Category Archives: GTT Toronto

GTT Toronto Meeting Invitation, Accessibility of Android Phones and Tablets, January 18, 2018

Meeting Invitation

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group

January 18, 2018

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with CNIB

 

*Note: Reading Tip: These summary notes apply HTML headings to help navigate the document. With screen readers, you may press the H key to jump forward or Shift H to jump backward from heading to heading.

 

Hey Everyone!

The next ‘Get Together with Technology’ GTT Toronto adaptive technology user group meeting will be held on Thursday, January 18 at the CNIB community Hub at 1525 Yonge St.

 

The Date & Time:

Thursday, January 18, 6:00 PM til 8:00 PM

The Place:

CNIB community Hub at 1525 Yonge St.

The topic:

The topic will be a discussion of the accessibility of Android, presented by Shane Laurnitus.

 

As usual, light refreshments will be served.

And don’t forget, you can get the notes from our past meetings at https://www.gtt-toronto.ca/.

 

So, bring your adaptive technology, and your questions, and join the GTT Toronto adaptive technology user group!

 

For more info contact GTT Toronto through,

GTT Toronto Web Site

 

To visit GTT Toronto’s web page for meeting announcements and summary notes visit this link.

 

Date and Location:

  • Location: CNIB Community Hub space at 1525 Yonge Street, just 1 block north of St Clair on the east side of Yonge, just south of Heath.
  • Meetings are Usually held on the third Thursday of the month at 6pm.

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group Overview:

  • GTT Toronto is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Toronto promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:

http://www.gttprogram.wordpress.com/

There is a form at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.

 

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GTT Toronto Summary Notes, Smart Speakers, Seeing AI and ShopTalk CNIB, December 14, 2017

Summary Notes

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group

December 14, 2017

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with the CNIB

 

The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Toronto Group was held on Thursday, December 14 at the CNIB Community Hub.

 

*Note: Reading Tip: These summary notes apply HTML headings to help navigate the document. With screen readers, you may press the H key to jump forward or Shift H to jump backward from heading to heading.

 

December 2017 Topic – ShopTalk, Smart Speaders and Seeing AI:

 

GTT Toronto December 14, 2017 Meeting Summary can be found at this link:

 

Ian opened the meeting. We’ll be talking about Google Home and the Amazon Echo. The next meeting will be all about Android.

 

CNIB ShopTalk:

Shane took over to discuss ShopTalk. This is a program where local businesses have installed beacons that give information through Blindsquare. St. Clair station, the closest subway station to the CNIB Hub which hosts our meetings, has also installed them. This isn’t publicly announced yet because it’s still being tested. In January, Shane and the TTC will be recruiting testers. Shane will run an orientation with some TTC staff, and anyone who’s interested in this should get in touch with Shane. More information will be coming out on the GTT list. TTC hopes to make this available at all stations. It will offer information about entrances, fair gates, collector booths etc. on the fly. It will offer specific directions for finding stairs, busses and so on.

 

BlindSquare Event is a free version of BlindSquare . It has a radius of several kilometers, and it makes BlindSquare available for people who haven’t purchased the ap. It makes a given area accessible to BlindSquare even if you haven’t paid for it, but only within that radius.

 

Seeing AI Updates:

Jason took over, and began by describing the latest update to Seeing AI, which is the free Microsoft solution for text recognition and barcode scanning. The latest update includes colour identifier, hand-writing identification, currency identification, and light detection. Because it’s constantly being updated, it will get even better by degrees.

 

Smart Speakers, Amazon Echo and Google Home:

Jason then began his presentation about smart speakers. In front of him he had a Google Home, a Google Home Mini, an Amazon Echo, and an Echo Dot. These are all devices that connect to the internet. They’ll answer questions, and do various home-control tasks. Amazon was the first to release this technology. The original Echo came out in 2014. For a long time it wasn’t available in Canada; you had to buy it from the U.S. As of December 5, 2017 they’re available here. You can order them through Amazon, or get them at Bestbuy here.

 

The Amazon Echo is about 6 inches tall, and looks like a beer glass. There are 4 buttons on the top, volume up and down, microphone on/off, or start microphone. All of these devices respond to a wake word. They’re not recording all the time, but once they hear the wake word, they listen to what you’re saying, and respond. The echo wake word is Alexa. It will respond to queries about the weather, the time, setting timers, making phone calls so it becomes a speaker phone, and will give you recipes and much more. Another one of its features is that it allows you to talk to other smart devices. The Alexa ap is what you install on your phone for initial setup. From this ap, you can talk to it through your phone. There are 4 possible wake words, Alexa, Amazon, Echo, and computer. You can attach the device to multiple phones. You don’t actually need the ap for much after setup if you don’t want to use it.

 

It has “far-field recognition,” which means you can activate it from far away. The microphone is quite sensitive. There are lights on the top of the unit that show visually when it’s listening. By default, the lights activate. In the ap, you can turn on a setting to play a sound to let you know it’s been activated by the wake word. It’s not sensitive to know who’s speaking to it yet, but Amazon is working on specific voice recognition so that one person could, for example, order something from Amazon, and it would be automatically charged to their specific account. Not all features are available here yet, but they’re coming. In the U.S. you can play Audible books on it.

 

Where the Echo Shines is in its ability to work with what it calls skills. This means specific tasks that you can write a small program to perform. Skills are written and published, and you can enable them. If you’re technically inclined, you can write your own skills within its parameters.

 

Jason demonstrated a skill he wrote titled GTT skill. When activated, it offered him options to read the date of the next meeting, or read the previous meeting notes. He invited it to read the last-month’s meeting notes. This skill is not yet public, but will be. When you publish a skill you need images, and that’s the last step. Once Jason has that, he can publish it, and anyone can access it.

 

Setting the language of your device controls how it speaks, how it understands, and what skills you can use on it. There are local and specific skills. Banks and airlines for example, will publish their own skills, that will allow you to interact with them and do things you might now be doing on-line. You can write skills that are kept private, for example incarnations of home automation. Writing skills requires some programming knowledge. Home automation processes often require extra hardware.

 

If you know the name of the skill you want, you can ask the Echo to enable it. Within the ap, you can search under categories. There are over 15,000 skills. There’s an Uber skill that ties into Uber, then lets you order a car.

 

The standard Echo costs around $130, and has the better speaker. The Echo Dot is the same circumference as the standard, but about a third of the height. It’s $50. If you have a smart thermostat, you can control your home temperature through the Echo. If you want to control devices in your home, look on the Amazon site for compatible interfaces. Jason uses Wemo.

 

The Echo will connect via bluetooth, so you can connect it to other speakers. It’s got a line-out jack too. The Alexa ap is completely accessible. From the ap store, look for Amazon Alexa by Amazon.

 

Microsoft and Apple are also coming out with stand-alone smart speakers. The Microsoft Home Pod will be around $400. Google is coming out with a larger version called the Google Home Max. It’s a much larger version that has stereo sound.

 

The Google Home and the Echo are comparable, but the Google Home excels in web searches and geographical information. Both devices ask for your home address during setup. The Google Home is about the same height as the Echo. Jason demonstrated it giving the weather forecast. You can hook it up to your contacts, and use names to make phone calls rather than phone numbers. It’s using wireless to make the calls. You don’t need to have a phone in your house. It does similar things like timers and alarms. He demonstrated using it as a translator by translating a sentence into Spanish. Many things that Google can do on a PC is accessible via the Google Home. It will sometimes give you information, then send more details to your phone ap. It has a version of skills called “actions,” but not nearly as many. You can sync it to your calendar, and query it about your appointments. Both devices will let you set up appointments or reminders. You can’t play YouTube videos on the Google Home unless you have a TV or a device called a ChromeCast hooked up to it. If you have a ChromeCast and a TV, you can use the Google Home to play Netflix to it.

 

Everything that works or doesn’t work right now, can change from moment to moment because the net connection allows continuous updates. The Google Home hooks up to www.allrecipes.com so that you can ask for recipes, and have them read to you.

 

Jason demonstrated asking for flight prices. It replied, then offered to send price alerts to your email account. This process can be done on Google on the PC, but it’s very complicated.

 

You can set it up so that when you say “good morning,” it will reply with news from specific sources, or specific information. It’s pretty forgiving about phrasing; it picks up on key words.

 

After initial setup, you can sign up for sustained subscriptions to music services. Both devices do Spotify, but neither do Apple Music. The Echo offers Amazon Music, which is free if you’re already signed up to Amazon Prime.

 

The Google Home Mini has better sound than the Echo Dot. The Echo and Echo dot have an audio  jack so you can connect it to your stereo or another speaker. If you have a standard and a mini of either, you can specify which device you want to play music from.

 

The Echo will read books you’ve purchased through Kindle. A member asked whether either device can read books from CELA. The answer is no, not at present.

 

Upcoming Meetings:

  • Next Meeting: Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 6pm
  • Location: CNIB Community Hub space at 1525 Yonge Street, just 1 block north of St Clair on the east side of Yonge, just south of Heath.
  • Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 6pm.

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group Overview:

  • GTT Toronto is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Toronto promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:

http://www.gttprogram.wordpress.com/

There is a form at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.

 

 

GTT Toronto Summary Notes, Online Shopping, November 16, 2017

Summary Notes

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group

November 16, 2017

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with the CNIB

 

The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Toronto Group was held on Thursday, November 16 at the CNIB Community Hub.

 

*Note: Reading Tip: These summary notes apply HTML headings to help navigate the document. With screen readers, you may press the H key to jump forward or Shift H to jump backward from heading to heading.

 

November 2017 Topic – Online Shopping:

 

www.gtt-toronto.ca is the local website for getting together with technology, where you can find out about future meetings, and read notes from past meetings.

 

Ian opened the meeting and invited us to have a go around in which you give your name, and some aspect of technology you’re interested in, or would like to cover in future meetings. Ideas included the new Trekker Breeze, the Amazon Echo coming to Canada, starting a blog, integrating Siri with Wheeltrans, an accessible MP3 player for music, newest GPS aps, accessible podcasting and audio editing, an accessible timer that’s discreet and doesn’t disturb others, vibrating watch bands to tell time and also as sonar for proximity alerts, and learning the basics of Apple and Windows.

 

Jason spoke about Uber, who presented to the group several months ago. They just released their new service animal policy, which looks very promising. It’s been circulated on several blindness-related email lists.

 

Jason announced that the latest version of Firefox has broken accessibility, and screen readers have not caught up to Firefox57. Use Chrome. Internet Explorer is obsolete, and most sites won’t support it anymore. Adam added ESR version 52 is a version of Firefox that does work at least with Zoomtext. It’s available in 32 and 64 bit versions. Rylan added that this solution will only work temporarily. Rylan added that Chrome may be starting to display mobile versions of sites; he’s noticed this in the past day or two. It may be Chrome deciding that the mobile version is better for accessibility. Jason added that this can happen if your window isn’t maximized, because some sites adapt to what they’re being displayed on, and a minimized window will trigger the mobile version. Rylan noted that the latest versions of Jaws are compatible with Google Chrome.

 

Meeting Theme:

Rylan introduced himself as the speaker for the evening. He discovered that most people in the room have done online shopping before. Rylan asked for questions off the top. A member asked which sites are not accessible. Rylan answered Best Buy and Kijiji.

 

CregsList, Kijiji and Letgo are online shopping platforms that allow you to buy second-hand products. It can be risky because you’re dealing with strangers, but it’s also an opportunity to get good deals.

 

An extension of this is eBay.ca. Rylan began by demonstrating eBay. The site displays a carousel, which is a section of constantly changing content, and isn’t helpful for screen reader users. The easiest thing is to look for an edit field which will offer you a search window. He used number 1 and number 2 to move through heading level one, and heading level two. There are options to help you refine your search results such as price, condition, format, location etc. Watch the location, as you’ll have to deal with shipping. eBay puts the refine search after the search results. Below the link for the result, you can arrow down to read the price, shipping rate, whether the item is available immediately or on auction or both. You get information about the seller, how many items they’ve sold, what their feedback from previous customers has been etc. To use eBay requires a PayPal account. The iPhone ap is accessible too. eBay has done work to make their site accessible. Make sure you’re on eBay.ca so that you don’t have to worry about exchange rates.

 

Rylan then discussed straight online shopping sites. A member asked whether any screen reader should work on an accessible site, and Rylan answered yes, as long as you’re using a reasonably contemporary version. Hotwire and Pricline are other examples of sites that are difficult from an accessibility perspective. In terms of large retailers, Walmart is one of the worst from an accessibility perspective. Although Best Buy’s site is bad, the fliers they send are accessible on an iPhone. Grocerygateway delivers, and works well. Loblaws just announced a new service that’s coming. LCBO has an online ordering system, but the delivery can take up to two weeks. You can have something shipped to your local outlet and have it there in a couple of days.

 

Canada Post has flex delivery, which allows you to divert packages to your local postal pick-up location. You can trigger this when ordering. You register through Canada post, and they give you a custom address which is the postal outlet rather than your home. That way you know packages will go directly to the outlet, and won’t be left at your door unsafely. The item must be under ten pounds.

 

Amazon has lots of stuff very cheap, and has a good accessibility department. Someone said there’s an Amazon site dedicated to screen reader users which can be found at www.amazon.Com/access. Rylan disapproved of this, as it segregates accessibility rather than building it in. Amazon Prime is a service you pay for annually, which gets you some perks and discounts, such as free shipping on many items. Students get half price for Prime.

 

The site is less cluttered than eBay. Pressing H is one way to navigate results. R for regions is another way to navigate, but sometimes doesn’t work as well as headings. Many results have the word “sponsored,” which means the company has paid to have their result prominently placed. You can down-arrow for price, or enter on the link for more information. Use H until you find the heading titled with the product you’re researching. There are form fields to allow you to choose colour, add the item to your wishlist, or add the item to your cart. Some items are eligible for free shipping even without Amazon Prime. If so, it will say so on the page. A lot of Amazon products come from other parts of the world. The page gives a customer rating, and may offer you gift wrapping. Amazon has a great return policy, but you have to ship it back yourself. They will send you a pre-paid shipping label via email, but you’ll have to put the package and label together and get it into the mail yourself.

 

Reviews can be helpful, particularly if there are a lot of them. It’s worth while reading reviews for cues that suggest the reviews are plants.

 

You can set up 1-click ordering, which expedites the order process. So far it’s not possible to order through your Amazon Echo, but now that the Echo is available in Canada, that might change soon.

 

The product review page shows you an average customer rating, the reviews, and how many reviews were one through five stars.

 

Rylan demonstrated buying an item. Enter on the “add to cart” button, then the “proceed to checkout” button. At that screen you can change the quantity, or delete the item from your cart if you change your mind.

 

A member asked about security. Rylan said that he doesn’t take any special steps and just uses his own creditcard, but you can get pre-paid Amazon cards, pay through Paypal, get pre-paid Visa cards from your bank, or keep a card dedicated to online purchases with a low limit. Online transactions have become much more secure in the past few years. Retailers don’t want you frauded any more than you want to be frauded; it’s bad publicity for them. For security reasons however, when you’re setting up an account on a retail site, don’t use the same password you use for your email. If your email password gets hacked, you’re in big trouble. A member contributed that his bank account sends him a text every time his card is charged. If he sees a text for something he doesn’t recognize, he knows it’s fraudulent. Most banks will do this; look for the phrase, ‘feedback alerts.”

 

A member asked about cheaper sites like DealExtreme. Rylan said such sites aren’t likely to have the level of accessibility of Amazon. Jason said that there are very few sites that an experienced screen reader can’t navigate. A member added that some sites offer a customer service phone number that you can call, and have an agent complete your order for you.

 

Upcoming Meetings:

  • Next Meeting: Thursday, December 21 at 6pm
  • Location: CNIB Community Hub space at 1525 Yonge Street, just 1 block north of St Clair on the east side of Yonge, just south of Heath.
  • Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 6pm.

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group Overview:

  • GTT Toronto is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Toronto promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:There is a form at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.
  • http://www.gttprogram.wordpress.com/

Toronto Resource: GTT Toronto Web Page for Announcements and Summary Notes

GTT Toronto Web Site

 

To visit GTT Toronto’s web page for meeting announcements and summary notes visit the above link.

 

CCB National has partnered with Kim Kilpatrick and a program called Get Together with Technology (GTT), to encourage those who use adaptive technology (and those who would like to know more) to get together and share their knowledge.

 

As a result, GTT groups have sprung up in CCB chapters across the country, meeting regularly to talk and learn about the technological tools that can enable independence and help build confidence.

 

In cooperation with other groups within the vision-loss community here in Toronto, the CCB Toronto Visionaries have launched our own GTT group, GTT Toronto, which meets once a month from September through June.

 

From apps on the latest smart phones, to tips on how to get the most out of your desktop computer, to navigating social media, GTT groups are self-directed, discussing topics brought to the group by group members. And don’t worry if you are not ‘tech savvy’. The idea of a GTT group is that those with some knowledge will share that knowledge with the rest of the group.

 

You can register on the GTT Toronto Announcements-only page to receive notifications of upcoming meetings by subscribing to the above link.

 

Next GTT Toronto meeting about Uber on Thursday March 16 from 6-8 PM.

Hey Everyone,
GTT Toronto will be ‘Getting Together with Technology’ on Thursday March 16 from 6 to 8pm at the CNIB Centre.
Our special guest will be Adam Blinick from UBER. Adam will be running through the Uber service – what it is, how it works, and how it works with the adaptive software on your I-phone.

As usual, coffee and light refreshments will be available.
Look forward to seeing you there!
GTT Toronto

Next GTT Toronto meeting Thursday February 16, 2017 from 6-8 PM all about the identifi app.

Hey Everyone!
Just a reminder that we will be holding a Get Together with Technology meeting on Thursday February 16 from 6pm to 8pm at the CNIB Centre, 1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto. We’ll be meeting in room 220 on the second floor.

Our topic this month will be: the Identif-I phone app with its creator, Anmol Turkel
This smart phone app does text recognition and common object recognition, and was created by a remarkable high school student with a passion for accessibility. He will be on hand to demonstrate the app and answer questions.

As usual, light refreshments and coffee will be served.

Next GTT Toronto Meeting Thursday January 19 6 PM eastern.

Hello everyone.
See below for an announcement about the next Toronto GTT meeting.
Hello all,
The next GTT meeting will be held on Thursday, January 19 at 6:00 PM in room 220 at the CNIB Centre at 1929 Bayview Ave.
This month’s topic features Rob Nevin from MIPsoft (the makers of Blindsquare), and
Debbie Gillespie
Lead, Accessibility (infrastructure and transit) CNIB
AS CNIB moves in to the next phase of beacon deployment, we’d like to know where you feel beacons would benefit you the most. All suggestions are welcome.
Topics covered.
1. Brief primer of beacons and BlindSquare updates. (Demonstration of new features)
2. Projects around the world where beacons are currently deployed.
3. Over to you. Give us your thoughts on what you’d like to see next.
If people haven’t experienced the beacon installation at CNIB, we can provide a demonstration.

Coffee and snacks will be provided.

Next GTT Toronto meeting will take place on Thursday December 15 at 6 PM at the CNIB Centre in Toronto.

Hey Everyone,
Our December meeting will be on Thursday December 15 from 6 to 8pm at the CNIB Centre.
Our guest speaker is David Dennis, Manager, CNIB Store, demonstrating his top picks from the Store’s catalogue.
Everyone is welcome, and coffee and light refreshments will be served.
So bring your questions, bring your gadgets, and let’s Get Together with Technology!

GTT Toronto next meeting on Thursday November 17.

Hey GTT Toronto!

Let’s Get Together with Technology!

We’re having a meeting on Thursday November 17 from 6pm to 8pm at the CNIB Centre, 1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, in room 126. Unfortunately, room 220 isn’t available.

This month, we are pleased to have Rylan Vroom and Monica Ackerman, representatives from Scotiabank,  coming to speak to us about online and mobile banking. They will be showing you how to navigate online banking websites and mobile apps.

Although they will be focusing on Scotiabank products in particular, it is important to understand that most online banking sites and apps are very similar. So, eaven if you aren’t a Scotiabank customer, you will gain some valuable skills and information that you can apply to whatever bank you use.

Coffee & snacks will be provided.

See you all on November 17.

Next GTT Toronto Meeting (first of the season) will take place from 6-8 PM on Thursday September 15.

Here is a post from the GTT Toronto team.
Hello everyone!
Welcome back! Summer is on the way out, so it’s time to resume our monthly Get Together with Technology meetings.
September’s meeting will be on Thursday, September 15 from 6-8pm in room 126 at the CNIB Centre, 1929 Bayview Ave.
As a rule, we are going to be moving the meeting to room 220 on the second floor. However, that room was not available in September.
This month, we will be talking about online grocery shopping. Grocery Gateway has recently made some changes that effect the way the site works with JAWS. We will talk about this and give tips for easily navigating the site.
In addition, we will give you an update on technology news that has happened over the summer, including the acquisition of AI Squared by VFO group, as well as the new iPhone 7 and IOS 10. Also, Samsung now has a fully accessible TV available. This is a 32-inch TV that sells for around $400. Previously, the only accessible TVs available from Samsung cost well over $1000.
Here is a link to the TV at BestBuy:
http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/samsung-samsung-32-1080p-led-smart-tv-un32j5500afxzc-only-at-best-buy-un32j5500afxzc/10368706.aspx
The model number is un32j5500afxzc
I haven’t got my hands on this TV yet, but I plan to get to a bestbuy location and try it, hopefully before Thursday’s meeting.
Coffee and light refreshments will be served.
Bring your questions, bring your technology, and get together with other adaptive technology users to share information about the tools we use to connect.