Airacast Episode 20 Aira’s Street Crossing Policy

Hi all.  I listened to this podcast yesterday and got the low-down on how Aira has changed their street crossing policy.  Previously their Agents wouldn’t talk to you at all when you were crossing streets, however as of November 4, 2019 they are offering limited information during street crossings if you ask for it.  To me this is a huge game changer.  Check out the podcast link below.


Thx, Albert


Guest Post: Potential TransLink Bus Service Interruption Due to Strike Action, October 31, 2019

Hi GTT Participants, I share this with you on behalf of TransLink’s Access Transit Coordinator, Richard Marion with a particular emphasis on those who live in, or will soon visit the Lower Mainland area of BC.


Hello Community Organization Partners:


I’m hoping you can assist us with distributing the following information to your community networks and clients of your organization.


This note will provide necessary information in the event of a strike at Coast Mountain Bus Company. We will continue to send information as the situation changes.


If you require any further information, please contact Richard Marion at or 778-375-6864


Thank you for your assistance.


The union representing Coast Mountain Bus Company bus operators and maintenance trades has advised job action in the form of bus maintenance workers not doing overtime work and transit operators not wearing uniforms. This could mean reduction in some bus and SeaBus service as soon as 8 a.m. tomorrow.


Regardless of the job action, many of our services will be unaffected: SkyTrain, Canada Line, West Coast Express, HandyDART, West Vancouver Blue Bus and other contracted services will continue operating normally.


We will do everything possible to keep our customers informed, as soon as possible, on service disruptions.


To stay informed, customers can sign up for Transit Alerts ( specific to their routes, follow @TransLink on Twitter and check


Customers should also plan for extra time to get to their destinations.


Richard Marion

Access Transit Coordinator

TransLink (South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority)

#400 – 287 Nelson’s Court| New Westminster, BC | V3L 0E7 | Canada

Tel. 778.375.6864

A better place to live, built on transportation excellence



GTT New Westminster Summary Notes, Soundscape, August 28, 2019

Get Together with Technology (GTT)

New Westminster Meeting


A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

in partnership with

Blind Beginnings

Vancouver Community College


Canadian Assistive Technology

Summary Notes


August 28, 2019

Find the CCB Podcast of this event at the link below:

07 GTT New Westminster, Soundscape, August 28, 2019:


Microsoft Soundscape

A map delivered in 3D sound by Microsoft Corporation


Microsoft Soundscape was recently released in Canada in both official languages, Canadian French and English.  You can download Soundscape free for iOS from the App Store here.


Presenting over the Zoom Conference to the GTT New Westminster group were Amos Miller, the Product Manager for Microsoft Soundscape Research in Redmond WA, and Jarnail Chudge, a technology designer and user experience expert on the team.


Microsoft Soundscape uses 3D audio technology to enhance your awareness of what is around you, and thereby help you get around and explore your surroundings.



Soundscape will place audio cues and labels in 3D space such that they sound like they are coming from the direction of the points of interest, parks,

roads and other features in your surroundings.


You will need a pair of stereo headsets that you feel comfortable wearing outdoors. For example, bone conduction headsets, Apple AirPods and in-ear open

headphones have proven to work well.


Soundscape is designed to live in the background and provide you with effortless ambient awareness. Therefore, feel free to use it in conjunction with

other apps such as podcasts, audio books, email and even GPS navigation.


Key features:


– As you walk, Soundscape will automatically call out the key points of interest, roads and intersections that you pass. These can be adjusted and turned on and off.


– An audio beacon can be placed on a point of interest, and you will hear it as you move around. You can place an audio beacon on a point of interest that you would like to track such as your destination, a point to return to or a landmark you are familiar with.


– “My Location” describes your current location and the direction you are facing.


– “Nearby Markers” describes nearby places you have marked.


– “Around Me” describes nearby points of interest in each of the four cardinal directions, helping with orientation. Try this out when getting off a bus or leaving a train station.


– “Ahead of Me” describes points of interest in front of you, for example when walking down the street.


– The expandable Callout History section lets you review callouts you have heard, repeat callouts, hear more information about them, and more.


We hope you enjoy the experience. We believe that this kind of technology offers a new way to relate to the environment around you and we can’t wait to hear what you make of it.


If at any time you have any questions about Soundscape, please refer to the Help & Tutorials section available on the main menu or if you require further help then you can contact the Disability Answer Desk on

1-800-936-5900 which is a free of charge service.


This work started out in 2010/2011 when Amos was still in the UK. He was involved with the local guide dog organization there, and working with them to try and figure out how technology can integrate into our own independence and mobility when we’re out and about, but in a way that enhances that experience. Some people from Microsoft started working with mobility instructors, and guide dog and cane users. We explored a range of ideas long before we figured out how to solve the problem. We landed on this notion of how important it is to enhance the awareness, but not tell the person what to do in that space. A lot of what orientation and mobility trainers will do with us is to work on a specific route, but especially how to perceive the environment, how we read the cues that the environment is giving us from a sound perspective, echo location, traffic noise, direction of the wind, the tactile feeling of the ground: all of the signals we can get from the environment in order to orient, and make good navigational decisions. The work that we did with Guide Dogs in the early days of Soundscape was really to see how we can build on that. The idea of sound playing a big role in the perception of the space, was really how this idea evolved. Soundscape as an ap, is the first incarnation of that idea.


The ap is free, and available from the Ap Store. It does rely on map data, and so it does need to be able to access that data. For the most part, it will download the necessary data from the environment that you’re in, and from that point forward it’s not using data. So it’s not constantly drawing on your data plan, but it does require one. We’ve tried to optimize it so that the data usage is minimal, and in certain situations, it will also work in areas where there is no data.


Bose frames are a very good way to get the stereo effect, as are Bone conducting headphones. EarPods or standard headphones will work, but they will block your ears to ambient sound. Putting it in one ear to keep the other ear free won’t be effective because you won’t get the signature 3D effect. Amos said that he personally likes EarPods because of their sound quality, and it’s possible to insert them lightly into the ear and still have ambient sound. Some sports headphones are a good solution too, Plantronics for example. This type of headphone rests around the back of your neck, and clips over the ear. They sit in front of the ear canal without blocking it. They’re used commonly by runners and cyclists.


Users can email

and that comes to the Microsoft Soundscape team. There is also a feedback button in the ap itself.


For more information please contact your GTT Coordinators:


Albert Ruel                   or                       Kim Kilpatrick

1-877-304-0968,550                               1-877-304-0968,513      


CCB Backgrounder:


The CCB was founded in 1944 by a coalition of blind war veterans, schools of the blind and local chapters to create a national self-governing organization. The CCB was incorporated by Letters Patent on May 10, 1950 and is a registered charity under the provisions of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

The purpose of the CCB is to give people with vision loss a distinctive and unique perspective before governments.  CCB deals with the ongoing effects of vision loss by encouraging active living and rehabilitation through peer support and social and recreational activities.

CCB promotes measures to conserve sight, create a close relationship with the sighted community and provide employment opportunities.


The CCB recognizes that vision loss has no boundaries with respect to gender, income, ethnicity, culture, other disabilities or age.

The CCB understands in many instances vision loss is preventable and sometimes is symptomatic of other health issues.  For the 21st century, the CCB is committed to an integrated proactive health approach for early detection to improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

As the largest membership organization of the blind and partially sighted in Canada the CCB is the “Voice of the Blind™”.


CCB National Office

100-20 James Street Ottawa ON  K2P 0T6

Toll Free: 1-877-304-0968 Email: URL:




CCB Tech Articles, Donna’s Low Tech Tips, Beeping Luggage Tags, January 28, 2019

January 28 2019

Meet the luggage tags that beep


Happy New Year everyone!

Hi there!  It’s Donna and thank you for allowing me to come into your inbox.

Today, I’d like to talk about luggage tags that beep.

Meet the luggage tags that beep


Yes, these tags sure work and they are quite handy for anyone; especially so for a blind person.


When you are in a busy airport, or at a conference, and you need to depend on someone sighted to help you identify your luggage, then the beeping luggage tags come in very handy.  How do they work?


You attach the tags to your luggage and then you have a remote that you can press that will pick up the encoded tags on your luggage.  It beeps to within 50 feet of where you are.


You can also use this little gadget or device for other purposes.  Just use your imagination and see what you can come up with.  All I know is that I can use it when I travel and am in airports or train stations or even at hotels.


I am happy to endorse this nifty little gadget as I constantly use it when I travel to navigate to my hotel room.


I hang the tag on the door of my hotel room and then I use the transponder to locate the tag on the door.  There is a beeping sound that is emitted when the transponder is pressed.  You can hear the beep as you get closer.


So go out there and make friends with the luggage tags that beep.


That’s it from me for this week.

If you would like to become a member of  my CCB Mysteries chapter you can do so for the price of $10 annually and in return you will receive unlimited access to either of the following libraries.

Recipes –

Audio mysteries for all ages –

Or you can subscribe to both for the price of $20 annually.

Now you  can subscribe to “‘Let’s Talk Tips”‘ which is my monthly resource for the most current and reliable informational tips available in the areas of Technology, Nutrition, Media, Business, and Advocacy.


To contact me, send me an email at and I’d be happy to respond.

Have yourselves a great day and see you next week.






HoloLens can now guide the blind through complicated buildings – MIT Technology Review

The headset’s ability to map a space and talk people through it may prove more important than the mixing-imagery-with-reality stuff.
— Read on