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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest Post: Dolphin Releases the EasyReader App for iOS, a new Direct To Player audio book reading app

June 9, 2017

Dear GTT Members,

Earlier this week Dolphin released their latest app that will allow CELA patrons to access Daisy books directly into the app. Below are two helpful links, the first will take you to the Dolphin Web Site where you can access a YouTube video and other sources of information about the Dolphin EasyReader App, and the second one will take you to the App Store where you can download the app into your iDevice for free.

Dolphin EasyReader Direct to Player App for iOS:

Where to purchase EasyReader from the iOS App Store:

Once you have downloaded and installed the app, you may log in to your CELA account by typing the following in front of your six digit CELA ID Number:


Follow that with your password in the password field and you should be able to try out this great new app.

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

For a Cool Blind Tech article on this app check this link:

Training Opportunity: Eyes-Free Academy Presents, “iPhone Eyes-Free – Mind’s Eye Navigation on the iPhone Touch-Screen” by iHabilitation Canada

Eyes-Free Academy Presents:
“iPhone Eyes-Free – Mind’s Eye Navigation on the iPhone Touch-Screen”

As you may already know, iHabilitation Canada has been busily learning about multimedia recording and online learning management systems. We’ve done this to discover how these technologies can be integrated to create inclusively-designed instruction in Eyes-Free iPhone operation for both teachers and learners.
You can imagine how happy we are to announce the launch of our Eyes-Free Academy, because it does just that! Our first course, “iPhone Eyes-Free – Mind’s Eye Navigation on the iPhone Touch-Screen”, is offered free of charge because we want to encourage feedback regarding future course content.
To find out more, please join our low traffic Email info list at the above URL. You’ll receive a booklet with a more detailed explanation of Eyes-Free Academy course content and teaching methodology.

Our approach promotes the idea that almost anyone can navigate the iPhone touch-screen via the Voiceover screen-reader, rather than looking at the phone.

This introductory iPhone Eyes-Free course, which is inclusively-designed, provides detailed audio/video real-time demonstrations along with PDF documentation to suit various accessibility needs. The course comprises six sections: introduction, lessons and summary.

We have also posted a promotional video on our YouTube channel that describes the course and the philosophy behind iHabilitation Canada. You can find the video at the above URL. The channel will also showcase future course material.

Thank you,
Tom Dekker VRT
Founder, iHabilitation Canada
778-265-2513 or 250-661-9799

Guest Post: Minister Qualtrough introduces National AccessAbility Week to promote accessibility every day, everywhere in Canada

Minister Qualtrough introduces National AccessAbility Week to promote accessibility every day, everywhere in Canada

As Canada’s Minister responsible for Persons with Disabilities, I believe that our country’s diversity is our strength—and when we include people with disabilities, we create a stronger Canada for everyone.
It is my pleasure to announce that launching this spring, for the first time in many years, an annual national week devoted to inclusion and accessibility.
From May 28 to June 3, 2017, National AccessAbility Week will celebrate, highlight and promote inclusion and accessibility in our communities and workplaces across the country.
We’ve made great strides in promoting inclusion for Canadians with disabilities, but there is still much work to do.
To create a truly inclusive society, we need to change the way we think, talk and act about barriers to participation and accessibility—and we need to do it right from the start, not as an afterthought. An inclusive Canada is one where all Canadians can participate and have an equal opportunity to succeed.
National AccessAbility Week will aim to bring this perspective to the forefront for Canadians, and highlight some of the important initiatives this government and its partners are undertaking to bring about this change.
Please join us in celebrating National AccessAbility Week. I invite you to host events in your own local communities, and participate on social media. More information will be available in the coming weeks on, and I encourage you to follow @AccessibleGC on Twitter, Accessible Canada on Facebook and follow the hashtag #AccessibleCanada and #AccessAbility for the latest information.
Together, let’s continue working towards an Accessible Canada.
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

Community News: Aroga Technologies is going out of business, and a new organization is born

The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) through it’s Get Together with Technology (GTT) initiative is pleased to circulate information regarding the status of Aroga Technologies at the request of Steve Barclay. Please direct any inquiries to Steve Barclay at

Steve Barclay said:
As some of you may have heard, Aroga Technologies is going out of business. We are in the process right now of wrapping up Aroga’s business and closing the doors. The Vancouver crew isn’t done yet however and we have no intention of leaving our friends and past customers in a lurch. Myself, Ryan and Rob will be able to be found at my new company, Canadian Assistive Technologies. available by email at or by phone at 604-367-9480. Rick Chant, our service manager will continue to do repairs under his new company name, Chaos Technical Services. or phone 778-847-6840. It’s a sad day for Aroga but we look forward to moving ahead with our new organizations and continuing to serve the community we have known and loved for the past 26 years.

Guest Post: Wal-Mart pharmacies in BC now offering accessible prescription medication information, Re-posted for Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC)

The Canadian Council of the Blind, GTT is re-posting this information on behalf of Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC). If you have any questions or comments please direct them to Rob Sleath at,

Wal-Mart pharmacies in BC now offering accessible prescription medication information

In addition to the eight pharmacy chains (listed below) which currently offer accessible prescription medication information (APMI), Wal-Mart Canada is now offering this service at no charge to its pharmacy customers in British Columbia effective February 2017. Wal-Mart pharmacies in BC join a growing number of pharmacy chains offering APMI at no additional cost to the consumer. These pharmacies include:

* Bulkley Valley Wholesale
* Coopers Foods
* London Drugs
* Overwaitea Foods
* Peoples Drug Mart
* PriceSmart Foods
* Save-On Foods
* Urban Fare

These pharmacies provide prescription information through an audio label affixed to the prescription bottle. Accessing the audio information is as simple as placing the prescription bottle atop a ScripTalk Reader and pressing a single button. The Reader will then announce the critical prescription information that your pharmacist has encoded into an RFID label, which will include:

• Patient’s name
• Name and strength of medication
• Dosage instructions
• Prescribing doctor’s name
• Refills remaining
• Dispensing date
• Prescription number
• Dispensing pharmacy name and telephone number
• Potential side effects and warnings

Readers can be acquired by contacting En-Vision America directly at 800-890-1180. They will ship one directly to your home at no cost provided you have a prescription pending and/or an established patient profile at one of the participating pharmacies listed above.

Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers is pleased that British Columbians who are blind or sight-impaired have several different choices when it comes to fulfilling their prescription needs with APMI. We intend to maintain close relationships with senior management from each of these participating pharmacy chains in order to work on further expanding these choices. We would appreciate receiving feedback regarding your experience with any of the pharmacies who provide APMI so that we can assist in ensuring consumers receive efficient and effective service.

Helpful Tips Regarding APMI Service
We offer the following tips for those interested in acquiring the APMI service:

1. For those who already obtain prescriptions from any participating pharmacy and wish to have all future prescriptions dispensed with APMI, contact En-Vision America today at 800 890-1180 and request they send you a ScripTalk Reader.
Delivery time takes approximately seven business days so requesting the Reader today will ensure you have the device when you next fill your prescription.
2. Ask your pharmacist to update your “Patient Profile” to indicate an encoded RFID label is required on all future prescriptions. This should eliminate the need for you to ask for it each time you present a new prescription or request a refill of an existing prescription.
3. Wherever possible, and before you conclude your appointment, ask your prescribing doctor to fax your new prescription to your pharmacy. Many pharmacies offering APMI require up to 48 hours turnaround time to dispense medications with APMI. Having your prescribing doctor fax the prescription in advance will save you a second trip to the pharmacy. And, when you pick up your medication, ask the pharmacist what turnaround time is required to encode the label as some pharmacy outlets are equipped to produce APMI labels in-store.
4. Also ask your prescribing doctor to add “requires accessible audio label” to your prescriptions. This will serve as a backup to ensure the pharmacist does not overlook this important requirement.

What You can Expect from Wal-Mart Pharmacies Wal-Mart Canada has committed to providing APMI service, with the following features, through its BC pharmacy outlets:

1. The prescription medication information to be contained in the auditory label is currently the default information programmed within the ScripTalk technology. This includes: patient name, name and strength of the medication, dosage, quantity, prescription date, use by date, refills remaining (if any), prescriber, name/telephone number of dispensing pharmacy, prescription number and warnings.
2. Patients or their personal representatives (with appropriate consent) may request ScripTalk encoded prescriptions in person at a Wal-Mart pharmacy or, in the case of an authorized prescriptions refill, by telephone call to a Wal-Mart pharmacy.
3. Physicians or other legally authorized health care professionals may request ScripTalk encoded prescriptions by telephone, electronically or by other authorized method when submitting a prescription to a Wal-Mart pharmacy.
4. If a ScripTalk encoded prescription request is submitted to a Wal-Mart BC pharmacy, Wal-Mart will make every effort to have the ScripTalk encoded prescription ready for patient pick-up within 48 hours from the time the ScripTalk encoded prescription request was submitted.
Wal-Mart will contact the patient to confirm that the ScripTalk encoded prescription is available for pick-up.
5. At the professional discretion of the Wal-Mart pharmacist, a 48- to 72-hour interim supply of the prescription medication will be dispensed to the patient and, if requested, the Wal-Mart pharmacy will take reasonable steps to mark the prescription container for easier identification by the patient. If the Wal-Mart pharmacist exercises his/her professional discretion against providing an interim supply, the patient will be entitled to choose either to fill the entire prescription at that time in the regular manner or to have the entire prescription filled as a ScripTalk prescription.
6. If a patient wishes to have a ScripTalk prescription delivered to his/her home, delivery will be free of charge for those Wal-Mart BC pharmacies that provide delivery service (currently, Penticton, Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey West, Langley) and for the remaining Wal-Mart BC pharmacies if the patient lives within 10 km of the pharmacy. Otherwise, delivery charges will be borne by the patient. The provision of free delivery service for the remaining Wal-Mart BC pharmacies within 10 km of the patient’s home does not apply to prescription refills.

One of the many goals for Access for
Sight-Impaired Consumers is to expand sources where British Columbians who are blind or sight-impaired can acquire accessible prescription medication information. APMI enables those affected by significant sight loss to independently manage their medical prescriptions safely, confidently and independently. Please take a moment and share your APMI experience with us by emailing so that we can work to further improve the service offered by participating pharmacies.

Online Learning Resource: 24 Karat GoldWave! A Training Course for Screen-Reader Users

Are you interested in audio editing with the JAWS screen reader? Check out this online course.

24 Karat GoldWave! A Training Course for Screen-Reader Users.

Many blind people love creating audio content. It is something we can enjoy completely and independently. But how do you get started? Moreover, if you have knowledge of how to undertake simple recording or editing tasks, how do you build on those skills to add effects such as reverb, change the tone of the audio known as graphic equalisation, or apply noise reduction such as for restoring those old vinyl records and tapes?
Fortunately there is not only a training course which can teach these skills but there is also probably the most accessible audio editor we have ever seen: GoldWave.
Our new training course, “24 Karat GoldWave”, will be ideal for those just beginning to learn how to record and process audio content for the first time, through to those people who have some more detailed knowledge. If you use an alternative sound editor, you may like to purchase the training course to learn why GoldWave is streets ahead of the competitors, certainly in terms of accessibility. Put simply, despite its low price point, GoldWave is a simple, easy-to-use, accessible audio production tool, ideal for people who do not want or need to know about the more complex digital audio workstations. Read onto find out about the many features of GoldWave and what you can achieve.
What is GoldWave?
GoldWave is a highly rated, professional digital audio editor. It’s fully loaded to do everything from the simplest recording and editing to the most sophisticated audio processing, restoration, enhancements, and conversions. It is easy to learn and use.
• Play your favourite songs, fast forward and rewind, or change the playback speed so as to learn a song by ear or transcribe dictation.
• Record from any source, such as microphone, line-in, turntable or audio streaming.
• Record speeches or reports, music, your own voice, Set a timer to start recording at a certain day and time. Use level activated recording to continue and pause recording automatically whenever the signal is above or below a given value.
• Edit audio with all the familiar concepts including Cut, Copy, Paste and delete.
• Apply dozens of different audio effects. Adjust bass or treble with the Equalizer. Even out volume levels with Auto Gain. Easily fade in and out background music, add echoes, reverbs, flangers, and much more. Change the pitch of your voice or make it sound mechanical. Preview effects real-time before processing them. Most effects include presets for commonly used settings so you don’t have to be an audio expert.
• Remaster old vinyl or tape recordings. Use Noise Reduction and Pop/Click filters to clean up the audio and take out the buzz, hiss, crackle, and clicks.
• Includes a collection of powerful tools. For example, copy audio directly from an audio CD with the CD Reader tool.
• Contains many keyboard shortcuts for tasks which can be reassigned if necessary to suit your own tastes.
• Freely available script files provide important information required for working on projects.
What Will I Learn?
The course is divided into four sessions, each of which will last 90 minutes. The course not only teaches you how to work with GoldWave, but also to understand important concepts such as good microphone placement, poor and excellent editing, and effective audio mixing. Topics include, but are not restricted to:
• Installing GoldWave and the accompanying script files.
• Configuring GoldWave including the settings specific to recording and playback.
• Customising GoldWave for use with screen-readers.
• Making Your first recording.
• Saving and opening files.
• Playing and navigating through the audio.
• Learning the location of the cursor in hours, minutes and seconds.
• Moving to a specific time in the audio.
• Selecting audio ready for editing.
• Playing the selected audio.
• Cut, copy, paste and delete.
• Making very small audio adjustments.
• Moving between a number of files which are open.
• Copying audio from one file to another.
• Adjusting playback speed.
• Adjusting Volume and Normalising.
• Checking the level metres.
• Trimming.
• Cue Points and how to use them.
• Fading and Crossfading.
• Mixing voice over music.
• Saving recordings to MP3.
• Inserting silence.
• Using Effects to alter sounds in a variety of ways. Changing pitch, volume, graphic equalisation, echo and reverb, Filter.
• Noise Reduction and audio restoration.
• Swapping channels and panning.
• Working with time to ensure audio runs to a specific length.
• Set recording to begin at a specific time of day.
• Extracting the content of CD’s.
How Does GoldWave Compare to Other Audio Editors in Terms of Accessibility and Functionality?
Undeniably, GoldWave is an inexpensive audio production tool and so you may be forgiven for thinking that it does not offer the sophistication of higher priced products. We would suggest otherwise. Not only are many features comparable to similar products, but in terms of accessibility GoldWave outshines them.
The later versions of some of the more popular audio editors are becoming more and more challenging to work with from an accessibility standpoint. Take “Audio Ducking” as an example, the process where a person’s voice can be mixed over music. Many other sound editors do not give you the flexibility and control over this process which GoldWave delivers. Superb results can be achieved in this regard when using this program. Join us and see how it is done!
Who is the Course For?
This course is suited to anyone who has an interest in creating or working with audio content. You should be familiar with how your screen-reader functions together with Windows concepts, such as how to navigate around applications.
By the end of the course, you ought to be able to carry out the simplest of recordings through to creating audio for podcasts, PowerPoint presentations or perhaps to mix together a spot or promo for broadcast on radio. You decide!
There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions regarding the topics under discussion, however this is achieved in a structured manner. This ensures that you can focus on learning the concepts being taught and easily refer back to sections of the archive recording at a later date.
What Happens If I Do Not Have the GoldWave Software?
This is not a problem. A fully functional evaluation copy of GoldWave can be downloaded and installed, details of which will be provided to you when you sign up for the training course.
Should you decide to purchase a copy of GoldWave, a lifetime license for home use is priced $45 or alternatively $15 per year.
Links will also be provided by us for the JAWS scripts mentioned above.
If I Purchase the Course, What Will I Receive?
The course will be delivered online via our accessible Talking Communities server. If you have not used this conferencing software before, you will receive instructions prior to the commencement of the course. This software allows for the delivery of the presentation, including the output from the screen-reading software.
The course will give to you:
• Four lessons starting 15 March 2017. Each lesson will begin at 7 PM UK time, (2 PM Eastern), each Wednesday.
• An audio recording of each lesson in MP3 format.
• Sample files which you can use in your Projects and to work with at a later date.
• Text documentation to reinforce topics covered in the lessons. This will include a comprehensive list of keystrokes so as to achieve all tasks.
• An email list active prior to (and during) the course so you can ask questions outside tuition time.
The proposed dates for the course sessions are as follows:
• 15 March;
• 22 March;
• 29 March;
• 5 April.
If you cannot take part on those dates, you can still gain plenty of benefit, since you will receive all the lessons and accompanying documentation, as well as being able to ask questions through the Email list provided to you.
All recordings, documentation and the Talking Communities chat room are accessed through a secure area of our website which is only available to course participants.
The cost of the course is £60 which is currently 72 US dollars.
This is a slight increase from our usual rate due to the production of sample files which are required. Payment should reach us by Wednesday 8 March 2017.
Purchase 24 Karat GoldWave Online.
Alternatively, anyone who would like to take part in the course should register their interest by sending an Email to, whereupon a fully accessible electronic invoice will be sent to you which can be paid through PayPal or any major credit or debit card. Orders can also be placed by telephone:
• Call us (from within the UK): 02920-850298.
• Call us (from the United States): 415-871-0626.
• Call us (from any other country): (+44)2920-850298.
If you would like to read the views from participants of our previous courses, please Visit our Training area.
Course Prerequisites.
It is important that you have:
• Good keyboarding skills;
• A computer with an internet connection.
• A microphone so as to ask questions within the course.
• JAWS for Windows or the NVDA screen-reader. Please note that our company is exclusively concerned with the JAWS for Windows screen-reader, however there is an Add-On for NVDA and GoldWave. NVDA has been tested extensively with the program and it works well.
• At the very least, a microphone so as to make recordings with GoldWave, or alternatively a more sophisticated environment, such as an audio mixing console. If you do not wish to make recordings, and are content with importing audio including our samples, a microphone may not be necessary.
Over many years, GoldWave has proven itself to be a thoroughly usable, productive audio environment in which to work. It has a large feature set, great file compatibility, and plenty of effects and tools for audio restoration. Why not give it a try and learn how to use it from a blind person’s perspective! It’s a Golden Opportunity!

Brian Hartgen
Choose Hartgen Consultancy for high quality JAWS Script Writing, training and our products including J-Say, J-Dictate and Leasey.
Telephone (in the UK) 02920-850298.
Telephone (in the United States of America) 1-415-871-0626.
Telephone (from any other country) +44-2920-820598.
Visit our website for more information!
Follow us on Twitter, HartgenConsult.
Like our Facebook Page.

JAWS Certified 2016.

Newsletter: Braille Literacy Canada, January 2017 Newsletter

[Braille Literacy Canada logo]
January 2017 ● Issue #5

Notice to B LC Members: Save the Date

Our next annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place in Toronto on May 6th, 2017. We recognize that not all members will be able to attend in person, so we will offer some options for participating electronically. These will include appointing a proxy or submitting an electronic ballot. A notice with more details will be sent out to members in the next couple of months. We look forward to seeing you there!

New UEB Listserv

If you are learning, teaching or transcribing Unified English Braille (UEB) and are looking for a place to post questions, Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) invites you to join our UEB listserve. Subscribers can post to the list, and all queries will be answered by code and formatting experts. Information and announcements relevant to UEB will also be forwarded to this list.

To subscribe to the discussion list, visit

Focus Group Announcement

As many of you may be aware, the federal government is currently undertaking a consultation process to inform the development of new legislation aimed at improving accessibility and removing barriers to the participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian society. Public consultation sessions have been held in major cities across the country, but individuals and organizations are also permitted to make written submissions to the process.

The scope of these consultations is wide. Feedback is being sought to help determine the goals of the legislation, the approach it will take to improving accessibility, how standards should be developed, how compliance and enforcement should be handled, and what the government can do to support organizations in becoming accessible. More information on the consultation process generally can be found at
For more information on the scope and reach of the federal government’s regulatory power, please see:

Braille Literacy Canada intends to submit a position paper to the government outlining the importance of federal organizations ensuring that information is accessible and available in braille. To facilitate this, we would like to hold a consultation session with our members to gather input on what factors should be considered in this submission. Questions to consider may include:

(1) What arguments (academic, theoretical, practical, or otherwise) would you use to justify the importance of having access to braille from federally-regulated organizations for Canadians who are blind or deaf-blind?
(2) Should braille materials be on hand, available upon request, or, within a “reasonable” timeframe? If the latter, what would seem to be a “reasonable”
(3) In the reverse direction, should Canadians who are blind or deaf-blind have the right to submit documentation in braille to federally-regulated bodies?
(4) To what degree, if at all, should the legislation specify the standards to which braille is to be produced? What ‘standards’ should it adopt, and how?
(5) Should we attempt to solidify, through legislation (or regulation), Braille Literacy Canada’s (internationally recognized) role as the preeminent “authority”
for braille standards in Canada? If so, how?

Anyone interested in contributing to this discussion is invited to join us by telephone for a conference call on January 28th, 2016 between 1 and 3pm Eastern (10-noon Pacific, 11am-1pm Mountain, 12-2pm Central, 2-4pm Atlantic) or, alternatively, to submit written comments and feedback to
on or before January 28th, 2016.

If you would like to participate in the conference call, please e-mail
to register. Information on how to join the call will be sent to you a few days before the event.

We look forward to your participation on January 28th! If you have any questions or require further information in the interim, please feel free to email

BLC Committees

As many of you know, the work of BLC is done by committees. Here is a list of our current committees and their responsibilities. New members are always welcome!

For more information please send an email to

The web committee

* Maintains web site and social media and updates content with current events, resources and other items of interest.
* Works with other committees to update content as appropriate.

The membership committee

* Collaborates with the BLC treasurer and the Corporate Secretary to manage membership data.
* Ensures that email reminders are sent to those members who have not renewed their membership.
* Proposes options for increasing membership.

The communications committee

* Proposes options for increasing communication with BLC members and the general public.
* Prepares and distributes the BLC newsletter.

The braille formats committee

* Determines other guidelines that should be reviewed by BLC for use in Canada. Members of this committee must have a thorough knowledge of braille and must be familiar with issues specific to formatting.

The teaching and learning committee

* Conducts research related to braille instruction of children and adults.
* Seeks funding sources to support this research. Committee members should be employed as an educator of visually impaired students or be studying in the field.

The nominations committee

* Seeks candidates to fill vacant positions on the Board of Directors.
* Presents the slate of nominations to BLC members at the Annual General Meeting.

The braille promotion committee

* Proposes and implements activities to promote braille in Canada. The brailler bounce initiative is a project of this committee.
* Plans teleconferences on various braille-related issues.

The French braille standards committee

* Proposes and implements research and/or other projects pertaining to French braille in Canada.

The bylaws committee

* Drafts text for changes to BLC bylaws as appropriate. Previous experience with bylaw revisions is an asset.

Braille Screen Input on iOS Devices
By Natalie Martiniello

For people who are blind or who have low vision, one could argue that the built-in accessibility of Apple’s iPhone and iPad ranks among the most significant developments for our community since the year 2000. Based on universal design, Apple products led the way by demonstrating that technology could and should be accessible to diverse users from the start. Rather than retrofitting, universal design from inception has not only levelled the playingfield for those of us who are blind, but has also benefited users with perfect sight. After all, doesn’t everyone – sighted or blind – use Siri nowadays? And this is the point. When you make things accessible from the start, everyone wins. And the trend is catching on. Though Apple paved the way, other companies are following in their footsteps – Google’s Android, being one.

As someone who is blind and who has also taught clients who are blind, I have seen multiple examples of how this innovative technology can increase independence and opportunities. I have about 7 pages of apps on my iPhone. The true wonder and joy of all of this, for those of us who are braille users, is that all of these apps that are accessible with VoiceOver (the built-in screenreader on Apple products) can be used with a braille display. Suddenly, we have so much more access to braille – for learning, practicing and using it in our everyday lives. With the launch of the Orbit Braille Reader (sold by CNIB in Canada), the first low-cost braille display, access to braille information in this way is about to increase for many more people. Despite what mainstream news at times inaccurately proclaims, technology hasn’t replaced braille – it’s solidified its place in a truly exciting digital age!

As a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, I’ve harnessed the power of this technology with braille learners – many of whom are adults and seniors, when possible. It allows us to access far more material than ever before, and enables braille learners to practice braille in ways that are so meaningful to them – writing a facebook post, a tweet or an iMessage provides instant satisfaction to many, particularly for those who are losing their vision and who are eager to reconnect with the social world. These are just some creative ways one might use a braille display (connected to an I-device) during lessons.

I’d like to use the remainder of this post, however, to describe the use of the on-screen braille keyboard. Since iOS 8, braille users can activate an on-screen braille keyboard that they can use in place of the regular, on-screen QWERTY keyboard that usually appears for typing. Though many blind users, myself included, can and do use the regular on-screen QWERTY keyboard, it can be somewhat cumbersome and time-consuming to use, since the letters need to be located and selected one at a time. The on-screen braille keyboard, in contrast, allows you to form braille letters directly onto the screen, which greatly increases writing speed.

I use the on-screen braille keyboard exclusively for all my iPhone typing, and can type quicker than most of my sighted friends because of it. It’s also a great way for learners to practice braille. Using the on-screen braille keyboard requires them to think about how braille symbols are formed and what dots are included – It can be a great way to reinforce the learning of braille letters while accomplishing meaningful and relevant tasks on an I-device. Plus, the built-in screen reader on Apple products provides instant audio feedback, which is a great motivator and learning support for students!

To activate the on-screen braille keyboard:
1. Select the Settings Application from the Home Screen.
2. Press the “General “button, found within the Settings main menu.
3. Press the “Accessibility” options button.
4. Press the “VoiceOver” options button.
5. Press the “Rotor” options button.
6. Find the Braille Screen Input function.
7. If Voiceover doesn’t say, “Selected,” double-tap on braille-screen input to add it to your rotor.

Though it’s beyond the scope of this article to explain the Rotor and how it works, I recommend this website which provides a very helpful explanation:

Once you’ve followed the above steps, you’ll also want to configure your braille-screen input to best meet your needs before using it for the first time. Visit this link to learn more about how to select uncontracted or contracted input, six or eight key entry, and the braille code you wish to use when typing. By default, the braille code that is used for Braille Screen Input is Unified English Braille:

Once you’ve added braille screen input to your rotor and configured the settings for the first time, the braille screen input will now be available to you whenever you’re within a text field and need to type. Simply perform the Rotor gesture to select braille screen input.

How to Type using On-Screen Braille Input: Once activated, there are two options for typing using braille screen input. Table-top mode (when your device is laying flat on any surface) allows you to use your index, middle and ring fingers for typing as if it were a Perkins brailler. Screen-away mode, which I prefer and find more reliable, is preferable for smaller devices (such as the iPhone). To use braille screen input in screen-away mode:

• Activate braille screen input in your rotor
• Hold your iPhone in landscape orientation (that is, with the screen facing away from you, and the home button to the right).
• Hold your iPhone using your thumbs on the top edge and your pinky fingers on the bottom edge of your device. Your Index, Middle, and Ring fingers should now form two vertical columns of three dots just like the dots in the braille cell.
• Imagine this braille cell in front of you before typing, with dots 1, 2 and 3 placed vertically on the left and dots 4, 5 and 6 placed vertically on the right. Press down the fingers that correspond to the dots of the symbol you’d like to form. For example, press down your left index finger (which should be located on the top left of your screen in landscape orientation) to form the letter “A”, and press your left index, right index and right middle fingers together to form the letter “D”.

Try doing the entire alphabet for practice!

Other useful gestures when using braille screen input in screen-away mode:
• Swipe with one finger towards the left to delete the previous letter
• Swipe with one finger towards the right to insert a “space”
• Swipe with two fingers towards the right to move to the next line (VoiceOver will say “new line”)
• Swipe with three fingers towards the left to switch to contracted mode (which allows you to type contractions).
Swipe with three fingers towards the right to move back to uncontracted mode.

Now, you can type in braille on your device wherever you are!

Braille: A Story of Personal Life-Long Empowerment
By Leo Bissonnette, Ph.D.

As we celebrate the contribution of Louis Braille and his impact on our individual lives today, this issue features articles that make a strong case for the value of braille. My story adds to this accumulated statement of empowerment and the need to keep braille relevant in the lives of the blind today.

Like so many others in the blind community, I have listened to audio books since I was able to operate the record player that used to store talking books back in my early childhood. Today I enjoy reading books on my iPhone, using my Victor Reader Stream, or sitting at the computer. As important as the digital age is to me, nothing has even come close to empowering me as a blind person the way braille has.

A Little About Me
I was born with low vision and started my education working in large print. Then my mother, who was quite the advocate in making sure that I received a good education and essential rehabilitation services, felt that braille should be a tool added to my toolbox. So I started learning braille in third grade while attending the Montreal Association School for the Blind. I quickly took to using braille right away, and have used it as my first tool, taken from my toolbox, on a daily basis ever since.
Back to the Present
These days, what with the portability and low cost of ebooks, it seems that braille is struggling to keep its place in the lives of the blind. The high cost of braille displays compounds the problem, making it easier to simply abandon braille, or perhaps relegate it to infrequent use. Does it really matter if Braille becomes a medium that exists only in the memories of older blind people? Is it time to move on to more modern and cost-effective ways of communicating the written word, or should we fight to bring braille back to the forefront of our collective consciousness? Why is braille still relevant today?

I believe braille is essential for good writing. I would not be the proficient speller I am today if I had not read hundreds of thousands of braille words over the course of my life. While any decent screen reader provides the ability to spell words and review lines of text character by character, it is virtually impossible to catch all formatting and spelling errors in a document with speech alone. Anyone who uses text-to-speech software at all knows all too well the frustration of deciphering b’s from d’s, and sorting out all of the words that sound alike but are spelled differently such as there and their.

When I really need to digest something I am reading, I will slow my speech rate down or transfer the content to an SD card for later reading on my braille display. I am constantly amazed at the number of errors I find in documents I am reading in braille that I did not catch with speech alone.

Would I want to go back to the days before I had my iPhone and portable book reader? No way. Am I as likely to use a slate and stylus today as I was 50 years ago—although I still carry one in my brief case just in case I need it? Probably not. Can I imagine what my life would be like if I never again read another line of text in braille? I don’t even want to dwell on the thought!

Exploring Braille Settings on iOS
by Kim Kilpatrick

This will be the first in a series of articles exploring the use of braille displays with iDevices.

In this article, I will briefly describe the braille settings and show you how to pair a refreshable braille display with an iDevice. Braille support for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and iPad Mini is built into the screen reader which comes with your iDevice. This screen reader is called VoiceOver. Most braille displays work well with VoiceOver. You must use Bluetooth to pair a braille display with your iDevice. Unlike other Bluetooth devices (keyboards, headphones, speakers) braille displays are not paired in the Bluetooth settings but are paired in the VoiceOver braille settings.

Braille Settings
In Settings on your iDevice go to General, then Accessibility, then VoiceOver. You can also ask Siri to open VoiceOver settings. Double tap on Braille.

The settings are as follows (double tap each setting to explore its options):
1. Braille Display Output (this is what you read on your display). You can choose from uncontracted 6-dot braille, uncontracted 8-dot braille and contracted braille. Double tap on the one you want.
2. Braille Display Input (what you use when brailling with your display). Again, you can choose from uncontracted 6-dot braille, uncontracted 8-dot braille and contracted braille.
3. Automatic Braille Translation: When this is turned on, it translates braille contractions as you type. When it is off, it waits until you press space to translate the braille.
4. Braille Screen Input: This is for typing braille on the screen of your iDevice. I will discuss this in a future article.
5. Status Cells: This will also be discussed in a later article.
6. Equations Use Nemeth Code: You can toggle this off or on depending on how you feel about Nemeth code.
7. Show on screen keyboard: I will discuss this in a future article.
8. Turn pages when panning: This is also a toggle and I suggest you leave it on as when reading a book it will just keep going to the next page.
9. Braille Translation: In English braille your options are: English (unified), English (US) and English (United Kingdom)
10. Alert display duration: This will be discussed in a future article.
11. Choose a braille display: Verify that Bluetooth is enabled on your iDevice.

Pairing Your Braille Display
Make sure that your braille display is in Bluetooth or pairing mode. How you achieve this varies depending on your display (consult your braille display manual). Then, find your braille display in the list below the heading titled Choose a braille display and double tap on it.

Some displays pair automatically while others require a PIN to be entered. Check your braille display manual for more information.

Once the display is paired, it should stay paired.

When turning off the braille display and/or iDevice, lock the device first, then turn off the display. When turning them back on, turn on the braille display first then unlock your device. They should pair again without you having to do anything in the braille settings.

If you need help using your braille display with your iPhone, or have questions or topics you wish to be covered, let us know.

BLC on Social Media

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Assistive Tech Resource: An iPhone 7 with a headphone jack is now just a case away

On 6-Jan-17 08:24 AM VIRN Info [] said:

An iPhone 7 with a headphone jack is now just a case away

By Gerald Lynch

Bringing back what was thought lost

Still crying yourself to sleep at night over the iPhone 7’s lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack? Wipe those tears away – CES 2017 bears wired audio fruit for iPhone fans, thanks to a clever new case.

Incipio’s iPhone 7 bumper case not only protects the edges of your smartphone, but also squeezes a headphone jack alongside its Lightning port in its elongated lip. With it attached to your handset, you’ll be able to use a standard wired pair of headphones without resorting to Apple’s 3.5mm adapter.

Righting a wrong? Or a reductive wraparound?
Sure, you’re swapping out one accessory for another here. But the Incipio OX does have the advantage of letting you both listen to audio over a 3.5mm connection and harge over the Lightning port at the same time.

“We wanted to bring the headphone jack back to the latest iPhone so our customers could still enjoy their favorite pair of traditional headphones without worrying about low-battery and sacrificing device protection,” said Carlos Del Toro, Director of Products, Incipio.

It’s as good a solution as you’re likely to get at this point. Hitting shops in the first quarter of the year for $59.99 (around AU$83 / £50) the OX will come in black, purple and “forest” color options.

New year, new tech – check out all our coverage of CES 2017
straight from Las Vegas, the greatest gadget show on Earth

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: