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



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 or you can call them at 1-800-835-1934.

If you want to know more about Ashley, visit her blog at


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 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:

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:

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Notes for the GTT National Conference Call on NNELS March 11 2015.

Notes from our national conference call on the NNELS service for libraries.

March 11, 2015.

Posted by Kim Kilpatrick

GTT Coordinator.

More than 15 people were joined on the call by Sabina from NNELS.

NNELS stands for National Network for equitable library service.

Sabina works on the support side of NNELS.  She assists people who have difficulties with the web site.  She also provides training for public libraries about what NNELS is and what it does.  

NNELS is for anyone who cannot read a physical book.

You can access their services yourself from their web site or ask your local library staff to assist you in getting materials.

The web site for NNELS is

NNELS is currently available in the following provinces.

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia. and 3 territories.

If you live in Ontario, New Brunswick, PEI or Newfoundland you cannot access NNELS.  

if y ou do want to get in touch with Sabina, you can always reach her by e-mailing

You can e-mail her and tell her that you wish to get into NNELS.  She can keep these e-mails when they pitch the service to other provinces or groups..

To be eligible for NNELS, you have to have some disability which prevents you from reading regular text.

When you go to the NNELS site for the first time, you can type in home library and your home community name.  

People in the provinces that are not covered yet, you can access the service but only public domain books.

You can ask your provincial libraries to open up to NNELS. 

NNELS is just a year old.

They currently have around 10 thousand books.  They ask publishers if they can share books.  These books are usually shared in pub or rich text formats.  NNELS does pay some narrators to read some books.  These are mostly Canadian fiction.

The Crane library from UBC will also record books for NNELS and has given NNELS access to many of the books they have recorded.

Some people have volunteered to read books for NNELS.  

Sabina told us about the librevox collection of recorded audio books.  This started in Montreal  The books are recorded by volunteers.  There is also an app for the iPhone for Librevox.  These books are mostly in the public domain as are books from project gutenberg.

You can belong to both CELA and NNELS.  You can request books you cannot find from NNELS.  They try to get the books for you as quickly as they can but they are a very small staff..

Someone pointed out that NNELS has excellent video tutorials on youtube.

You can open books in the iPhone app voice dream reader.

NNELS also has tutorials on their web site.

If your library staff do not know about NNELS and want to know more about the services, tell them to contact Sabina.

If you aren’t sure what formats the books come in and how to play them on your computer or device, contact Sabina.

There are only four staff working for NNELS. 

NNELS does not have a relationship with BOOKSHARE.

They do not produce BRF files.

Would they scan a print book for you?  Possibly.

Is NNELS a charity?  No publicly funded.

They do not at the present time accept donations.

If you have a rush request for a NNELS book, let Sabina know.

They have very few books in French.

We discussed the Merikesh treaty.  This would enable people who are blind or have low vision all over the world, all be able to access materials from all libraries and publishers.  This treaty is through the World Intellectual, property organization.

Here are some links to  youtube videos about this.

Our next conference call will be held on Wednesday April 8 and the topic will be BOOKSHARE.

Reminder of the national teleconference call for GTT on Wednesday March 11 at 7 PM Eastern. 

This is just a reminder of our national teleconference call on Wednesday March 11 at 7 PM eastern.  4 Pacific.  The topic will be a continuation of various services to help us read and access books.  In February, we discussed  CELA and this month we will talk about NELS. 

For notes on CELA, see earlier blog posts. 

If you want to be part of this call, we still have spaces. 

Call or email Kim at 


Kim will be sending out call in info to those registered on the day of the call.