GTT Victoria Summary Notes, White Canes and Mobility, February 1, 2017

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria
A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

Summary Notes, Wednesday February 1, 2017
GVPL Main branch, Coomunity Meeting Room

The meeting was called to order at 1:05 pm by chair Albert Ruel

Attendance, Kara, Bruce, Brent, Evett, Karen, Sky, Elizabeth Lalonde, Elizabeth Syringe, Joan, Albert and Corry.

Albert welcomed everyone back for another calendar year of the CCB GTT program in Victoria.

BC Transit, Victoria Trekker Breeze Issue:
The meeting started with some discussion and an update on the Local Transit situation, that being that BC Transit has publicly stated that they will have a fully operational GPS system up and running within the next 18 months. The importance of having a fully inclusive system in place was reinforced by several members including Bruce who stated that the readout of stop locations was a must in his world. The question of whether this new system would include a speaker by the front door identifying the bus route name and number. It was agreed that we should communicate to transit the importance of this specific feature to ensure that it is given high priority and does become a reality.

Transit App:
The Transit app was discussed at great length and highly recommended by both Tom and Corry. Although the service does not feature real time tracking yet in Victoria, the app is great for letting you know when you are approaching your desired stop.

GPS Apps:
From there the discussion centered around the various types of GPS apps available, Albert spoke briefly about some of the differences. Data usage was also discussed and tips on how to minimise data requirements were discussed. Mapmywalk and Runtastic are two apps that seam to use minimal data and can be very helpful if you wish to incorporate a fitness component to your daily activities.

White Cane Week:
After a short break, the White Cane was discussed at length (White Cane Week is Feb 5 – 11, 2017). Elizabeth Lalonde gave us a great overview of the various types of canes available and the great work that is going on at the Pacific Training Center in regards to mobility training and cane usage.

Tom Decker spoke about a new initiative going on at Ihabilitation, they have purchased a new program called Screen Flow Recorder and will be producing inclusive “how to” videos in the near future. Tom will keep us posted on the progress.

White Canes:
During the final portion, several types of White Canes were passed out and the members had an opportunity to try different types and lengths.

Meeting adjourned at 3:45 PM
Next meeting, Wednesday March 1, 2015
Submitted by Corry Stuive


GTT Calgary: All Things GPS, October 17, 2016

Get Together with Technology (GTT) Calgary

The following are the notes from the GTT meeting on October 17, 2016:

Our GTT meeting was held at the CCB office at the CNIB, featuring GPS aps. We had 10 people in attendance with 2 late arrivals.

Since it was a cold day in Calgary, not much time was spent outside testing aps, but there was quite a bit of discussion on the different GPS aps available and their pros and cons. Jesse mentioned an android ap called Get there. A couple of our android users located the ap and did some preliminary testing of the ap.

The other aps covered in general discussion were Arieadney GPS, Nearby Explorer, Nearby Explorer on the web, Navagon, Auteur, and Blind Square.

Cherryl took those who were willing to brave the cold outside for a brief demonstration of Blind Square.

Auteur would not work at the time, but has since been updated and now works as expected.

Thank you for your attention.

Ted Phillips

CCB Calgary Club Secretary

GTT Vancouver and New Westminster Summary Notes, GPS and OrCam, September and October Meetings, 2016

GTT Vancouver
Summary Notes

Topic: GPS and the OrCam

Session 1, GPS and the OrCam
Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Present: 16 participants; Shawn, Corey, Lilo, Nora, John, Louise, Fay, Carol, Pat, Mary, Lynn, Peg, Ryan, Albert, Clement, and Barry from OrCam

Session 2, GPS
Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Present: 8 participants; Shawn, Albert, Geri, John, Fay, Carol, Louise, Kari-Lyn

First Saturday Meeting which dealt with GPS,
Date: Saturday, October 22, 2016 at VCC
Present: 24 participants; John, Jeremy, Nora, Rita, Tammy, John, Peg, Bev, Pat, Bridget, Mary, Mo, Richard, Perry, Icy, Tracey, Shawn, Sean, Matthew, Monty, Cathy, Becky, Owen and Anna

What is GPS – Global Positioning System?
• What is it and how does it work?
• -type of technology that tells someone or something where it is on planet earth
• relies on a series of satellites in the sky
• there used to be 24, now there are many more
• your technology communicates, gets a message to tell you where you are in relation to the satellite
• The accuracy ranges from 1 metre in military technology to 2-3 metres, or as bad as five, depending on the service provider

History and Evolution
• Satellites were used initially for GPS
• GPS is used for anything that does long distance travel
• Nowadays everybody has GPS – it now is enhanced by Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cell towers, and satellites.
• Some store maps so you can look at them even when there is no satellite signal or data connection.
• Portable GPS started in the late 90’s and were the size of back-packs and Laptops.
• The trekker was a PDA with special software added which was very expensive. Came with many components and wires to connect everything.
• It was full featured, would tell you points of interest, could browse a route, and was a very handy device. It had no Internet connection and relied on satellites. So, if it was rainy or cloudy it’s difficult to reach the satellites and would not work.
• Trekker Breeze had some improvements but was harder to relabel points of interest.
• At this point they started integrating GPS into note takers you could carry your one device.
• Freedom Scientific included it in the Pacmate which no longer exists. They used infrared for the receiver which meant you had to line it up perfectly in order to work.
• Then there was the BrailleNote which included GPS. You could add additional software for another $1500 which came with maps and a receiver. They used Bluetooth – Wi-Fi___33 without Internet – good for about 30 feet. This was more stable connection.
• Then BrrailleSense added GPS. Worked reasonably well.
• At the same time GPS were starting to be integrated into cars
• Then we started integrating into phones.
• Using 3G and cell networks.
• Apple came up with Maps on the IPhone so you did not need to purchase additional software.
• Google came up with google maps
• Now there is location tracking with phones.
• The more things you have transmitting on your phone the easier it will be for the GPS to work.
• Blue tooth will suck your battery life faster when turned on.

GPS apps – BlindSquare, Apple Maps, Navacon, Smartphone GPS, Seeing Eye, Nearby Explorer, AuTour.
• Google Maps, Apple Maps, and AuTour are free
• You do need data on your phone to use GPS on the go
• You may want an external battery pack or a phone case that charges it twice
• When you ask Siri to take you somewhere the phone will automatically use Apple Maps. Whenever you choose Get Directions uses Apple Maps
• Tell it to find a place and get directions or ask Siri to take you somewhere – tracking isn’t bad and directions usually will get you there.
• Apple maps will tell you when to switch lanes so it can be helpful if you are trying to help navigate for your driver
• Google Maps is more refined, better control, and you can do more stuff with it.
• You can find it in the app store, it’s free, and includes transit stops locally but not for every system.
• Five options driving walking, transit, biking, and ride services
• When you open google maps it opens a menu with an edit field. You can dictate as long as you have good service and your environment isn’t too loud.
• Menu will get you into settings, save your location
• When you click query you get a search field, recent history will give you the last places you’ve searched for, explore food and drinks, gas stations, pharmacy’s, nearby.
• Maps on the Trekker could be 2 years old but Google Maps are updated regularly.
• Not every business will show up but if you enter an address it will be able to find those smaller businesses
• You need location services on for GPS to work.

Seeing Eye has a look around arm that will tell you what is in each direction. It updates every 15 seconds which is why it sucks the battery so fast.
• Once it catches where you are it will tell you what is to your southeast or northwest. It will tell you what street is running from your left to right, or behind to forward.
• Seeing Eye uses worldwide maps. It pulls from foursquare or google maps.
• You can pay $13 per month, $60 per year, or buy it outright for $300.
• You can create routes, mark points of interest.

BlindSquare won’t give you turn by turn instruction
• It has a “look around” arm to see what is nearby
• It has a 15 minute sleep timer

Nearby Explorer is less than a third of the money but does pretty much the same as Seeing Eye.
• Both give route options, virtual walk abouts, include buses
• It also has a “look around” arm
• Nearby Explorer is $109. Covers North America. Downloads 4 gigs of maps into your phone and uses google maps and apple maps. It requires a lot of storage.

AuTour is a new free app
• You can point your phone at something and it will tell you what you are pointed at
• Radar will scan what’s around you 360 degrees. Beam tells you what you are pointed at.

Seeing assistant move, Lite and paid versions available
• -has a suite of applications, colour detector, light detector
• -it is an app, somewhere around nine or ten dollars
• -reason it is ten and not one hundred, is because it does not pay map companies to license expensive maps from third parties
• -instead it makes use of a project called OpenStreet Map, a project where people all over the world, have designed the map for the company
• anywhere people go, they log their current location, and open street map shares it with the rest of the users
• takes advantage of free mapping from countries
• -not as good as the ones that use really detailed third party maps, but probably about 90% as good, and much more affordable
• -don’t always need a data connection, but will need to download maps at some point
• -the presenter demonstrates the app to the group
• the presenter shows a point close to our location that he added to the open map
• the presenter hits the where am I button, gives a slightly different address, but that is probably the closest address to this classroom
• This app can also identify cross streets
• now giving an example of a route
• the presenter goes to all categories, clicks entertainment, to see what is around, and looks for close by restaurants
• clicks actions, hits add to track
• the app also tells you by clock face where your destination is, so as you approach it will say the place is at 11 clock, 10 o’clock, and so on, orienting you to the building
• calculate a turn by turn route
• start point, my location, end point, restaurant, route type, fastest
• designate and track route
• -drawbacks
• the simulate location feature
• tell your phone where you will be in the future, choose a place, and it can simulate that location, and then you can explore that area in the same way you would with the app if you were actually there
• this feature stopped working in parts of the app, however when the presenter contacted the developers, they were receptive and thanked him for pointing out the error

Which is the best GPS App:

Blind Square is inexpensive
• Accessible overlay that uses the compass, apple maps, transit app and makes it accessible
• Tells you where you are in relation to your destination but no turn by turn directions

• Ask your I-phone to find directions to an address
• Choose whether you are driving, walking and then it will talk you through the directions
• I-Beacon technology requires Bluetooth which will work indoors
• GPS doesn’t work in a mall
• Tap with 4 fingers at the bottom of the screen brings cursor to bottom or at top of the screen brings you to the top
• Four Square – you can pull up the restaurant where you are and rate your meal. The more places you check in at, the more places end up on Four Square
• Blind Square uses four square
• You can search for arts and entertainment, food, residences, shops, outdoor and recreation, colleges and universities, etc
• Sometimes it will tell you about a restaurant that is now closed

Nearby Explorer – need more than a 16 gig phone – a bit more expensive but does give turn by turn directions
• Costs more than Blind Square but less than Seeing Eye.
• Increase or decrease radius to hear what is closer or father away
• You can turn on a setting to tell you every street you cross, city boundaries, addresses, etc. You can choose as little or as much as you want
• Guidance can be turned on to give you guidance to get to your location
• Nearby Explorer was developed by American Printing House and it has been running on Android for 4 years.
• Once you have maps loaded on the app and you use only onboard apps, you don’t need data

Seeing Eye requires data for maps which is why it doesn’t require as much space.

OrCam demo from Barry Underwood
• Comes with glasses with a small camera attached. The camera can attach to any set of glasses
• Once the device is turned on, you hit the single button which is a trigger to take a photo of what you are looking at.
• You can also use your finger and point to the document and it will also take a picture and start reading

The next meeting topic is to be determined

November 23 will be the next Daytime GTT Vancouver Meeting at Blind Beginnings.
December 3 will be the next Saturday GTT Vancouver Meeting at VCC

CNIB and BlindSquare – PanAm Games Toronto 2015

BlindSquare, a MIPsoft product, is the most-recognized augmented reality application for blind and low-vision travellers. BlindSquare joins the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), the primary resource for blind and low-vision Canadians, to offer free use of the BlindSquare Event iOS app (exclusively) for the 2015 PanAm and ParaPan Am Games in Toronto, Ontario during July and August.

This free BlindSquare Event offer is extended to the 7,000 athletes, their coaches, family, and friends, as well as any Canadians and visitors to Canada within a 250 kilometer radius of Toronto.

Whether you are sighted, blind, or low vision, take advantage of this free offer to get up-to-date information about the games: times, locations, walking and driving directions and maps for the games (including public transportation information), information about entertainment and dining between events, and lodging information. If English is not your primary language, BlindSquare is localized to 25 languages (and used in 130 countries!).

The PanAm Games are the world’s third largest international multi-sport games; surpassed in size and scope only by the Olympic Summer Games and the Asian Games. The Pan Am and the ParaPan Am Games are held every four years for the athletes of the 41 Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) member nations, in the year preceding the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.

Join with BlindSquare and CNIB to celebrate the hard work and achievements of these athletes, and let BlindSquare Event help you get there!

Download BlindSquare Event for the 2015 PanAm/ParaPan Toronto Games at

BlindSquare video: Simulating travel from the comfort of a couch.

In this video you will hear and see the use of this iOS app, purposely created for travellers who are blind. The demonstration features the use of VoiceOver, to search for a future destination, Toronto’s Union Station. From there, the demonstration continues to simulate travel from Union Station, to Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) headquarters and options for travel by foot, Public Transport or UBER car. Then, from the new simulated location (CNIB) what restaurants are available!

View article at link below

GTT Victoria Meeting Summary, February 4, 2015



*Note: The March, April, May and June meetings will be at a new location, 777 Fort Street between Douglas and Blanshard.  See below for more details.


On February 4 The Victoria GTT group saw another great day in the Capital Regional District that had about 28 blind and partially sighted turn up to share their skills, passions and inquiries about assistive technology.  Thank you to all who braved the elements to attend this meeting.


We started with self-introductions of all who attended, then rolled into a presentation by Wendy Cox about the Neil Squire Society Employ-Ability online program.  Wendy is the local Victoria Coordinator/Facilitator for this program, so she gave the group a taste of what the program offers, who it serves and how accessibility is viewed where blind and partially sighted participants are concerned.  You can learn more about the program by following the below link, or by contacting Wendy directly.


Wendy Cox – Career Facilitator

Neil Squire Society’s Employ-Ability Program

Victoria Disability Resource Centre

817-A Fort Street Victoria BC  V8W 1H6

Phone: 250-595-0044 ext. 108



As this meeting was taking place during White Cane Week we then embarked on a discussion of the many tools used for mobility as blind and partially sighted travelers.  Danielle gave an overview and history of the white cane, along with some of her own experiences as she trialled Dog Guides and canes before settling on her current long white cane.  The members shared some ideas, frustrations, benefits and the devices they employ.


Tom allowed us a glimpse into life with a Dog Guide as his chosen mobility tool, and although Abe would have loved to be handed around the crowd, Tom managed to keep him at his feet for the duration of the presentation.  Following a brief coffee break Tom took us through a demonstration of the Blind Square app on his iPhone.  This is a very user friendly talking GPS app that provides great navigation as the user travels through his/her community.  It however doesn’t provide turn by turn instructions to pre-programmed addresses.  Where Am I and Look Around features exist to help the traveler along the way, as well as street announcements and other helpful information.


Other talking GPS devices such as the Trekker Breeze were talked about from the perspective of the different features they all have.  Check with a Mobility Specialist and/or other blind travelers if you have questions about the type of cane that will best serve your needs.  Elizabeth Lalonde, the founding Executive Director of the Pacific Training Center for the Blind was there to also offer her knowledge and the Center’s support for those who need mobility services.  Elizabeth can be contacted through a Contact Form on their web site:


The break had us enjoying coffee and tea from Tim Horton’s following the first public performance of the newly formed Pawsitive Performers choir who sang three songs.  One of which was the Terry Kelly classic, Power of the Dream.  If anyone has an interest in joining the Pawsitive Performers please contact Linda Bartram at (250) 595-5888 or


A brief discussion was undertaken regarding formalizing a GTT Victoria Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind.  More information will be provided during the next meeting about the CCB and the GTT Program.  A Membership Form will be found attached to this announcement.  If you wish to join the GTT Victoria Chapter please complete the form and bring it to the March 4th meeting.  To learn more about the CCB check out our web site at:


On February 5, 2015 four GTT members, Tom, Ken, Corry and Albert met with Devan in downtown Victoria to look at a potential new meeting site.  It was checked over quite carefully and believed to be ideal for GTT, and a wonderful match in terms of relationship between the building’s owners and our program.  The accessibility of the building seems to match our needs, and it boasts the highest internet speeds in Victoria.  It’s called Fort Tectoria and is operated by VIATeC.  Please follow the links below and thank them for their generosity each time you post on Facebook or Twitter.  That’s all they’re asking us for at this point, and their Twitter and Facebook contacts can be found at the Link below.


Upon entering the building you will walk through a Coffee Shop with a very friendly staff.  The counter will be on your right with a few small tables across the aisle on your left.  Once you’ve purchased your favourite cup of java you will return to your original line of travel when entering the building, which will have you moving straight through that portion of the building to a set of double doors into a larger work lounge with many tables and chairs.  We found this room to be quiet with several people working on laptops or talking in low tones.  As you move through that room keeping a straight line you will encounter the door into the Shaw Conference Room where we will meet.  The room will be laid out with one large conference table in the center with chairs all around it.  Upon entering the room you will find the table stretching out to your left and right, with the head of the room to your left.


Washrooms are found to your right just before entering the Shaw Conference Room. There are three, with one of them equipped for wheelchairs.  They are not gender specific.


VIATeC is the building’s owner, and the service/initiative is called, Fort Tectoria

777 Fort Street Victoria BC  V8W 1G9


The building is about 4 doors west of Blanshard Street on the South side of Fort Street. If you favourite this location on your GPS iPhone app, Blind Square you will be notified very near its doors according to Tom.


Upcoming GTT Victoria meetings will be held at Fort Tectoria on these dates:

March 4, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM

April 1, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM

*May 4, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM *(Note this is a Monday)

June 3, 2015 from 1:30 until 3:30 PM