Study on the use of remote, video-based assistance

The following is a message from Envision Research Institute and Wichita State University faculty member Vinod Namboori: 

We are conducting a study on the use of remote, video-based assistance by blind and visually impaired (BVI) individuals. We want to survey BVI individuals who have used mobile apps like Facetime, Skype, BeMyEyes, AIRA to receive remote, video-based assistance from a sighted person. Results of this study will help us understand how mobile apps might best offer remote, video-based sighted assistance to BVI individuals in overcoming challenges faced in performing routine tasks. 

If you are someone with blindness or low vision, and have received remote, video-based assistance in the past, we invite you to complete an anonymous short survey on your experience and preferences. Completing this survey should not take more than 15 minutes using a computer, tablet, or smartphone with reliable Internet connection. Link to survey: https://forms.gle/33NmDtFptnYTVyy26

If you have any questions, please contact Vinod Namboori at vinod.namboodiri@wichita.edu  

 

CCB National Newsletter: Visions, April 2019

 

VISIONS

 

 

Canadian Council of the Blind

Newsletter

 

 

April 2019

 

 

“A lack of sight is

not a lack of vision”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President’s Message++

1 Louise Gillis – National President

As we March into spring, weather is improving and everyone is becoming more active. We continue to be active at the National level on working toward great access medications and health care by proving input to companies and Government at all levels. As new medications become available or are in the very preliminary stages, we along with other organizations, are providing information regarding accessibility concerns that many of us have to try to avoid as many issues as possible by the time they reach end users.

 

Several groups have been busy preparing submissions to Canada Transport Agency and the CRTC regarding their proposed regulations prior to these regulations moving to Government for final approval. The regulations along with the Accessible Canada Act are not perfect but at this stage it is very important to have them passed in legislation before the summer recess. Once in place they will provide greater accessibility to all federally run jurisdictions. They will come up for review in five years which gives more time for organizations to provide recommendations for change where needed. The submissions take a great deal of time and work, by all the committees, for which I thank everyone involved for their hard work and dedication.

 

Also, I wish to thank the over 450 people who responded to the technology survey which was completed and now is being compiled. This has given a lot of valuable information, which will be submitted to government, and will be very useful toward the hiring of persons with sight loss by government in their budget promise of 5000 persons with disabilities over the next five years.

 

CCB’s other committees such as By Laws, Membership and Advocacy continue to meet on a regular basis on their differing agendas. Other groups that have met over the month of March are World Blind Union (WBU),, Consumer Access Group (CAG), Barrier Free Canada (BFC), and Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) for which we have representation.

 

Check the website for these groups for their latest updates. { WBU – CAG – www.cag-tccdv.ca/ all position papers are on the site. WBU http://www.worldblindunion.org. The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization representing the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members are organizations of and for the blind in 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment.  BFC – http://barrierfreecanada.org/. Barrier-Free Canada/Canada Sans Barriers (BFC/CSB) advocates for the Canadian Parliament to enact a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA) to achieve a barrier-free Canada for all persons with disabilities. BLC – www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/ BLC is a not-for-profit corporation committed to braille promotion and the right of braille users to equal access to printed information.}

 

Check out GTT & CCB Health and Fitness for the latest news items through Facebook, blog and twitter. There are lots of helpful hints, tips and ideas there for many of our individual needs. Now that curling is over watch for news on the Atlantic Sports & Recreation Weekend coming up in May.

 

It is important for members to keep active in whatever way they can at local, divisional and national levels. That can be by going to socials, sports & recreational activities, advocacy, membership development, mentoring, or taking a leadership role. Everyone counts no matter the level of ability. Enjoy Visions and send in any interesting items you may taking place in your community.

Louise Gillis, National President

Announcements

 

 

Thank You Volunteers++

In Celebration of National Volunteer Week

Canada is a nation where volunteering is a mainstay.  According to Volunteer Canada’s website, 12.7 million volunteers currently give of their time, energy, skills and experience.

National Volunteer Week takes place from April 7-13 this year.  There is no better time to thank the many volunteers that contribute to CCB’s success.  We have recently marked out 75th Anniversary; we know that volunteer power played an important role in helping our organization to reach that milestone.

 

Volunteers fulfill a wide variety of positions nation-wide within the 80+ chapters throughout Canada.  Leadership roles, such as President, Treasurer and secretary are occupied by volunteers.

 

Each chapter allows for a certain percentage of volunteers with vision to help with some administrative tasks.  At the national level, volunteers serve on CCB’s Board of Directors.  Chapter volunteers also staff display booths, assist with special events and provide help and support during programs and activities.

 

Peers volunteer to teach peers through the Get Together with Technology (GTT) program.  Volunteer guides guide and assist those involved in sports programs. Sighted volunteers provide some help with Book Clubs.

Volunteers also serve on various committees both within CCB as well as in the community at large. Their tireless efforts are helping to break down barriers and create a more inclusive Canada.  Advocacy, pharmacare, transportation and telecommunications groups have become more aware of the requirements of those living with vision loss thanks largely to the input from those who give of their time and experience.

Volunteers also contribute to our monthly Visions newsletter.

It is said that one of the prime reasons that people choose to volunteer is having been deeply and personally affected by a cause or situation.  In many instances, those who have directly or indirectly experience vision loss have chosen to take what they have learned and experienced to bring about positive changes for themselves and others. With the trend toward short-term, episodic volunteering, it is worth noting that many of CCB’s volunteers have been involved with CCB for many years.

 

Those in the blind/low vision community and beyond would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the volunteers involved with the Canadian Council of the Blind. During National Volunteer Week and throughout the year, please take the time to thank the volunteers for their continued enthusiastic support for CCB.

 

Peterborough Woman Wins Medal for Making Angels for Service Personnel++

 

In mid-January of this year, Suzanne Thomas, formerly a CCB member in Toronto, now living in Peterborough, was struck speechless when she received a medal from Chief of Defense General Jonathan Vance for the angels she provides for service personnel around the world.

 

2 Suzanne Thomas working at her craft table

A highlight of Suzanne’s involvement with CCB in Toronto was when she took on Howard Moscoe, who was not only a city councilor at the time, but also chair of the board of the Toronto Transit Commission.  In that position, Moscoe encountered a good deal of opposition from blind or partially sighted patrons who were bounced off the Wheeltrans program because they didn’t use wheelchairs.  CNIB didn’t take up the cause, but CCB Toronto, led by Suzanne, gave voice to the issues, and was successful in getting many of the patrons back on the program.  Now, the Thomases daughter, Debora is a vice-president of CCB Peterborough chapter.

 

“I was blown away,” Suzanne said in a recent interview about the medal for CCB Peterborough chapter’s weekly radio show, Insight Peterborough.  “General Vance says that they love these angels that come in the Christmas boxes that go all over the world.  They’ve got them hanging on their shaving mirrors, on their key rings, on the ceiling of their little huts, on their night tables, and on their filing cabinets.”

 

Suzanne has received many E-mails from the people who have received her angels.

 

“Some of them are very sad, some of them are funny,” she recalled.  “There was a young fellow, and he was 20 years old.  He said: ‘I hope you’re not offended, but I have a bomb-sniffing dog.   She goes first, so I put my angel on her harness so that if she dies, I want to have the angel go with her.’”

 

In the past “ten years plus,” Suzanne has made 40,000 angels.

 

“The only thing that slowed me down was that I got sick, and had to spend a lot of time in bed,” Suzanne recalled.  “I’m kind of panicking, because I want all my kids to get an angel.  You see, when you’re 74, you can call all these people your kids.  I have to have the boxes ready by September 1 so that they can go down to Nova Scotia.  They may put them on a frigate,” Suzanne continued, and then I’ve got angels in the helicopters, the American helicopters, and the big airplane that sends supplies over to the countries that they’re going to, and it’s army, navy, air force, and military police.  They all get these angels, and so do the heads of staff.

3 A close up of Suzanne’s beads.

Suzanne explained that the angels are made with seven safety pins, each containing five beads, a bit of wire, and a bow which serves as the wings.  The halo is made of much smaller beads.

 

Suzanne said that she has no idea when her medal actually arrived at her house.

 

“It was in the mail during the strike, and then the mailbox froze, so I don’t know how long it was in there before we got it, but it was a lovely surprise.”

By Devon Wilkins.

The Canadian Blind Chess Association and the 2019 Quebec City tournament++

 

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 info on the annual Quebec chess tournament please go to this link https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zcji13ezaskeepa/AACsNyfRJWHOtIxw25Vz5xIia?dl=0

 

 

Gor more information about the Quebec City tournament and to look for the Canadian Blind Chess Association on Facebook, contact Rebecca at

amrywoddyddiauheulog@gmail.com

or at cqpa@bellnet.ca

 

 

Assistive Technology

 

 

 

Get Together with Technology (GTT) at CSUN, March 13 to 15, 2019++

 

Thanks to Markido Inc. of Ottawa

(https://markido.com/try?utm_source=markido.com&utm_content=try-topnav ), four CCB staff and volunteers had the great good fortune to attend the 34th CSUN Conference in Anaheim California.

 

Visit the GTT network for reports from Kim Kilpatrick, Rebecca Jackson, Maryse Glaude- Beaulieu and Albert Ruel.

 

Sam Burns, CEO of Markido Inc. promoted their PowerPoint Plug-in, “Engage” during CSUN and you can get a peak at its great support for accessible presentations by activating the below links.

4 People entering the conference (photo from http://www.csun.edu)

You can download your own free version and see how it will help you get access to all the information in the PowerPoint presentations you receive, and to create your own accessible presentations for circulation.

 

One of the exciting products produced by Markido is Engage.

( https://markido.com/about )

 

Engage is a PowerPoint add-in that lets people of any skill-level create visually impressive presentations. Engage comes with thousands of design assets that are easy to incorporate into any presentation using drag and drop functionality. Users can also create and edit infographics and data maps right in PowerPoint.

 

Make your presentations more accessible for people with disabilities.

( https://markido.com/engage )

 

Run our accessibility tests to get an overview of how accessible your presentation is.

 

-We provide quick and convenient shortcuts to fix the issues that are found.

-Visually check and fix the screen reading order of your slides without having to use the selection pane.

-Add a slide description so users with screen readers can get an overview of what the slide is about before reading the detailed content.

 

Over 100,000 amazing presentations have been created with Engage.

 

Get a free trial version of Engage. (https://markido.com/try?utm_source=markido.com&utm_content=try-topnav )

 

 

 

Donna’s Low Tech Tips, Pen Friend++

 

Meet the Pen Friend.  If you have not already been introduced to this nifty little gadget then here is your opportunity.  Meet this very affordable and very useful little gadget.  It was developed by the RNIB of Britain.

 

Yes, it is shaped like a large pen and has a very nice speaker that enables you to hear what you are doing.  The Pen Friend enables you to label things using specially adapted tiny labels.  The instructions can be accessed on the card that it comes with; a really nifty way to produce instructions.  This is how it works.

 

– When you turn on your Pen Friend you hear some very delightful sounds and then you know that Pen Friend is ready to go to work.

– Place Pen Friend on one of those special labels that comes with your Pen Friend then press the record button.

– Give a short audio description of what you want the label to describe.

– Press a button to end the recording.

– Now you are ready to complete the task by taking your label and placing it on wherever you want it to be. Can, tin, box, file folder, whatever.

– You can go back to what you have just labeled and using your Pen Friend you can tell what you have just done.

– Turn on Pen Friend and voila! With the press of a button Pen Friend will tell you what your label says; what you have just recorded in your own voice.

 

This is indeed a neat little gadget and is extremely affordable.  You can find this gadget at such places as http://www.maxiaids.com and http://www.independentlivingaids.com  So go out there and make friends with the Pen Friend. To contact me, send me an email at info@sterlingcreations.ca

 

In the News

 

 

  Lynda Todd with art displayed, “Rites of Passage” series, at Cavan Art Gallery, Cavan, Ontario++

 

Visually impaired artist paints her mark in galleries!

 

Lynda Todd was born into a family of artists, so she naturally had an affinity for creative expression. However, she never took herself seriously as an artist. Why not?  Lynda was born legally blind and much of her remaining vision is colour blind.

 

5 Lynda Todd with “Rites of Passage” series at Cavan Art Gallery

In spite of this challenge, Valerie Kent, Director of Cavan Art Gallery, encouraged Lynda to take lessons and she started acrylic abstract painting. Her desire to explore and express creativity have resulted in unique colour choices melded with interesting use of texture. This particular medium has evoked an intense desire to communicate and express herself to the visual world.

 

Valerie was able to ascertain early on Lynda, “was painting from the heart.”

 

“I am blown away with the interest and enthusiasm that my work has garnered.  Commissions and sales starting occurring immediately. Then I received multiple gallery acceptances.  I would never have thought I would find my happy place in a paint studio!” stated Lynda

 

She describes her visual disability as an “inconvenience”. Lynda is active in her community striving to bring awareness to those living with inconveniences and provide education and understanding to create a more inclusive and kind community.

 

She believes anyone facing a challenge can achieve whatever they want to.  Sometimes modifications may need to be made to make that happen.  Everything is possible. Including a blind woman creating visual, expressive and beautiful art.

6 Lynda’s art in the Cavan Gallery

 

Moving from a small town Lynda had no idea how much her life would expand with so many more opportunities living in the city of Peterborough, Ontario. She has embraced her “inconvenience” and speaks about it openly providing education and awareness through motivational speaking.

 

One opportunity keeps leading to another. So many doors have opened now that she has the independence to get around herself and embrace city life.

Lynda is a wife, mother, artist, motivational speaker and adrenaline junkie who enjoys axe throwing, tandem bike riding, and pistol shooting.

 

Her art has been accepted in three galleries plus a solo show:

  • Paul’s Art & Frame Gallery, Peterborough
  • Solo feature artist for the month of June.
  • Gala opening will be June 1st.
  • Spirit of the Hills Art Association Show and Sale, Warkworth April – September
  • Miskwaa Gallery, July – August
  • Cavan Art Gallery- ongoing

Check out her website at www.lyndatodd.com

 

Get Free On-Demand Verbal Descriptions of Museums ++

Starting this spring, Smithsonian visitors who are blind or have low vision can access a groundbreaking technology that uses their smartphone cameras or special glasses to get free on-demand verbal descriptions of everything from individual objects to entire exhibitions from sighted agents. The Aira technology is available at all Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., and the National Zoo. The new service is provided by Access Smithsonian, which oversees accessibility and inclusion activities for Smithsonian visitors.

 

“For far too long, museum visitors with vision loss have depended on accompanying friends and family to help them navigate around museums,” said Beth Ziebarth, director of Access Smithsonian. “Now, with the touch of a button, visitors have instant access that not only helps them engage with the museum but also increases their mobility and independence. In the words of one recent user, ‘This revolutionizes the way people with vision loss experience museums.’”

 

Visitors can access Aira in two ways: by downloading the app to their iPhone or Android smartphone or by using their personal Aira smart glasses—at no cost to the user. In both cases, through artificial intelligence and augmented reality, visitors will be connected to highly trained sighted live agents who can see from their remote location what is in front of or near the user. The agent then helps the visitor navigate the museum.

For instance, in the National Museum of American History, live agents can guide visitors to specific objects, such as the Ruby Slippers; specific exhibitions, such as “The First Ladies” and the Star-Spangled Banner Gallery; as well as restrooms, cafés and museum stores. Ongoing services and materials for visitors who are blind or have low vision will continue to be available, including Braille and large-print brochures and docent-led verbal-description tours. In addition, talking tactile floor plans will soon be installed in the National Museum of American History.

 

About Access Smithsonian

Established in 1991, Access Smithsonian believes the Smithsonian’s exhibitions, programming and content should be inclusive, integrated, independent and dignified. The office is charged with ensuring that all visitors, including people with disabilities, are able to benefit from and have access to what the Smithsonian offers in its buildings, collections and programs. Through collaborations with Smithsonian museums, Access Smithsonian improves access to existing resources and helps design new programs, exhibits and buildings that are accessible to all. Signature programs include Morning at the Museum, designed for youth with sensory-processing disorders and other brain-based disabilities; See Me, for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers; and Project SEARCH, a 10-month internship-to-job training program for young adults with intellectual disabilities. For information, visit http://www.si.edu/visit/VisitorsWithDisabilities.

 

About Aira

AI stands for Artificial Intelligence; RA stands for Remote Assistance. When you put them together, you get Aira. Aira is a service that connects people who are blind or have low vision to highly trained, remotely located agents.

 

At the touch of a button, Aira delivers instant access to information, enhancing everyday efficiency, engagement and independence.

 

Breaking barriers: accessibility at home a costly process++

It’s just a few centimeters 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, 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 of Canadians live with some sort of physical disability, according to Statistics Canada.

 

“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 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 centimeters 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 client’s 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 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 www.ilcanada.ca

By Blair Crawford

www.ccbnational.net

ccb@ccbnational.net

1-877-304-0968

GTT Toronto Summary Notes, CSUN Assistive Tech Conference Summary, March 21, 2019

Summary Notes

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group

March 21, 2019

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with the CNIB Foundation

 

The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Toronto Group was held on Thursday, March 21 at the CNIB Community Hub.

 

*Note: Reading Tip: These summary notes apply HTML headings to help navigate the document. With screen readers, you may press the H key to jump forward or Shift H to jump backward from heading to heading.

 

Theme: 2019 CSUN Assistive Tech Conference Summary

 

GTT Toronto Meeting Summary Notes can be found at this link:

 

Ian White (Facilatator, GTT)

Jason Fayre (Presenter)

 

Jason opened the meeting. He invited questions and input.

 

General Discussion:

A member raised the topic that AIRA is offering 3 months of free service. You’re eligible if you’ve never paid for AIRA before. The deal is on till March 29. You pay your first month at $29 U.S. and your next 3 months are free, 30 minutes per month. You don’t get glasses; you just use your phone. Another member described a device he had with him. Samsung has an in-house accessibility program. They offer a free, downloadable program that works with virtual reality glasses. The member passed the device around. It’s something wearable on your face, that holds your phone, and augments what the camera sees, in various ways. It’s a device for people with low vision. It’s a competitor to Iris Vision and New Eyes. It’s mainly for magnification and enhancement.

Another member raised a problem watching Netflix on his phone, and the controls get minimized Another member said she called Netflix, and they say it’s an iPhone issue. She recommends when the “show controls” button comes up, tap and hold. Netflix has an accessibility team; Twitter might be one way to find them. The first member said he now uses his Apple watch to control it. Someone else recommended that if you want to track down an accessibility person at a particular company, try finding them on LinkedIn.

Someone raised the question of what’s going on with CELA. When will their website be fixed. A member said that downloading and direct-to-player should now be working. They completely redesigned their site, and almost everything about how they operate. Things didn’t go as smoothly as they’d hope. Now, you can access CELA and Bookshare through the same site. It will really facilitate getting more titles from the U.S. soon.

Albert from GTT on the west coast contributed that someone from CELA will be on the national GTT call on May 8 to talk about the changes. The main site to find out about national GTT stuff is www.gttprogram.blog. Many things are posted there. The national calls are always on the second Wednesday of each month, 7:00 P.M. eastern.

A member raised a problem in Jaws 2018 and Windows10, where demands by the computer to install upgrades, were causing Jaws to crash in Outlook. He said the Microsoft accessibility help desk was able to downgrade him to a previous version of something, which helped. Jason added that using Windows10 pretty much requires you to keep your Jaws completely updated. The Office version number is also relevant to the equation. NVDA is getting very good, so if anyone’s frustrated, it’s always an option.

A member raised a problem with Windows8 where turning on the computer seems to load many windows, which he has to close before he can continue. Jason recommended the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk. You can also use Be My Eyes, and call Microsoft through that. This allows you to point your camera at the screen for easier diagnostics.

A member asked about files that say, “empty document,” when you open them. Another member said this is likely because the document is a scanned image, or if the protection on the document is too high. Another member added that, in Adobe, there’s a setting under “reading” that will help to read the entire document verses reading only one page at a time. Try going under the view menu, then accessibility, for more options. PDFs are always challenging. One might work, one might not. Another member added that Jaws now has built in character recognition for PDF documents. Within Jaws 2019, press insert, space bar, O, then D, it will allow you to read some PDF’s. Also, you can do this by navigating to the file name without opening it, open your applications menu, and arrow down to, recognize with Jaws OCR.

Another member raised the question of how to use Outlook to make appointments consulting other peoples’ calendars. Jason replied that it’s possible but not simple, maybe too in-depth for the meeting. Jason volunteered that he has a document he wrote in another context, which explains how to do it. He offered to send it out to the group.

A member asked about how to fax from a printer. Jason answered that you’d have to call the printer company and ask if there’s a way to do it directly from the computer.

A member asked if it’s possible to combine all your calendars into one. Jason answered that if you attach all your calendars to your phone calendar, your phone will show everything. Everything will show in a unified list in the phone calendar ap.

 

CSUN Summary:

Jason then began talking about his experience at CSUN. This is an enormous assistive technology conference that occurs in California each year. It’s put on by the University of Southern California North Ridge. It’s the largest conference of its kind anywhere. It includes any kind of assistive tech, not just blindness-related stuff. Microsoft and Google have a large presence there. Apple attends too, but keeps a low profile.

There’s a large exhibit hall where companies set up tables to display the latest things. The other part of the conference is presentations on specific topics. Apple did have a table this year, but they didn’t present.

This year there wasn’t one defining great thing, or extraordinary trend. There were, however, some interesting new things.

Hymns released a new Q-Braille XL, which is a note taker and display that you can hook up to your phone or PC.

Another interesting element related to the hotel which hosted the conference. This was a new venue for the event. AIRA had set up a free access point for the hotel, so that if you had an AIRA account, you could use it there and not have to pay for your minutes.

The hotel had what you might call a “smart elevator.” This works by having a key pad on the wall at each elevator bank outside the elevator. You type in the floor you want into the keypad, then you’re directed to a specific elevator car. This is a system designed to streamline elevator use in very busy buildings, and it had a feature that allowed you to turn on speech. Jason then played a brief audio recording demonstrating use of the elevator.

It really is obvious when you spend any time in the U.S., how effective the ADA legislation has been in making things more accessible. Jason described getting into a cab for a very long cab ride. Facing him in the back seat, was a little display showing you dynamic details of your trip. When the trip started, a voice says, “to turn on voice accessibility, press the button in the corner.” Then, you’d get a verbal update of your fair and location. This proves that the technology exists.

Another highlight is always the networking. Jason got to meet with representatives from Microsoft and Google.

One exciting piece of tech that was being displayed was a set of Bows glasses called the Bows Frames. Both AIRA and Microsoft are planning to incorporate them into GPS aps. There are highly directional speakers in the arms of the glasses, that sit right behind your ears. Bone conducting headphones can slightly block your hearing and echo location, and this effect is lessened when the sound is coming from behind your ears. Jason connected them via Bluetooth to his phone, then sent them around the room. The sound is directed toward your ears, and he demonstrated how local the sound is, so that someone sitting next to you doesn’t hear a lot of sound bleeding out. Flipping them upside-down turns them off. The true innovation is that they have an inertial measurement unit in them. This means they can track your head movement for GPS and navigational purposes. They go for $200. Like bone-conducting headphones, this is mainstream technology. The Bows store near the hotel hosting the conference was swamped with people wanting them. The sound quality for someone on the other end of the call through the glasses is quite good.

Unless you’re moving, GPS can’t tell which way you’re facing. AIRA plans to integrate with these because the accelerometer lets them know that immediately.

A member raised the topic of looking a bit strange walking down the street apparently talking to yourself, using the glasses. Jason said that it’s getting less and less unusual as more sighted people start using Bluetooth devices. He described the experience of talking to his headset, and being misunderstood by people around him, and having them offer help. He was told that it’s a universal gesture to tap your ear, as a non-verbal sign to others that your engaged in a different conversation.

Albert reported that most announcements at CSUN were tweaks of things we already know about. One of the exceptions this year, a new exciting device, is the Canute, out of Britain. It’s a 9-line, 40-cell braille display. It’s portable but beefy. It shines for anything you’d want to see multiple lines of braille for, such as music or math. They’re hoping to launch by the end of this year, and CNIB is very interested in working with them. The target price is around 1500 pounds, maybe $2600 Canadian. Jason had a prototype with him, and demonstrated it. There’s storage, and you could store many books. The refresh rate is line by line, so you could time it to be at the bottom line by the time the top line is replaced. Braille readers at the conference were very excited about it. They described it as going back to paper braille. This is not a replacement for a note taker, it’s firmly a braille reader. It’s a stand-alone device. They hope to integrate it with Duxbury. This would allow paperless proof reading.

There’s another device in development that is a tactile graphics display, called Graffiti. It will be appropriate for diagrams rather than braille.

Jason described several workshops on the blind Maker movement that interested him.

He spent a lot of time at the conference asking, “When will we get this in Canada?” Amazon and Google both released new things, but not in Canada yet. If there are things you know about that aren’t available in Canada, express to companies that you want them; it might help.

Amazon Prime has all kinds of audio described content, that we can’t get at. Representatives talk a good talk, but are unwilling to commit themselves about times or reasons.

One new thing is a DAISY player from a company out of China. Unfortunately, their representative didn’t speak very good English. Jason got a contact for the U.S. that he’ll follow up on.

Albert, who was at CSUN for the first time, was impressed that it wasn’t just a group of assistive tech companies. All of the big players in technology were there. This wouldn’t have been true 10 years ago. The reason is that mainstream companies are increasingly taking accessibility more seriously over all.

Jason also discussed a company called Native Instruments, that’s very well known in the field of digital music. They’ve recently built accessibility in. One of their music keyboards that you can connect to a PC, has an accessibility mode. When you turn it on, all of its features talk, and so you have easy access to all the functions.

It’s a good idea to get yourself on to the GTT national email list. It’s high traffic, but it’s very diverse and helpful. Google GTT support to find out how to get on it. You can put it in digest mode. There’s also a GTT WhatsAp group.

A member raised a question about Google Docs. A few people said that they’ve used it, and it’s doable, with a stiff learning curve.

 

Upcoming Meetings:

  • Next Meeting: Thursday, April 18, 2019 at 6pm
  • Location: CNIB Community Hub space at 1525 Yonge Street, just 1 block north of St Clair on the east side of Yonge, just south of Heath.
  • Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 6pm.

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group Overview:

  • GTT Toronto is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Toronto promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:

http://www.GTTProgram.Blog/

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

 

 

 

GTT Toronto Summary Notes, Seeing AI, TapTapSee, Be My Eyes and Aira, January 17, 2019

Summary Notes

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group

January 17, 2019

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with the CNIB Foundation

 

The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Toronto Group was held on Thursday, January 17 at the CNIB Community Hub.

 

*Note: Reading Tip: These summary notes apply HTML headings to help navigate the document. With screen readers, you may press the H key to jump forward or Shift H to jump backward from heading to heading.

 

Theme: Seeing AI, TapTapSee, BeMyEyes and Aira

 

GTT Toronto Meeting Summary Notes can be found at this link:

 

Ian White (Facilatator, GTT)

Chelsy Moller Presenter, Balance For Blind Adults

 

Ian opened the meeting. Chelsy Moller will be presenting on recognition aps.

 

General Discussion:

  • We began with a general discussion. OrCam will be presenting at the White Cane Expo. AIRA will not. We’re still in negotiation to see if they will open up the event as a free AIRA event space. Apple will also not be there. They make it a corporate policy not to present at generalized disability events.
  • Ian raised the issue of getting a media error 7 when he’s recording on his Victor Stream. Is there a list of errors somewhere? Jason answered that perhaps it’s a corrupted SD card. A member said that there’s a list of errors in an appendix to the manual, which can be accessed by holding down the 1 key.
  • Michael asked if there’s a way to add personal notes in BlindSquare, such as, 25 steps. One recommendation was a document that you could access through the cloud. Another recommendation was to mark a “point of interest” in BlindSquare. When you do this, you can name it, so you could call it, Shoppers 25, to indicate 25 steps. Another recommendation was to make notes using the iPhone notes ap. Another recommendation was to set up geo-dependent iPhone reminders. Within a radius of the spot you want, your phone would just tell you whatever information you put in.
  • A member raised the problem of using Windows 10 and Jaws, trying to synchronize contacts email with Apple, and having duplicate folders in his Outlook email. Microsoft exchange might help.
  • Jason told the group that he has an Instant Pot smart available for sale. This is a pressure cooker that works with the iPhone, and it’s no longer available as an iPhone connectable device. He’s thinking $100, talk to him privately if interested.
  • Then he described a new keyboard he got. It’s a Bluetooth called REVO2, which he received as a demo unit. It’s got 24 keys. You can type on your phone with it, or control your phone with it. Its most useful use is when you need to key in numbers after having made a call, such as keying in bank passwords etc. Alphabetic entry works the way old cell phones did, press 2 twice for B. It has actual physical buttons. It can control every aspect of VoiceOver. You can also route your phone audio to it, so you’re essentially using it as a phone. It’s about $300. It can be paired to iPhone and Android. Here’s a link to the David Woodbridge podcast demonstrating the Rivo Keyboard:
  • A member asked if Phone it Forward is up and running. This is a program in which CNIB takes old phones, refurbishes them, then redistributes them to CNIB clients. Phone It Forward information can be found at this link.

 

Seeing AI, TapTapSee, Be My Eyes, and AIRA Presentation:

Ian introduced Chelsie, who is an Adaptive Technology Trainer, and Engagement Specialist. She’s here tonight to talk about recognition aps.

We’re going to focus on 4 aps, Seeing AI, TapTapSee, Be My Eyes, and AIRA.

  • Seeing AI is an ap that allows the user to do a variety of visual tasks, scene description, text recognition, vague descriptions of people, light levels, currency recognition, and colour preview. Each of these functions is called a channel. As a side note, Chelsie said that her iPhone10 uses facial recognition as your password. A store employee told her it wouldn’t work because it needs to see your retina, but this isn’t true; it works from facial contours.

Chelsie opened the ap. There’s a menu, quick help, then channel chooser. To get from channel to channel, flick up. She did a demonstration of short text with a book. It’s helpful for reading labels and packaging. Try to keep the camera about a foot above the text, and centred. This requires some trial and error. The document channel takes a picture of the text. It’s better for scanning a larger surface. Short text is also very useful for your computer screen if your voice software is unresponsive. Short text will not recognize columns, but document mode usually will. The product channel is for recognizing bar codes. This is a bit challenging because you have to find the bar code first. Jason said that it’s possible to learn where the codes typically appear, near the label seem on a can, or on the bottom edge of a cereal box. The person channel tells you when the face is in focus, then you take a picture. You get a response that gives age, gender, physical features, and expression. Chelsie demonstrated these, as well as currency identifier. It’s very quick. The scene preview also takes a picture, and gives you a very general description. The colour identification channel is also very quick. There’s also a hand writing channel, that has mixed results. The light detector uses a series of ascending and descending tones. Beside the obvious use of detecting your house lights, it’s also useful in diagnosing electronics. If you turn all other lights off, you can use it to see if an indicator light on a device is on.

Seeing AI is free. It’s made by Microsoft, who has many other ways of generating revenue.

  • TapTapSee is a very good ap for colour identification. This is always a tricky thing, because colour is often subjective, and is affected by light levels. TapTapSee takes a picture, and gives a general description including colour. For more accurate colour description, Be My Eyes and AIRA are better. TapTapSee is free.
  • Be My Eyes is a service in which a blind person contacts volunteers who help with quick identification or short tasks. Because they’re volunteers, the quality of help varies. You may have to wait for a volunteer. There’s a specialized help button. You can use Be My Eyes to call the disability help desk. This is useful if you need technical help from Microsoft, and they need to see your screen. This ap is also free.
  • AIRA is a paid service. Chelsie has been using it for a month. She’s very happy with it. It connects a blind user with a trained, sighted agent. This could be anything from “what is this product?” “I need to find this address,” I need to navigate through a hospital or airport. When you set up your profile, you can specify how much information you want in a given situation, and how you like to receive directions. They can access your location via GPS, in order to help navigate. They will not say things like “it’s safe to cross,” but they will say things like, “You have a walk signal with 10 seconds to go.” They’re seeing through either your phone camera, or through a camera mounted on glasses you can ware.

They have 3 plans, introductory, 30 minutes. You cannot buy more minutes in a month on this plan. You can upgrade though. The standard plan is 120 minutes at $100, or the $125 plan, that gives you 100 minutes plus the glasses. The advantage of this is that you can be hands-free when travelling. The glasses have a cord connecting them to an Android phone that has been dedicated to the AIRA function. Otherwise, you simply use your own phone with its built-in camera. This happens via an ap that you install.

The question was raised about whether the glasses could be Bluetooth, but the feedback was that there’s too much data being transmitted for Bluetooth to work.

On the personal phone ap, you open the ap and tap on the “call” button. With the glasses, there’s a dedicated button to press to initiate the call.

Chelsie spoke about how powerfully liberating it is to have this kind of independence and information. You can, read her blog post about her experience here

The third plan is 300 minutes and $190. All these prices are U.S.

Jason added that, in the U.S. many stores are becoming Sight Access Locations. This means that if you already have an AIRA subscription, use at these locations won’t count against your minutes. The stores pay AIRA for this. This will likely begin to roll out in Canada. Many airports are also Sight Access Locations. You can’t get assigned agents, but you may get the same agent more than once. If you lose your connection, the agent will be on hold for about 90 seconds so that you can get the same agent again if you call back immediately. For head phones, you can use ear buds or Aftershocks.

 

Upcoming Meetings:

  • Next Meeting: Thursday, February 21 at 6pm
  • Location: CNIB Community Hub space at 1525 Yonge Street, just 1 block north of St Clair on the east side of Yonge, just south of Heath.
  • Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 6pm.

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group Overview:

  • GTT Toronto is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Toronto promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:

http://www.GTTProgram.Blog/

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

 

 

 

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

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

 

A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with

Greater Victoria Public Library

 

Summary Notes

Wednesday October 3, 2018

 

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

 

Attendance, there were 15 individuals in Attendance.

 

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

www.innovisiontech.co/brailleme/

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

 

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

 

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

www.bemyeyes.com

and the Aira service

www.aira.io

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Meeting was adjourned at 3pm

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

 

Meeting notes submitted by Corry Stuive

 

GTT Victoria Overview

  • GTT Victoria is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Victoria promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll-free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:

http://www.gttprogram.wordpress.com/

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

 

National GTTSupport Email distribution List

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

GTTsupport+subscribe@groups.io

 

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