Accessibility Article: Why do gyms make things so difficult for blind people? The Guardian, Feb 26, 2018

 

Why do gyms make things so difficult for blind people?

 

When smartphones, TVs and even washing machines are set up for visually impaired people to use, why isn’t exercise equipment?

 

Amar Latif

 

The Guardian, Feb 26, 2018 07.00 GMT  Last modified on Mon 26 Feb 2018 12.18 GMT

 

If, like me, you want to keep fit and healthy, your first port of call is usually your local gym or health club. However, if, like me, you are also blind, keeping active can be a minefield of inaccessible technology, awkward conversations and frustrating barriers. And mine is hardly a rare issue:

more than two million people in Britain are living with sight loss, and the RNIB predicts this will double by 2050.

 

When I was four years old, doctors broke the news to my parents that by my mid-to-late teens, I would become incurably blind. I remember waking up one morning, aged 18, and not being able to see the poster at the end of my bed.

I was walking around crashing into things. By this time, my mother had already banned me from riding my bike – though that didn’t stop me – until I rode headfirst into a skip, somersaulted and landed in the rubbish. As I was flying through the air, I realised it was probably best to call time on my cycling career.

 

Throughout my life, I have had to learn to overcome barriers. People told me I couldn’t become an accountant because I was blind, but I ended up overseeing a team of sighted employees as a management accountant for BT.

People told me I couldn’t travel as a solo blind traveller, so I set up Traveleyes, a travel company that pairs up blind and sighted travellers to explore the world together. I lead a lot of these trips as a blind tour manager, often the more active and adventurous ones, so I need to keep fit.

If on a trip, I am going to be taking a group cycling for 50km or spending eight hours walking through the Bulgarian mountains, I need to be in good shape.

 

Exercise is therefore very important to me, as it is with so many of us. But it’s harder for blind and visually impaired (VI) people to walk and exercise freely; jogging in the park or cycling outdoors is impossible on your own.

That’s where gyms should come in. Sadly, however, they are often woefully inaccessible and can be daunting for those with sight loss. Let’s start with

equipment: exercise tech nowadays is incredibly advanced. All-singing, all-dancing machines can be found in most gyms and they track everything from heart rate to calories burned. Clearly, millions of pounds and thousands of hours have gone into their development and production. And yet it would appear that not a second thought has been given to users with sight loss. Touch screens, inaccessible buttons and lights are all commonplace.

Great for you light-dependent folk, but for us VIs, it’s a struggle.

 

‘It wouldn’t be hard to put some braille on the buttons.’

 

And there really is no excuse – all manner of tech these days, from iPhones to TVs, calculators to washing machines have accessibility built in, so why not exercise machines? It wouldn’t be hard to put some braille on the buttons or have a headphone slot or Bluetooth compatibility for audio, like on most cash machines. Indeed, the simplest solutions are often the best.

 

But the tech is just the start. Getting from one machine to another, selecting weights and getting proper instruction are all barriers for the blind gym-goer. Not to mention yoga, pilates and spin classes. My sister is taking legal action against her gym for not allowing her to take a class because of her blindness.

 

Lots of gyms offer a free pass to someone, usually a friend or relative, who can assist you during your workout. This is all well and good, but I can’t always find someone willing to come with me. It’s not fair on me, or my potential guide, to have to compromise on times and dates.

 

For me, exercising is a very personal thing. I like to listen to music and let my mind wander on a treadmill, or when lifting weights. According to the Royal College of Physicians, if you keep active, you are less likely to be depressed or anxious and more likely to feel good about yourself. And this can be even more pivotal for those with sight loss. A study in 2016 found that more than four in 10 people attending low-vision clinics had symptoms of clinical depression. But inaccessible hurdles leave lots of VI people unable to use the gym to its maximum potential. It’s no surprise that an RNIB survey in 2015 found that 31% of blind and partially sighted people felt moderately or completely cut off from people and things around them, and 50% felt they were frequently limited in the activities they could take part in. Yet nearly two-thirds said they would like to do more physical activity.

 

At Traveleyes, we are constantly busting myths about what blind people can do. From skiing in the Alps to climbing mountains, sailing and skydiving, we challenge these preconceptions. One initiative we use to help us achieve this is our international schools programme. We take students, aged from 14 to 17, from large schools across the world, and partner them up with our blind travellers to be their sighted guides. This gives them a first-hand experience of blindness, will help to challenge any stereotypical views they may have and hopefully take this experience into later life.

 

I’m stubborn, though. My philosophy is that if things aren’t accessible, don’t wait until they are. So I roll up my sleeves and work until I’m in a place where I can help change the system. When it comes to fitness, I often work out with a friend who is at a similar level to me, and I also work out at home – expensive equipment is all very well, but you can just add some weights or cardio to your routine.

 

Working out and keeping healthy works best when it’s also fun, so if you are struggling to keep to an exercise schedule, try something a little bit different, such as paddle boarding or boxing, or take part in a group activity or challenge, to give you that bit of motivation you need. We all live busy lives, but I learned that it is easier than you think to fit exercises into your daily routine. And if there are any gyms or health clubs out there that want pointers on how to be more accessible, or any VI people who want to talk about exercise, working out or keeping active, I am always happy to talk.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/feb/26/why-do-gyms-make-things-so-difficult-for-blind-people?utm_source=Traveleyes+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3e9aee5391-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2b96ae54c9-3e9aee5391-137598537

 

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Guest Post: Please Submit Your Access Stories Related to the British Columbia Guide and Service Dog Act, Canadian Federation of the Blind

Access Stories Related to the British Columbia Guide and Service Dog Act

 

From the time when the province of British Columbia first introduced Bill 17, which has now become the British Columbia Guide and Service Dog Act, the Canadian Federation of the Blind (along with other rights holders) has warned that some of its provisions would create access problems.  In particular, we warned that the emphasis on stopping members of the public from claiming that their pets are service dogs could lead to increased scrutiny of legitimate guide and service dog handlers.  We feared that the portion of the definition of “guide dog” that defines a guide dog as one that has been certified by the province would lead to a two tier system that would leave those from outside British Columbia unprotected.  We also raised the alarm about the stated intention to use a “graduated enforcement” strategy rather than a stringent implementation of applicable fines in cases of access denial.

 

This is a request for those of you who live in British Columbia, have visited the province, or know someone who has had difficulty because of the BC guide and service dog law.

 

We need your stories.  Because the provincial system for handling access issues has been so ineffective, government officials who need to know about problems with the new law aren’t being made aware of them.  If you’ve been asked to present identification before being allowed to access a public place or had service or access refusals, we need to know what happened, when it happened, and the end result.  Even if you were able to negotiate the issues successfully, the fact that you faced issues is extremely significant.  If you are from outside of British Columbia and were denied enforcement because you lack BC certification, we need to know that, too.  Your experience could help educate lawmakers about the unintended consequences of the British Columbia law.

 

You can write me at president@cfb.ca with your story.  If you have questions, phone me toll-free at (866) 670-0052.

 

Mary Ellen Gabias, President

Canadian Federation of the Blind

 

Tele Town Hall Meeting Summary Notes, October 29, 2016 and March 4, 2017

As you consider whether or not to participate in Saturday’s American presentation I offer you the questions and meeting summaries from our first two Canadian Tele Town Hall meetings.

 

Tele Town Hall Meeting Questions and Summary Notes:

First Meeting Questions, October 29th, 2016:

 

  1. In order to ensure that people who are blind, partially sighted or deaf/blind continue to have a strong voice in Canada, what do you think the national consumer movement should look like in the future?
  2. Canada is a small country in population. However, it is geographically quite large.  Would it be better in Canada to ensure that on a national level there is one organization of the blind working on projects and advocacy to help strengthen community activities provincially and locally?
  3. National, provincial and local organizations have tried working in coalitions. Are you aware of any activities that these coalitions have done?  Would you support a more formal working relationship between the existing national organizations of the blind?
  4. Why do you think the blindness community is so fragmented in its approach to advocacy and community activities?

 

Summary notes have been written and attached to this communication and are titled: Meeting Notes – #1 Final 2016Oct29.docx

 

Second Meeting Questions, March 4, 2017:

 

  1. How should service and advocacy organizations be transparent and accountable to the community?
  2. How do we engage individuals and organizations in the blindness community concerning our needs and rights in the broader Canadian Society?
  3. What specific actions can individuals and organizations take to promote transparency, integrity, accountability and respect?
  4. What should be included in Rules of Engagement that will govern ongoing collaboration in the blindness community?

 

Summary notes have been written and attached to this communication and are titled: Meeting Notes – #2 – Final 2017Mar04.docx

 

 

 

Guest Post: NAGDU Guide & Service Animal Advocacy & Information mobile app, by the National Association of Guide Dog Users, (NAGDU)

Hi GTT Participants.  Here’s a press release related to an app regarding Service Dog Legislation in Canada and the USA that Dog Guide users might want to have at their fingertips.  It is a project of the National Association of Guide Dog Users, (NAGDU) and it was recently updated to work with iOS 11, and an Android version will soon be released as well.  Read on, and if it’s of interest to you it will be found on the App Store by searching for the following:

 

NAGDU

 

Leading Guide Dog Users’ Membership & Advocacy Organization Releases New Mobile App

 

When the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU), a strong & proud division of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), launched the NAGDU Guide & Service Animal Advocacy & Information mobile app in September 2014, it was hailed as an innovative ambitious project. This mobile app was the first to compile all the relevant state and federal service animal laws in the United States, along with associated guidance articles to help service animal users and businesses alike understand their rights and responsibilities. Over the past three years, this mobile app has been downloaded by nearly 5,000 iOS users and has been helpful in resolving numerous access issues across the country!

 

Now, with the advent of iOS 11 and with the input from hundreds of users, the National Association of Guide Dog Users is excited to announce the release of version 2.0 of the NAGDU Guide & Service Dog advocacy & Information mobile app for iOS and, by the end of September, its Android version. Here is what you will find in version 2.0:

 

  • Updated information on each state statute
  • The laws for each of the Canadian provinces
  • The ability to download the app from the Canadian app store
  • The complete regulations concerning service animals from the U.S. Department of Justice
  • Specific guidance for industries of concern to service dog users
  • Frequently Asked Questions to help these industries understand their rights & responsibilities
  • A direct email button to get more specific guidance & offer suggestions
  • A direct telephone connection to speak with a trained advocate
  • A more dynamic app with frequent updates
  • An Android version by September 30

 

“Those of us who use service dogs experience discrimination more frequently than most are aware,” says Marion Gwizdala, a guide dog user who serves as the NAGDU president. “We believe this new app will help guide & other service dog users better advocate for themselves, while providing accurate information to the general public and places of public accommodation so that instances of discrimination are resolved quickly and amicably!”

 

This incredible app is provided absolutely free as a public service by the National Association of Guide Dog Users and was created with the generous support of Aaron Cannon, a blind Software Accessibility Engineer and member of NAGDU. We also extend a special word of thanks to Michigan State University’s Animal Legal & Historical Center for the use of their legal research and information on state and provincial laws.  Before this announcement was even released, the app had been downloaded more than 1400 times! To download your free copy of this awesome mobile app, simply go to the App Store and type “NAGDU” in the search field; it’s that easy! Once you download the app, please browse through the information and send us your feedback. You can do this directly from the app by using the “send an email” feature. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you to raze the expectations of the blind in the United States so we can live the lives we want!

 

For more information about the National Association of Guide Dog Users or the National Federation of the blind, please visit the following websites:

 

National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU)

http://nagdu.org

 

National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

http://nfb.org

 

About NAGDU

 

The National Association of Guide dog Users is the nation’s leading membership and advocacy organization for blind people who use guide dogs.  NAGDU is a strong and proud division of the National Federation of the Blind. NAGDU conducts public awareness campaigns on issues of guide dog use, provides advocacy support for guide dog handlers who face discrimination, supports sound policy and effective legislation to protect the rights of guide dog users, offers educational programs to school and civic organizations, and functions as an integral part of the National Federation of the Blind. For more information about the National Association of Guide Dog Users and to support our work, you can visit our website at <HTTP://WWW.NAGDU.ORG>, send an email message to <Info@NAGDU.ORG>, or call (813) 626-2789.

 

About the National Federation of the Blind

 

        The National Federation of the Blind is the oldest and largest organization of the blind in the United States. The NFB knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want! Blindness is not what holds you back.

        The Federation provides scholarships to blind students; support for those who are blind or losing their eyesight; advocacy for the blind facing discrimination; and educational programs for the general public on topics of blindness. The NFB is not an organization that speaks on behalf of the blind; we are the blind speaking for ourselves.

 

For more information about the National Federation of the Blind or to support our work, please visit <http://nfb.org> or call (410) 659-9314.

 

 

 

Marion Gwizdala, President

National Association of Guide Dog Users Inc. (NAGDU)

National Federation of the Blind

(813) 626-2789

President@NAGDU.ORG

 

 

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise expectations because low expectations create barriers between blind  people and our dreams. You can live the life you want! Blindness is not what holds you back.

RNIB: Factsheet for Employers and Employment Professionals; Guidance and good practice for Risk Assessors

Factsheet for employers and employment

professionals

Blind and partially sighted people at work

 – Guidance and good practice for Risk

Assessors

 

About this factsheet

 

This factsheet is for anyone who needs help with safety management in a place where blind or partially sighted people work. Blind and partially sighted people compete for, perform and succeed in a wide range of jobs. Many need little or no adjustment to their workplace or to working practices, and yet many employers worry about employing blind and partially sighted people, sometimes having concerns for their safety and for the safety of others.

 

This guidance has been compiled in consultation with: health and safety professionals; people in the workplace who assess the risks to employees; employers; and with blind and partially sighted people. We aim to help risk assessors by providing the information they need to reach decisions, and ensure a safe environment with safe working guidelines.

 

Contents:

 

  1. The need for Guidance
  2. Blind and partially sighted people at work
  3. The process of Risk Assessment
  4. Key points for Risk Assessment
  5. Common issues

 

5.1   Dealing with Guide Dogs

5.2   Mobility and travel

5.3   Lighting

5.4   Trip hazards

5.5   Lone working

5.6   Evacuating the building

5.7   Stairs

5.8   Safe use of computer systems

5.9   Machinery

5.10 Caring for others

 

  1. References
  2. Sources of help and further information

 

 

1. The need for guidance

 

Carrying out a risk assessment of the workplace or an activity for blind or partially sighted people doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can sometimes be a daunting prospect. If you haven’t worked with blind people before, it can be very easy to over-estimate risks or make assumptions about what blind people can or can’t do.

 

People who risk assess the workplaces and activities of blind and partially sighted people, looking for advice, often approach RNIB. While we are aware that mistakes can be made, we also know that risks can be managed successfully and we want to share good practice.

 

This guidance has been produced to highlight some of the things that we’re often asked about, share examples of successful risk management and suggest sources of help.

 

We are also aware that risk assessment, or health and safety in general, has been used as an excuse not to employ blind and partially sighted people (Hurstfield et al, 2003). We hope that the guidance we have put together will help to overcome unnecessary barriers.

 

Most importantly, we hope that this guidance helps you to reach informed decisions and, in so doing, ensures that blind and partially sighted people can continue to work effectively and safely.

 

 

2. Blind and partially sighted people at work

 

In the middle of the last century, blind people were encouraged to work in specific occupations. These included jobs as switchboard operators, masseurs, piano tuners and even basket weavers.

 

Things have changed quite considerably and blind and partially sighted people now succeed in a range of jobs across different sectors. “This IS Working 2” (RNIB, 2009), gave examples of ten people working as: a company director, senior physiotherapist, sales and marketing manager, shop owner, policy officer, development and funding officer, teacher, administrative assistant, and outreach worker. A copy of this document, which includes testimonials from employers, can be fond here: http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/working/successstories/Pages/success_stories.aspx

 

Blind people do succeed at work. When safety management works well, we know that all employees, including blind and partially sighted people, can work safely.

 

 

3. The process of risk assessment

 

Employers are required by law to manage health and safety in the workplace. Each organisation will have their own ways of doing this and the roles of individual risk assessors can be different.

 

This document does not deal with the mechanics of undertaking and recording risk assessments. The principles are the same for everyone, but guidance is already available on dealing with “disability” in relation to safety management. See, for example, ‘Health and Safety for Disabled People and Their Employers (Health and Safety Executive and DRC).

 

IOSH, the Chartered body for health and safety professionals, offers advice on their website about the responsibilities that the Equality Act imposes on those who manage safety.

 

They specifically suggest that:

 

  • the Equality Act has an effect on the way you
  • manage safety.
  • while you may be able to use health and safety issues related to disability as a reason not to employ someone – or to refuse a service to someone – you can only do so if certain conditions are met.
  • if the safety of a task may be affected by someone’s disability, then a risk assessment should be carried out for everyone, not just for disabled employees.
  • if you don’t document the steps you’ve taken to consult disabled workers or customers, and to make reasonable adjustments, your organisation could be involved in an expensive tribunal case.

 

This factsheet will focus on how risk assessment can affect blind and partially sighted people at work.

 

 

4. Key points for risk assessment

 

In general, the following points will help to shape your risk assessments:

 

4.1 Risk assessments should address a task and everyone

involved

 

Whilst the legislation requires employers to identify groups that might be at risk of harm, telling someone that “you must be risk assessed” sends out a negative message. In a way, it suggests that the individual is the issue, when this is clearly not the case. It sounds much more positive to tell someone that activities are being assessed.

 

4.2 The individuals involved must be consulted

 

The Health and Safety Executive’s “Five Steps to Risk Assessment” recommends that: ‘In all cases, you should make sure that you involve your staff or their representatives in the process. They will have useful information about how the work is done that will make your assessment of the risk more thorough and effective.’

 

Your blind or partially sighted employee is usually the best person to describe how their sight loss affects them and you should be able to tap in to that knowledge. Risk assessments carried out without the involvement of blind and partially sighted employees are significantly more likely to be inaccurate.

 

4.3 “Adjustments” must be considered as part of the process

 

Employers have a responsibility to make “reasonable adjustments” to working practices and physical features. This is likely to include the provision of auxiliary aids. While this might be beyond your area of responsibility as a risk assessor, you must be prepared to take proposed changes into account.

 

4.4 It is important that you do not make assumptions about

the level of someone’s functional vision

 

Most blind people have some useful vision. Some people will be able to see fine detail, while some may have very good peripheral vision. Even people with the same eye condition can have widely different levels of useful sight.

 

Employers often ask for medical guidance to help understand what people can or can’t see. However, this is often presented in medical terms and is usually lacking an occupational focus.

 

Asking the individual to describe their sight is often the best way to gather information to assess risk. Professionals who work with blind and partially sighted people at work can be another source of information. Making assumptions about what people can and can’t see will produce flawed risk assessments.

 

 

5. Common issues

 

Employers often contact RNIB to ask for advice about specific worries they have about the safety of a blind or partially sighted colleague. Things we have been asked about include:

 

5.1 Guide Dogs at work

 

Guide dogs are one example of an aid to mobility. However, it has been estimated that as few as one or two per cent of blind or partially sighted people use guide dogs to get around. It is therefore important that you don’t assume that people either use guide dogs, or choose to bring them to work.

 

Having said that, if an employee brings a guide dog to work, proper planning is required to ensure that things run smoothly.

 

We have been asked about accommodating guide dogs at work and, in most cases, working practices can be adopted to ensure a safe and comfortable working environment.

 

Some of the common questions revolve around:

 

Toileting – a suitable area must be identified for the guide dog. While in some places there are very obvious locations for this, some companies (particularly in town centres) find this difficult.

 

Moving around building – the extent to which a blind person uses a guide dog once at their workstation will vary, depending on the person’s other mobility skills and knowledge of the environment. It is important that the guide dog user is aware of his or her responsibilities. Working rules should be established. These could include where the dog goes when not “on harness” or how often breaks are required.

 

Induction/emergency procedures – it may be necessary to review your evacuation plans. There may already be a structure in place (such as personal emergency evacuation plans) to facilitate this within your organisation. Standard instructions, such as those issued during induction should be available in the correct format for the employee to read.

 

Colleagues – the extent to which colleagues interact with guide dog users is likely to vary. There are both positive and negatives to this. For example, colleagues can distract a working dog, or alternatively can assist with “walking” the dog. Colleagues may need to be told of their responsibilities.  For example, they may need to know when it might be appropriate to play with or to walk the dog, or to know when the dog is working.

 

Allergy/Fear of dogs/cultural influences – Some thought may need to be given to where guide dogs are based while people are working to allay concerns.

 

If in any doubt about any aspect of working with Guide Dogs, representatives from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association will want to help you with this.

 

5.2 Mobility and travel

 

When considering potential risks involved in travelling, it is important to bear in mind that most blind or partially sighted people will travel easily with no problems. Some may need support.

 

Blind and partially sighted people have varying levels of sight and particular eye conditions affect sight in different ways. We can’t assume that people with the same eye condition are affected in the same way, as people with the same eye condition often see the world in entirely different ways. Familiarity with the area and environmental factors, such as lighting, are other things that can affect someone’s mobility.

 

Additionally, people adjust to sight loss in different ways. It is safe to say that the mobility skills of blind and partially sighted people vary considerably.  Some people travel independently, while others use mobility aids or support from others to travel.

 

It probably goes without saying that an individual should be consulted when considering potential risks with travel. It is also good practice to ensure that any concerns about mobility are kept in perspective – issues should not be allowed to be blown out of proportion.

 

If an individual is looking for mobility support for specific parts of their travel, two agencies might be able to help.

 

In each local authority area, there are mobility specialists, sometimes known as rehabilitation workers, who can teach people how to use mobility aids and help them learn to navigate routes. They either work for the local authority social work team, or the organisation that holds the register of blind and partially sighted people.

 

The Access to Work programme supports people at work and individuals can apply for financial assistance to travel to and from work and within work. The Access to Work programme can only cover the additional costs of travelling to meet disability-related and it is not intended to replace the standard costs involved in business use.

 

5.3 Lighting

 

Both the quality and quantity of lighting has a significant impact on all working environments. For some people, it can help to create a comfortable workplace. For others, lighting can pose a barrier to effective working.

 

Guidance on lighting levels tends to be either general, aimed at a technical audience, or individual, based on one person’s experience. For example, Building Site (1995), suggests that light levels are crucial. It suggests that lux levels (a measure of luminance) for blind and partially sighted people should be 25 per cent to 50 per cent above the “general” level.

 

The difficulty with such generalised recommendations is that individual blind and partially sighted people have very different needs. Increasing the general “background” lighting levels might not necessarily make a working environment safer or more comfortable.

 

For some people, increasing background light would be helpful. But it might be more effective to introduce additional light sources, rather than make the existing fittings brighter. This is particularly true if units can be switched on and off to allow more control over lux levels.

 

Other people find it difficult to work with high levels of lighting and prefer a darker working environment.

 

As well as the amount of light, the source of light is also an important factor.   Many people find that natural light is best. This can mean that making the best of light from windows is preferable to using electric lighting. Similarly, some people find that light fittings emulating natural light (daylight bulbs) are very effective.

 

The key to resolving lighting issues is to talk to the people involved and call in specialists where necessary. Sometimes simple changes can make a huge difference to a working environment. At other times, more work is required to strike a balance between the needs of one individual among a group of other employees.

 

5.4 Trip hazards

 

Research suggests that blind and partially sighted people are more likely to trip than sighted people (Legood et al, 2009). Yet, when we introduce controls to reduce risk, it is very important to keep a sense of perspective. Introducing “no-go” areas, such as stairs or in specific areas you perceive as dangerous, can be discriminatory. It is very unlikely that the only way to manage potential trip hazards is to exclude people from certain areas, as other alternative steps can be taken to reduce risk. Most blind and partially sighted people can navigate around buildings and other workplaces. If you feel strongly that there are parts of a workplace that are not safe, you should seek advice.

 

5.5 Lone working

 

Working alone is an integral part of many jobs. Whether this involves visiting customers at home, working from other premises, travelling either locally or more widely or working at home.

 

Lone working is an area that often raises concerns for employers. But while there may be occasions when a blind or partially sighted person is exposed to risk, these risks are often no greater than a sighted colleague would face.

 

It is very easy to make assumptions about potential dangers and introduce unnecessary risk controls. And yet, very many blind or partially sighted people work successfully and safely on their own, sometimes in challenging environments.

 

Considering risks

 

It is important to consider how an individual is affected by sight loss.  Some people travel independently and confidently. Others look for support, particularly in unfamiliar environments.

 

Some employers have found it helpful to consider the extent of an individual’s sight loss. Having an understanding of what a person can or cannot see can make it easier to discuss risks. Medical “evidence” is not likely to help with this. A diagnosis does not usually describe the extent of functional vision.  Most of the time, your blind or partially sighted employee is the best person to describe this to you.

 

Minimising risk

 

Your starting point for managing risks should be the systems you already have in place for your lone workers. Your local working practices must be robust and comprehensive, so that the work of all of your lone-working employees is covered. Your blind or partially sighted employee is no different in this respect.

 

5.6 Evacuating the building

 

Most blind and partially sighted people will understand the need for plans to deal with unexpected evacuations, for example, in the case of fire.   Employers generally deal with evacuation routes, procedures and assembly points during an employee’s induction period.

 

It is important to ensure that written evacuation procedures are available in different formats during induction. For example, having a Word version of the procedures available will allow most users of access technology to read them.

 

Some blind or partially sighted people would welcome the chance to familiarise themselves with the main routes and practise leaving the building by emergency exits. This could be arranged with their line manager when starting work.

 

If a blind or partially sighted person is finding it difficult to learn routes and needs some support, it may be appropriate to allocate a “buddy” to assist with evacuation until routes are learned.

 

Further information can be found in the publication “Fire Safety Risk Assessment: Means of Escape for Disabled People”, Department of Communities and Local Government, 2007.

 

5.7 Stairs

 

While risk assessing the use of stairs, your starting point should be to assume that blind and partially sighted people are subject to the same risks as any other employee. Therefore, any steps you might take to reduce risk apply to all employees.

 

If you believe that there are risks to stair users, you may want to consider the following extracts form Building Sight:

 

“Lighting on stairs should be sufficient to highlight any obstructions on the flight of the stairs, but should highlight the treads as opposed to the risers to emphasise each step.  It is very important that ceiling-mounted luminaires do not become a glare source – they should be well shielded. Alternatively, large-area, low-brightness sources can be mounted on a side or facing wall.”

 

“The stair covering should not have a pattern that can cause confusion between tread and riser or between one tread and another.”

 

It is worth pointing out that making physical changes of this type may be the responsibility of your landlord, but this does not mean that you shouldn’t raise the issues with them.

 

5.8 Safe use of computer systems

 

Employers are required to “analyse workstations, and assess and reduce risks. Employers need to look at the whole workstation including equipment, furniture, and the work environment; the job being done; and any special needs of individual staff. The regulations apply where staff habitually use display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal work.” (HSE, 2006).

 

It is entirely likely, then, that the needs of blind and partially sighted people will be highlighted as part of a general risk assessment of display screen equipment.

 

In addition to this, employees will often highlight difficulties in using computer systems related to their sight. Unless the individual has a good idea of their requirements, it is usually a good idea to seek specialist advice. RNIB or Action for Blind People offices will be able to recommend ways to make it easier to change the way screens look, or alternative ways of accessing screen content.

 

 

5.9  Machinery

 

Employers often have legitimate concerns about blind or partially sighted people operating power tools, hand tools or other machinery such as grass cutting or gardening power tools.

 

There will be times when you will need to eliminate risk by specifying tools that should not be used at work.
However, it is very important to discuss with an individual exactly how their sight restricts them and how real the risks are. Bear in mind that some new employees may underplay any difficulties as they may have had negative experiences with past employers.

 

Another factor to take into account is the environment in which people will be working. If you can control the immediate work area, machinery can be made safe to use. For example, in a factory, machines can be fitted with guards and walkways restricted to improve the safety of the work environment. If you are in doubt, ask for advice.

 

5.10 Caring for others

 

Many blind and partially sighted people work in jobs where they provide social care services. This can include working in nurseries, care homes and delivering community services.

 

As you would expect, the generic risk assessments carried out to cover the working routines of care workers are often sufficient to ensure a safe working environment for blind and partially sighted people.

 

However, employers sometimes have concerns about certain aspects of working that could be perceived as dangerous. These could include, for example:

 

 

Reading facial expressions to predict behaviour:

 

This is a contentious issue. The vast majority of blind or partially sighted people will be able to read facial expressions, but some will find it difficult or impossible. Logically, this could suggest that a blind person may be at higher risk of sudden changes in behaviour.

 

However, there is a considerable body of research that shows how people are able to perceive mood or feelings from verbal communication only. So the extent of the risk involved is not at all clear.

 

Reducing risk in this situation calls for a balanced judgement based on an understanding of an individual’s sight and the requirements of the job.

 

Missing visual cues, such as evidence of substance misuse or

concealed weapons:

 

Potential hazards of this kind could be addressed by adopting working practices that apply to all employees. This could include ensuring that thorough background information is obtained with referrals. Additionally, initial assessments of the individual customers should cover the likelihood of issues arising. There may be situations where it is safer for people to work in pairs.

 

Reading correspondence while visiting customers:

 

In some jobs, workers may be required to read forms or letters when visiting people in their homes or other settings. Generally, this can be overcome by using access technology, such as portable video magnifiers or scanners.

 

Perceived difficulties dealing with children:

 

Nurseries, after school clubs and similar establishments that provide childcare services have well-developed risk management systems in place. If a blind or partially sighted person starts work, the working practices in place are often robust enough to ensure safe working.

 

Occasionally, parents have concerns about blind or partially sighted people caring for their children. Concerns could include tripping, not seeing children putting things in their mouths, escorting children in the local area or identifying parents when children are collected.

 

In your role as a risk assessor, you should discuss concerns with the individual to establish whether any of these concerns are genuine and if so how they could be minimised. For example, another worker could check the identity of parents collecting children.

 

It is really important that the concerns of parents are not confused with actual risk.

 

 

6. References

 

‘Building Sight: A handbook of building and interior design solutions to include the needs of visually impaired people’, P Barker, J Barrick and R Wilson, London HMSO in Association with RNIB, 1995

 

‘Fire Safety Risk Assessment: Means of Escape for Disabled People’, Department of Communities and Local Government, 2007

 

‘Five Steps to Risk Assessment’, Health and Safety Executive

 

‘Health and Safety for Disabled People and Their Employers’, HSE and DRC

 

J Hurstfield et al, ‘The extent of use of health and safety as a false excuse for not employing sick or disabled persons’, research report 167, HRC/DRC, 2003

 

JMU Access Partnership, Fact Sheet 24 – Lighting

 

Legood R, Scuffham PA and Cryer C, “Are we blind to injuries in the visually impaired?  A review of the literature”, June 2009

 

RNIB and Thomas Pocklington Trust, ‘Make the most of your sight, Improve the lighting in your home”, RNIB and Thomas Pocklington Trust, 2009

 

‘This is Working 2’, RNIB, October 2009

 

‘Working with VDUs’, HSE leaflet INDG36(rev3), revised 12/06

 

 

7. Sources of help and further information

 

7.1 RNIB and Action for Blind People

 

Employment services for employers

 

We can help you retain a current employee who is losing their sight, and we can help you to take on someone who is visually impaired.

 

Advances in technology mean that visually impaired people can now overcome many of the barriers to work that they faced in the past, and government schemes like Access to Work mean that many of the costs can be met.

 

We provide a number of services that can be directly commissioned by employers. These include:

 

  • Work-based assessments – a visit to a workplace, by one of our specialists, to evaluate the potential for equipment, software, and adjustments that would better allow an employee to fulfil their role.
  • 1 to 1 access technology training. Our technology specialists can visit your workplace and provide training tailored to suit your employee’s needs.
  • Visual and disability awareness training.

 

For further information about any of these services, please contact us via our website or directly via our employment services mailbox:

 

Web site: www.rnib.org.uk/employmentservices

 

Email: employmentservices@rnib.org.uk

 

Employment factsheets

 

We currently produce the following factsheets for employers and employment professionals:

 

  • Access to Work
  • RNIB work-based assessment services
  • Blind and partially sighted people at work – Guidance and good practice for Risk Assessors
  • Testing the compatibility of access software and IT applications
  • Guidelines on meeting the needs of visually impaired delegates on training courses

 

In addition to this you may like to check out our ‘This IS Working’ documents, which showcase blind and partially sighted people working in a range of occupations, and include testimonials from employers, as well as our ‘Vocational rehabilitation’ document, which sets out the business case for retaining newly disabled staff.

 

All of these factsheets and documents can be found in the employment professionals section of our website www.rnib.org.uk/employmentservices which also contains the latest research in the field, as well as information on IT and accessibility, the Equality Act, success stories, and more.

 

We also produce a number of factsheets aimed at blind and partially sighted people, on a range of employment related issues. These can be found at www.rnib.org.uk/employment

 

RNIB Helpline

 

The RNIB Helpline can refer you to an employment specialist for further advice and guidance. RNIB Helpline can also help you by providing information and advice on a range of topics, such as eye health, the latest products, leisure opportunities, benefits advice and emotional support.

 

Call the Helpline team on 0303 123 9999 or email helpline@rnib.org.uk

 

7.2 Access to Work

 

Access to Work is a scheme run by Jobcentre Plus. The scheme provides advice, grant funding, and practical support to disabled people and employers to help overcome work related obstacles resulting from a disability. Read our Access to Work factsheet, or visit the Access to Work pages at www.rnib.org.uk/employmentservices to learn more about qualifying for the scheme. Further details are also available at www.directgov.uk

 

7.3 Guide Dogs

 

The best place to find out information relating to guide dogs. Visit: www.guidedogs.org.uk

 

7.4 The Health and Safety Executive

 

HSE is responsible for enforcing health and safety at workplaces. Visit: www.hse.gov.uk

 

7.5 Equality and Human Rights Commission

 

The Equality and Human Rights commission have a statutory remit to promote and monitor human rights; and to protect, enforce and promote equality across the nine “protected” grounds – age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, sexual orientation and gender reassignment. The website includes a section on employment.

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/

 

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/your-rights/disability/disability-in-employment/

 

Factsheet updated: April 2013

 

 

 

Advocacy Org Leaves the Scene: Thank you and Farewell ASIC, Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers

At a meeting held the morning of Saturday January 17th, 1998, with 20 members of the blind community present, the concept of a consumer-driven advocacy coalition was discussed and a few short weeks later, Advocates for Sight-Impaired Consumers was born. After
20 years of providing advocacy services for the benefit of British Columbians and other Canadians, after engaging a total of 122 individuals to serve on its volunteer board at different times, and after undergoing a minor amendment to its brand in 2007, the Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers Board has elected to wind down its entire operation effective May 31st, 2017. In doing so, it leaves behind a legacy of independence and access initiatives that will benefit persons who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted for generations to come. The list in part, includes:

* Leading the call for and creating the position paper for accessible pedestrian signals including wayfinding messages, a pedestrian clearance tone and other optional functionalities.
* Successfully advocating for high-contrast tactile platform edging on all Metro Vancouver SkyTrain and Canada Line platforms.
* Successfully advocating for and seeing the initial implementation of descriptive video and closed captioning services in Famous Players theatres that expanded into identical services in Cineplex Entertainment complexes.
* Developing the concept of, and assisting with the implementation of, the “VIP Assistance Line” which provides sighted guide assistance in and around SkyTrain and Canada Line stations.
* Successfully advocating for the installation and implementation of automated stop announcements on all conventional transit and community shuttle routes operated by the Coast Mountain Bus Company in Metro Vancouver.
* Successfully advocating for the installation of audio ATM machines at Vancouver City Savings branches.
* Creating a heightened awareness amongst senior officials at Elections BC of the needs of voters who are blind or partially sighted and working collaboratively with Elections BC to provide braille candidate lists, large-print facsimile posters of the election ballot, rigid plastic voting templates, a pilot telephone voting option for all persons with a disability for the 2017 general election, and participating in the creation of a training/awareness video to educate election officials on how best to assist voters with sight loss.
* Successfully advocating for the expansion of the Taxi Bill of Rights throughout BC which was voluntarily adopted by 33 taxi companies.
* Successfully advocating for the design and implementation of universally accessible bus stops with appropriate features to assist transit users with various disabilities (including blindness) so that they can independently locate a public transit passenger loading zone in the Metro Vancouver area.
* Successfully advocating for a pilot installation of taxi meters with optional audio output by the Vancouver Taxi Association. The success of the pilot project has resulted in the BC Passenger Transportation Board establishing guidelines for the implementation, installation and operation of Soft Meters (tablet-based) with optional audio output.
* Successfully advocating for the availability of accessible prescription medication information in an audio format from 10 pharmacy chains throughout BC.

These are only some examples of the many projects that were the focus of ASIC’s attention over the years.

As the ASIC Board works to tie up all administrative and operational duties by May’s month end, it is their intention to update the Resources section of the ASIC website and to leave the entire website running for as long as feasible. The Community Calendar will be discontinued. Accessible Media Inc began featuring audio promotions of community events throughout BC starting mid-April 2017. Details regarding community events may be sent to amyamantea@hotmail.com

ASIC’s Contact Us web page has been updated and now offers a telephone number which will be manned by former ASIC Board member Reed Poynter going forward. British Columbians who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted may write to our existing email address or call to obtain the name(s) of various resources when tackling a self-advocacy issue. Or, individuals may seek assistance from any one of the many other consumer advocacy organizations listed on our web page at:
http://www.asicbc.ca/resources/ConsumerOrganizations/Pages/default.aspx

At the close of the final meeting of Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers, ASIC’s Chair Rob Sleath summarized the past 20 years by
saying: “The past 20 years has given many caring and compassionate individuals an opportunity to give back to their community by volunteering time and energy toward the goal of improving the independence and access for British Columbians who are blind, deafblind or sight-impaired. It has been an honour and a privilege to work with these individuals, and we hope our efforts will enhance the independence of all British Columbians for years to come. To all those who supported Access with Sight-Impaired Consumers with donations, gifts-in-kind, financial support and/or through their donations of time and energy, I extend a simple but most sincere thank you! We could not have achieved so much without your generous and vvalued support.”

BC May 9th Election and CELA/NNELS Library Funding Talking Points

Dear CCB/GTT participants,

Here are the “Talking Points” circulated by CNIB following a conference call with their CEO, John Rafferty on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 where blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians were invited to learn more about the state of CELA Library funding in BC specifically, and in other parts of Canada. Please use these talking points if you intend to contact candidates running for office in your community, and if you live in other parts of Canada, use them when you meet with your elected Provincial representative.

Quoted text:
Key Messages – Accessible BC Library Services

Access to alternate format materials has been a long-standing barrier for Canadians with print disabilities. Today, Canada’s answer to this challenge has manifested through two very different models of service – CELA (Centre for Equitable Library Access) and NNELS (National Network for Equitable Library Services).

Accessible alternate format materials include many different medium given an individuals reading or literary preferences. This could include high quality natural voice audio books, literary or braille books or braille music and access to current electronic and news papers/magazines. This content, as with that provided through Canada’s public libraries must be easy to access, either through a library service point, through Canada Post delivery or via direct to player download.

For a system to be considered truly equitable and accessible, the unique needs and individual preferences of patrons must be at the forefront of the delivery model. A one-size fits all approach, will further marginalize those who do not fit into a uniform service delivery model.

In order for access to CELA services to continue, we are asking that you contact candidates running in next weeks’ election and ask them to commit to fully funding CELA as your library service provider. Currently, the Government of BC has fully funded NNELS and CELA receives very limited financial support. This is both wrong and cannot be sustained.

To continue CELA services, $135,000 is required. This will ensure that the residents of British Columbia who have downloaded or received over 38,000 items via Canada Post last year can continue to do so in the future.
End of quoted text.

Thx, Albert Ruel, GTT Coordinator
The Canadian Council of the Blind
Western Canada

GTT British Columbia: Promote Your GTT Groups on AMI Audio Monthly Through Amy Amantea

Hi GTT friends and colleagues.  See below, and let me know if you have any questions.

 

Amy has been offered an exciting opportunity to present on AMI Audio Once a month to showcase upcoming events in British Columbia that are relevant to those living with sight loss and their networks. Please consider providing her with your May activities during the first week of April.

 

What, the name of your event and organization; When, the date; Where, the location address; What, Who, How, A quick summary; For more information about your event contact:

Person’s name;

phone number;

email;

website;

 

Please provide the info to Amy Amantea by April 7 at the end of the business day:

604-763-2695

amyamantea@hotmail.com

 

Hello friends and supporters of people with sight loss.

 

I’ve been offered an exciting opportunity to present on AMI audio Once a month to showcase upcoming events in British Columbia that are relevant to those of us living with sight loss and our networks.

 

As you can well imagine this is a great opportunity but a large research task.

 

Here is where I ask for all of your help. You are all well connected and a part of many organizations with their finger on the pulse of activity in our community.

>

> I want to know everything! Every social gathering that people can attend, AGM’s, workshops, fundraisers, raffles and 50-50 draws, sporting events, arts and culture… You name it.

>

> Don’t assume that I already know about your event or activity.

>

> During this first week of April I will be collecting data on activities and events happening in May 2017. But please, if you have calendars with other dates already secured please send me those in advance and I can archive them.

>

> There’s really only two qualifications… It must be relatable to British Columbia it must be relatable to people living with sight loss.

>

> So, let me know what you have going on in your respective community… No event is too small.

> If there’s an exciting triumph in accessibility related to people with the sight loss I may be able to work some of that into the piece as well.

>

> I will also be posting on Facebook but I have one request, please send me your event details via email. I must admit, I’m not a great Social media user but I think this new project might be A reason to stretch my boundaries.

>

> This opportunitythis opportunity can be great for securing new membership, ticket sales and so many other things.

>

> The details I would need: the name of your event, the date, the location and address A quick summary and a contact phone number/email/website.

>

> I am very excited to have been asked to participate in this way with AMI And I hope I can count on our community to help me source what’s going on.

>

> Remember, no idea it’s too small…

>

> Thank you in advance to you all. Please feel free to circulate my contact information

>

> I want to make sure we get representation from the corners of British Columbia that don’t often get focus, So please pitch in and let me know what’s happening in your area.

>

> You can reach me at anytime.

>

> Kindest regards, Amy

> 604-763-2695

>

>

>

> Sent from my iPhone

> Message has been dictated with the use of Apple dictation software. This message may not have been checked for dictation errors.

>

>

> Sent from my iPhone

> Message has been dictated with the use of Apple dictation software. This message may not have been checked for dictation errors.

 

Canada Revenue Agency Post: Why claim medical expenses

Your association or organization has been identified as a key stakeholder of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). We hope you will share the following information with your membership.

English version ***La version française suit***

The below text can be found at the CRA Web Site:

Did you have medical expenses? You may be able to claim them on your income tax and benefit return

Why claim medical expenses

You can reduce the amount of federal tax you pay by claiming a non-refundable tax credit on a wide variety of medical expenses, including hospital services, nursing home fees, and medical supplies.

You may be able to claim medical expenses for yourself, your spouse or common-law partner, your dependent children (under 18 years of age), and other dependants.

Conditions for claiming medical expenses

To claim medical expenses, the expenses must:
* be eligible
* have been paid by you or your spouse or common-law partner
* have been paid within a 12-month period ending in 2016 and not claimed for 2015

Before filing your return, make sure you are claiming eligible medical expenses. If you claim expenses that are not eligible (for example, athletic or fitness-club fees or over-the-counter medications), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may reassess your return accordingly.

Claiming travel expenses

Did you travel at least 40 kilometres (one way) from your home to get medical services? If so, you may be able to claim the public transportation (for example, taxi, bus, or train) expenses you paid. Where public transportation is not readily available, you may be able to claim vehicle expenses instead.

Did you travel at least 80 kilometres (one way) from your home to get medical services? If so, you may be able to claim accommodation, meal, and parking expenses in addition to your transportation expenses.

Did someone accompany you? If so, you may be able to claim that person’s transportation and travel expenses. To make that claim, a medical practitioner must certify in writing that you were not capable of travelling alone to get medical services.

Refundable medical expense supplement
If you have a low income and high medical expenses, you may be able to claim a refundable credit of up to $1,187.

Visit the CRA’s website for more information on eligible medical expenses you can claim on your return or watch Segment 3: Medical Expenses in the CRA’s video series on Tax Measures for Persons with Disabilities.
Stay connected
To receive updates on what is new at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), you can:

· Follow the CRA on Twitter – @CanRevAgency.
· Follow the CRA on LinkedIn.
· Subscribe to a CRA electronic mailing list.
· Add our RSS feeds to your feed reader.
· Watch our tax-related videos on YouTube.

Votre association ou organisation a été désignée comme intervenant clé de l’Agence du revenu du Canada (ARC). Nous espérons que vous partagerez les renseignements suivants avec vos membres.
Version française ***The English version precedes***
Avez-vous engagé des frais médicaux? Vous pourriez être admissible à demander leur remboursement dans votre déclaration de revenus et de prestations.

Pourquoi demander des frais médicaux

Vous pouvez réduire le montant de votre impôt fédéral en demandant un crédit d’impôt non remboursable pour une vaste gamme de frais médicaux, dont des services hospitaliers, des soins à domicile et des fournitures médicales.

Vous pourriez demander des frais médicaux pour vous ou votre époux ou conjoint de fait, vos enfants à charge (enfants de moins de 18 ans) ou toute autre personne à charge.

Les conditions pour demander des frais médicaux

Les frais médicaux que vous pouvez demander doivent :
* être admissibles;
* avoir été payés par vous ou votre époux ou conjoint de fait;
* doivent avoir été payées dans une période de 12 mois se terminant en 2016 et aucun remboursement ne doit avoir été demandé pour celles-ci en 2015.

Avant de produire votre déclaration, assurez-vous de demander des frais médicaux admissibles. Si vous demandez des frais non admissibles (par exemple, des frais d’adhésion à un club d’athlétisme ou à un centre de conditionnement physique ou l’achat de médicaments en vente libre), l’Agence du revenu du Canada pourrait établir une nouvelle cotisation de votre déclaration en conséquence.

Réclamer des frais de déplacement

Vous êtes-vous déplacé à au moins 40 kilomètres (en une direction) de votre domicile pour obtenir des services médicaux? Si oui, il se peut que vous soyez admissible à demander le remboursement des frais de transport en commun (par exemple, taxi, autobus et train) que vous avez payés. Lorsque le transport en commun n’est pas facilement accessible, vous pourriez plutôt demander les frais d’utilisation d’un véhicule.

Vous êtes-vous déplacé à au moins 80 kilomètres (en une direction) de votre domicile pour obtenir des services médicaux? Si oui, il se peut que vous soyez en mesure de demander le remboursement des frais d’hébergement, de repas et de stationnement, en plus de vos frais de transport.

Est-ce que quelqu’un vous a accompagné? Si oui, il se peut que vous soyez en mesure de demander le remboursement des frais de transport et de déplacement de cette personne. Pour présenter cette demande, un médecin praticien doit attester par écrit que vous étiez incapable de vous déplacer seul pour obtenir des services médicaux.

Supplément remboursable pour frais médicaux
Si vous êtes un travailleur à faible revenu qui a des frais médicaux élevés, il se peut que vous soyez en mesure de demander un crédit remboursable maximal de 1 187 $.

Pour plus de renseignements sur les frais médicaux admissibles que vous pouvez demander dans votre déclaration, consultez le site Web de l’ARC ou visionnez le Segment 3 : Frais médicaux dans la série de vidéos de l’ARC sur les mesures fiscales pour les personnes handicapées.
Restez branché
Pour recevoir des mises à jour sur ce qu’il y a de nouveau à l’Agence du revenu du Canada (ARC), vous pouvez :

* Suivre l’ARC sur Twitter – @AgenceRevCan.
* Suivre l’ARC sur LinkedIn.
* Vous abonner à une liste d’envoi électronique de l’ARC.
* Ajouter nos fils RSS à votre lecteur de nouvelles.
· Regarder nos vidéos sur l’impôt sur YouTube.

Resource Article: Dictation Commands for Mac OS X & iOS

Dictation Commands for Mac OS X & iOS

Find the text of Dictation Commands for Mac OS X & iOS here:

Additional resources titled, 60+ dictation commands available on your iPhone or iPad by Matt Hopkins:

And finally, follow this additional link to a YouTube video titled, Dictation on the iPad with VoiceOver:

Dictation is a feature of iOS and Mac OS X that lets you speak as you normally would, transforming your speech magically into text. It’s impressively accurate, letting you easily crank out notes, emails, diary entries, or just about anything else with it just by talking. To really get the most out of Dictation though you will want to learn a few extra commands, they will help with things like punctuation, creating paragraphs, jumping to new lines, and setting capitalization.

These commands will work in both OS X and iOS, so long as the Mac, iPad, or iPhone supports Dictation and has the featured turned on (here’s how to enable it in OS X and how to enable it for iOS, though it’s almost always turned on by default in the latest versions of both.)

List of Dictation Commands for iOS & Mac OS X

These are to be spoken when Dictation is active:

• “All Caps” to capitalize all of only the next word (e.g. START)
• “Caps” to capitalize the next word (e.g. Start)
• “Upper Case [letter]” for making a spelling out acronyms (e.g. SAT)
• “Caps On” to turn on caps lock
• “Caps Off” to turn off caps lock
• “No Caps” to use no capitals with the word
• “Numeral [number]” to type the number rather than word
• “New Paragraph” to create a new paragraph
• “New Line” to insert and start a new line
• “No Space” to prevent a space from being between the next word
• “No Space On” to turn off all spaces in the next sequence of words (helpful for passwords)
• “No Space Off” to resume normal spacing between words

Adding things like periods and commas can be done automatically by pausing in speech, or, usually more accurately, by just simply saying aloud the punctuation needed.

Here’s an example of how to use Dictation to write a quick message that looks as if it was typed normally:

“Hey Homer [comma] [new line]
What time do you want to see a movie

I think the [numeral 5] showing is the [all caps] best [period] [new line]
Toodles [comma] Bart”

That would come out looking like this:

“Hey Homer,
What time do you want to see a movie? I think the 5 showing is the BEST.
Toodles, Bart”

There are a lot of other punctuation and special commands available, and even though most are common sense, you can find the full list below for convenience.

Punctuation & Special Character Commands for Dictation in Mac OS X & iOS

Most of the punctuation commands are common sense, but here’s the full list of possibilities from Apple:

table with 2 columns and 45 rows
Command
Result
question mark
?
inverted question mark
¿
exclamation point
!
hyphen

dash

em dash

underscore
_
comma
,
open parenthesis
(
close parenthesis
)
open square bracket
[
close square bracket
]
open brace
{
close brace
}
semi colon
;
ellipsis

quote

end-quote

back quote

single quote

end single quote

double-quote

apostrophe

colon
:
slash
/
back slash
\
tilde
~
ampersand
&
percent sign
%
copyright sign
©
registered sign
®
section sign
§
dollar sign
$
cent sign
¢
degree sign
º
caret
^
at sign
@
Pound sterling sign
£
Yen sign
¥
Euro sign

pound sign
#
smiley face (or “smiley”)
🙂
frowny face (or “sad face”, “frown”)
😦
winky face (or “winky”)
😉
table end

Many other commands were mentioned on the web page, so follow the link at the top of this document to access those comments.