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Blind Canadians Blog Posts by mworkman

Revolutionary New Text Entry App for Blind IOS Users

Normally, Heather Rupert covers the technology beat, but there's a hot new iPhone app that I'm excited to tell you about.

Fleksy is a revolutionary text input application for IOS devices. From the website:

How does a blind person type on an iPhone? Soon, they will be typing as quickly and easily as everyone else. If not faster. Yes, it’s possible.
For the first time ever, blind and visually impaired people can quickly and easily type text on touch screen phones and tablets.

I bought this app yesterday, and after a very short time with it, I was typing around twice as fast as I could using the touch typing method.

The Eugenic Legacy for Parents with Disabilities

Melanie Moore, an AEBC member, was recently interviewed on CBC radio concerning parenting with a disability. You can click this link to listen to this excellent interview.

One of the main points I take away from the interview is that disabled parents are faced with the default assumption that they will be unfit parents. It is only after disabled parents prove that they are capable that they are permitted to be parents. Melanie was scrutinized in ways that most parents are not, and she was permitted to leave with her child only after proving herself capable; and all of this despite the fact that it was her third child.

W. Ross and the all too Familiar Narrative of Institutions

For those who may not be aware, a group of former students of the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind (formerly the Ontario School for the Blind) in Brantford, Ontario have organized and are attempting to bring a class action lawsuit against the province of Ontario.

As detailed in this article from the Toronto Star, as many as 1000 former students could be affected, and the group is seeking $200 million in damages for acts of physical and sexual abuse that are said to have taken place from 1951 to the present.

Blind Dragon Boat Team Coming to Edmonton

Are you interested in trying a new sport and challenging yourself? If so, join a dragon boat team specifically for blind and partially sighted individuals for the 2012 Dragon Boating Season.

Dragon boating is a team paddling sport with roots from the ancient southern Chinese folk ritual of contending villagers held over the past 2000 years. A dragon boat is a long canoe that seats 20 people.

I'm not so Blind as to Blindly turn a Blind Eye to those things I'm not too Blind to See

Time for a mild rant. Am I the only one who finds it annoying to constantly hear variations of the word blind used to convey meanings like ignorant, foolish, stupid, unthinking, and so on? It's an incredibly popular metaphor, and on a near daily basis, you can read and hear in the media some form of the following expressions:

Are Blind Drivers Going to take over the Roads?

A video of a blind man piloting one of Google's self-driving cars has swept across the Internet over the last couple of days. In case you missed it, the video is available with audio description here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?src_vid=cdgQpa1pUUE&annotation_id=annotation_979835&feature=iv&v=peDy2st2XpQ

An Excellent Description of Audio Description

In a recent post at the Blind Spot Blog, Hannah Thompson provides an excellent and thoughtful description of her experience watching a film with audio description for the first time.

Thompson identifies three visual aspects of film that are conveyed through audio description and that, when conveyed, greatly enrich the experience of watching a film. I'll quote liberally below, but I urge you to read the entire post for yourself.

Conservatives Block Amendments Aimed at Increasing Access for Canadians with Perceptual Disabilities

On March 13, the legislative committee considering Bill C11 finished its clause-by-clause review of the bill. Some forty or so amendments were proposed altogether, the majority of which came from the opposition parties. Approximately half a dozen of the amendments were directly related to the ability of people with perceptual disabilities to access copyrighted works. All but one of these amendments—the one put forward by the Conservatives—were defeated by the Conservative members of the committee.

Learn to Become and Entrepreneur through the Hadley School for the Blind

In a recent post by Anthony, he talked about the strategy of going into business for oneself as a potential response to an unsuccessful stretch of looking for employment.

I've known this approach to work for some in the past, and, since reading his post, I've come across a resource that may prove very helpful to anyone considering the path of self-employment.

The Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship (FCE) is part of the Hadley School for the Blind's Adult Continuing Education Program.

According to the website:

Please Sign the Petition on Bill C11

The Federal Liberals have started an online petition regarding Bill C11. The recommendation promoted by the petition matches one of the recommendations the AEBC made in its presentation to the committee considering Bill C11 on February 27.

Here is the link to the petition, which I found very easy to fill out: https://petition.liberal.ca/user-rights-trump-digital-locks/.

And here is the related recommendation from the AEBC presentation to the committee.

Recommendation 1: Technological Protection Measures

Is the Smart Phone the Interface the Blind had been Waiting for?

This article in the Minnesota Daily describes an app that could significantly aid blind travellers.

The app could indicate not only what street a person is on, but could tell a person when traffic lights have changed and how much time is left to cross the street.

A legitimate concern raised in the article is that, if such an app becomes very popular, there will be less of an incentive to install audible pedestrian signals. This issue is an interesting one that goes well beyond traffic lights, and it is one we are going to have to grapple with over the coming years.

Innovative Competition Challenges Ontario Students to come up with Accessibility Solutions

This recent condo.ca blog post describes an innovative challenge to university students in Ontario. The "Innovative Designs for Accessibility" (IDEA) is a contest organized by the Council of Ontario Universities and the Ontario Government and includes a cash prize for the winner. The challenge is to consult with industry, government, and the disability community to identify access barriers and to come up with creative, cost-effective, and practical solutions. The winner will be announced at an event at the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery Conference in May 2012.

Have your say at the International Conference On Technology & Persons With Disabilities

For the last 27 years, the International Conference On Technology & Disability has been the premier event on Accessibility, Job Accommodation & Adaptive Computer Technology in North America, providing an inclusive setting for researchers, practitioners, exhibitors, end users, speakers and other participants to share knowledge and best practices. It regularly draws thousands of participants, hundreds of exhibitors and assistive/adaptive technology manufacturers and researchers from around the world.

This year, Jeffrey Stark, the chair of CWDO's Technology Committee, will be attending the conference in California. He has offered to take your questions, interests and other requests to the participants of the conference.

Call for Photos Taken by Blind and Partially Sighted Photographers

What follows is a call for submissions to an exhibit that will be held on the University of Alberta campus. The photographers do not need to live in Edmonton to have their photos qualify for the exhibition. I encourage anyone that is interested to submit some photos.

In Focus: Blind Photographers Challenge Visual Expectations

In Focus is an exhibition of photographs taken by blind and partially sighted individuals. This exhibition will explore the built environment. The photographs will feature urban spaces, including interior or exterior human-made places, such as buildings, streets, parks, rooms, and objects.

Call for Submissions

We are seeking blind or partially sighted individuals to submit photographs to the In Focus exhibition. 

Fix the World, Not the Person

It seems as though every dozen or so tweets I read on Twitter is another link to an article describing some new technology (for example, retinal implants, gene therapy, stem cell treatments) that is eventually going to lead to a cure for many forms of blindness. This BBC story describes the use of gene therapy to restore some vision to three Americans with Leber's Congenital Amaurosis. The media are full of similar stories.

Is the government complying with its new standard on web accessibility? Help us find out!

On November 29, 2010 the Federal Court of Canada released a landmark decision concerning the rights of Canadians with disabilities to access government websites. 

Justice Kelen declared that Donna Jodhan's inability to access certain government websites is representative of a system wide failure by government departments and agencies to make their websites accessible, and that the government's failure to monitor and ensure compliance with its own accessibility standards violates the equality guarantee in the Charter. He declared that the government has a constitutional obligation to bring itself into compliance with the Charter within a "reasonable time period, such as 15 months."  If the government is not complying, Justice Kelen indicated Ms.

Why Accessibility is an Essential Ingredient for the iPad's Success in Education

Today, Apple announced some new tools that are likely to revolutionize textbook publishing and education in the same way that iTunes and the iPod changed music and the music industry and in the way the Appstore and the iPhone changed mobile phones. Specifically, Apple announced:

Be Sure To Sign Up To Have Your Say To The Pinto Human Rights Code Review

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance is calling on interested parties to sign up to have their say to the Pinto Human Rights Code Review by January 23rd.

ZZ - Disregard this link; it is used to trick spammers.