It’s a party! Not only are we celebrating Canada Day this week in the Anti-Gloom Zoom Room, but Ryan, Rob, and Steve also raise a glass and talk to Albert Ruel, Get Together With Technology Coordinator for the Canadian Council of the Blind, who is officially retiring. We talk about his career as an employee of the CNIB and CCB as well as aspects of technology and even how he initially lost his sight.
Category Archives: Get Together with Technology
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
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.
VocalEye at the Belfry Theatre this fall
- The Children’s Republic
Sunday October 1 at 2 p.m.
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.
Used Blindness Assistive Devices Wanted for Recycling Initiative
Used Assistive Devices Wanted!
Do you, or someone you know have a used VR Stream, a talking blood glucose monitor or a magnifier you’re no longer using, and if so are you willing to make it available for others to enjoy going forward? The above are simply examples of devices that might do well to be recycled.
Some GTT members across the country are seeking donations of such devices, or at least a very low price for the re-purposing of your previously enjoyed assistive tech, so please let us know what is gathering dust in a drawer somewhere, and we’ll help you put it back into circulation.
If you have some devices available for this re-purposing initiative please let Albert Ruel know, along with the condition of said equipment and how you wish to see it re-enter circulation. I will endeavour to put donors and recipients together for such an exchange, or facilitate the exchange as might best suit the participants.
If you have something you wish to make available, if you’re in need of something, or if you merely want to know more please contact Albert at 250-240-2343 or by email at:
Albert A. Ruel, GTT Coordinator
Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)
Get Together with Technology Program (GTT)
Toll Free: 1-877-304-0968 Ext. 550
GTT Blog: https://gttprogram.wordpress.com/
Facebook Group: https://m.facebook.com/groups/414313508657159?refid=27
Twitter: @GTTWest @GTTProgram @CCBNational
CCB National Newsletter Special Edition: Summer 2017
CCB National Newsletter Special Edition: Summer 2017
Message from the Editor++
Although the dog days of summer have arrived, CCB still remains very active.
Our newsletter usually breaks for the summer months, as do our chapters, but recently there have been so many positive things happening within the Council, that I felt they couldn’t wait until September!
Recent developments include:
• A new partnership between CCB and the Essilor group
• CCB’s Trust Your Buddy program going national
• GTT continuing to thrive across the country
Please read on to discover all the details of the many things CCB has recently been involved with. Enjoy the read, and have a wonderful summer—Mike Potvin, Editor.
Trust Your Buddy takes on Chronic Disease++:
As CCB’s TYB program looks to engage, educate and empower CCB members from across the country, to get up, get active and improve fitness; we are talking “chronic disease prevention”.
Has your doctor told you any of the following?
-You are at risk of heart disease?
-You are at risk of type 2 diabetes?
-Your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol may be too high?
-You are overweight or obese and need to lose body fat to help prevent the onset of various health related issues?
TYB is your resource to help address these concerns.
Ryan is a Certified Kinesiologist, which means he is a health care professional with 10+ years of experience in helping those at risk of various chronic diseases.
Take advantage of this FREE professional resource and help yourself get started or continue on that path to a healthy lifestyle.
Check out the “CCB Trust Your Buddy” page on Facebook or channel on Youtube.
Email Ryan any health and fitness related questions you may have and he can chat with you to help answer them and get you headed in the right direction!
Your body does not care that you are blind or visually impaired, it still requires the proper physical activity and nutrition to keep you healthy and steer you clear of chronic disease.
CCB is proud to offer you this ground breaking resource, in hopes that you can lead a happy and healthy long life!
-Ryan Van Praet (Reg. Kinesiologist)
“TRUST YOUR BUDDY”
Accessible Sport & Health Education
Canadian Council of the Blind
Search us on Social Media:
Facebook & Youtube:
“CCB Trust Your Buddy”
GTT Support Email Discussion List++:
GTT is an exciting initiative of the CCB, founded in 2011 by Kim Kilpatrick and Ellen Goodman. GTT aims to help people who are blind or have low vision in their exploration of low vision and blindness related access technology. Through involvement with GTT participants can learn from and discuss assistive technology with others walking the same path of discovery.
GTT 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 interact through social media, and periodically meet in-person or by teleconference to share their passions for assistive technology and to learn what others can offer from their individual perspectives.
The CCB’s Get Together with Technology program now offers an email discussion list for blind, deafblind and partially sighted Canadians. This GTT Support email list is a good tool through which members can share their assistive technology discoveries, make comments, and ask questions about assistive technology.
To subscribe send an email to the following address.
1. Put the word “subscribe” in the subject line and leave the body of the email message empty.
2. You will get a return email to confirm your subscription. Simply reply to that email to confirm.
3. You will get a second email returned to you that welcomes you as a list member. It will give instructions on how to post messages to the list.
For questions about the list contact its moderators, Brenda Bush, Kim Kilpatrick or Albert Ruel by sending an email to, GTTsupportfirstname.lastname@example.org
For more information please contact your GTT Coordinators:
Albert Ruel or Kim Kilpatrick
1-877-304-0968 ext 550 or 1-877-304-0968, ext 513
We are happy to announce that Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) has won an FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility. AMI collected their award in Washington DC for their Integrated Described Video Best Practices Guide.
Jim Tokos has represented the CCB in this descriptive video advisory group, providing valuable input on behalf of our members for many years, so we are especially happy for this accomplishment!
A sincere thank you to all the members of the DVBP for your efforts in advancing accessibility and inclusion. AMI were one of four winners, and other recipients included Facebook and Amazon. A truly wonderful accomplishment for our group.
CCB Atlantic Sports Weekend++:
CCB Bathurst Chapter hosted the Atlantic Sports and Recreation weekend, which was held from May 19th to 21st, 2017. At the same time they celebrated the 40th anniversary of their chapter. Many members won ribbons and medals, 8 members from Bathurst took part in the events. 5 of these members won first place in darts and also finished third place in bowling. Chapters attended from PEI, Nova Scotia, St-Jean Terre-Neuve, New Brunswick. Thank you to all the organizations that donated to this great event.
Submitted by Anita Boudreau
Announcement from the CCB Windsor Essex Low Vision Social & Support Group++:
Congratulations to the Windsor Essex Low Vision Social & Support Group, who just celebrated their 15th Anniversary!
The group commemorated the day with a special Canada Day themed meeting, celebrating our country’s 150th birthday.
Following the luncheon, the program was turned over to the vice president Christine Copeland, who read aloud the names of twenty-seven members who are no longer with us.
Ken continued the program with the presentation of gifts to Christine Copeland and Jeanie Krigel, recognizing them as charter members, along with Shauna Bogheen who contributed greatly to the existence of our group through the CNIB. Also recognized with a gift, along with a life time membership, was Ben Vincent representing the only member with close to fifteen years of service to the group.
The meeting concluded with closing words from Jim Tokos along with our president Tom Bannister.
In addition, Emanuel Blaeyoet. Gave a report on the Windsor tandem bicycle group, how it first originated with the help of our group and how well it has done in such a short time. Good news to hear!
Ken Christie – secretary
Happenings at Camp Bowen++:
April, May and June were more busy months here at Camp Bowen. We have been working with our local library to improve access to information, launched a survey to help us kickstart our independent living skills training initiative, and continue to plan for adult camp 2017, which has been moved to run from Monday, August 21st. to Friday, August 25th this year due to matters outside of our control (see below for details on changes to this year’s camp).
Working in a community that has supported us with open hearts throughout the past seven years has been rewarding. The generosity of Bowen Islanders is what has allowed us to remain on island as long as we have and to continue to rebuild the Camp Bowen programs. However, we’ve always felt that we should do more to give back to the island community that has given so much to us. The project outlined here marks the first public step in that direction, a step that we hope will be the first of many to come.
Back in February, we approached the Bowen Island Public Library to see if it would be feasible to make the public access computers in the library accessible for blind and partially sighted patrons. The enthusiasm from library staff has been wonderful through the entire time we have worked together on this project.
We’re very pleased to announce today that both of the public computers in the library now run NVDA, an open-source screen reader that reads out the computer screen to blind and partially sighted computer users. Information is so important in this day and age and we recognize that libraries are an important conduit to the world for many people. We at Camp Bowen are glad to have played a part in making some of that information more accessible to Bowen Islanders with disabilities and we would like to take this opportunity to thank Leo and the rest of the team at the Bowen Island Public Library for working with us to make this project a reality. We couldn’t have done it without you.
In the coming weeks we will be providing more information about how to access NVDA at the library and where one can go to find additional resources on this great tool.
In other news, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired is currently undertaking work to help create an independent living skills training centre for blind and partially sighted Canadians. To help build a case demonstrating the need for such a centre, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired is currently running a survey to collect information on the levels of independent living skills training available in Canada. The survey is intended to be completed by blind and partially sighted Canadians who are 18 years of age or older before September 30, 2017.
The survey has both an online and phone in option. If you prefer not to fill out the survey online, you can complete the survey over the phone by calling +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 7 or toll free at +1 (844) MYBOWEN (692-6936) extension 7. To take the survey online, please visit:
For more information on the training centre initiative or to find out how you can help make a Canadian independent living skills training centre a reality, please visit:
For any questions or comments regarding the initiative, please call +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 7 or +1 (844) MYBOWEN (692-6936) extension 7. You can find additional ways to contact us at:
And now for an update on Adult Camp 2017.
The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired regrets that due to safety work that will not be completed at Bowen Island Lodge in time for our retreat this summer, we have had to book an alternate venue on Bowen Island: The Lodge at the Old Dorm. This is a one year stopgap measure and we will be back at the Bowen Island Lodge next summer.
“Purpose built in 1941 by the Union SteamShip Company aka USSC to provide thirteen rooms for staff residences; it was a key part of the old resort. Purchased 25 years ago, and extensively renovated, thanks to Dan’s “hands-on” attention to detail, today, The Lodge at the Old Dorm delivers that old world feel with today’s charm.” (From the website of The Lodge at the Old Dorm)
The dates the Lodge at the Old Dorm has available are August 21-25 – Monday to Friday. We have already booked these dates. This facility is smaller than Bowen island Lodge so has a more limited capacity so we encourage everyone to get their registration in as soon as possible.
Activities we will plan during the time include:
Bus trip to a public beach for swimming
Group walk to the village
Group hike and/or nature walk
A demo day with Canadian Assistive Technologies
Basic and/or advanced sessions on assistive technologies
Water taxi tour (would be a charge per person)
Basic and/or intermediate self-defence workshop.
Note: The above activities will run if there is sufficient interest. Further, some activities will only run if our partners are available for these dates. We are working on this now.
The costs for camp this year have not changed from our previously advertized 2017 rates. The below costs are based on having all meals at camp. However, we are once again allowing campers to opt-out of meals at camp. Should campers choose to eat at some of the amazing restaurants on Bowen Island instead of having meals at camp, they will receive some money off their camp fees to help with the expense. We would also like to remind campers that there is $200 worth of available funding from the BC Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation for BC residents who receive Persons with Disability (PWD) benefits. The cost of accommodation and all meals will be $450 per person based on double occupancy for the four nights. Cost for single occupancy would be $700.
The menu for the retreat will be posted on the Camp Bowen website as part of the registration form.
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this change may cause you. We look forward to a number of you joining us. For those of you who can’t make it this year, we look forward to seeing you next year back at the Bowen Island Lodge.
For more information or to register, please visit https://campbowen.ca/camps/adult/ or call +1 (844) MYBOWEN (692-6936) extension 2.
We look forward to welcoming many new and returning guests for a fun-filled and relaxing getaway this summer.
The Camp Bowen Team
Accessible Canada – Creating new national accessibility legislation: What we learned from Canadians++:
Message from the Minister:
As Canada’s first-ever Minister responsible for persons with disabilities, I had the honour of leading Canada’s largest and most accessible consultation on disability issues ever.
In the summer of 2016, I began asking Canadians all across the country, “What does an accessible Canada mean to you?” What we learned, summarized in this report, will help us create new federal accessibility legislation.
I’m proud to say more than 6,000 Canadians participated in person and online. Throughout the consultation, I held 18 in-person public meetings across the country that were supported by local leaders from the disability community. These meetings were made fully accessible for a range of disabilities and included English and French real-time captioning, American Sign Language and Langue des signes québécoise, and intervenor services for participants who are deaf-blind. In northern Canada, Inuit sign language was also provided.
The online consultation set equally high standards of accessibility.
Consultation questions were available in Braille, large print, e-text, audio and sign language. Participants were also invited to share their ideas by email, phone or TTY or by sending audio or video recordings.
I also worked hand-in-hand with disability organizations and national Indigenous organizations across Canada to ensure that everyone who wanted to participate had the opportunity to do so.
Through the consultations, Canadians from across our country shared their personal stories—their challenges, successes, hopes and aspirations. I heard from youth who wanted equal access to education, I heard from parents with dreams of their children being self-sufficient and I heard from young adults frustrated with their ability to access public services. Yet there was one common theme: They each faced a barrier that limited their ability to be fully included.
I recognize that new federal legislation will not address every barrier that Canadians with disabilities face. In fact, many issues raised were beyond the reach of federal jurisdiction. I do, however, share the same hope and optimism of the thousands of those who participated on how the Government of Canada can be a leader with this new legislation and how this new legislation can bring about real change for Canadians with disabilities.
Moving forward, we’re going to take what we learned through this historic consultation process to develop new federal accessibility legislation that will provide all Canadians a better chance to succeed in their local communities and workplaces. We will also share what we learned with all levels of government and encourage them to join us in our journey to make a more accessible Canada.
This consultation process was a very important step forward towards inclusion, but it is only the beginning of a journey to reach our goal of a truly inclusive Canada. Thank you to all who participated.
Together, we are making history.
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
Philips offers a line of accessible TV and Video Players for blind and low vision users.
The entire line of 2017 Philips brand televisions and video players now offers Enhanced Accessibility to allow blind and visually impaired users to control the devices’ functions. Adding Enhanced Accessibility to products entails the addition of voice guide descriptive menus, easy to read user interface, guide dots on remote controls, easy access to closed captioning/subtitles and secondary audio, easy access to support, and an easy way to identify these products with the help of an Enhanced Accessibility logo.
Remote controls on the affected Philips products feature guide dots so that users can easily control key functions, such as power on/off, volume adjustment and mute, channel selection, playback functions, input selection, and other important functions.
Philips groups these new capabilities under its Enhanced Accessibility feature set, which also includes an easy-to-read and navigate user interface, large format support information, and closed captioning, a long-mandated requirement for assisting the hearing impaired.
The user interface voice guide and other features are new requirements established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as part of the Twenty-First
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The new rules mandate that certain built-in functions in TVs, Blu-ray players, and DVD players, among other consumer electronics products, be usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The deadline for meeting the new requirements was December 20, 2016.
The new rules mandate that any key functions available only via an on-screen menu must offer user interface voice guides, with the menu options spoken and user selections audibly confirmed.
“The FCC regulations on Enhanced Accessibility allow us to design our products so they can be enjoyed by more consumers,” said Karl Bearnarth, executive
vice president, sales and marketing, PF USA, Inc., the exclusive North American licensee for Philips consumer televisions and home video products.
“We took this initiative very seriously and were determined to ensure that our entire line of TVs and video players, including basic DVD players, met the requirements and that they were as intuitive as possible to use for those who are visually impaired.”
Greetings from the President++:
I would like to wish everyone a happy summer as we spend time relaxing with family and friends and enjoying the wonderful weather. This newsletter contains a lot of exciting news and activities that many chapters are involved with. Thank you to all the volunteers who help us all year who sometimes may get forgotten but who do a tremendous amount of work to help us all reach our goals and improve our lives.
Keep safe, enjoy summer and be alert especially right now in BC during this time of extreme danger due to fire.
A Note from the National Office++:
On March 4th, there was a horrible flood in our offices. A water main leak gushed through our floors, buckling the concrete floors and bending the walls. Over 3 feet of water filled our office space. We cleaned and moved as fast as we could into temporary space on the third floor of our building. All the staff has continued to work very hard, even on folding tables and chairs. Since then workers have been repairing everything, the floor and most of the walls are now done. The water main has been fixed and the elevator is almost ready to go. We have been working hard to replace our furniture, and have received several wonderful in-kind donations, as well as keeping everything running as smoothly as possible. We are now reaching the point that we can move back into our offices, and expect to be there in the beginning of September. Everyone is looking forward to getting back into our routines.