Category Archives: GTT national conference call.

GTT National Conference Call Summary Notes: White Canes and other Mobility Aids, February 8, 2017

GTT National Conference Call.

Sponsored by the Canadian Council of the Blind

Summary Notes

February 8, 2017.

Questions from previous GTT NatConCall:
How do I find an Insert Key on my small PC laptop:
• To have the Caps Lock Key become an Insert Key do the following; Press Alt + the letter H to access the Help menu of jaws, arrow to the Start-up wizzard, Tab through the dialog box and change keyboard layout to Laptop. Press the Enter Key to save the changes. This will have the Caps Lock Key turned into an Insert Key, which means that pressing it twice quickly will toggle the actual Caps Lock on and off.
• Alternatively, from Staples, London Drugs or Best Buy you can purchase a USB Numeric Keypad that will allow you to access JAWS navigation from the Numpad.
• Some people carry a full-sized external keyboard, however Lap top bags are often not able to hold it all. Weight is also a consideration for some. Albert usually travels with a lap top, scanner and MS Ergo keyboard.
• For Mac desktop and laptops there is available a trackpad instead of using the laptop built-in trackpad. It is approximately the same size as an iPhone/iPod and allows the user to use the regular and familiar swiping gestures to do things such as:
1. Start and stop speech
2. Select an item
3. Read continuously
4. Scroll down by page
5. Turn screen curtain or speech on and off
These are done just like on the i devices so people using them will be familiar with the gestures.

GPS for Mobility:
• Another question was related to the use of GPS devices while travelling in our communities: How do you multitask with mobile GPS devices.
• Some indicated they use their stand-alone and iOS GpS apps, but they turn a lot of the POI and other verbosity off. Maybe just approaching streets need to be spoken while walking.
• When you are in unfamiliar areas, you can quickly turn these things on if you wish.
• Albert likes the clip on speaker from the trekker Maestro. The Breeze one doesn’t seem to work with iPhones. Kim uses the aftershokz headphones and likes them very much.
• If anyone knows of any other available clip on speaker please let us know through the comments on the web site.

White Canes and Mobility Preferences:
• Several participants indicated they use Dog Guides, with folded white canes used for locating items or for indoor use.
• Cane Tips people like the roller tip that is like a ball.
• Cyramic tip; sharp sound and because it is hard it never wears out.
• What to do with the cane when signing documents at a counter etc; Stick folded cane in a back pocket or handbag.
• One person indicated that she shoves the cane down her sock.

Do you wash the cane tips when entering your home or public buildings:
• Some people wash their canes regularly, and others only when they’ve gotten particularly dirty.
• Instead of setting a dirty cane on counters/tables, try placing the cane on the floor between your feet when sitting at a restaurant.
• Using the elastic, attach the folded cane to your chair.
• Using the elastic, atach the cane to your purse strap or backpack.
• There are holders/pouches/hooks you can buy for folded mobility canes that attach to your purse-strap or belt.
• Ambutech is one place where White Mobility Cane Holsters, Pouches and Hooks can be purchased.

Is it wise to have the elastic attached to your wrist when walking with a mobility cane:
• Most recommended that it isn’t wise to do so.
• It is safer to drop your cane than put it around your wrist in the event it gets caught up by a passing bike or motor vehicle.

What styles of canes are most often used:
• Few on the call use the Rigid cane. It is too cumbersome to store on buses, trains and airplanes. Albert prefers the rigid for most excursions, however uses a folding cane when travelling with sighted guides.
• One can carry folding canes in backpacks or purses when using Dog Guides if needed.
• It was thought by some that drivers seem to be better able to see white canes than Dog Guides. Perhaps it’s because of the increased usage of service dogs.
• Some thought the red stripe at the bottom of the cane is to show drivers that you want to cross the street when it is held out in front of the user horizontal to the ground.
• Some believe that the red stripe at the bottom of the cane is for depicting deaf blindness.
• Some have noted that the cane disappears from view when walking on painted street crossings.

Multi-Coloured Canes:
• Some people use them without issue, and the first time Albert used his the Greyhound Driver in Victoria didn’t recognize it.
• Once colour wears off one user said she cannot buy replacement tape.
• Does a coloured cane really show that you are blind?

BuzzClip and Amutech Glasses:
• No one on the call is currently using BuzzClip or Ambutech glasses, however they have been trialled by some.
• BuzzClip or Ambutech glasses are good for staying abreast of the person in front of you in line-ups, for finding open doorways in malls, locating bus stop sign posts, etc.
• One person who tried the Ambutech glasses while using their white cane thought they were receiving too much information and were distracted by it.
• One participant uses the Mowat sensor, which sends out a beam, or beams that causes the device to vibrate when the user approaches a person or thing. This device is no longer manufactured, however operates on the same principal as the BuzzClip and Ambutech Glasses.

Monoculars for low vision mobility:
• Some people use them for reading the names/numbers on the front of buses and menus/signs on the wall when out in public places.
• One person indicated that she uses the iPhone camera and the magnification app instead of a monocular.
• Kim has heard that SuperVision is a great free magnifyer app for the iPhone.

How to be more visible when travelling with a mobility aid:
• Make sure you are visible with reflecters, flashing lights or other high-visibility wearable devices.
• Some ideas of what is available are, collars for guide dogs in red or blue, continuous or flashing.
• Construction worker high-viz vests have stripes and lots of pockets etc.
• Some people wear helmets or other protective gear in the winter.
• One option is the Ice halo head protection Padded head band. Check the bottom of this document for details on how to order.

How to keep hands warm when travelling with a mobiliby aid in winter:
• Hot pockets in gloves, which can be purchased at cosco, London Drugs and many outdoor/sports stores.
• Someone in Vancouver sews battery operated warmers into gloves, socks, shirts and pants that is operated by a battery pack worn by the user.

Appendix 1:


Several styles and many colours to choose from!

Ice Halo, the Canadian owned and manufacturer of the innovative head band protection for sports or pleasure. Check out the new styles that now include Halo Hats at .

Don’t risk losing ice time in your favourite activity – Don’t hold back your best because of that nagging fear of a nasty fall. Its lightweight, closed cell construction doesn’t make your head hot and the Velcro closures make it adjustable and secure. The choice of material and colour make it easy to find the right one for you. It’s available in team colours, and you can customize with your corporate logo. The Ice Halo is a great way to keep you or your friends and loved ones safer on the ice.


All Pro Hats have an inner vinyl lining of nitrile High Density foam (the same foam used in many Hockey Helmets) to help lessen the impact of a fall. All Halo products have been tested to Hockey helmet standards and exceed the requirements for front, sides and back impacts where padded. The toque and knitted caps have padding wrapping all around the head. The baseball and army caps have padding in the back and sides of the cap for added protection.

Lori Fry continues in her role as representative for the Blind in Canada with Ice Halo and is able to provide discounted prices to curlers or others looking for stylish head protection. Many thanks to Barbara Armstrong, President of Ice Halo for her sponsorship of the 100 Mile House Blind Curling Team and such strong support to the vision impaired and blind community of Canada.

In order to receive special reduced pricing on your order, please contact Lori at 250-395-2452 or


GTT National Conference Call Summary Notes, Web browsing with screen readers, January 11, 2017

GTT National Conference Call.

Sponsored by the Canadian Council of the Blind

January 11, 2017

Web browsing with screen readers.

Many people just use their arrow keys to browse the web. This can be good for exploring a page initially, but it is slow and there are many more efficient ways of browsing the web more quickly and easily.
The best web browsers for PC are: google chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or the last version of internet explorer. The Edge Browser is becoming more accessible with Narrator, and to some degree with NVDA.

There are some slight differences with key commands between NVDA, jaws, window eyes and system access which all work well for browsing the web. Please check your screen reader help section for these.

When you do a google search, be as specific as you can with your search terms. Example: look for mystery books by a certain author on amazon. The more specific you are, the easier you can get to the web site you need.

To go directly to the address field to type in the web site name or your search press Alt D. Alt is the key just to the left of your space bar. This works on all screen readers and in all of the different PC browsers.

You can move around on your web site by headings, lists, buttons and much more. These commands vary by screen reader so check your screen reader manual for the short cut keys.

NVDA and jaws have a great command called insert f7 The insert key is the big key on the bottom left of the number pad and f7 is in the top row of keys on your PC.

For NVDA this is called the elements list. It lists anything on the page that you can click on. The great thing about this is that you can press the first letter of the link you need to find and you can get to it more quickly.

For JAWS users there is also an insert f 6 command to list the headings on a page, email message or MS Word document.

For the mac computer, the accessible web browsers are safari and google chrome.

To get into the address bar/search field on the mac, type command l. Command is the key just to the left of the space bar where the ALT key is on the PC.

The mac has what is called a web rotor which is a little like the insert f 7.

To get to this, press VO command which is control and option keys plus u. You can right arrow then through the various options like links, headings, buttons, ETC and arrow down to go through each category.

The mac also has first letter navigation. This is also true on the PC. You can press h for headings, v for visited links, l for links ETC on the mac.

Some of the commands are different for different screen readers but they all have first letter navigation commands.

Remember that in addition to using the letter H to navigate Headers you can press the numbers 1-6 above your letters on the keyboard to go to heading level 1 2 3 ETC. This is the case for all major screen readers on the PC or mac.

The mac and the iPhone also have a very useful button which is in the top left hand corner of the screen for I devices and one of the first things you come across when a web page loads on the mac. It is called the reader button. Firefox also has a Reader function that is accessed by holding down Shift and Control while typing the letter R.

It is not always available but when it is, it is most useful. If you double tap that button, it jumps you right to the main content on your screen, (say the contents of an article for example).

Browsing the web on an I device can also be fast and easy.

If you use voiceover, go to settings, general, accessibility, voiceover, and then to rotor. Here you can check and uncheck what you want in your rotor which is like a menu of common settings you use. You can include many web browsing navigation elements such as: Headings, links, search fields, visited links, buttons, and much more.

When on a web page, you can turn your rotor with a gesture like a radio dial to move between these elements. You can also navigate your rotor by using the up and left arrow and up and right arrows together on your Bluetooth keyboard or space with dots 23 and space with dots 56 on your braille display.

Once you are on the element you want, swipe down with one finger to go to the next heading and up with one finger to go to the previous one. Up or down arrows on the Bluetooth keyboard do this as well. So do dots 3 with space bar or dot 6 with space bar on a braille display.

GTT Program Overview
• GTT was founded in Ottawa by Kim Kilpatrick and Ellen Goodman in 2011.
• Many GTT Groups are chapters of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
• GTT Groups/Chapters promote a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
• Each meeting will present a feature technology topic and general question and answer about any other technology.
• Small groups or one on one assistance is possible at the meetings.
• 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 better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
• There are GTT groups in Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston, Northern Ontario, Pembroke, Halifax, Sydney, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver, and more to come.
• There is also 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:
There is a “Follow” Link at the bottom of that web page to enter your email in order to register.

Respectfully submitted by Kim Kilpatrick and Albert Ruel

Next GTT national conference call on Wednesday January 11 2017 all about web browsing.

Hello everyone and a very happy 2017 to all.
Since the last teleconference, several people have asked for more information about web browsing and how to do it in the most accessible way.
So, this Wednesday January 11 2017, our topic will be web browsing.
Come with. Your tips, tricks and questions.
What is your preferred browser? Do you like to browse on the PC, Mac, Apple or android or a specialized device?
Here is the call in information.
Wednesday January 11 2017
Time 7 PM Eastern 4 pacific
Call in number 1-866-740-1260
Passcode: 5670311

Next GTT national conference call about streaming services. Wednesday December 14 2016 7 PM Eastern 4 Pacific.

Our last GTT national conference call of the year will take place on Wednesday December 14 at 7 PM eastern, 4 Pacific. Our topic is streaming services. Wondering about the differences between apple music, spotify and others? What about streaming radio and podcasts? Come and join in the discussion. Share your tips and tricks.
Call in info 1-866-740-1260 Passcode 5670311

GTT National Conference Call Summary Notes: All About Windows 10 and Screen Readers, November 9, 2016

GTT National Conference Call
Summary Notes

November 9, 2016.

Screen Readers:
Screen readers being used by people on the call.

• JAWS, ranging from Version 13 to 17, paid only with time limited trials available.
• Window Eyes, free, trial and paid versions available.
• System Access, free, trial and paid versions available.
• NVDA, free with a suggested $30 donation.
• Dolphin Guide, paid only with a free 30-day trial.
• Many people are using windows 7, a few windows 8.1 and some windows 10 with one person still on xp but looking to change.
• One person is using ZoomText Magnifier/Reader but changing to NVDA.

Brainstorming specific questions:

Someone was trying to convert PDFs received by email into word documents without a scan and read program.
There are three main blindness specific scanning programs, and one that isn’t specific to blindness. There are also free web sites available to convert PDF files to text documents, and two of the screen readers discussed this night are able to convert PDF files to text on the fly.
ABBYY FineReader, which is not a blindness specific program, however that is being used successfully by screen reader and magnification users.

Kurzweil 1000, which is aimed at the blind market has been around a long time, and is used almost exclusively in the school and post-secondary systems. This program is available for the PC, and its sister program, Kurzweil 3000 is aimed at the Learning Disability sector on both the Mac and PC platforms.

Openbook is also blindness specific and is a product of Freedom Scientific. It is only available for the PC platform.

DocuScan plus is a blindness specific program and is created by Serotek, the makers of System Access. It is a stand-alone scan and read program that is self-voicing, and available for both the PC and Mac platforms.

DocuScan plus by Serotek appears to be the least expensive of the known scan and read software and is very easy to use.

Someone said that they try to read a PDF using Acrobat Reader and it says converting but then the screen reader says empty document.

This may be because the file has been scanned as an image and not converted for OCR. OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition, and you can learn more here. When someone is setting up their scanner they need to check the box which says check OCR so that it creates PDF files that will be readable by screen readers.

When a document has been scanned as an image file or when PDF files are received by email, programs like ABBYY FineReader, Kurzweil, Openbook and DocuScan can convert them to text based files electronically.

Also, sometimes iDevices read pdf’s that computers can’t access easily.
• The VoiceDreamReader app is good at converting and reading PDFs.
• The KNFB Reader iPhone app can also convert PDF files to text.

There is an OCR add-on that you can download from Freedom Scientific called, Convenient OCR. It is built into the latest versions of JAWS.

To OCR a document with JAWS, do the following:
1. Press jaws key plus the space bar
2. Press O for OCR then D for entire document.
3. Once converted to readable text one may select all or some of the text for pasting into an MS Word document. See more details by accessing the above link.

NVDA also has an OCR Add-on for converting PDFs to readable text. Download it by accessing the above link.

There are web sites that are free to convert PDF and other formatted files too many text based editable formats. One of them is, PDF to Text, and it can be found here. Narrator.
• In Windows 10 you can do more with narrator. You can move around your screen with it. It is not as robust as the above noted screen readers, however you can use narrator for the built in Live Mail and Edge Browser programs for Windows 10.
• You can use narrator to get to a website say to set up NVDA. Edge and Windows Live Mail are very inaccessible with any other screen reader.
• Narrator is not a full-fledged screen reader yet but people are encouraged to try it with Windows 10.
• It is free.

Google Searches:
It was pointed out that if you’re looking for download links to free software like NVDA, try typing in your Google Search NVDA Screen Reader Download or Thunderbird Download and it will usually take you right to the downloads page. Also, Google searches that start with “How do I…” will almost always get you good and helpful results.

General Questions:
Someone asked what version of JAWS is needed in order to run Windows 10? It is JAWS 16 or higher.

NVDA updates are always free and the software is free unless you buy the Eloquence Synthesizer voices which is around 80 dollars Canadian.

Once you have purchased the System Access screen reader, all updates are free, and it does work with Windows 10.

*Note: if your needs are being met with Windows 7 or 8.1 you don’t have to move to Windows 10. Those two operating systems will be supported by Microsoft for several years yet. However, if you are upgrading from Windows XP or Vista it might be worth your while to embark on a Windows 10 upgrade as you will be entering a significant learning curve anyway.

NVDA is a great screen reader developed by two people who are blind and they are updating all the time. This program is open source so some workplaces may not let you install or use it.

Many of the key strokes are very similar between NVDA and JAWS.

Trouble-shooting and training apps:
JAWS offers a built-in training and trouble-shooting utility called Tandem which allows someone helping you to access your computer provided both are running JAWS.

NVDA has a similar program called NVDA Remote.TeamViewer is another utility that can be used for trouble-shooting and training that is not screen reader specific. Difference between screen readers on the PC and mac?
• The Mac has only one choice for screen reader. It is called VoiceOver and is built-in. It is available on all Macs and you do not need to buy it separately.
• All the native Mac apps, (Mail, Web Browser, Spreadsheet, iTunes, Notes, Word Processing work well with VoiceOver.
• It has good high quality voices.
• The way you use this screen reader is very different than on the PC so there is a learning curve.
• There are good books through National braille press, as well as guides and podcasts through and many resources to help you with the Mac and other iDevices.
• If you use other iDevices, your content will sync well between them and the Mac.
• The Track Pad on the Mac lets you do many gestures which are the same as those you use with your iPhone.
• If you have a friend with a mac and you want to try it out, hold down the Command Key and type F5 to toggle it on and off. The Command Key is known as the Alt Key on a PC, and is found to the left and right of the Space Bar.
• When you launch VoiceOver on the Mac, you are asked if you want to run the VoiceOver Tutorial, which helps you learn the basic keyboard commands.
• One other advantage is that you can run a copy of Windows on your Mac with NVDA. So, you can have both systems running on one computer. You might only want to do this if you love technology however.
• If you have questions about the Mac, Kim Kilpatrick uses it almost exclusively and can talk to you about the pros and cons.
• Mac computers are more expensive than many laptops but they are good quality.

What resources are out there for learning screen readers?
There are many good free and paid resources for learning to use your products and screen readers.
Often if users are having trouble, it is because they have not taken the time to set up the machine for maximum benefit from screen readers, or they haven’t learned enough about how to access the computer with their screen reading software.

CathyAnne Murtha textbooks are very good and highly recommended.NVDA has put out a very good manual for learning how to use it and someone said it is one of the best manuals he has seen. The cost for it is 30 dollars Australian and it can be found on the NVDA web site.

• There are many other useful things on the NVDA Web Site including some tutorials, downloads of the software etc.
Serotek also has good materials for learning the screen reader and the programs it supports.Disability Answer/Support Desk:
The below free technical support hotlines are reserved for screen reader, magnification, hearing or physical disability software users. All reports are that the people working these hotlines are quick, respectful, expert and friendly.

Someone was having an issue getting iCloud Mail running on the PC or on Android. No answers came out of the group gathered this night, so it was suggested that he call the Apple Accessibility Support number:

For all troublesome matters related to screen reader or magnification users and the Microsoft Operating System or MS Office products, the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk number is:

It was suggested you could use two different email programs on the PC. Say Outlook for Gmail and Thunderbird for iCloud.

It was pointed out that Thunderbird is a good email program and is recommended by those developing NVDA, but there can be a few problems such as not landing directly in your inbox.

The Edge Web Browser does not work well in Windows 10 but you can use Google Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer.

Next meeting, December 14, all about Streaming Services.

Respectfully submitted,
Kim Kilpatrick and Albert Ruel

Next national GTT teleconference on Wednesday October 12 IOS 10 low vision and voiceover features and introducing a new IOS app.

Hello there!
Hopefully everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Our next national call is tomorrow night October 12.
We have several things to discuss.
First, a young lady has developed an app she feels will be beneficial for our community. She asked to come on the call to discuss this app.
Next, several people have been calling and asking for help with IOS 10 both for voiceover and the low vision features. We will have a discussion and show some of these features.
Also, we have had responses about upcoming topics and want to go through some of the most popular ones and see if anyone knows who might best speak about them.
Here is the call in information.
Date: October 12, 2016.
Time: 7 PM Eastern
Call in info: 1-866-740-1260
Passcode 5670311
If you have questions or concerns email
Or call 1-877-304-0968

Next National GTT Conference Call all about note taking on your IOS device. Wednesday July 13 at 7 PM eastern.

Our next national GTT call will take place on Wednesday July 13 at 7 PM eastern time.

We had a request to review and discuss the main notetaking apps that someone might use on an I device.

Rebecca Jackson and Kim Kilpatrick have done this and will lead the discussion on the following notetaking apps and their pros and cons and capabilities.

access note

the native apple notes app

the native apple pages app

voicedream writer.

The call will take place on Wednesday July 13 at 7 PM eastern time.

The call in info is as follows:


Passcode 5670311


For more information contact Kim at 



Or at

Next GTT national conference call Wednesday June 8 7 PM Eastern, 4 Pacific. New devices seen in recent GTT groups. 

Our next national GTT conference call will take place on Wednesday June 8 at 7 PM Eastern 4 Pacific.  Several GTT groups have seen or have had members see some very new devices recently.  We will have a discussion about the following new devices:

NuEyes Visual Prosthetic device

Braille note touch


Orbit braille display.

Come and share your thoughts and ask any questions you might have about these devices.

Here is the call in info


Passcode 5670311

REminder GTT national Conference call all about web browsers tonight March 9 7 PM eastern 4 pacific.

This is just a reminder of our regular GTT national conference call being held tonight March 9 at 7 PM eastern 4 Pacific.

OUr topic tonight is web browsers.

Which one do you use the most?

Which are the most accessible?

Which do you use on what device or system?

We will discuss the major browsers and talk about their pros and cons.

Bring your tips and suggestions and questions as well.

Here is the call in info


Passcode 5670422