for advanced polls.
  • They sought clarification on the availability of alternate formats for voter information.
  • They wanted to know if there could be easy to grip pencils that made raised marks when used to mark ballots.
  • They raised concerns over appropriate signage for polling stations and appropriate access to polling stations via public transit.
  • They wanted to know how one could become a tester for the testing of accessible devices for use at polling stations when voting.
  • They sought clarification that oaths for helpers would be available at all polling stations across the country in both official languages.
  • They sought clarification with regard to ages and citizenship of helpers.

 

Important note

  • Elections Canada will be providing clarification to participants on the ability of easy to grip pencils to leave raised marks when a voter marks their ballot and they will relay the message back to head office that participants are extremely anxious to see the implementation of assistive voting machines.

 

Queries and responses

Main queries asked by participants will be followed by feedback from Elections Canada

 

From participant – (inaccessible formats)

  • Was pleased with improvements made to Elections Canada’s website.
  • Not enough access to information mailed to voters.  That is not enough materials in accessible formats.
  • Formats have not lived up to full accessibility; bigger, bolder, brighter, cleaner, clearer, and more contrast for persons with low vision.
  • More information required as to how to obtain   materials in alternate formats.
  • Pleased with continuing improvements to ballot boxes.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (improvements to info and website)

There have been checks implemented for plain language, visual requirements, contrast, and improvements to ballots to make them larger visually.  Fonts have been made larger and contrast has been improved.

  • Voter information guides are sent to all households and they contain information for those with accessibility needs.
  • The Elections Canada Advisory Group on Disability Issues (AGDI) has also participated in product development and there has been a demonstration day activity as well.
  • Demonstration day consisted of various groups reviewing various products and services and providing feedback.
  • The Elections Canada website will be changed for the 2019 Federal Election and it will be more user friendly.
  • More improvements are planned for the voter information card to make it less cluttered and to have fonts be clearer.

 

From participant – (about knowledge of ASL)

  • Question asked as to whether volunteers are aware of and can work with American sign language?

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (recruitment requirements)

  • There is a recruitment profile on the front page of the website.  This would include for both advanced and voting day polls.
  • Recruitment officers are asked to recruit from the communities that they are serving.
  • Skills would include minority languages and ASL skills.
  • The question on ASL skills may not be specifically asked but it is a good point.
  • It may be a bit late to include this question in the application process but there are questions asked about unique disability or accessibility skills in the application form that are being brought to the table by the applicant.
  • There are opportunities to flag this type of skill/need in the online application process.

 

From participant – (moving away from paper ballots)

  • Recognizes that due to legislation, changes to ballots and the balloting process cannot be easily made by Elections Canada.
  • There needs to be a movement away from the current paper ballots and templates.
  • The actual process of marking one’s ballot in the right spot seems to be the most problematic and one that legislation does not seem to address.
  • A request for this to be addressed.  Casting a ballot still creates significant barriers for those who for various reasons may not be able to place their mark and verify that they have done so according to their wishes.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (electronic devices and digital ID)

  • Voters are allowed to bring in their own electronic devices for example an AI or computer-assisted reader.
  • Electronic voting has been explored starting with the previous election and continues to be studied but there is a challenge with regard to voter authentication with regard as to who is on the other end of the line or the computer from which the ballot is being cast.
  • In Canada there is no digital identity and the Government may move to introduce as is presently done in Estonia where there is a digital identification for every voter.
  • This would help with electronic voting however, there are many concerns around security for electronic voting in the present environment. There are concerns over cyber-attacks.
  • Security standards presently in place are extremely high and significant investment has been made in the infrastructure to prevent hacking and security for online registration is also very high.

 

From participant – (agreement on security, braille templates)

  • Agrees with Elections Canada’s security mechanisms.
  • Will the Braille template be an option at all polling stations?

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (availability of Braille templates) * Both Braille templates and a Braille list of candidates will be available at polling stations on Elections Day.  However, the Braille lists of candidates will not be available at advanced polls nor in local offices.

  • Reason for this is because of the time delay between when confirmation of the candidates are received which is 18 days before Elections Day.
  • In response to options available at advanced polls; the voter would need to determine when it is best to vote (e.g. at advanced polls or on Elections Day).
  • Other options would include visiting any one of the 500 local offices across the country when the Election is called and vote by special ballot.
  • A special ballot would however require one to write in the candidate’s name which in some cases would be a challenge.

 

From participant – (availability of voting machines)

  • Will there be voting machines at this Federal Election?  These are free standing machines.  They use a paper ballot and they allow voters to have audible confirmation of who they voted for.
  • Also at the advanced polls, will the voter template be there and please clarify that the Braille list of candidates will not be available.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (Braille templates & voting machines)

  • The voter template will be there but the Braille list of candidates will not be there.
  • The participant suggests that it does not take all that long to produce Braille lists of candidates and that these lists should be there for at least during the second week of the advanced polls.
  • Elections Canada comments that with 26 million voters across the country and with 27 thousand polling stations across the country; lists are processed regionally and there are not enough printers across the country to handle the volume of lists to be printed given the quality assurance control that needs to be in place.
  • A pilot of stand alone voting machines was done in 2008 but it was not very successful.
  • There is now in place through legislation a mandate to explore the alternative for voting via stand alone machines but it will not be done for this coming Election.
  • The participant laments the lack of voter ability to vote in secret and to verify.  Taking a helper is not the way to go.
  • Elections Canada agrees.

 

From participant – (voting machines, legislation)

  • Not prepared to wait for voting options for ever.  There are already alternate voting options in use in certain jurisdictions across the country.
  • Some use machines.  Others use the phone.  Others use the Internet.  In some places there is no use of the paper ballot.
  • Under legislation Elections Canada now has the option to test all three systems.
  • Question:  When will this testing commence and what priority is it being given?

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (now have ability to test, legislation))

  • Elections Canada confirms that they now have the ability to test but they are still awaiting final approval from Parliament.
  • Elections Canada is busy preparing for the October 21 Federal Elections.  The new legislation comes into force on June 13.
  • The innovation branch is already at work scoping out the types of technology to be looked at and work is in the early stages.
  • No time frame as yet as to how early testing will begin.  It is a priority now that legislation is in place.
  • Participant comments that if this is not in place by the time of the first by election following the Federal Election, there could be a Human Rights case and additionally with no Braille list of candidates available at the advanced polls may also mean possible Human Rights cases.

 

From participant – (advanced polls and election day)

  • Clarification is sort on the availability of a Braille ballot ad the advanced polls and a question is asked about whether the same treatment will be provided to Blind voters at advanced polls as is given on Election Day.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (ballots, training)

  • There will be no Braille ballot available at advanced polls.
  • Training has been updated to ask the elector what they need, listen to what the elector says, and act to address their need.
  • Almost 300,000 people will be hired.
  • Some of the hires may not deliver equitable services and this is to be expected.
  • Significant investment   has been made in training but there will always be exceptions.
  • Participant clarifies that they are interested in the advanced polls and their ability to vote independently.
  • Elections Canada states that there has never been a Braille ballot and that non has ever been available either at the advanced polls   or on Election Day.
  • There is a Braille template.

 

From participant – (audio machines)

  • Express discouragement that there will be no use of audio machines as these were used during the Provincial Election of 2018 as well as during the Municipal Election of 2018.
  • This would be disenfranchising those voters who do not know Braille because they would not be able to vote independently.  The participant expresses great surprise that there is no option for an audio machine.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (testing of audio machines)

  • Elections Canada reiterates that those machines were used in the recent Provincial and Municipal elections but now that legislation is in place     testing will be moving forward.
  • Previously special authority had to be obtained from both houses of Parliament but now only approval from the House of Commons is needed.
  • The participant comments that not everyone can vote independently and this is not acceptable given that we are going to have an accessible Canada Act in place shortly.

 

From participant – (audio machines, alternate formats)

  • A comment is made that in Vancouver the use of audio machines was quite successful in a recent Municipal Election. 
  • Question:  Is there going to be alternate formats for the information that is being mailed to households?
  • And if not will it be available on the website in an alternate format that can be downloaded so that it can be read independently? 
  • Comment:  The participant believes that there are companies in each Province that would help to make Braille lists of candidates available at the advanced polls. 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (voter info to households, guide)

  • Mail-outs to households will not be in alternate format, however, the guide to the Federal Election will be available in alternate format.
  • It will be available in Braille, large print, audio, and will be available through national organizations such as the CCD, CNIB, and others.
  • One can also order these materials by calling Elections Canada.
  • Participant seeks clarification that materials mailed to households would not be available in alternate format.
  • Is the information in the material mailed to households different from the guide to the Federal Election?
  • Elections Canada clarifies that the dates in both sets of materials would be different as the exact dates are not available until the actual Election is called.
  • The exact information is also available on the Elections Canada website in alternate format.

 

From participant – (Human Rights complaints)

  • Participant agrees that there may be some Human Rights complaints.
  • Used the voting machine in the last Provincial Election.
  • It was difficult to use the ballot because of the circles being too small and difficulty in using a pencil.
  • Audio machines are preferable and no excuse for not having accessible voting in 2019.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (no assistive voting machines)

  • At the Federal level there will be no assistive voting machines for 2019.
  • Elections Canada now has the authority to test these machines and this is going to be a priority after the next Federal Election.

 

From participant – (special pencil)

  • Is there going to be a special pencil at all voting stations across the country?

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (easy to grip pencil)

  • Yes, the easy to grip pencil will be available at all polling stations across the country.  At advanced polls, regular polls, and at returning offices.
  • They have all been tested and with a variety of disability groups.
  • The ballot has been improved so that one can also put a check mark instead of an x or a line.
  • It will also be explained verbally.

 

From participant – (assistive devices)

  • If assistive devices are taken into the booth and the wrong button is accidentally pressed then the ballot would be spoiled.
  • Question:  Do the pencils make a raised mark on the ballot?

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (size and shape of the pencil)

  • Not sure.  The answer may be no but this question has not arisen before now.
  • The emphasis is more around the shape and size of the pencil and not the type of led in the pencil.
  • Participant reiterates a previous suggestion that there are companies across the country that can print quantities of Braille lists of candidates upon demand.
  • Elections Canada reiterates that it is a timing issue and that it is a particular issue for remote areas.
  • Elections Canada also reiterates that one can bring their own marking pencil.

 

From participant – (online voting in Quebec)

  • In Quebec online voting is used so why does Elections Canada not use this?
  • One can use a password to see medical records.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (online medical and banking)

  • There are differences between online medical access and online banking access as opposed to online voting.
  • The ability to fully audit the online voting process. One cannot go back and erase the past.
  • Authentication is a challenge; to know who one is.
  • Example, when it comes to the decision making process in a domestic situation.  When voting from home, is the person being told that they must vote in a particular way.
  • Secrecy and coercion are two things for consideration.
  • Monitoring for online banking and online access to health records are more closely followed than with online voting.
  • It is much easier for someone to hack into online voting.
  • Participant suggests the use of email addresses and suggests that there may be Human Rights complaints because of the passage of the Accessible Canada Act.
  • Elections Canada suggests that there could be controlled online electronic voting for certain audiences and that this audience could be one of them.
  • It may be a possibility, going on a mass scale at this point is not possible and a guestimate would probably be in the next 10 years.

 

From participant – (coercion)

  • Comment:  The government seems to be concerned about coercion yet it is not too concerned that the officer at the polling station would vote the way that the voter wants.
  • Participant also reiterates about the availability of Braille printers across the country who are able to provide Braille lists on a timely basis.
  • In the case of assistive machines:  Don’t spend so much time testing something that we know already works.

 

From participant – (accessibility)

  • Comment:  Accessibility is not easy.  Is happy with the Government’s efforts.  Happy with the legislation.  Attitude is everything.
  • The threatening of Human Rights complaints is not helpful.  Frustration is understood but people are really trying.

 

From participant – (signage for polling stations)

  • Finding polling stations is difficult as signage is woefully inadequate.
  • When a complaint was made participant was told that it was good enough.
  • The sidewalk to the polling station was not safe for walking.
  • Question:  What has been done to ensure that polling stations are accessible for those driving and walking?

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (checkpoints, signage)

  • The 35 checkpoints include such things as the ability to find doors, lighting, paved parking lots, ramps leading into the building, door openers into the building itself, proximity of polling stations, well known halls or community centres that people are comfortable going to.
  • Signage is also one of the criteria.
  • Because Elections Canada does not own the polling station, signage is sometimes a problem.
  • The response of it being good enough is not a good enough response.

 

From participant – (Braille lists, spoiled ballots)

  • Comments:  Dismayed at not being able to have Braille lists of candidates at the advanced polls.
  • Never sure if they spoiled their ballot because of uncertainty with regard to where they had put either a check mark, x, or line in the circle.
  • Does not ever want anyone to accompany them into the booth.
  • Coercion is also a concern when it comes to family members; not just through the online way.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada –

  • Elections Canada acknowledges appreciation.

 

From participant – (candidates to confirm earlier)

  • Dismay that Braille lists of candidates are not going to be available at advanced polls but it was previously stated that they were available at past advanced polls.
  • Question:  Would it be possible for candidates to finalize earlier in the game so that there would be more time to print the Braille lists and distribute to the polling stations?
  • Each Province has their own printing resources.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (deadlines for candidates)

  • Deadlines for candidates is actually in the legislation.  It has not been raised in the past.
  • It could be considered at some point in time
  • Investing in Braille resources as opposed to getting the deadlines for candidates to submit may be a better alternative.  That is, the investment in more Braille resources may be better time spent rather than trying to have the legislation changed.

 

From participant – (Revenue Canada, secure online process)

  • Suggestion:  Revenue Canada uses a secure online process for authentication.  Service Canada does as well.
  • Could Elections Canada do the same?
  • Voting in secrecy has never been possible and it should be.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada –

  • None.

 

From participant – (minimum age for helpers, oaths)

  • Question:  Is there an age for helpers to be in order to help?
  • In the last Election in Quebec the helper was required to sign an oath but it was not in the preferred language.
  • Question:  Is there a requirement that oaths must be provided in both official languages?  In this case it was only in French.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (helpers, ballots, oaths)

  • Verifying the age of the helper.
  • Ballots are in both official languages.
  • Helpers do not need to be Canadian citizens and do not need to be the age of 18.  They do not need to be of voting age.
  • Participant repeats that when they went to the voting station for the last election the oath was not in their helper’s preferred language. It was only in French.
  • Participant requests clarification on having the oath in both languages.
  • Elections Canada reiterates that oaths are supposed to be in both languages.  They ask for clarification as to whether this was a Federal Election.
  • Participant says that it was a Federal Election.
  • Elections Canada makes note of this and advises the participant to launch an official complaint if it happens again.

 

From participant – (electronic voting, next by election)

  • Expresses disappointment re the inability to vote electronically.
  • Question:  With legislation just being passed for testing of electronic voting and Elections Canada going to make this a priority, will it be ready in time for when the next by election is held, or two years down the road, or is Elections Canada ready now?  Or is there a lot of work to be done before the next by election?
  • The next question concerns the pencil.  If a pencil is used that leaves a raised mark, would this spoil the ballot?

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (raised marking pencil, to verify)

  • One can bring their own pencil.  A raised pencil should be acceptable.
  • Verification will be sought and a response will be given to participants.
  • Re the first question, the message has been taken very loud and clear from this audience.
  • Elections Canada is hearing that the voting machines work very well in BC and Ontario so why is there a need to do more work
  • These are the two key messages that will be taken back.
  • Participant comments that the audible electronic voting machine works very well in several Provinces.
  • Suggests that maybe they could bring in nail polish to make their mark on the ballot.
  • Elections Canada promises to seek verification on this and to come back to participants with an answer.

 

From participant – (online security challenges)

  • Participant comments that they believe that Elections Canada has done a good job at explaining the security challenges for online voting versus that for online banking.
  • The Government needs to know that the person logging in has the right to do so and that the ballot that they are casting is the one that they wish to cast.
  • There must be complete secrecy without having anyone being able to check.
  • The voting system must be robust enough in order to handle cyber attacks.
  • Question:  Does the mark need to be in a particular style?  Or can one circle the name of the candidate?

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (mark must be placed in the circle)

  • Elections Canada reiterates that the ballot needs to be marked in the circle.  One cannot circle the name of the candidate.

 

From participant – (voter registration cards)

  • Re the voting registration cards:  Could they get a Braille format of it and how does one go about getting it.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (voter information card)

  • It is not available in Braille but one can get their voter information card from Elections Canada’s website.
  • One needs to type in their postal code and they will receive the same information that is on their personalized voter information card.
  • It will tell you where to go to vote, voting options, etc.
  • If you wish to confirm that you are registered to vote then you can do this through the online voter registration system and you will also be told where to go in order to vote.

 

From participant – (template)

  • Participant states that they have never used the template to vote before because their spouse did it for them.
  • They do not use Braille.
  • Question:  How does it work?

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (explanation to be given)

  • Elections Canada states that the participant would need to have someone assist them.
  • Participant states that are not totally blind but does not have enough vision to mark their ballot.
  • Elections Canada suggests that the participant use the lit magnifier    with four times magnification but the participant says that it will not help.
  • Suggestion from one of the hosts:  Person from Elections Canada came in and read out the list, the host counted the holes in the template, and made their mark in the chosen circle.  And the Elections Canada person left after they had read the list.
  • Elections Canada agrees.
  • Participant asks why is online voting allowed in municipal voting?
  • Elections Canada states that for federal elections there is a very high level of security that needs to be met and that with regard to municipal elections, it is very unlikely that one would want to hack into these elections at this level.
  • The same at the provincial level where they may be the same level of interest.
  • The interest for hackers at the federal level is much greater than at the provincial or municipal level.  Hence the high level of security at the federal level.

 

From participant – (clarification of legislation)

  • Participant seeks clarification on the legislation that is being referred to.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (bill C-76)

  • The bill is C-76 and is referred to as the Elections Modernization Act.
  • It received Royal Assent in December 2018.
  • It comes into force on June 13.
  • There will be components of this bill that will not be put into place for the 2019 October 21 Election.

 

From participant – (assistive device)

  • Question:  Is one able to bring in their own assistive device?  Example, Ira or Zoom?
  • Comment:  There should be a way to get to the polling station via public transit.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (assistive device, app)

  • Elections Canada confirms that one can bring in their own assistive electronic device.  You can use an app on your phone.
  • You will be cautioned about uploading your ballot to the Internet because it could compromise secrecy.
  • Returning officers are directed to consider the use of public transit in their selection of polling station.
  • In some Ridings there are assistant returning officers because of their geography.
  • Elections Canada also states that now that they have authority to test electronic devices they can do so through a pilot project and they do not need to get approval from the Senate in order to do so.

 

From participant – (no voting independently)

  • Participant is disillusioned that they are unable to vote independently in a Federal election.
  • They have been able to vote independently in a Municipal election, did it on the phone and entered a code.
  • Comment:  Susan mentioned that it could take 10 years for us to be able to vote electronically and verify our votes.
  • Comment:  Now that the law has been passed, where is Elections Canada going to get testers and where does one volunteer to be testers.

 

Feedback from Elections Canada – (online voting, testers)

  • Elections Canada clarifies the following:  If they were to go with online for every Canadian it would probably be a 10 year horizon and this is the opinion of Susan Torosian and not the CEO of Elections Canada or anyone else.
  • Testing of assistive technology with online voting will be actioned very quickly.
  • The message has been taken that this needs to be done by the time that the first by election is called.
  • With regard to signing up to be testers, a pilot would be conducted through a simulation and it would be done through the communities, organizations, the advisory group on disability issues, and persons would be sought to run through the tests with Elections Canada.

 

The end

 

This blind woman says self-checkouts lower the bar(code) for accessibility | CBC News

If you have a visual impairment, the self-checkout phenomenon can make shopping a difficult and frustrating process.
— Read on www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/self-checkouts-accessibility-concerns-1.5243720

Works of art reimagined by Francine Kopun The Toronto Star

Works of art reimagined

OCAD University students rework a selection of AGO paintings into hands-on art the visually impaired can appreciate

 

Francine Kopun

The Toronto Star, Jan. 4, 2019

 

Peter Coppin remembers the discussion with a visually impaired student that helped him understand how much can be misunderstood when a person has to depend on words to understand what someone else can see.

 

They were talking about Italy and the student knew that Italy is shaped like a boot. But when Coppin described it as a boot with a high heel like the Three Muskateers would wear, the student laughed out loud. He had been envisioning Italy as an entirely different kind of boot shape and the idea of Italy as a Muskateer boot was comical to him.

 

It’s these chasms in understanding that Coppin and the Art Gallery of Ontario are trying to bridge with a program that brings multisensory projects, based on works of visual art, to AGO museum tours for people in the blind and low vision community.

 

While in the past museums have relied heavily on audio recordings and guides to bridge that gap, new practices are being brought on board, including multisensory aids designed by graduate students at OCAD University.

 

“Visuals are dominant in our culture. If you are a part of society and you don’t have access to visual items, then you don’t have access to a lot of  stuff about the culture that people who have vision have access to,” says Coppin, associate professor of the inclusive design graduate program and director of the perceptual artifacts lab at OCAD University.

 

In Coppin’s graduate class, students select a work of art at the AGO to interpret for people living with vision loss.

 

This year – the second year of the program – the works included four paintings: Tom Thomson’s The West Wind, Otto Dix’s Portrait of Dr. Heinrich Stadelmann; La Demoiselle de magasin by James Tissot and Jar of Apricots by Jean-Siméon Chardin.

 

In a way, it’s about getting back to the roots of what museums used to be, said Melissa Smith, co-ordinator of the gallery guide, adult education officer and access to art programs for the AGO.

 

Early museums began as private collections, typically belonging to the wealthy, who would share art and artifacts they had purchased or collected on their travels. They were displayed in “wonder rooms.” People were allowed to touch the items as part of the experience.

 

The AGO already offers multisensory tours for people living with vision loss, which include some works that can be touched – including the museum’s large Rodin sculptures – under supervision, but providing 3-D support for works of visual arts offers the possibility of evoking more than just the sense of touch.

 

For months, Coppin’s students grappled with the idea of how to render the terrifying look on Dr. Stadelmann’s face into a tactile experience and how to communicate the cold of the water in The West Wind.

 

“We were totally drawn to this portrait; the eerie atmosphere,” said student Shannon Kupfer, speaking of the Dix portrait. “I was dying to interpret it.”

 

Dix layered paint on the doctor’s eyes – they appear to bulge. He seems haunted. His hands are in fists by his sides. Kupfer and her partner, Tyson Moll, wanted viewers to feel that tension, and also feel the deep wrinkles in his face.

 

They made a 3-D replica of the doctor’s head in polymer clay that felt cold and a bit yielding, but still firm to the touch. The eyes bulge like they do in the painting.

 

They sewed hair onto his head in little batches, to mimic the strokes of the paintbrush in the painting. They made the body boxy and rigid, to communicate the physical tension in the painting. They gave him a rigid collar, backed by cardboard. His fists were made of polymer clay coated in silicone.

 

They also made it out of products that were easy to care for – the clothes are fastened with Velcro to make it easier for curators to remove them and wash them if necessary.

 

They recorded an audio component – a fluent German speaker reading a passage from one of Dr. Stadelmann’s writings, concerning avant-garde art in relation to what was then considered psychiatric wisdom. They included the hissing noise that used to accompany recordings played on records.

 

“It’s not just engaging for the low-sight community, it’s engaging for everyone. It’s such a cool way to get kids – or anyone – more engaged with art,” Kupfer said.

 

The problem of communicating the coldness of the water in Tom Thomson’s piece was solved more simply, with a bag of blue slime. To convey the feeling of wind, the students invested in a $20 miniature fan from Amazon.com.

 

“When you stand in front of this painting you can feel the strong wind because of the shape of the tree and the waves on the lake,” said student Norbert Zhao.

 

John Rae, who lost his eyesight in his 20s and is now blind, has been on the AGO multisensory tours and experienced the works made by this year’s OCAD students. While he liked the Otto Dix sculpture, some things didn’t communicate as planned. For example, without knowing anything about the painting, when Rae touched the sculpture, he thought the doctor was a boxer wearing gloves, because of the way the hands felt. “That comes from me as a sports fan,” said Rae, a retired public servant and a board member of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians.

 

Rae liked the multisensory adaptation of Jar of Apricots, by students Nikkie To and Grace Mendez. The painting is a still life that includes a jar of apricots, a glass of wine, bread and a cup of tea.

 

Their model included dried apricots for tasting, jarred scents including a cork soaked in wine and apricot jam with added artificial apricot scent; 3-D printed objects including a tea cup and wine glass to handle, background music from the period and others sounds – touching the wine glass triggered the sound of a liquid being poured.

 

While Rae believes the multisensory aids provide another tool, he thinks museums in general need to consider making more objects available for handling by the blind and vision impaired. He cited as an example ancient pottery – while a museum may have perfect examples on display, it may also have imperfect examples in storage. What would be the harm, asks Rae, in making those available to people with limited eyesight, especially since the tours happen infrequently, involve about six to 12 items, and small numbers of people?

 

“One can learn a fair amount from the expertise that the people who run these tours bring to the table, but there is no substitute for being able to touch,” Rae said.

 

The challenge at the AGO, Smith said, is that in an art gallery the works tend to be flat and one-of-a-kind.

 

“Our conservators and curators do their utmost to ensure the objects, like sculptures, which make the most interesting objects to touch, are cared for and exhibited to support this program,” Smith said.

 

Ian White, president of a local Toronto chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind called the CCB Toronto Visionaries, said that while AGO tour leaders excel at describing art in a way that triggers the imagination, the multisensory tours are evocative.

 

“It starts a conversation about the piece, about the artist, about the history,” White said.

 

“It really allows people to engage with works that are part of our collective culture.”

 

 

Guest Post: Braille Literacy Canada Newsletter, November 30, 2018

November 2018 Newsletter

In This Issue

  1. Message from the President (Natalie Martiniello, BLC President)
  2. Braille is …
  3. Helping Santa Deliver Braille Letters: A T-Base Tradition (Cassandra Peterson)
  4. Report on the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference (Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Secretary)
  5. CELA Braille Services Update (Lindsay Tyler, Senior Manager, CELA)
  6. Titres en impression relief et en braille français (Rebecca Blaevoet (BLC Director) and Emmanuel Blaevoet)
  7. Braille Transcription Free of Charge!(CNIB Brailleroom)
  8. UEB Christmas Trees? (Jen Goulden, Past President)
  9. Braille and Technology Together: Braille Screen Input in iOS (Ashley Eve Shaw Galbraith)
  10. Social Media News Links

Message from the President

By Natalie Martiniello, BLC President

Dear BLC friends,

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

This is a quote by Anne Frank that often comes to mind when I observe a gesture – even a small one – that has an impact on someone else. When a hundred small gestures take place at once, then each one contributes to the end result – which is positive change of some kind. And surprisingly, sometimes there are trickle down effects that end up having positive impacts in ways one could not have imagined.

I am a firm believer that few things are “impossible” if you dream big enough, remain committed, and collaborate with the talented and equally passionate people around you.

Just over four months ago, BLC embarked upon a quite ambitious goal for a small volunteer-run organization – Raise $6,500 by November 30th, and a private donor would match every dollar. With this amount in hand, we would have enough to establish a permanent endowment to offer the Edie Mourre scholarship on an annual basis to those pursuing careers as braille transcribers and educators.

Today, as that campaign draws to a close, we have not only met that goal, but have surpassed it. This is a reflection of what is possible when we come together. With $14,000, the Edie Mourre fund will be self-sustaining for the years to come. What a wonderful legacy to Edie Mourre who committed so much of her time to the braille community, and what a wonderful example of how many small gestures could lead to a lasting wave!

The BLC board would like to thank every individual, both within and outside the organization, who supported this initiative in different ways. We would also like to thank two of our corporate members – T-Base Communications for donating $300 and Crawford Technologies for donating $2,500, ensuring that we’d speed through that finish line with a great big triple dot six!

I mentioned trickle down effects. In addition to raising funds, the campaign served as a powerful public education tool. The events held as a consequence educated members of the general public who, beforehand, new little or absolutely nothing at all about blindness and braille. After our storytelling fundraiser in Montreal (performed by our fabulous board Secretary, Kim Kilpatrick) we received a letter from someone who had attended our show and said that they had learned so much about braille, equal access and literacy for people who are blind. These moments are great triumphs – because every time we tackle misconceptions, we are chipping away at the inaccuracies that may exist about blindness, and which sometimes lead to questions like “is braille really important, anyway?” A few more people out there can now answer – Yes, of course it is! Right alongside us.

So, as we approach the holidays, the BLC board would like to thank all of you for your commitment and dedication – and may this serve as a reminder of what is possible when we come together!

You will find many treasures in the coming pages. Among them, T-Base tells us about their partnership with Santa himself and how blind children can receive a letter in braille from Santa this holiday season. Tactile Vision Graphics shares with us their French braille resources for children. Jen Goulden, Past President, tackles another transcription conundrum. Kim Kilpatrick, Secretary, gives us a recap of the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference. Over the past month, we’ve asked members to tell us what words and thoughts come to mind when they hear the word “braille”. The collection of responses is found in this issue, and the power of literacy rings true in every word!

Finally, remember that BLC runs on a calendar year from January 1st to December 31st, which means it is soon time to renew your membership. To learn more about membership options (annual, lifetime and corporate) and member benefits, visit our website at www.brailleliteracycanada.ca or write to us at info@blc-lbc.ca. Members who are due for renewal can expect to receive an invoice from PayPal in the coming days to make the process easy and painless.

From the entire BLC board to you, happy holidays! Here’s to another year of endless possibilities.

Yours truly,
Natalie Martiniello
President, Braille Literacy Canada

Braille is …

We’ve asked BLC members and friends to complete the sentence “braille is…”. Here is what they had to say!

Braille is…

…Independence (Tammy, braille reader)

…An excellent tool (Walter, Low Vision Therapist/Researcher)

…Fun to read in the dark under the covers so I don’t get cold! (Steph, adult braille learner)

…A necessity (Chantal, braille reader)

…rough! (Albert, blind technology trainer)

…magical (Kim, braille reader)

…A true “feeling” of beauty (Veena, Low Vision Therapist)

…Literacy (Elizabeth, braille reader)

…fun! I like playing braille bingo and braille memory games! (Ainsley, Grade 3)

…The best way to teach and learn!

…Memorizing

…The best way to help me learn

…Useful on elevators, money and medication (Ahmad, ESL student)

…Reading, writing and math

…Information

…Entertainment

…Helping (Santiago, ESL Student)

…The best way for blind people to study

…An international language for blind people

…Like a secret code! (I think you’re smarter if you can read braille, because not everyone on the street can read Braille!) (Fatlum, ESL student)

…the gateway to Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, Regency England, Green Gables … and so much more! (Jen, lifelong braille reader: so many books, so little time!)

…a lifetime of memories of storybooks, campfires, bedtimes, make-believing and library adventures (Natalie, lifelong braille reader)

…what print is to you: a door and a window to everything!

…B – Believing
R – Reaching
A – Achieving
I – Imagining
L – Limitless
L – Learning
E – Empowering

Helping Santa Deliver Braille Letters: A T-Base Tradition

By Cassandra Peterson

Editor’s Note: T-Base is a corporate member of BLC and Jessica Blouin sits on the BLC board as our T-Base representative. This article is reprinted with permission and can be found on the T-Base website at https://www.tbase.com/helping-santa-deliver-braille-letters-a-t-base-tradition/?fbclid=IwAR3KkhcZpniRS_3fqjkYemW5Th_av0GfFEi5oqr5LTKjvxAQe30UvpJFpo4.

Cassie Peterson, Marketing Coordinator at T-Base Communications, sat down with Jessica Blouin, Manager of Transcription Services, to talk about an initiative near and dear to our hearts here at T-Base: the Santa Letter Program. Every year we help Santa deliver braille letters to children who are blind or have low vision.

C: How long has T-Base been participating in the Santa Letter Program?

J: T-Base has been participating in the Santa Letter Program for over a decade.

C: Please tell us about the process.

J: Every year in the fall we receive a call from Kris Kringle himself. He tells us how many children he needs to respond to in braille, plus how many of those need a response in English and how many need a response in French. Santa provides us with his print response to each child’s letter, and then our Transcription team gets to work! As is the case with all documents we transcribe into braille (or other alternate formats), Santa’s letters go through rigorous quality assurance checks to ensure nothing is amiss and that the transcribed documents meet Santa’s high expectations. Finally, we help pack up the letters for Santa to deliver.

C: By which date should children send their letter to Santa?

J: Children should send their letters to Santa by the 10th of December. (If you send one after, he might not have enough time to respond before the big day!)

C: What address should children send their letters to?

J: Children should send their letters to Santa Claus at his North Pole address:

Santa Claus
North Pole HOH OHO
CANADA

C: Why is it important that T-Base participates in this program every year?

J: For children, receiving a letter from Santa Claus is a great joy during the holiday season, and it is one all children should have the opportunity to experience. I do remember how happy I was as a child receiving a letter back from Santa. Collaborating with Santa on this project is important to T-Base because we get to help ensure children who are blind or have low vision experience the same joy their sighted family members and friends experience. This is such a wonderful program.

C: What feedback have you received on this program?

J: T-Base has always received positive feedback on the Santa Letter Program. We have heard from both parents and teachers that children are always so happy and thankful to receive a braille letter from Santa in the mail.

C: In what other ways is T-Base committed to ensuring that people who are blind or low vision have access to information?

J: At T-Base, we believe that equal access to information is key to literacy and independent living, regardless of whether that information is in a simple letter from Santa Claus or a complex math textbook. Everyone has the same rights, and we are committed to ensuring that organizations have the resources they need to provide their customers who are blind or low vision with equal access to information. We produce statements, documents and textbooks in a wide range of alternate formats: accessible PDF, e-Text, audio, braille and reflowed large print. We also give $2,000 every year to one or two post-secondary students who are blind or low vision through the T-Base-AEBC Scholarship Program (in support of an accessible education).

C: What are some other holiday traditions at T-Base?

J: Typically, we host a potluck lunch at the office and Secret Santa gift exchange. This year we will have an ugly holiday sweater fashion show.

C: Wonderful! Thanks for letting our readers know about the program and T-Base’s involvement in it. Something else our readers might be interested in hearing about is your favourite memory from a T-Base holiday gathering.

J: My favourite memory from a T-Base holiday gathering is when Scott Bagshaw, Production Manager, dressed up as Santa Claus, sang karaoke and handed out candy canes to the team.

C: Before we wrap up, what is on your wish list this holiday season?

J: A puppy! Besides that, I know everyone here at T-Base wishes our readers a safe and happy holiday.

Report on the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference

By Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Secretary

The 2018 Braille conference took place for the first time at the Ontario Science Centre on October 18 and 19, 2018.

This was a wonderful venue and it was nice to have the braille conference in a public place where the many visitors saw people moving around with canes, guide dogs, and lots of braille in hand.

As usual, there were many workshops on a multitude of topics and several BLC board members presented on research, braille and technology, and more. Among these talks Past-President Jen Goulden and I (BLC Secretary) presented on the use of refreshable braille with iOS, President Natalie Martiniello presented the preliminary results from her qualitative study on the experiences of older adults who have learned braille, and director Rebecca Blaevoet presented on Tactile Vision Graphics. BLC board members also had the opportunity to circulate our new print-braille BLC bookmarks – available upon request!

The AMI Audio show Kelly and Companybroadcasted live from the conference on both days and several BLC members were featured on this show.

As usual, one highlight for me was hearing the winners of the braille creative writing contest for students in elementary and high schools from across Canada.

I was excited to touch for the first time, the first ever multi-line braille display (The Canute) which may be on the market within the next year or so.

As usual, it was wonderful and heart warming to be in a room filled with others who love braille as much as we all do.

CELA Braille Services Update

By Lindsay Tyler, Senior Manager, CELA

Braille readers who receive books from the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) are receiving books in a new way. Since April 2018, we emboss a fresh copy of each braille book we send. This procedure allows us to offer as many copies of each book as needed, so readers do not need to wait for others to return a book before they can receive it. Each copy we send is fresh and crisp.

Instead of sending braille books in a cloth bag, we send them in a cardboard box which can be recycled along with the book. Readers may choose to keep books, if they prefer.

Printbraille books (children’s picture books with braille added) are the exception to this new system; readers must continue to return them.

The formatting of the books is different, too. Newly transcribed books are formatted as a single volume with continuous page numbers. The title will appear in the header as well as at the beginning of the book. Previously transcribed books are split into parts of about 80 pages each.

Looking forward, CELA staff are planning a new website that will bring even more books to Canadian braille readers. The new website will bring together Bookshare’s braille offerings with CELA’s in a single, accessible site.

The new year will also bring the opportunity to exchange books with libraries for people with print disabilities in the United States and Europe, thanks to their recent ratifications of the Marrakesh Treaty. The goal of the Marrakesh Treaty is to remove barriers so that organizations like CELA can share accessible reading materials with other similar organizations in countries who have signed the Treaty.

As we work to improve our services and offer you greater access to books and information, we hope you will let us know how we are doing. Visit our website at http://www.celalibrary.ca, email us at help@celalibrary.ca or call 1-855-655-2273.

Those who are interested can also contact CELA to subscribe to the hard copy braille version of the BLC newsletter.

Titres en impression relief et en braille français

By Rebecca Blaevoet (BLC Director) and Emmanuel Blaevoet

Note: We’ve received several requests lately for information on where to purchase french print-braille books. In this article, Rebecca and Emmanuel from Tactile Vision Graphics describe their French collection. We will include an English translation of this article in the January issue.

Tactile Vision Graphics Inc. a toujours eu le but de produire toutes nos ressources et en Anglais et en Français. Notre entreprise est de très petite taille, donc nous n’avons pas encore été capables de produire en Français la totalité des titres qui existent en Anglais. Il nous a fallu faire des choix au départ. Il reste encore du travail.

Pour commencer, il nous a semblé que le domaine le plus important et celui par où il fallait commencer était les ressources pour le développement des concepts: la littératie et la numératie.

Chaque livre contient un peu de texte, en braille intégral, évidemment, et une image correspondante que les enfants peuvent toucher, (et même colorier) et discuter.

Les images tactiles enseignent des concepts importants:

  • Les formes de bases;
  • Accorder une image avec un mot qui le décrit;
  • L’orientation spatiale;
  • La directionalité;
  • La taille relative;
  • Le commencement de l’abstraction, qui est une connaissance critique pour le développement de l’enfant et la préparation à sa vie d’adulte;
  • Une représentation des choses qui sont plus difficiles à toucher en réalité (une maison par exemple)

Ainsi nous avons en catalogue un série de livres tactiles pour enfants, parmi eux « Mon Abécédaire », « Mon Livre des Chiffres » et « Discret Comme Une Souris: un Petit Livre des Similarités »

Au delà notre collection de livres pour enfants, nous avons aussi plusieurs cartes de vœux pour toutes les occasions et des livres à colorier avec les titres en impression relief et en braille français.

Nous vous invitons à visiter notre site web, chercher le “shop” et découvrir l’étendue de nos publications.

Vous pouvez aussi bien sûr nous appeler pour poser des questions ou pour placer une commande au (226) 221-8849

http://www.tactilevisiongraphics.com

Braille Transcription Free of Charge!

By CNIB Brailleroom

We’re all familiar with the adage “Nothing in life is free”; but the CNIB Brailleroom can braille just about anything, free of charge, for CNIB clients and their families.

  • Letters and greeting cards
  • Household labels
  • Music scores
  • Course materials
  • Prescription/medical information

Note that this is not an exhaustive list.

Email your text in a Word document to: brailleroom@cnib.ca

Mail or drop off your printed materials:

CNIB Brailleroom (Room 104)
1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4G 3E8

UEB Christmas Trees?

By Jen Goulden, Past President

It is that time of year again, and it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas where I live. You might be wondering how I could possibly make a connection between Christmas trees and UEB, but whether you prefer to decorate a pine, spruce or Douglas fir, they are all conifers … or coniferous.

So here’s the question for transcribers: Are they con-i-fer-ous or co-ni-fer-ous trees?

Section 10.6.1 of the UEB rule book states the following: Use the lower groupsign for “be”, “con” or “dis” when the letters it represents form the first syllable of a word (such as concept or control … or contraction). According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary the first syllable of both conifer and coniferous is “co”. This means that the “con” contraction cannot be used.

I think the main cause of the confusion is that DBT does use “con” in these words. Ironically, there was no “con” in conifer or coniferous before UEB either. This is just another example showing that not much has changed in literary braille with the update to UEB.

Of course, we could just avoid the co-nun-drum altogether by simply calling them evergreens!

Braille and Technology Together: Braille Screen Input in iOS

By Ashley Eve Shaw Galbraith

People often ask me if braille skills are still useful, given the recent development of technologically advanced accessibility solutions. There are many reasons why braille is still necessary, but some of my favorite examples are the ways in which braille and technology intersect. Braille screen input, for instance, provides touch screen users with a typing method that is both fast and efficient.

For users of Apple’s iOS, Braille Screen Input has been a standard feature of the screen reader VoiceOver for several years now. The option allows users to enter text by touching the screen with the combination of fingers associated with each Braille character, in either contracted or uncontracted Braille. Accessed through the Voiceover Rotor in any text field, this option allows Braille users to type much faster than with the touch screen’s qwerty keyboard. It also allows for a greater degree of discretion than the use of text dictation, and makes it possible to enter long passwords with ease and privacy. Since Unified English Braille is an available translation table, I’ve also been able to get a lot of practice with UEB whenever I use my iPhone.

Learning to use touch screen Braille takes a bit of initial effort. The user holds the device in landscape mode, either on a flat surface or with the screen facing outward. Touching and holding fingers on the screen will activate Explore Mode, and the device will report the corresponding combination of dots from the Braille cell. A single finger swipe to the right enters a space, a single swipe to the left erases the previous character, a two finger swipe to the left erases the previous word, and a two finger swipe to the right starts a new line. Swiping up and down after completing a word provides any alternative suggestions. After a bit of practice, the user will be able to type quickly and smoothly.

Before Braille screen input was available, I was stuck either carrying around a Bluetooth keyboard, or typing relatively slowly on the touch screen qwerty keyboard. Now I use Braille to type text messages, emails, web addresses and phone numbers. This is just one example of Braille’s versatility and efficiency when combined with technology.

Social Media News Links

Social Media Links

Here are just some of the gems posted on BLC social media platforms since the last issue: Follow us on twitter or like us on Facebook for more!

Time to celebrate – the United States ratifies the Marrakesh Treaty! https://benetech.org/united-states-ratifies-marrakesh-treaty/

Brick-A-Braille teaching system – available for testing: https://robotics.benedettelli.com/braille/?fbclid=IwAR3V7N-aUd-rKLS9NOBqO5vfW8NjDMM_vsPSg8c4pE9BX6WutB1Z9BHXQYA#download

A story about introducing braille to sighted children: https://www.wvnews.com/prestoncountynews/news/read-aloud-program-incorporates-fun-into-reading/article_d9588de6-f61d-5cdd-9bb3-5438a6cb1501.html?fbclid=IwAR0syl8PYUrtygJxvm-a4R3eZtbWbRuY1VNDREVLy2YgrOqucP2ghxCkvWI

Custom-made braille cards with your personalized messages – great for the holidays! https://www.sensorysun.org/blog/send-braille-cards/?fbclid=IwAR1j9358r3brESYoBBIjO7bbGF522Zb6ozirQDSqSpFeAi07y5Zmz6vxExI

Is braille still relevant in the 21st century workplace? spoiler alert Like print, the answer is… YES!! https://www.afb.org/blog/careerconnect-blog/is-braille-useful-on-the-job/12?fbclid=IwAR3uFG1xExtQzLj4nCUZjN0PBlxGZe01G-AMRbQzB7YI4fNvhF0wmtlsgbQ

Tips for teaching braille to students with decreased tactile sensitivity: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/blog/12-more-ideas-teaching-braille-students-decreased-tactile-sensitivity?fbclid=IwAR0XO6_SSqFDL9510HlCjG5UMStxwLA9AvM9GUaeXQp3HC1P3x33vmCOg4s

French alphabet print-braille book available through Tactile Vision Graphics: http://tactilevisiongraphics.com/product/livre-en-braille-mon-abcdaire/?fbclid=IwAR2RMKDsHCjPoQhS1a5mhph3U-bzkVWBJhcAbOWiU3jzMSc23AGblC6rpU0

The SENSEsational Alphabet Book is back in stock at Seedlings! This popular book for ages 0-5 features the English alphabet in print, braille and sign language. Kids can press the buttons to hear each letter, as well as feel and smell pictures of items starting with each letter: http://www.seedlings.org/details.php?id=1353&cat=0&search=SENSEsational&fbclid=IwAR0c0uwhFaej9mUPV0ShdVyWb9T_yqa6NNivyhnhD5Or4L5UWtOEAOIUdd8

The Bank of Canada has announced that it will begin to phase out the bank note reader program. It has been determined “that there are more modern devices that can be used to denominate bank notes”. For example, did you know that all paper money in Canada has tactile markings to help blind and LowVision people identify each bill? For more information, visit: https://cnib.ca/en/news/bank-note-reader-program-and-recall?region=qc&fbclid=IwAR3B5sHXRMs28PioUSfxZ8YR1feDLF3p_tldayH_yqyHh0UlC15VhMxZ-8A

A collection of high-interest short stories from National Braille Press for adults who are learning uncontracted braille! Visit: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/resources/short-stories-adults-learning-uncontracted-ueb?fbclid=IwAR2-MbIffsCryGdmfve9WQ-SAD1Tq1MUEC1UfnHw5Z7pl27V79MDjm81xT0


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Game-Changing Technology: A Review of the Horizon Smart Glasses from Aira – AccessWorld® – June 2018

AccessWorld: Technology and People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired is a monthly periodical for anyone who uses or wants to use assistive technology, provides technology training, has students or clients who use technology, needs to make purchasing decisions, or wants to keep abreast of technological trends and events.
— Read on www.afb.org/afbpress/pubnew.asp

New app just released called voicedream writer.

Posted by Kim Kilpatrick

When looking through my app updates, I noticed that one of my favourite apps: voicedream reader had an update.

They said they have released a new app called voicedream writer.

It is a paid app like voicedream reader.

It allows you to write and edit.

It is new but has anyone tried it?

Maybe we will try to get a promo code to try it or maybe I’ll just buy it because I love voicedream reader so much.

If anyone has tried it, please let me know at 

gttprogram@gmail.com

Voicedream reader could be a topic for a future national conference call if people would like that.

The link for the Blaze EZ sold in Canada by Aroga technologies.

One of our upcoming conference calls for GTT will be on December 17 at 8 Pm Eastern.

Steve from Aroga technologies will be discussing one of the new digital talking book players (The Blaze EZ)

Here is the web site information on this device where you can also find audio tutorials.

http://www.aroga.com/blaze-ez-daisy-player/