National Newsletter June 2016

newsletter

CCB National Newsletter

June 2016

Announcements

++CCB Atlantic Sports Weekend: The 39th Annual Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend was held in the Halifax area during the weekend of May 20-22, 2016.

 

The Friday night Idol Show had some fabulous performers. The Saturday track and field events all went very well. We had beautiful weather for all these outdoor activities. Although we had some rain on Sunday, all the events planned for Sunday were indoors.

 

There were approximately 55 participants along with family, friends and volunteers from around the Atlantic Provinces. A huge thank you goes out to all those volunteers who helped make this event a success.

 

We are all looking forward to attending the 40th Annual Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend next year in Bathurst, New Brunswick.

 

See you there!

Brenda Green,

Sports & Recreation Chapter

 

++Congratulations!:  Shane Wheeler, Chairperson of the CCB Lewisporte & Area chapter, would like to pass my congratulations along to the organizers of the CCB Atlantic Sports Weekend in Dartmouth. It was very well organized!

 

There were 11 participants from NL, and congratulations to all of the participants in the Atlantic games. Congratulations to all winners and congratulations to all people that participated. Congratulations to third-place winner of ring toss and table pulling ribbons from the CCB Lewisporte & Area CCB Chapter, Lisa Cakes.

 

++CCB Update: A quick note to update our readers on the positive progress CCB has made recently. With a boost in membership over the last year, we are now up to 80 chapters!

 

With our Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC) pilot going strong in the Ottawa region, we are out visiting schools and seniors’ residences and protecting people’s sight.

 

We are very excited to hire some summer students this year, not only to benefit from some new ideas, but to give blind and vision impaired youth some work experience.

 

These are just a few of the positive impacts CCB is making in our community as we continue to grow and support those living with vision loss. Stay tuned for more to come!

 

++GTT Nanaimo Meeting Invitation:

Aroga Technologies Demo, NuEyes Visual Prosthetic Device, June 2, 2016

You’re Invited

 

Where:  The 710 Club, 285 Prideaux Street, Nanaimo BC;

When:  Thursday, June 2, 2016

Time:  1:00 until 3:00 PM

 

Agenda:

  1. Steve Barcley, COO of Aroga Technologies will present all that is new in blindness and low vision assistive technology.  He will focus on the latest device to make its way into Canada, the NuEyes Visual Prosthetic Device, then he’ll move into demonstration and discussion of other recent developments to benefit GTT members.  
  2. *Important discussion lead by Donna Hudon: GTT wants to open the topic of adding peer mentoring into our meetings that could cover issues like skills of independence at home, at work or while being active participants in recreational pursuits.
  3. General discussion on the devices you are having trouble with and the devices you’ve just discovered that you want to share with others.

Bring your gadgets, questions and solutions to share with the group.

 

To RSVP, please call Albert Ruel at 1-877-304-0968 Ext. 550 email at GTTWest@CCBNational.net or Donna Hudon at 250-618-0010 email at IamDonnaHudon@Gmail.com

 

++Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers: Teams of blind golfers, and their coaches, from across Canada and the United States will come together from August 12 to 14 to compete at the 2016 Ontario Open Blind Golf Championships at Chippewa Creek Golf and Country Club. This event, recognised by the Golf Association of Ontario, is hosted by Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers (OVIG).

 

OVIG successfully hosted the 2008 Canadian Open Blind Golf Championships in Cambridge Ontario.  It is seeking approval to host the 2017 Canadian Open Championships, also in Hamilton. For now, however, it is focusing its efforts on a great season of golf for its members and a fantastic championship event in August.

 

If you would like information about competing in this Ontario Open Championships event, please contact:

Lois Babcock, OVIG, Events Coordinator

Tel: 905-731-1114

E-mail: OntarioBlindGolf@rogers.com

 

If you would like to support the 2016 Ontario Open Blind Golf Championships as a sponsor, or volunteer, please contact:

David Burnett, OVIG, Fund Raising Team Chair

Tel: 1-905-415-2012

E-mail: DBurnett@EndToEnd.com

 

For more information about blind golf in general, and OVIG in particular, please visit OVIG’s website: www.OntarioBlindGolf.ca

 

++BLIND GOLF INSTRUCTION: Develop or renew a love for golf despite your visual impairment. The Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers will be playing at the Fanshawe Golf Club on Saturday, June 11.  They will host a concurrent golf clinic for people who are blind or visually impaired that may be interested in learning, or resuming, the game of golf.

 

Cost: $25 (free for first-time participants)

Location: Fanshawe Parkside 9

Corner of Clarke Rd and Fanshawe Rd in London

When? June 11, 2016 at 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Maximum:  8 participants

Optional 9 holes after the lesson

 

TO REGISTER:

Call (905) 731-1114 or email OntarioBlindGolf@rogers.com www.OntarioBlindGolf.ca

 

++BLIND GOLF INSTRUCTION

The Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers will be playing at the Cambridge Golf Club on Sunday, July 10.  They will host a concurrent golf clinic for people who are blind or visually impaired that may be interested in learning, or resuming, the game of golf.

 

Cost: $20 (free for first-time participants)

Location: Cambridge Golf Club, 1346 Clyde Road, Cambridge

Date and Time: July 10 at 11:30

Optional 9 holes after the lesson

 

TO REGISTER:

Call (905) 731-1114 or email ontarioblindgolf@rogers.com

 

++More Blind Golf!: Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers (OVIG) has golf events planned for June 5, 11 and 26, as well as events for July, August and September.  For details, please check OVIG’s event schedule at: www.OntarioBlindGolf.ca

 

++Ottawa Dragon Boating

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A NEW ACTIVITY THIS SUMMER?

 

The Ottawa Dragon Masters is a dragon boat team that is making their dragon boat available, free of charge, to people with low vision for a paddling activity on the Rideau River.  The paddling sessions are offered in a non-competitive atmosphere and are held every Thursday evening at the Rideau Canoe Club (RCC), from 6 to 7 pm.  The RCC is located at 804 Hog’s Back Road, Ottawa, K2C 0B1.  The club is also accessible by OC Transpo bus route #111 that will drop you off near the corner of Prince of Wales and Meadowlands.  From the bus stop, it is a 5-minute walk on Meadowlands towards the Hog’s Back Bridge to get to the RCC.

 

Guide dogs can be tied to the rail on the covered deck facing the water at the clubhouse and there is an overhang so dogs will be protected from the rain.  The clubhouse also has change rooms with washrooms.  Please note that there is limited parking onsite – that is, only two handicap spaces and another 15 spaces.  Since the club is very busy in the evening, parking can be an issue.  There is additional parking at Hog’s Back after crossing the bridge heading East or at the northwest corner of Meadowlands and Prince of Wales to the left (West) of the government building.

 

Since this paddling activity involves upper body movements such as twisting and pulling, as well as some cardiovascular stamina, it is recommended that you consult with your family doctor before participating in this activity. 

 

For more information on location, directions, paddling, parking, etc., please contact Mr. Jeff Boucher by email at bouch1957@gmail.com or by phone at 613-884-3637.

 

++Invitation to Participate in Study:

The School of Kinesiology and Health Science at York University is conducting a study to understand the role of parents in supporting physical activity among children and youth with disabilities.

 

This study involves completing online questionnaires and participants will receive a $10 gift card as a token of appreciation.

 

Eligible participants must have a child (age 5-21 years) with a disability (e.g. physical, sensory, psychological, development disability)

 

Parents who wish to participate in this study, please visit:

http://fluidsurveys.com/s/TPB_baseline/

 

++Invitation to Participate in Study: The Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education at the University of Toronto is conducting a study to understand current trends in physical activity among

Canadian youth with physical disabilities.

 

Participants will be asked to: (1) complete two telephone interviews; recalling what activities they did the day before, (2) answer a few questions about parental support and motivation to be physically active, and (3) wear an accelerometer for one week.

 

Participants can receive up to $35 in gift cards as a token of appreciation, and can count hours spent participating toward volunteer/community service hours.

 

Eligible participants must be 14 – 21 years old, with a mobility impairment.

 

To participate in this study, please visit:

http://fluidsurveys.com/s/NPAM/

 

++CNIB CAREER OPPORTUNITY – Executive Director – Ontario East:

CNIB are currently recruiting for a new position of Executive Director, Ontario East. This full time position located in Eastern Ontario provides an exciting opportunity to assist with the development of the organization’s charitable arm and ensure people who are blind or partially sighted have timely access to high quality and sustainable services and programs.  Reporting to the Regional Vice President (RVP), Ontario Division, the Executive Director – Ontario East is a member of the Divisional Senior Management Team and assists the RVP, Ontario Division with the leadership of the charity.  The Executive Director serves as a spokesperson and representative for the charitable entity of the organization, its staff, volunteers, programs expansion and execution of its mission.

 

Closing date for applications is June 17, 2016.  For more information on this position, please visit:   http://www.cnib.ca/en/about/Careers/Pages/default.aspx

 

Accessible Technology

++First ever lightweight, wireless, head worn, voice activated device for the visually impaired: Wearable technology is the future, and NuEyes brings the future to you in a lightweight, wearable solution for people with macular degeneration and other vision related diseases. NuEyes finally makes it possible for those with visual impairments to connect with loved ones and others without always having to use a big clunky machine.

 

This removable visual prosthetic helps the visually impaired see again by allowing for 1x – 12x magnification through an HD camera mounted in the center of a custom headset. The image is then delivered to a pair of frame mounted displays, resulting in a seamless experience for the user — wherever and whatever they look at is magnified.

 

The unit itself is not much bigger than a regular set of eyeglasses and supports voice control — the user has the option of controlling the magnification through a series of simple voice commands as well as through a Bluetooth wireless controller or even through physical buttons on the glasses themselves. NuEyes has been designed to be simple to use and effortless to control.

 

Whether you have macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, or other visual conditions NuEyes can help!

 

Read and Write using NuEyes

Watch TV and Movies

See the faces of loved ones

Continue to enjoy hobbies such as reading music and playing cards Regain Visual independence Variable Magnification from 1 x to 12x Various contrast and color changes Voice activated Wireless Lightweight design Easy to use

 

Call today at 1-800-561-6222

To learn more about this state of the art removable visual prosthetic and see how it can change you or a loved one’s life visit www.aroga.com and order yours today.

 

++Low-cost refreshable Braille display set to revolutionize the market: A device that could become ‘the world’s most affordable refreshable Braille display’ – costing around 80-90% less than current systems – has been unveiled, and should be available for purchase later this year.

 

The Orbit Reader 20 was announced at the Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference – known as CSUN – in the United States, by the Chair of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Kevin Carey, in his role as president of the Transforming Braille Group (TBG).

 

TBG was conceived to realise and produce an affordable refreshable Braille display, partly as a way to give people in developing countries greater access to refreshable Braille. Current devices are prohibitively expensive, often running into thousands of US Dollars or British Pounds. TBG set about raising 1.25 million US Dollars for the Orbit Reader 20 to be produced by assistive technology company Orbit Research.

 

Refreshable Braille displays allow blind or visually impaired users to read text from a computer screen via a system of small rods in Braille cells.These rods are electronically raised and lowered, creating readable Braille that constantly changes, or ‘refreshes’, as the user scrolls or moves across the screen.

 

The Orbit Reader 20 features 20 Braille cells and can be connected to a computer or mobile phone via USB or Bluetooth. There is also an SD card slot to enable loading and reading of books and other files.

 

Speaking to e-Access Bulletin, Carey explained that the aim is for the Orbit Reader 20 to be sold for $320 per unit, but this is dependant on Orbit Research receiving enough pre-orders for the device: “Orbit needs an order of 200,000 to make the optimum price of $320 a unit, so what they’re doing is collecting wholesale orders. If it’s below 200,000, the price goes up,”

Carey said.

 

On its website, Orbit Research claims that the Orbit Reader 20 will be the “world’s most affordable refreshable Braille display”.

 

User-testing of the Orbit Reader took place in January on 27 prototype machines, in North America and Europe, by testers both with and without experience of refreshable Braille systems. Carey will be supervising further testing in India and Kenya. Speaking about the results of this testing in his CSUN speech, Carey said that the refreshable Braille on the Orbit Reader was “the best that experienced users have ever seen”.

 

The refresh rate on the device was found to be suitable for “poor-to-average” Braille-users, but not effective enough for “experienced users”. However, as Carey then pointed out: “Those who have reported dissatisfaction with the refresh rate are very experienced users of high-end refreshable Braille note-takers or Braille bars attached to generic devices- But it is important to note that these are precisely the Braille readers for whom the Orbit Reader was not designed.”

 

Carey told e-Access Bulletin that the device could be revolutionary for visually impaired Braille-users due to its low cost. “Whichever way you look at it, the [price] is just way below anything anybody else is offering,” he said. Carey also pointed out that the timing of when the Orbit Reader will be available, “is simply to do with how fast the orders come in [to Orbit Research].”

 

Find out more about the Orbit Reader 20 at the link below:

Orbit Research website:

http://eab.li/s

 

++Accessible Laundry Detergent!

Dizolve laundry detergent is made in Canada, environmentally friendly and happens to be very convenient for blind and vision impaired folks!

 

Have you ever had issues with measuring out your laundry detergent? Well now you can say goodbye to measuring cups, bulky bottles and messy spills. Introducing Dizolve Laundry detergent! 1 strip equals 1 load!

 

For more information on Dizolve laundry detergent strips, please visit:

http://mydizolve.com/faq/

 

++Deque University Scholarships for People with Disabilities: If you have a disability, you qualify for a scholarship to access to Deque’s in-depth web accessibility curriculum for a full year (normally $315) at no cost.

 

Why is Deque offering this scholarship? Here are a few of our reasons:

  • Job Opportunities:
  • The demand for accessibility professionals is growing. People with disabilities have a lot to offer in this field. You live the experience, so in many ways you’re already experts! You still have to learn the technical skills though, and that’s where the Deque University classes can help.
  • We recognize that employment for people with disabilities is often difficult, with discrimination during the hiring process and barriers to employment all along the way, including barriers to acquiring the skills necessary for employment.

 

  • Reduce Financial Barriers: Having a disability can often be expensive, both in terms of actual expenses and the cost of lost opportunities due to discrimination.

 

  • Digital Equality: Deque’s mission is to achieve digital equality for people with disabilities. This is an important step in that direction.

 

The Courses

If you have a disability, you’ll have access to the following courses:

  • Web Accessibility Fundamentals
  • HTML & CSS Accessibility
  • ARIA & JavaScript Accessibility
  • Mobile Web Accessibility
  • IAAP CPACC Certification Preparation Course • Web Accessibility Testing Techniques • Testing with Screen Readers • MS Word Accessibility • MS PowerPoint Accessibility • PDF Accessibility • InDesign Accessibility • EPUB Accessibility

 

What are the Terms and Conditions?

  • You must have a disability to qualify for this offer.
  • You will have access for one full year.
  • You cannot share your account with anyone else.

 

For more information, please visit:

https://dequeuniversity.com/

 

In the News

++Eye Health Tips: Getting regular exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy as you age, and having a drink here or there appears to be good for your heart.

But bet you didn’t see this coming: Research suggests both may help preserve your eyesight as you get older.

 

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin poured over two decades of health data from nearly 5,000 people to see how lifestyle choices might affect aging vision. Two things seemed to make a difference: staying active and moderate alcohol use.

 

The study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, found that people who got exercise at least three times per week were 58% less likely to develop visual impairment — that is, vision loss that can’t be corrected with glasses or contacts — compared to couch potatoes.

 

And when non-drinkers were compared to folks who enjoyed an occasional tipple (defined as less than one serving in an average week), the drinkers were 49% less likely to face eye trouble. Heavy drinkers, on the other hand, were more likely to have issues with eye health. (So were smokers.)

 

Most declines in vision tend to be age-related, and for the most part, outside of your control. But this study suggests that lifestyle choices can also play a role. How? Researchers aren’t sure. And, of course, studies like these can’t prove cause-and-effect; it could be that people who exercise and have an occasional drink are healthier in other ways.

 

In another study, smokers who gave up tobacco lowered their risk of developing cataracts, a build-up of protein on your lenses that can reduce vision. Quitting helps you avoid glaucoma, macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome, too.

 

If you have diabetes, make sure to get regular eye check-ups. Diabetic Retinopathy is the number one cause of vision loss for American adults, but if caught early it can be controlled.

 

++How One Blind Marathon Runner Is Using Technology to Run Solo: By collaborating with IBM, Simon Wheatcroft wants to give blind runners the tools to run independently.

 

Of the 27,487 runners who traversed the city of Boston this year for the marathon, 39 were visually impaired.

 

Running a marathon blind can be terrifying: Hordes of runners are bolting toward you, crowds scream from the sidelines, and you have no idea if you’re about to crash into someone ahead of you.  But for 31-year-old Simon Wheatcroft, a blind Englishman who completed the marathon on Monday, there is nothing more exhilarating.

 

“I want to take it all in,” he tells Fast Company. “I want to enjoy the sounds of the other runners and the people cheering.”

 

Marathon organizers pair blind runners with guides who run at the same pace, sometimes even connected by a rope. While Wheatcroft ran with two guides on Monday, eventually he would like to be able to run a marathon independently.

 

“The idea of running solo has always been in the back of my mind,” he says. “I’ve been dreaming about it for four years. It took me some time to become mentally comfortable with the concept.

 

He believes that technology is the key to making this happen. He points out that there are already many different tools on the market-like sophisticated GPS navigation and motion sensors-that could help visually impaired runners. It’s just a matter of putting them together into a customized tool.

 

Over the last month, Wheatcroft has been collaborating with IBM to develop an iPhone app allowing him to navigate a marathon course without help. He tested it out for the first time at Monday’s marathon. Little signals alerted him whenever he veered too far to the right or left, so he didn’t worry about going off course.

 

“I could enjoy the race. I could listen to the crowd,” Wheatcroft says. “The app only alerted me if I went wrong. The rest of the time, it was completely silent.”

 

At the age of 13, Wheatcroft discovered he had a degenerative eye disease and by 17, he had lost his vision completely.

 

Before he tried running, he tried climbing. He had the romantic notion of asking his girlfriend to marry him from the top of a mountain in California. But as he began the journey, he realized the ascent would be far more difficult than he had anticipated.  There were too many dangerous cliffs and crevices to circumvent; too many ways to get hurt. In the end, he was forced to propose halfway up the mountain, and although she said yes, he still felt defeated.

 

“It was just too hard,” Wheatcroft says. “But then I had to live with the fact that I had to quit climbing. It plagued me.”

 

When the couple returned to England, Wheatcroft decided he would never again abandon a challenge because of his blindness.  Running seemed insurmountably difficult to him at the time. But while many blind people avoid running altogether because it is just too complicated, Wheatcroft was determined not only to become a runner, but to run on his own, without having to depend on a guide.

 

“When I started, I ran into lampposts and traffic lights and trees,” he recalls. When you’re charging forward at a high velocity, anything you crash into can cause pain. Cars may not see you in time to stop. Dog walkers and parents with strollers are unable to get out of the way quickly enough.  Early on, he remembers feeling an occasional rush of horror that something might happen to him.

 

“The biggest challenge is mental: You can’t be fearful,” Wheatcroft says.  “You have to just absolutely convince yourself that this is possible.”

 

Wheatcroft initially kept to safe spaces, like the distance between goal posts on a football pitch, but he eventually got bored of this.

When he ran on the street, he discovered that people don’t generally get out of the way, expecting runners to dodge them.  So contrary to widely accepted notions of safe running, he decided to run on the side of the freeway, where there is a wide berth away from the cars and no human traffic.

 

Over the last six years, Wheatcroft has evolved into a serious long-distance runner. In 2014, he ran from Boston to New York, then completed the New York Marathon, covering a total of 240 miles in nine days. On May 1, he will begin a seven-day run in the Namibian desert for a 160-mile ultra-marathon.

 

Technology Solutions

There are currently no apps specifically designed for the blind running community. When Wheatcroft began running in 2010, he relied on apps designed for sighted runners. He started using Runkeeper several years ago, which allows him to map out a route, track his speed, and receive audio signals that inform him when he needs to turn left or right. When Google Glass came out, he immediately saw its potential for blind runners. But none of these technologies are perfectly suited to his needs.

 

Wheatcroft is determined to create his own app. While training for the Boston Marathon, Wheatcroft began searching for a technology partner to help him on his quest. He decided to reach out to IBM, knowing that the Runkeeper app runs on the IBM Cloud. IBM invited him to London to visit the Bluemix Garage, its developer space, where he pitched the engineers there an idea for an app for visually impaired runners. IBM quickly came on board, agreeing to create an app for him pro bono.

 

As Wheatcroft describes his ideal app, he points out that he doesn’t want the navigation to be too noisy. The GPS systems he’s used so far have had elaborate directions communicated in complete sentences; he’d prefer a series of little sounds.

 

“We thought subtle beeps were far more immediate than hearing ‘left’ and ‘right’,” he says. “I don’t want to be taken out of the social experience of the race.”

 

Wheatcroft also says that the GPS systems built into most consumer devices are only accurate to 10 or 20 meters. “When you’re running on an edge of a cliff, a difference of 10 meters is an issue,” he points out. IBM has outfitted this new app with a more advanced external GPS receiver that gives directions that are accurate to five meters.

 

Wheatcroft piloted a version of the app at the Boston Marathon on Monday. It was a good testing ground because the course is fairly simple with only two turns. The app allowed him to focus on the race and gave him confidence that he was on the right path. To gather even more feedback about the app, he will bring it with him to Namibia at the end of the month for a seven-day run in the desert, which will be rather more treacherous and require the device to have an extended battery life.

 

“This is very much an iterative process,” Wheatcroft explains, describing how he’s tweaked the various audio feedback mechanisms to make them clearer. “We wanted to create a minimum viable product in a week and then continue making changes as I take it on the road with me. We test one thing at a time.”

 

While the app Wheatcroft has built with IBM is an improvement on the generic running apps on the market, he believes there is a lot more it should be able to do. He wants the app to be able to explain what objects are directly in front of him and provide dynamic directions that respond to the immediate environment.  This would require the app to be able to scan his surroundings and then have an artificial intelligence system, such as Watson, that would determine the best course. He’d also like to create a belt that will vibrate so that he won’t need to depend on the beeps from the phone. He’s currently working with developers at IBM to find ways of achieving these goals.

 

He’s also very keen on Google’s Project Tango, a technology that will give mobile devices spatial vision using sensors, motion tracking, depth perception, and image processing. Google is currently selling developer kits so that it can be tailored to a range of purposes, like helping customers navigate through a store. But Wheatcroft believes that it could be game-changing for blind runners.

 

Ultimately, he’s hoping to create an app that will be widely and inexpensively available to the entire blind community. While IBM holds the intellectual property surrounding this technology, a company spokesperson says it has no plans to monetize the app because it is such a specialized use case.

 

“It’s more of an exercise in exploring the limits of human computer interaction,” the spokesperson explains.

 

Meanwhile, Wheatcroft is very excited about the possibility of putting out an app that will work on any iPhone.

 

“I don’t particularly like using any device that is specifically made for the visually impaired because it’s usually super expensive and super clunky,” he says. While Wheatcroft is testing the technology on his runs, a user doesn’t have to be a runner to see a benefit from this app.

 

“We’re creating a core technology that allows you to navigate using beeps and haptic, which can then be applied so broadly to lots of situations,” Wheatcroft says. That means whether you’re running marathons in Namibia or just finding your way around a store, Wheatcroft’s app could vastly improve life for blind people everywhere.

By Elizabeth Segran