Upcoming events to help with social distancing from Braille Literacy Canada

Dear parents, teachers, braille users, and friends,

Over the past few weeks, we have all, like you, been impacted by the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation. Staying at home and practising self-isolation will continue to be critical for overcoming this global pandemic. Many children are home as schools suspend their operations. Many people are working from home, while others may be feeling anxious if they are among those whose work has been impacted.

For some people with disabilities, this global pandemic may be presenting even more challenges. Some may have lost the social activities they once relied on, or may be experiencing the effect of temporarily suspended supports and services. For those who can’t drive, accessing essential services may be posing even more challenges.

We at BLC recognize that these are unusual and stressful times for many. On behalf of the entire board, I want you to know that we have been thinking about what we can do to help.

First, if you have a friend, colleague or family member with a disability (or without!), reach out (by phone or text). Ask if they need any help ordering groceries online. Check in with the people around you with a friendly social phone call.

Here is what BLC will be doing to help:
1. Braille Zoomers Group: You may have seen our announcement in January that we will be launching a virtual group for adults who are learning braille. In light of the current situation, we have decided to start these meetings sooner than planned. They will take place on the first Saturday of each month at 1 PM Eastern, beginning on April 4th. If you are an adult braille learner, please email info@blc-lbc.ca (or call 1-877-861-4576) to join our group. We will be sending the Zoom link and call in details for the first meeting in the coming days. We invite any adult braille learner regardless of where you are in your braille journey. Come join us for this social get-together through Zoom, and meet other adult braille learners just like you!
2. Resources: We are compiling a list of resources that may be especially helpful to the Canadian braille community – online shopping apps and resources, distance learning and online homework assistance, methods for accessing alternative reading materials to maintain student skills, social get-togethers through telephone or online platforms, resources for learning how to use Zoom, and much more. If you have specific resources that you think would be helpful, please write to us at info@blc-lbc.ca and we will add it to the list. We will circulate this list in the coming days both by email and on our Facebook page, and will update it as more resources become available.
3. Parent support: For parents with blind and low vision students, we want to do our part to support you while your students are not at school. Though we are not all teachers, we still can play a role in supporting you in a variety of ways. We will be circulating an announcement directed specifically to parents, inviting them to write to us with any questions they may have about the braille code, how their child’s assistive technology works, and ideas for maintaining braille and braille technology-related skills during this time. If you are a parent of a braille using child with a specific question or if you are looking for a resource, write to us at info@blc-lbc.ca (or call 1-877-861-4576).
4. Special teleconference: We are organizing a special teleconference to take place in early April (date TBD) specifically directed to parents (though all are welcome). We will use this opportunity to share resources that support home learning and ideas for home-based braille activities. We will also answer any questions you may have about braille and braille-related technology. If you are a parent (or student) with questions, please join us. Registration will be free of charge for members and non-members alike for this special online workshop.
5. Facebook page: Keep an eye on our Facebook page. Whenever we come across a resource that we feel might be helpful, we will share it there, with the hashtag #SixDotsStrong
We hope that these measures provide some added support during this time. Please let us know if you have any questions, and stay tuned for all of the above in the coming days and weeks!

With friendship and solidarity,
Natalie Martiniello and your entire Braille Literacy Canada board

GTT National Conference Call Summary Notes, CELA Library Update, May 8, 2019

GTT National Conference Call.

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind

 

Summary Notes

 

May  8, 2019

 

Theme: CELA Library Update

 

Michael Ciccone who is the executive director of CELA joined us to provide updates and answers to our questions.

Note: CELA is updating the web site continually so these notes may be out of date if you are reading them after May 2019.

On the main page of the CELA web site

www.celalibrary.ca

you will find the latest updates, service alerts, and what they are working on now.

Michael thanked everyone for their patience and acknowledges that this has not been the smooth transition they would have wished for.

CELA continues to work on improving the searching feature.  At the time of the call, searching resulted in receiving way too many search results.  Michael assured us that by May 9, 2019 the searching feature would be greatly improved.  This was the case when Kim Kilpatrick tested it on Thursday May 9, 2019.  Fewer results came up and it was more accurate.

Michael is aware that the searching needs to improve and will include key words and other ways of searching as well.

People can now download books in daisy zip format and for the most part direct to player.  Some people are still having trouble with direct to player.

Cd’s and single use braille are being sent out as well.

People have access now to all CELA and bookshare titles for the most part.  New titles are being added.

Recently, the focus has been on improving the search functionality which they have heard a lot of complaints about.  Michael brought in someone to assist with this.  In order to fix the search issues, they had to re-index the entire collection which did take time.  Search filters and advanced search still needs to be implemented.

After the search is working well, the focus will be on improving the patron account information.  Implementing the history, the setting of preferences, manage holds lists and update account information.

Another priority is getting the daisy text magazines back.  They must build additional programming to do this.

CELA is hoping to have most of the site up and running by the summer.  However, many of the issues they have encountered have been issues they did not foresee.

There is a known issue with getting direct to player books on the plextalk players.  This is an issue with the company who makes plextalk.  Plextalk has done nothing about it.  Both CNIB and optilec have stopped selling their players for this reason.  Nevertheless, they are hoping to get a resolution for this issue.

CELA has been contacting the patrons they know use plextalk and giving them some alternatives.

There was an issue with voiceover (the screen reader for IOS) that has been resolved.

Some of the bookshare titles that appeared are titles we should not have access to in Canada.  And, another bookshare issue where duplicate titles are appearing.  This means that the bookshare title might not be able to be downloaded successfully.  Bookshare is working on this from their side too.  Once everything is fixed, this will be a great and very accessible system.

This system will give CELA room to grow and allow them to add other library systems as they become available.

Bookshare is already working with other blindness libraries to improve their product and interaction.  Michael is hoping that we continue to be patient (that is so appreciated) and continue to reach out and let CELA know our thoughts and ideas.  The pace at which issues are being fixed has picked up over the past few weeks.

People expressed their appreciation for the update progress e-mails that we have been getting regularly.

Someone liked that the site is easier to use on smart phones.

All formats being in one record are appreciated.

The mobile site works well.

The New titles section will be restored when CELA is able to add the filter for new titles.  That should happen within the next few weeks.

Michael will update us on this and any other major updates as they happen.

Michael will also investigate answers for the questions below and provide answers as he gets them.

Kim and Albert will share to the GTT list and blog.

  1. Will the bookshare new titles be updated as well as the cela titles?
  2. Michael will check.  We may have an option for filtering the new titles lists.

Comment. the dialogue box that comes up after you press get it for the book does not always pop up.

Michael has made this a high priority.

Sometimes bookshare has several versions of a book.  If you cannot download one, try downloading another one.

 

Comment. When you download a book into direct to player, there is no book description on the victor stream.

Michael will investigate.

Comment. There are some issues with bookshare download saying service error.  Bookshare was contacted and this seems to be a humanware issue.  There should be a victor stream software update in June which will correct this.

Michael suggested trying to download the bookshare books through CELA and see if this works better.

Publishers sign agreements with bookshare and they either say they will let international patrons have their books or not.  About 90 percent of publishers in bookshare let us have them.  May 8 Marrakesh treaty has passed so there may be an increase in books available.

Comment. The notification on the iPhone that says go to your downloads section, does not always show up or is not read automatically.  Someone suggested that this is a voiceover and screen reader focus issue on all platforms.

Comment Someone is having a problem with downloads not showing up in the download section.  Some people have also seen books that are much older in their list of holds or books on their shelf.

Michael wondered if It might be that the history feature once implemented will fix this.  This seems to happen with direct to player books in dolphin reader.

Comment.  Someone had an issue where CELA kept logging them out even when they were signed in.

Michael said that sometimes it is a personal account issue and you might have to call CELA help to fix your actual account.

Comment. Some people ended up downloading the same book 3 or 4 times because they did not get the notification.  The new system is a bit of a learning curve as there is one extra step to download a book.  Suggestion. Indicate all the known problems on the CELA front page?

Michael said that now, it would take a long time to get through the list of issues.  It was further suggested that any major issues be put on the front page.

Suggestion. Make a download sound for when a book is downloading like NVDA does when it is downloading a software update.

Comment Several people have not been able to download books from CELA onto their stream direct to player.

Michael will check if this is a known issue.

There will be filters for recently added and publication date.  Michael is waiting to see if both can be added for filters.

Question. Will CELA be added as a service under voicedream reader.

Michael would like to be able to do this.

Question Will we also be able to search more easily in voicedream reader and in dolphin easy reader?  This will hopefully happen, but it is not top of the list.  Michael will follow up on the voicedream search and adding as a service for voicedream.  This would cut out some steps and would make it easier for people.

After the search, putting the magazines back is a very high priority.  The magazines are ingested into bookshare and then they come back to CELA.

Suggestion Occasionally when you remove books from dolphin, it does not clear from site.  Can you have a button on the new site to clear books?

Michael believes this is planned but will follow up.  The staff from CELA are wanting to make sure we can do more ourselves.

Question Is easy reader good on android?

Maybe not as straight forward as on IOS but still works.

Question. Can we search for just bookshare books or just cela books?  Could that be a filter? Will it be described as a bookshare book if you search for just direct to player?  Nice to be able to tell within the record if it is direct to player bookshare or CELA.

Michael will investigate this.  It was pointed out that Daisy text is pretty much always bookshare.  Daisy audio is cela.

It was pointed out that Using the victor stream to search for bookshare books will go away once bookshare is integrated with CELA.  Is that right?  Bookshare is willing to let us stay with bookshare accounts until all is sorted out.

Once everything is working, can we still do a search through our victor stream?  Michael will check if this is on the development list.

It was suggested that we change the filter searches from check boxes to radio buttons.

Hopefully, in future when searching you can just type in a name, term, author, and the search will be smart and provide the most relevant results.

Michael will investigate what will be included in our preferences.  Now, each new search clears all preferences.

Suggestion when using screen readers and Screen navigation, raise the level of the heading for the search.  Make the search heading level 1 and the filters heading level 2.  Michael will pass this along.  Suggestion Will cela be in touch with humanware for people to search just on the stream because people find this a very easy way to search.  Now every search on the stream is now very streamlined and similar.  Michael will check on this as well.

Suggestion. Build an API with CELA to allow people to search on the stream.  Will CELA work with humanware to build an API for searching CELA with the stream?  Michael will check into this.

A similar API or the same one could work to add CELA to voicedream reader.

There are people who do not use their computer at all but just search on the stream.  That is a very important service to have.

CELA is Encouraging people to not get hard CD’s but to change to direct to player and downloading onto your stream and onto your easy reader app.  CELA can also designate someone or add a designate to help you load your shelf.  If it is all legal, that is okay.  If CELA has a designate name, then CELA can contact the designate if there is any issue.

 

GTT National Conference Call Overview

  • GTT National Conference Call is a monthly discussion group of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT National Conference Calls promote a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to present and discuss new and emerging assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, along with questions and answers about assistive technology.
  • Participants are encouraged to attend 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 an email distribution list where assistive technology questions are provided by participants. You may also 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.

 

National GTT Email Support 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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GTT Edmonton Summary Notes, AIRA and Library Services, January 14, 2019

            Summary Notes

GTT Edmonton Meeting January 14, 2019

 

The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Edmonton Chapter was held January 14, at 7pm at Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 83 Street in Edmonton.

28 people attended.

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.

 

January Topics – AIRA and Library Services

 

AIRA

Carrie introduced Ashley, a  CNIB staff member and independent blind person, who lives in Saskatchewan. Ashley joined us remotely and presented her experience

With AIRA, a paid subscription service where blind or vision impaired people make an audio and video connection through a smartphone to trained sighted agents who can help them with virtually any task.

  • The AIRA user, referred to as an Explorer, uses their smartphone with an AIRA app or an optional set of smart eyeglasses called Horizon. The Horizon kit provides eyeglasses with built-in camera and audio connected to a dedicated Samsung smartphone that enables contact with the AIRA agents. The Samsung phone cannot be used for any other purpose other than to connect to the AIRA agent. The agent can see whatever the explorer points their phone camera at or, in the case of wearing the optional Horizon eyeglasses there is a camera that transmits video of whatever the explorer is looking at.
  • The agent becomes a sighted assistant talking to the explorer in real time and helping them navigate or perform other tasks at home or away.
  • Ashley emphasized that AIRA does not replace your mobility device. The agents will not assist you outside your home if you are not using a white cane or guide dog.
  • The agents will also not talk to you while you cross the street.
  • The AIRA subscription fee ranges from $29 USD per month for 30 minutes assistance up to $199 per month for 300 minutes of assistance.
  • The optional Horizon kit is $600 USD or can be purchased over time at $25 per month.
  • With Horizon your network data is covered in the AIRA fee. If you use your own smartphone then you must pay the cost of data through your own phone plan. It’s estimated that 1 hour of AIRA costs about 1GB of data.
  • There are now many sponsors of AIRA such as airports, retail stores, college campuses where your time on AIRA is free. However, Ashley was not aware of any sponsors in Canada yet.
  • Complete information about AIRA is available at http://www.aira.io/ or you can call them at 1-800-835-1934.

If you want to know more about Ashley, visit her blog at http://www.blindmovingon.com/

 

Edmonton Public Library and CELA and NNELS

  • We were treated to a presentation on Edmonton Public Library services by Cassidy Munro, the community librarian at the Strathcona library branch.
  • Cassidy can be reached at 780.975.8102- or by email at: Cassidy.Munro@epl.ca
  • Cassidy described the CELA accessible library service for print disabled Canadians which provides many services including: downloadable recorded DAISY books, downloadable DAISY eBooks, downloadable Bookshare DAISY eBooks, DAISY books on CD mailed to your home, braille books mailed to your home, print-brailled books for kids, over 150 downloadable DAISY e-text magazines, recorded DAISY magazines by download or mail, and over 40 daily newspapers that can be read online.
  • Many will recognize these CELA services to be the same as those previously provided by the CNIB Library. CELA took over the CNIB Library
    • In 2014 and now serves all print-disabled Canadians not just those who are blind or vision impaired.
    • Edmonton Public Library (EPL) also has 100 or so DAISY CD books that can be borrowed for those who want to experience a DAISY book prior to registering for CELA service.
    • EPL also has a few Victor Reader Stratus DAISY CD players that can be borrowed to test the service. Customers must purchase their own book player or CNIB clients can approach
  • CNIB who may be able to subsidize 75% of the cost of a player.
  • In addition to playing CD books the Victor Reader Stratus can also receive direct to player DAISY books over the Internet. The user chooses their book by logging into CELA online and once a book is chosen it is sent directly to the player. For non-computer users, CELA customer service
  • or Cassidy can set up a reader profile for you and then the CELA computer will choose your books and send them directly to the player or on CD mailed to your home.
  • Cassidy also suggested some may prefer the pocket sized Victor Reader Stream which can accept the direct to player books and perform other online functions Such as getting Bookshare books and listening to podcasts and radio stations.
    • CELA books can also be played on your iPhone or Android phone using the free Dolphin EasyReader app.
  • Visit the CELA web site for information on all their services or call their customer service at 1-855-655-2273.
  • Cassidy can register you for CELA service.
  • Cassidy can also register you for NNELS another library service for print-disabled Canadians that offers downloadable DAISY or e-text books. Cassidy highlighted that NNELS is a good source for local content and First Nations content.
  • EPL also has non CELA materials you may be interested in such as CD books, Overdrive downloadable recorded books, Music recordings, large print books and more.
  • Cassidy was asked about fees. There is no fee for an EPL card, CELA service, Bookshare service or NNELS service.

Next Meeting (Monday February 11, 2019 at 7pm)

  • Cassidy from Edmonton Public Library plans to come to the February meeting. She can answer your library questions and register clients for CELA and NNELS that were unable to come in January.
  • As always, for help with technology bring your devices and/or questions to the meeting.

 

Meeting Location and Logistics

  • Ascension Lutheran Church 8405 – 83 Street NW, Edmonton.
  • We meet in the basement hall. There is elevator access.
  • Enter the church from the back door. There is parking at the back.
  • Meetings are every second Monday of the month at 7pm.
  • If you have someone helping you your assistant is welcome to remain for the meeting.

 

GTT Edmonton Overview

  • GTT Edmonton is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Edmonton 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 more talent and experience we will have 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/

To subscribe, activate the “Follow “link at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.

 

National GTT Email Support 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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