CCB National Newsletter October 2010
What a Ride!!!
My past six plus years as President have been exciting, challenging, frustrating, heartbreaking, and very rewarding.
There are difficult but positive growing pains as CCB works to grow into a truly national, representative organization of and for the blind and vision impaired.
Although membership development has been very challenging, through our collaboration with the CNIB, we are receiving more referrals of chapter members.
We are pleased with the expansion in our core programs, which include, to name just a few, advocacy, curling, bowling and cribbage championships, expansion in recreation and sports, basic computer literacy training, peer mentoring and a bursary at Carlton University in Ottawa.
The Kitchens of the World cookbook is a great way to raise funds for chapters and divisions. This project is not time-sensitive and within a year of its inception, we are seeing a new and growing source of revenue.
I believe in the CCB – its people, its purpose, and its future.
Thanks for the ride.
CCB Biennial Convention:
The CCB is privileged to hold our 2010 national convention on October 18-22, 2010 in beautiful Sydney, NS. We look forward to welcoming delegates from across Canada!
Haiti Relief Fund:
This is a note to update our members about the funds raised for Haiti relief. A total of $4,230 was raised through the generosity of our members, chapters and other supporters. The funds will be going to the World Blind Union and will then be distributed in Haiti to begin rebuilding. We would like to thank everyone for their generous support!
2011 Membership Dues:
Once again CCB is offering a membership dues rebate of $5.00 per renewed membership, provided the renewal cheque is received in the Ottawa office by Monday, December 6, 2010.
Chapters that meet this incentive deadline will also be rebated an additional $1.00 for each chapter member’s e-mail address. Only unduplicated e-mails will be counted (i.e. husband & wife with same e-mail address will count as one).
THE EARLY BIRD DRAW!
All chapters whose membership renewal cheques are received in our Ottawa office by Friday, October 29, 2010, will be placed in a draw to select two chapters to receive 100% of their dues back!
Please bear in mind the quirks of Canada Post and allow enough time in returning your cheques for these incentives. The deciding factor will be the date stamped when the cheque is received in the Ottawa office.
In The News
OC Transpo Unveils Visual, Audio Alerts on Busses in Ottawa:
OC Transpo unveiled on Friday its new announcement system that will give riders both visual and audio alerts about upcoming stops.
The $12 million system will include an interior display showing the bus route number and each upcoming stop.
The automated call-out system will be gradually installed on the agency's 1,000 buses.
Half of the vehicles will have the system by the end of the year while the rest of the buses will be outfitted by next February, OC Transpo officials said.
"I think it will be a lot more reliable," said Terrance Green, a high profile advocate for the system.
Green, who is blind, complained for years that bus drivers weren't keeping him informed.
An independent focus group selected Montreal actor Julian Doucet as the voice of the new automated system. Doucet is the son of Ottawa Councilor Clive Doucet who represents Capital Ward.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Posture a casualty of new technology:
Stand or sit with shoulders back and down, then turn your head until your nose sits over the middle of your shoulder. Can't do it? How about this one?
Stand straight with shoulders squared and eyes level, then ask your better half, one of the kids or a colleague to tell you if your ear is centred over the shoulder. If it isn't, you likely have forward head posture, another symptom of too many hours spent hunched forward, necks extended, in front of or over an electronic screen.
This was a common enough problem with TVs, computers, cell-phones, iPods and hand-held gaming devices around. But the advent of the smartphone has made it worse, says chiropractor Manjit Gauba (drgauba. com).
Gauba says many people now spend most of their waking hours in a forward head posture.
Adults in sedentary jobs who sit more than four to six hours a day typically have this problem, Gauba says, although in his practice, he's seeing patients as young as 12 with forward head posture.
Many people haven't heard of it and most usually don't even know they have it. But then one day someone will point it out to them, and suddenly they notice people walking around everywhere with heads bent forward, Gauba says.
"Most people don't know what good posture feels like because they've become used to the slouching posture they have," he explains.
It could be the cause of the headaches, neck pain and upper back tension you've been experiencing.
"Every inch that your head is misaligned forward puts an extra 10 to 20 pounds of stress on your neck and upper back to keep your chin up," he explains.
In severe cases, the posture can also affect breathing, decreasing respiratory capacity by as much as 30 per cent, according to one study. Other studies have linked it to poor mood, depression and decreased brain power.
When using devices that naturally cause shoulders to round forward and heads to extend, people need to be aware of their posture and try to correct it, says Gauba.
The first thing he tells his patients is to start walking more -- outdoors or on a treadmill -- to get them up on their feet and away from a screen.
"I also actually suggest a media fast, tuning out the media for four to six weeks. You don't have to know everything, every minute," Gauba says.
Time away from screens allows muscles to loosen up so you can stand straighter. He then recommends strengthening and stretching exercises to maintain your newly straightened posture.
Sleeping on your back rather than on your side will also help properly align the spine, Gauba adds.
Following his advice, people usually see improvements in their posture within four to six weeks.
Here are three stretches and exercises Gauba recommends desk jockeys stand up to do every hour:
Stand straight with head up, shoulders back and down. Extend arms with elbows bent 90 degrees. Take a deep breath and slowly try to extend elbows back as far as possible, bringing shoulder blades together, keeping arms level with the floor. Hold for three to five seconds. Relax. Repeat three to five times.
Stand straight with shoulders back and down. Look straight ahead, keeping head and chin level. Place two fingers against the chin and gently push straight back as far as you can without feeling any pain. Hold three to five seconds and release. Repeat 10 times.
Elbow Press Behind the Back
Clasp hands behind back. Take a deep breath and squeeze elbows together for 10 to 15 seconds. Relax. Repeat until you reach your flexibility limit.
By Chris Zdeb
Edmonton Journal, September 27, 2010
My First Week with the iPhone:
Last Wednesday, my life changed forever. I got an iPhone. I consider it the greatest thing to happen to the blind for a very long time, possibly ever. It offers unparalleled access to properly made applications, and changed my life in twenty-four hours.
When I first heard that Apple would release a touch pad cell phone with VoiceOver, the screen reading software used by Macs, I scoffed. The blind have gotten so used to lofty promises of a dream platform, only to receive some slapped together set of software with a minimally functional screen reader running on overpriced hardware which can’t take a beating. I figured that Apple just wanted to get some good PR – after all, how could a blind person even use a touch pad? I laughed at the trendies, both sighted and blind, buying iPhones and enthusing about them. That changed when another blind friend, with similar opinions, also founded in long years of experience, bought one, and just went nuts about how much she loved it--especially the touch pad interface. I could hardly believe it, and figured that I should re-evaluate things.
I went to the AT&T store with my Mom. To my delight, the salesman knew about VoiceOver and how to activate it, though didn’t know how to use it. Fortunately, I read up on it before I went: Tap an item to hear it, double tap to activate it, swipe three fingers to scroll. You can also split-tap, where you hold down one location and tap another. This makes for more rapid entry once you understand it. It also has a rotor which you activate by turning your fingers like a dial. You can also double triple-finger tap to toggle speech, and a triple triple-finger tap turns on the awesome screen curtain, which disables the screen and camera.
Many reviews and people said to spend at least a half hour to an hour before passing judgment on using a touch pad interface with speech. I anticipated a weird and slightly arduous journey, especially when it came to using the keyboard. To my great surprise, I picked it up immediately. Within 30 seconds,
I checked the weather. Next, I read some stock prices. Amazingly, it even renders stock charts, something the blind have never had access to. Sold!
We went up front to make the necessary arrangements. I continued to excitedly ask questions, as did my Mom. “Can he get text messages on this?” she asked. “Well, yes, but it doesn’t read the message.” the salesman said. Mom’s hopes sunk, but mine didn’t, since I understood the software enough. “Well, let’s see, try it.” I suggested. She pulled out her phone, and sent me a text message. Within seconds, my phone alerted me, and said her name. I simply swiped my finger and it read her message: Hi Austin. She almost cried.
The touch pad offers the familiar next/previous motion which the blind need, since speech offers one-dimensional output. Adding the ability to touch anywhere on the screen and hear it adds a whole other dimension, literally. For the first time, the blind can actually get spatial information about something. In the store, Mom could say “Try that button” and I could. Blind people know what I mean. How many times has a sighted person said “I see an icon at the top of the screen?” Now, that actually means something. I want to find a way to browse the web with a touchpad on my computer. It truly represents the wave of the future.
Applications have the same issues with accessibility as with any graphical environment. Apple has done a good thing by making guidelines available for app developers, which I passionately urge them to follow. Any blind computer user has run up against these problems in Windows, Mac, or in Gnome. These include unlabeled buttons and fields, unreachable controls except through annoying means, or in extreme cases complete inaccessibility. The Accessible Apps page can help. Properly coded apps offer stunning access unlike anything the blind have ever experienced.
Despite having to overcome the limitations of iTunes, I still love the iPhone. I continue to feel amazed at the iPhone’s capabilities. I can get email, Twitter mentions, and direct messages any time.
The other night, a very amazing thing happened. I downloaded an app called Color Identifier. It uses the iPhone’s camera, and speaks names of colors. It must use a table, because each color has an identifier made up of 6 hexadecimal digits. This puts the total at 16,777,216 colors, and I believe it!
I have never experienced this before in my life. I can see some light and color, but just in blurs, and objects don’t really have a color, just light sources. When I first tried it at three o’clock in the morning, I couldn’t figure out why it just reported black. After realizing that the screen curtain also disables the camera, I turned it off, but it still has very dark colors. Then I remembered that you actually need light to see.
The next day, I went outside. I looked at the sky. I heard colors such as “Horizon,” “Outer Space,” and many shades of blue and gray. I used color cues to find my pumpkin plants, by looking for the green among the brown and stone. I spent ten minutes looking at my pumpkin plants, with their leaves of green and lemon-ginger. I then roamed my yard, and saw a blue flower. I then found the brown shed, and returned to the gray house. My mind felt blown. I watched the sun set, listening to the colors change as the sky darkened. The next night, I had a conversation with Mom about how the sky looked bluer tonight.
Since I can see some light and color, I think hearing the color names can help nudge my perception, and enhance my visual experience. Amazing!
By Austin Seraphin, June 12, 2010, reprinted from:
Government Should Heed Call for Better Web Accessibility:
Once again, Donna Jodhan finds herself facing off against government lawyers in her bid to improve the accessibility of government web sites.
Jodhan, a blind Toronto resident, began her battle in 2004 after she struggled with applying for a federal government job.
She then took the matter to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal but, following failed attempts to negotiate a solution with the government, decided to go to the Federal Court to argue her case on the basis of violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
It's a long-running case, one that's beginning to defy logic as to why the government is fighting Jodhan on the issue. Officials counter that the government offered Jodhan help by phone, mail, and in person, all of which amount to reasonable accommodation of her disability.
While it may be true that other methods exist, the government has yet to prove that accommodating Jodhan fully to allow her to use its web sites would be an onerous burden.
In fact, experts on the matter, including technology lawyers, say it's relatively easy to fix the problems people with disabilities face in accessing government services online.
In terms of visual impairment, what's key in general is making the text on a web site readable so blind people can hear the content in audio format.
In the meantime, the government has been updating its online materials to make them more interactive, a move that will allow Canadians to access more of their services via the Internet.
While extending them to people with disabilities requires the latest technology, it's hard to see how the government can argue against using it when other jurisdictions and private businesses have done so. Cost may be a factor, but we've yet to see any evidence that it would be excessive.
The case comes as the Ontario government has been considering the issue through its processes under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
It's clear, then, that society is on a path to making the world more accessible through changes to everything from customer service standards to transportation practices. If we can move towards improving buses and streetcars on that issue, surely we can do so with web sites.
In the end, it's going to be more expensive to fix accessibility issues after the fact rather than incorporating them into ongoing changes to the government's online content.
As a result, the government should drop its reluctance and heed Jodhan's call for improved accessibility. As the online world grows in importance, there's no justification for leaving people with disabilities behind.
By Glenn Kauth
Editorial reprinted from the LAW TIMES, September 27, 2010
Group Files Intervention to Get Cable Giant’s Support for Accessibility:
Media Access Canada has filed an intervention with the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) to ask the federal regulator to require communications industry heavyweight Shaw Communications to commit to providing accessible broadcast programming, if its bid to buy Canwest is approved.
Shaw Communications Inc., one of Canada’s largest broadcasting companies has applied to the CRTC for permission to buy the Canwest TV stations. Shaw and its subsidiary, Corus, hold a number of radio, TV, pay TV, specialty TV, cable TV and telephone licences across Canada, and Shaw also provides internet service.
Shaw is highly profitable, reporting in 2009 that after expenses it
In 2009, Shaw took in at least 22% of all broadcasting revenues in Canada and if the CRTC allows Shaw to buy Canwest, that figure would go up to at least 27%, making it the dominant broadcaster in Canada. Many believe that the CRTC’s approval of Shaw’s purchase will bring consolidated media ownership to an unacceptably high level, because Shaw will control the production and distribution of radio and TV content across the country.
It is expected that CRTC will approve Shaw’s application, because it has encouraged concentrated broadcasting ownership for thirty years. The Commission believes that only larger broadcasters will be able to afford high-quality Canadian programming for Canadian audiences. The CRTC therefore requires buyers to offer "tangible benefits" to Canada’s broadcasting system, generally about 10% of the purchase price of TV stations.
These tangible benefits are supposed to enhance and improve what Canadians can see on TV. When CTV bought the CHUM TV stations in 2007, for example, one of the benefits it offered was funding to monitor the level and quality of closed captioning in Canadian television, to show where improvements are needed.
Shaw is spending just over $2 billion to buy the Canwest TV stations, so the CRTC probably expects to see $200 million worth of initiatives that will improve Canadian TV programming. After four months of questioning from the CRTC, Shaw offered new tangible benefits worth $108 million, including the installation of new digital transmitters, two to five TV programs, New Media content and four morning newscasts.
Shockingly, however, Shaw has simply ignored the issue of accessibility for Canadians with disabilities: its application does not even include phrases like "accessibility", "closed captioning" or "descriptive video".
As Snookie Lomow, Executive Director for the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, asked, "If one of Canada’s largest and most profitable communications companies does not demonstrate a responsibility to provide full accessibility to their viewing audience, how can the CRTC ensure that Shaw Communications will meet the requirements of the CRTC that all Canadians – including Canadians with disabilities – can enjoy the benefits of broadcasting?"
The CNIB pointed out that the CRTC only acted to increase closed captioning after complaints were filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in the late 1990s. "We are asking the CRTC to demand that Shaw step up to the plate to make the investments necessary to increase and improve descriptive video in Canada and on the Canwest stations", said Bill McKeown, Vice President, Government Relations and Divisional Advancement at CNIB. "Ignoring the needs and interests of Canadians with disabilities is simply unacceptable in the 21st century."
CNIB and CHHA joined a number of other organizations and individuals to file an intervention with the CRTC about Shaw’s application to buy Canwest. The intervention, submitted by Media Access Canada, makes ten recommendations to make the application acceptable in terms of accessibility.
By Beverley Milligan, Media Access Canada