CCB-GTT News: Usability Tester Showcase: Bruce Turner’s Story — Knowbility

Fellow GTT Members and Participants.  Here’s a story about one of our own, Bruce Turner of the GTT Victoria Chapter.  Today was his 69th birthday, so we congratulated him during the GTT Victoria meeting.  The full story is below the link to the original page.


Bruce Turner’s Story — Knowbility


Bruce Turner’s Story — Knowbility

by Marine Menier


For several years now, Knowbility has recruited people with disabilities to participate in usability studies. During that time, we’ve added hundreds of

people from across the United States and beyond to our


user testing panel, which partners testers with disabilities with companies interested in improving the accessibility and usability of their products.

So, when a popular Canadian media company reached out to our AccessWorks team with a request for Canadian testers with different disabilities, we were

prepared. Bruce Turner was one of these testers, and we’re proud to share his experience.


Born with retinitis pigmentosa and profoundly deaf, Bruce uses a variety of assistive technologies to get things done. He uses ZoomText, a screen magnification

program to change the color scheme on his computer. Bruce prefers his text to be white on a black background.


To be more productive on the phone, Bruce uses a relay service. An operator types what is heard on the line, Bruce reads it, and then he responds. It was

with this suite of technology and the marvels of off-the-shelf video conferencing software that Bruce successfully completed the usability study. The retired

civil servant credits today’s tech in playing a role in promoting social and economic integration.


“If I didn’t have this technology in front of me I don’t think I would be doing as well as I am,” Bruce said. “This technology I wish the heck I had when

I was younger. I like the fact that I can do email, I can go online, I can do my banking, I can talk to people, I can communicate.”


Bruce says he enjoys learning how to accomplish tasks online, for example, the steps that are needed to arrive at a website’s homepage.


“It’s like playing a brand-new game for the first time, not knowing what to do, but simply getting there and getting my feet wet and see what I can do,”

Bruce said.


Bruce first heard about AccessWorks via a post on the website of

Get Together with Technology (GTT),

a program run by the Canadian Council of the Blind. Though at first leery about the program’s claims—that people with disabilities could earn extra money

working as usability testers—GTT’s Albert Ruel reassured him that Knowbility could be trusted.


“Bruce did a great job! He provided us with a different perspective. He actually helped us to consider other ways of communicating….and we actually did

it….we were so thrilled. We learned so much and as a result, we feel very confident going into it!” Marine Menier, AccessWorks Project Manager, said.


Bruce was born and raised in Kamloops, British Columbia. He graduated from the University of Victoria in 1973 and worked for the Canadian federal government

for 35 years. As a child, he attended school alongside people of many different ethnicities and varying abilities. He feels that this has influenced his

attitudes towards inclusiveness.


“The way I look at the word inclusiveness is getting along with people who have all kinds of disability,” he said. “People who are blind, people who are

low vision, people who are deaf, we all share a little bit of everything.”


He considers Knowbility’s usability tester program a force for good, both for companies that need knowledge about the accessibility of their products and

for people with disabilities who want to help make websites more accessible.


“The AccessWorks program also increases the self-esteem of those who participate, and that is an important benefit,” he added.


Now retired, Bruce lives with his wife in Victoria, British Columbia. In addition to reading online articles from ZDNet and GTT to learn about the latest

tech, he enjoys photography, gardening, and taking walks along the Gorge Waterway, a scenic inlet near his home.



GTT Victoria Summary Notes, BC Government Accessibility and General Discussion, September 6, 2017

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria


A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind


Summary Notes

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

GVPL Main branch, Community Meeting Room


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


Attendance: 13 people with 4 visiters from Vancouver.  Heidi, Albert, Tom, Richard from Vancouver, John, Scott from the Library, Karen from the library, Lynn from Vancouver, Pegg from Vancouver, John from Vancouver, Douglas, Bruce and Kira who is the Captionist.  Regrets from Corry.


Albert- Welcome back folks after a smoky summer.


Heidi Leckenby is from the provincial government and she works in the webaccessibility area. She was visiting to learn more about the methods and strategies we use to access information online, and she hopes to be able to return to future meetings.  She indicated that she was there to hear stories, learn from the group and just have open conversations and share.


Scott indicated that the GVPL Community Room will be available to us the second Wednesday of October and November.


Daphne Wood, who works at the library introduced 2 people who are working on both a publication and a podcast for the victoria foundation. It’s a community foundation that funds many initiatives. The library has been a beneficiary of grants, like the olive outreach vehicle that takes the library to various events in the Victoria area. We were joined by 2 people, one from the victoria foundation doing a story in their next issue of Vital Signs about belonging. They want to do a story on how the library supports inclusion and togetherness in our communities. A photographer was also in attendance, and with the group’s permission took some photos. Someone else will do a podcast to talk about the initiatives the library works on, and GTT may be featured therein.


Assistive Tech talked about:

  • No one has seen the Orbit Braille Display yet, however you can buy it early.
  • The Victor Reader Trek is a combination device which includes a talking GPS and a Daisy talking book player in one device. The Victor Reader Stream will still be available as a stand-alone device.
  • The Blaze EZ and ET that includes OCR, as wwell as talking books, podcasts, Direct to Player downloads and so much more was also discussed. The ET version includes a refreshable Braille display.
  • The free iOS Seeing AI app by Microsoft is a major advancement because it offers OCR, bar code reading, facial recognition and it can give descriptions of scenes around you. The AI part of the name means artificial intelligence. Some said it will read street signs, menus in the windows at starbucks and it’ll allow the user to read posters in a window.  The app works best on iPhone 6 and newer, and they are working on an Android version.
  • Aira was discussed as well. For about $89 a month you can have a trained human being narrate the world in front of you through your earbuds.
  • BeMyEyes is still free and available, however they are volunteers with no specific blindness training.
  • The google Home Speaker was finally released in Canada, and it allows the user to make phone calls all over north America. It can do conversions, give you the weather, play trivia and flip a coin.


Main presentation by Heidi Leckenby:>

Heidi gave us some background on where she works.  She’s with the provincial government and works in the areas of communications and public engagement. The area she’s in is in the online services area. The online services is to do with the government.bc. website. She was given the portfolio of being the web accessibility lead. She thought it was for our area but they realised across government, they don’t have people with the skill set or understanding on how to make services accessible. So she’s it.


She’s had the portfolio for 2 years and has had to learn along the way. The information is broad and deep but also she’s trying to have access to real conversations with people. So right now she’s working on a project with where they’re at in the government and she’s also looking at creating relationships in our communities with different people in different areas to understand their needs. Also the more she speaks to people, the more she realises that there’s such a broad spectrum of abilities. Some who are techsavy and ones who don’t want to touch it at all. So she’s delighted by the experience of learning alongside us and to hear everyone’s stories. She wants to translate it back to the work they do.


Heidi indicated they are looking at it from all types of barriers, the hard of hearing as well as the cognitive side. They are looking at the larger demographic areas but they’re trying to make it accessible for everyone. They want universal design,


Heidi has been on the road across BC to talk to citizens about how to generally access Government services online. And the large majority of people don’t use computers. Some are very techsavy that are comfortable, but there’s also a need for person to person interaction.


Heidi said, accessibility 2024 is in motion, and it’s to do with accessibility across the board, IE. online, physical, internet access in remote areas.


This is where public libraries have a role to play. They can be as accessible as they can but sometimes the problem is between the chair and the keyboard. Its training. If you don’t know how to do it, you still don’t get access. There needs to be what the provincial government needs to know. It’s great to have these workshops.


Scott indicated that The library is in a unique position, They have a new website, and he’s talked to the communications officer and she wants a session with testers to look at the website and make comments on the lack of accessibility.  The communication director would be there to make notes how to make it better.


Following the break Heidi indicated that it has been fruitful to share what she’s going through and to hear from the group regarding their online experiences.


More assistive tech talked about:

  • Albert demonstrated a set of magnets purchased at a local farmer’s market in parksville. It was designed by a young fellow. It’s a set of 3 magnets designed for Iphone earbuds that has the earbuds snap together so we don’t have to untangle them. They come with a third one to put on the plug in so they all get put together and its never tangled.  Albert purchased some so if anyone wants any, I can send you the website information. I will put it in the notes for this meeting. You can order them online, or Albert has a few that will be available during the next meeting.

  • Albert also discussed the Fopydo iPhone scanning stand that allows the user to set up the iPhone to take photos of text for OCR. Shipped to Albert’s home they are $22 each. If anyone wants one, Albert has 3 of the 5 originally ordered. Albert will bring them to the next meeting if anyone is interested in purchasing one.

  • The Dolphin Easy Reader app has been updated, so those who are accessing the CELA Direct to Player service might want to look at this iPhone app.
  • The GTTSupport email discussion list was talked about briefly. If anyone hasn’t yet checked it out, you can subscribe by sending a blank message with Subscribe in the Subject Line to the below address:

The GTTSupport list is for anyone, blind and visually impaired to talk to each other about assistive technology.  it’s an email list where we can share information and ask questions.


Next Meeting: October 11, 2017

The next GTT Victoria meeting will have a presentation from Steve Barclay, formerly from Aroga Technologies, now operating Canadian Assistive Technologies out of the Vancouver area.  He will demo some new and emerging blindness and low vision assistive tech.


Albert reminded the group that the October and November meetings will be on the second Wednesday, and that the December meeting will be back to the first Wednesday.


Respectfully submitted by,

Albert A. Ruel



Guest Post: Blind News Victoria Fall 2017, a Publication of the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind

Blind News Victoria


A publication of the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind



Fall 2017


After two months of sun and relaxation, its back to school for the Pacific Training Centre students.  Classes will commence the week of Monday September 11, with classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  .  All returning students will be contacted prior to their first class.  We are looking forward to an exciting year and will be expanding our program to serve students from outside the Victoria area.  We also hope to take on one more staff person to help us meet the growing demand for blindness skills training.


Please consider becoming a member of the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind Society.  Membership is only $5 per year.  The greater the membership, the more successful the Society will be in acquiring grants from the government which are essential to us carrying on the vital work of the PTCB.


To join call Elizabeth at 250-580-4910 or email



Mark Your Calendar


PTCB Annual General Meeting

Tuesday September 19 at 4:00

Disability Resource Centre Board Room – 817a Fort St.

The meeting is open to all PTCB current and perspective members and there will be a phone in option for those who cannot attend in person.  The meeting will be followed by pizza and refreshments.  Please RSVP if you plan to attend in person or need the conference call details.


RSVP 250-580-4910 or




Get Together with Technology (GTT)


Date: September 6, 2017

Time: 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Where: Community Room, GVPL, Main Branch 735 Broughton St


First Hour: Presentation from Heidi Likenby, Heidi works with the Public Service Agency in BC Government Digital Experience.  She is currently working on a project to bring disability awareness and accessibility to the IT forefront throughout government.  She is an accessibility advocate and is very interested in finding out more about GTT and also having the chance to meet some of the members, see first hand how they use assistive technology and hear their points of view on web design and accessibility.


2nd Hour: Steve Barclay, Canadian Assistive Technologies will provide a demonstration of what’s new in low vision and blindness tech, and offer a hands-on opportunity to those in attendance.


Contact Albert Ruel for more information or to receive future notices.

Phone: 250-240-2343,




VocalEye at the Belfry Theatre this fall

  1. The Children’s Republic

Sunday October 1 at 2 p.m.

  1. Onegin

Sunday, October 29 at 2 p.m.


Belfry Theatre, 1291 Gladstone Ave., Victoria


This year, the Belfry is offering an annual subscription to VocalEye patrons.  This subscription includes tickets to the VocalEye performances for each of their four main productions.  A subscription costs $98.68 including tax ($24.67 per show).  Single tickets are also available for $30.98 including tax.  There is no special rate for companions this year.


To purchase a single ticket or annual subscription call the Belfry box office:




VIP Singers first practice

Monday September 18, 10 – 12

The VIP Singers is a group of blind and sighted singers and musicians who meet once a week to learn the words and harmonies (by ear) for original arrangements of popular songs and old time favourites.  Anyone who likes to sing is welcome.  The VIP Singers perform gigs at seniors’ homes and hospitals.  Practices are on Mondays from 10 – 12 at the James Bay New Horizons, 234 Menzies St.


New members are always welcome.  No previous choir experience is required.  If you like to sing, please join us.  For more information call Marcelina 250-516- 0584.



Victoria Community Report on AMI Audio

September 21 6:00 a.m. (repeated at 8 a.m.)

Linda Bartram has been contracted by AMI Audio as a Community Reporter for Victoria and Vancouver Island.  Her interview can be heard on Live from Studio Five every fourth Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. (repeated at 8 a.m.).  She will be featuring cultural events and activities of interest to persons who are blind.  AMI Audio can be found at 889 on your television or on line at



About the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind


The Pacific Training Centre for the Blind (PTCB) is a Canadian grassroots nonprofit charitable service organization founded and run by blind people.  Its training fosters independence, where blind people empower blind people to be employed, independent and free.


The Blind People in Charge Program, provided by the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind, is the only program of its kind in Western Canada that offers regular, intensive rehabilitation to people who are blind or who are losing their vision; it is also the only program that uses an empowering, problem-solving model of instruction, where blind people are the teachers, planners, directors and administrators.


The program involves a collaborative, positive, and empowering approach to blindness, where blind people learn from and teach each other in a supportive, can-do atmosphere. Instructors and mentors teach the skills of independence such as Braille, adaptive technology, cane travel, cooking and other life skills, and develop strategies for coping with blindness and vision loss in a sighted world.


The Blind People in Charge Program held at the Victoria Disability Resource Centre 817a Fort St., runs two days a week from 10:00 – 4:00 and participants are encouraged to attend as full time students (12 hours a week).  Drop in students are also considered.  Teaching takes place in group and one-on-one sessions and participants progress at their own pace.  Past participants have ranged in age from 24 – 88.  Anyone over 18 who is blind or is experiencing significant vision loss may apply including those who are experiencing other challenges.  There is no charge to students; however donations are always welcome.  For more information, or to participate in our program, please contact us.


Phone: 250-580-4910




CCB-GTT Victoria Summary Notes, Year in Review and Stuff, June 7, 2017

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

Summary Notes
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
GVPL Main branch, Community Meeting Room

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

Attendance: 23 people.

Albert welcomed everyone to the meeting, After a one month absence (where we took the meeting to Shaw last month) it was good to be back at the GVPL, for our final meeting before the 2 month summer break. Seeing as this is our last meeting for awhile, no formal agenda was presented, rather a “year in review” and “open discussion” were encouraged.

BlueSky TV:
The meeting started with some discussion about The BlueSky offering from Shaw. Partisipants were asked if they enjoyed the demo and if any members did elect to subscribe to the service. At least 4 participants said they had signed up for BlueSky.

Mike Carpenter gave a complete description and overview of the service. He personally is delighted with BlueSky. Several members had questions pertaining to just how accessible is the service, and it was agreed that it does have it’s limitations in regards to presenting the program grid and/or external app content. Rather then calling it an accessible product, it might better be described as an inclusive product, developed for mainstream consumption that is usable by the blind .

There does not seam to be a lot of print, or even web information available about the service, however Albert has gathered some YouTube videos from the States that describe the ComCast service (same service as blueSky) that he will make available via the blog.

Must remember takeaways, you must have Shaw150 speed internet. Button A on remote turns voice guidance on/off . Shaw FreeRange app works great with Voiceover on iPhone and iPads.

Capital and Nanaimo Region BC Transit Stop Announcement Updates:
Albert reported that plans for a fully accessible transit “stop announcement” and external audible bus identifier system is moving forward. Nanaimo will be one of the first BC Transit cities to realise the Service. They should be fully installed in all 7 announced BC Transit service centers by the end of next year.

Victoria Bicycle Lane Update:
The new Downtown bike lanes were discussed, Linda reported that there were several issues including bus stops located on islands. Major concern for VI transit users whereas the must cross the two way bike lanes to get to and from the transit stop. Also location transit stop not identified on main sidewalk. Linda encouraged everyone with issues in this regard to be vocal, report your concerns, experiences and issues with the city of Victoria.

Music Writing Apps for the computer:
Some general discussion about music writing software like MusScore and Lime took place. Jaws 18 and the issue of upgrading was talked about and Albert spoke about how to create accessible MS Word tables (Albert will share info with those interested).

Access Technology Institute Accessible Textbooks:
Accessible textbooks by CathyAnn Murtha, one of which is called An Immersion Into Word2013-JFW, were discussed by Albert, although expensive they are in his opinion the best out there and worth the money. You will find information on all their textbooks and training sessions at Access Technology Institute (ATI)GTT Blog, Facebook and Email Engagement Streams:
Albert encouraged everyone to sign up for our GTT blog for updates, and to join our facebook group and email discussion list. More information will be distributed to all currently on the GTT Victoria mailing list.

the new GTT FaceBook group for youth was announced and for anyone interested more info is available from the CCB National office or on the Blog. Addressing the tech needs of blind youth was viewed by the group as being an extremely worthwhile and forward thinking initiative.

Eyes-free academy by iHabilitation:
Tom Decker informed the group of a new inclusive learning project that is now available via iHabilitation Canada. It’s called the Eyes-free academy. The first course is being offered free of charge as a beta. For more info visit Tom is eager to receive feedback on the project and looking forward to offering many more courses. Stay tuned.

iOS Updates Coming to an iDevice Near You:
A brief discussion took place about the new offerings that will be a part of iOS11 (to be released later this fall). many new and exciting changes that will be discussed when the group gathers again in September and beyond.

Special Thanks to Karen and the GVPL for Hosting GTT Victoria for the Past Year:
A special “thank you” went out to Karen for her help and participation in CCB GTT Victoria. The Greater Victoria Public Library has been a strong supporter of the program. Our thanks go out to everyone at the library, we are proud and honoured to call the GVPL our home base for GTT Victoria. Karen informed the group that Scott Minroe, GVPL staff might be joining us in the fall, with Karen dropping in from time to time.

Meeting was adjourned at 3:10pm. HAVE A GREAT SUMMER !!!!!

Next meeting, Wednesday September 6, 2017

Minutes prepared and Submitted by Corry Stuive


Guest Post: Shaw Communications has recently released a “Usable by the blind” TV Service called, BlueSky TV

BlueSky TV by Shaw Communications

Here is what I learned about the base technology that Shaw has imported into Canada and are now calling BlueSky TV. It’s originally a ComCast system called X1 and is licensed by Shaw exclusively in Western Canada and Rogers in Eastern Canada for the next 3 years.

I wouldn’t call it completely accessible, however thanks to the Voice Guidance it is, for the most part, usable by blind folks. This is a service designed for and promoted to the sighted TV viewer, so not necessarily built with blind accessibility in mind.

Check out these videos.

How to use X1 Voice Guidance Talking Guide:

How to learn the X1 Remote Control Layout:

How to Program your X1 Remote Control to your TV and Audio Device:
(Sighted assistance may be needed)

Graphical Layout of the X1 Remote Control:
(Not accessible to blind) computer users)

For the ComCast Support Page in the USA:

Thx, Albert Ruel, GTT Coordinator
The Canadian Council of the Blind
Mobile: 250-240-2343

GTT Victoria Summary Notes, How Do You Access The News, March 1, 2017

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

A Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind

Summary Notes
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
GVPL Main branch, Community Meeting Room

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

Attendance: Kara, Bruce, Doug, Trever, Karen, Sky, Debra, Brent, Marion, Godwin, Barb S, Joan, Tom, Barbra A, Albert, Corry.

First Hour:
Albert welcomed everyone to the meeting, Nice to see three new faces out this meeting, a special welcome Debra, Goodwin and Barb S.

The meeting started with some discussion about an app that had been seen on the BBC news service similar to the BeMyEyes app. Various apps were discussed and the pros and cons of such apps. The liability involved in having someone identify potentially dangerous situations (like street crossing signals) was discussed. Albert mentioned that Kim had spoken about a new color detector app, being developed at Carlton, that might be available soon.

From there the discussion turned to some description about products that were available for loan from the library. Karen informed the group that tablets were available and that a 30 minute training session was also available to be booked. More training could be booked if the initial session did not suffice. Meeting participants had questions about what was on the tablets and the process involved in reading books on the loaned equipment.

Internet and email security were discussed and the importance of remembering your pass codes and access codes was communicated to all. Often, on sites like FaceBook and even on iDevices, access can not be obtained without this valuable information. Make a point of remembering your codes, Super important. There are smart phone and computer apps and programs available to help you remember like Password Vault and SplashID.

repurposing equipment was discussed. Bruce mentioned that iPhones were often available at Government Surplus. Deb expressed in interest in obtaining a used tablet and or phone. Albert will look into the matter. it was also noted that a original Victor Stream was required and requested by Barb A and Bruce was interested in a repurposed phone. Regarding the latter, Albert mentioned that the Lions of Victoria have a program that helps put an iPhone into the hands of blind and vision impaired users, More information at the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind.

Quick notes, SSD’s were discussed, is there a need to defrag, Sky will test…CELA is testing a new direct to player app, more details to come…CD with MP3 files are still available from the library…KNFB app, still one of the best, but also pricy, the app and what it does was discussed……The bookShare program was discussed.

remember the email address for this group is

Second Hour:
After a break the main meeting topic was discussed, that being NEWS. Where do you get your news, and how has the process evolved over the years based on technology advancements. Facebook and Twitter and other social media outlets were identified as sources, with the cautionary note that all news is not true. Fake news and the attention it has garnered recently was talked about, and how you can best judge it accuracy. The library of congress and the inability of Canadians to access this extensive resource was discussed. Albert mentioned the Newspapers that were available via CELA. How to source news via a web search was discussed.

Before closing the question of when we should hold meeting was raised. Should we attempt an evening meeting? Should we meet more or less then once a month? The consensus was to continue to meet once a month in the daytime.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:50

Next meeting Wednesday April 5, 2017

Meeting notes submitted by Corry Stuive

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 Victoria: Report on Trekker Breeze on BC Transit Busses, December 21, 2016

December 21, 2016

Two: Get Together with Technology (GTT) Victoria Members
RE: Victoria Regional Transit Street Announcements System, Trekker Breeze

We are very pleased to advise that the BC Transit Commission has approved an automatic vehicle locater system for the capital regional district fleet. This new system, once installed will allow BC Transit to implement accessible stop announcement systems that we have discussed in the briefing note you’ve seen earlier this fall. Christy Ridout, Director, Corporate and Strategic Planning for BC Transit has sent a note to us concerning it. We have had a recent discussion with her checking that we’re on the same page, which we appear to be. We’re meeting with her early in January, and we have offered the assistance of our membership as the process unfolds, which she was quite pleased to accept. Please see the full text of that email message below.

The new system will be implemented in Victoria, Kelowna, Kamloops, Nanaimo and the Comox Valley over the next 18 months, with the Request for Proposals being readied for Mid-January 2017. See the links at the bottom of this note to a couple of Times Colonist articles on the matter.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Have a wonderful Christmas holiday season, and a very safe, happy, healthy and successful New Year. We will continue to report progress as it unfolds.

Greg Koyl and Albert Ruel

From: Ridout, Christy
Date: December 16, 2016 at 4:14:09 PM PST
Subject: Letter regarding Trekker Breeze and Automatic Voice Annunciators
Dear Mr. Koyl and Mr. Ruel,

Your letter to the Victoria Regional Transit Commission was provided to me as the representative of BC Transit’s SmartBus Program.

Thank you for taking the time to reach out to discuss the future of BC Transit’s existing automatic voice annunciator system, Trekker Breeze. Your timing is excellent, given the Commission just recently approved a memorandum of understanding to move to a real-time technology solution for the fleet.

Under BC Transit’s new SmartBus program, Victoria’s conventional fleet of buses will be equipped with automatic vehicle locators by 2018. This technology, which is linked to schedules, will enable real-time tracking of buses in operation. Customers will be able to determine the expected arrival or departure time of their bus from a their selected stop either via BC Transit’s website, a mobile app, or passenger information displays at major locations. The technology will also enable next-stop announcements that are linked to bus stops, not just cross-roads as the Trekker device does now. As a result, the Trekker device will be removed when the real-time technology is installed. Although subject to negotiations with the preferred vendor through a competitive process, it is our desire to also equip all buses with passenger information displays so that upcoming bus stops are not only announced, but textually displayed for customers inside the bus.

While the existing voice annunciation system has assisted us in meeting an immediate need within our transit system, we are confident that our upcoming real-time technology will further enhance our services and better meet the needs of individuals with accessibility challenges.

Please let me know if you have any further questions about this project and I’d be happy to discuss further.

Best regards,

Christy Ridout
Director, Corporate and Strategic Planning

*Note: To read a couple of articles covering this event please access the below links:

Times Colonist Editorial, December 15, 2016:

Times Colonist Article, December 14, 2016:

GTT Victoria Summary Notes, General Discussion, December 7, 2016

Get together with Technology (GTT) Victoria

A Chapter of

The Canadian Council of the Blind

Summary Notes
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Held in the Community Meeting Room of the GVPL Main branch

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

Attendance, 10 people, Kira, Bruce, Doug, Joan, Karen, Trevor, Yvette, Mike, Albert and Corry.

Over the last few days the poor weather in Victoria has made mobility somewhat difficult thus the reason for the smaller than usual number of attendees. Seeing as only a half dozen participants were there at the meeting outset, it was decided that today’s meeting would be very informal in nature. Let’s just talk, share tips and tricks and solve any problems or concerns you might have, was the decided upon format.

So, we proceeded as a group on that matter and as it turns out the discussion was extremely productive. Questions and discussion ranged in topics including CELA, Victor Stream and podcasts, Windows 10 and the need to upgrade, is it really essential is 7 is doing everything you want?, Siri vs VoiceOver, Texting without sight and getting started with tech.

The group was informed that we are selling 50/50 tickets for the CCB BC/Yukon division and CCB annual memberships are now due for the 2017 club year.

In total, the CCB GTT Victoria club now has 9 members, down substantially from last year. We encourage you to support the GTT initiative by becoming a member if you have not done so already.

It was decided that the January 4, 2017 meeting will be cancelled. the next CCB GTT Victoria meeting will take place just ahead of White Cane Week, on Wednesday February 1st. 2017.

We hope to see you there……For more info contact 250-240-2343, or email us at

Merry Christmas and all the best in 2017 to all and from all at the CCB GTT Victoria chapter.

The Get Together with Technology (GTT) program is an exciting program of the Canadian Council of the Blind. It is designed to help people who are blind, deaf-blind or have low vision to explore low vision and blindness related access technology. You can learn from and discuss assistive technology with others walking the same path of discovery.

The group is made up of blindness related assistive technology users, and those who have an interest in using assistive technology designed to help blind and vision impaired people level the playing field. GTT groups meet monthly to share their passions for assistive technology and to learn what others can offer from their individual perspectives.

In order to get information about upcoming GTT meetings and conference calls as well as meeting notes and resources, please subscribe to the GTT blog. To register please visit the web page below. Look near the bottom of the page for a link called, “Follow“. Press Enter on that link and leave your email address in the edit field that will appear. The final step is to Click on the Submit Button below the Edit Field. You will receive an email message asking you to confirm that you wish to be subscribed, and clicking on the “confirmation” link in that message will complete the process.

GTT Victoria: Summary Notes, Identifi and OrCam, November 2, 2016

Get together with Technology (GTT)
Victoria Meeting – GVPL Main branch, Meeting Room
Summary Notes

Wednesday November 2, 2016

The meeting was called to order at 1:15 pm by chair Albert Ruel

Attendance, Karis, Bruce, Tom, Sabena, Karen, John, Sky, Shelly, Jenna, Evette, Steve, Corry and Albert. As well Barry Underwood, representing OrCam was in attendance for a second half presentation.

The group welcomed Shelly and Jenna from Salt Spring Island, who were both first time participants within the group and had made the trip over specifically for the GTT meeting.

During the first half, various topics were discussed. Albert started things off by introducing the group to a new app called identifi, Developed byAnmol Tukrel, a young Canadian residing in Toronto. Currently only available for iOS, the app lets one take pictures via the device camera and will provide an audio description of the item photographed. Albert demoed the app. Results took about 10 seconds. The app will not retain the photo and you can identify pictures from your camera roll. You must have iOS9 or higher on your iPhone, more info at the Apple Apps store.

John spoke in regards to needing an audible signal at the corner of Government and Humbolt/Warf, right by the tourist center. Extremely busy corner and an odd one for pedestrians to cross based on it’s configuration. Unanimous agreement.

Tom, communicated to the group that he is now featured as a regular guest on the Kelly and Company show on AMI Audio, more info at Tom also continues with his weekly world music program on Mushroom FM, more info at

Tom spoke of a new kitchen appliance he had purchased called the Onepot. The appliance can be controlled via an iPhone app, is Bluetooth enabled and to date Tom has no accessibility issues. Information on one such device can be found at

A discussion ensued about other appliance and home security apps and programs. The group also discussed driverless cars, and the rapid growth of technology in this regard.

Question, what is Bluetooth, summation, short range wireless, seamed to be the best description. The discussion continued around Bluetooth settings on one’s phone, on or off if not in use and how much battery does Bluetooth take. Off and very little were the verdicts. The “find my iPhone” feature was also discussed.

Tom spoke of a luggage identifier that is now available and is accessible tracking one luggage when away from the carrier. more info at

Tom informed the group how pleased he is with the iOS10 on screen braille keyboard. Perfect was his description,

After a short break Barry Underwood made his presentation.
He placed in front of 6 participants an OrCam device then walked them through the unboxing and activation process. OrCam has undergone an upgrade in 2016 and now includes the ability to pause and resume reading, and guidance on whether or not the text is centered in the camera view. There are two versions of the device, the OrCam Reader and the OrCam MyEye. Many questions were asked and answered, and if anyone has additional need for information about the OrCam Barry can be reached at the below contact info.

Next meeting, Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
Time 1:00pm
Topic: Open Discussion about Assistive Technology, and Santa’s Wish List. LOL