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Reflections on ACB & BPI Columbus

I wanted to write a short note to you all about my 10 days in Columbus Ohio attending the 52nd annual conference of the American Council of the blind. This was my third time attending an ACB convention. Therefore, I have attended 3 NFB and now 3 ACB conventions. The experience of attending conventions of both of the major blindness consumer organizations in the States is very different. I find ACB to be a more inclusive organization in the sense they seem to embrace diversity more openly than NFB. whereas the NFB is for the most part a more revivalistic experience where they really use the convention to symbolize their philosophy on blindness.

Accessibility and the Public Interest

Technology is the great equalizer when it comes to people with disabilities. Regardless of how accessible the technology is however, it is only as accessible as the underlying infrastructure. If web sites, apps and content are not designed to be accessible, it does not matter if your personal access technology is.

The absence of accessible information, communications and technologies deployed in support of programs and services will often result in inaccessible outcomes.

there are plenty of examples of inaccessible information, communications and technology deployments, but I will provide just a few to make the point.

In the case of Information...

Information is content.

President's Report - July 3rd, 2013

If we do not like our work, and do not try to get happiness out of it, we are a menace to our profession as well as to ourselves.

-- Helen Keller, "Know Thyself," The Home Magazine, September 1930

Hello, AEBC community members!

The time has finally come to get this show on the road. At the annual general meeting this past April, I was elected as your President. I then headed off into the sunset to get married and have a honeymoon. That is in part why this first update is so long in coming!

I intend to use these President's Reports to provide a global update on the AEBC's activities, and my own thoughts on these issues.

Emergencies effect everyone, even those of us with disabilities

June 20, 2013, saw a record flood hit the city of Calgary. It's probably the worst natural disaster this part of Canada has seen in generations. An unusually wet spring combined with a significant snow pack has resulted in communities from Banff to Calgary and surrounding area litterly get wiped out; it's been a perfect storm.

It's been a huge devistation with the price tag likely to be in the billions. Sadly, four people have lost their lives and I'm sure everyone feels for their families for the tragic loss. Would our service animals be welcome at an emergency centre? How about someone using a wheel chair or motorized scooter.

So what happens to those of us who may live alone and have a disability when mother nature strikes.

Empire Theatre Kanata 1st Theatre in Ottawa to offer Described Video (DV) Capability For Blind Patrons In All Rooms In The Movie Theatre!

When Empire Theatre took over the 24 Cinema AMC facilities in Kanata, the whole theatre got a huge upgrade. The equipment is brand new and man does it shine. The level of accessibility for people with disabilities of the theatre offerings is truly impressive. I had the opportunity to give this system a run through this month and it is fantastic.

The changing of the leopard's spots: CNIB now and into the future

A few weeks ago, CNIB released a document which marked the beginning of a consultative strategic planning initiative taking place within CNIB. Entitled, "Your CNIB. Your future. Hearing your views on the future direction of CNIB," this document (which has been posted on the AEBC web site already) outlines what CNIB is planning on doing, how and why they are soliciting opinions from the community as to their future direction.

"Get Together With Technology" - Exploring technology in Ottawa

For those who are in or near the Ottawa area, a new program has been started which might broaden your horizons regarding the technology that is available for blind and partially sighted users.  "Get Together with Technology" (GTT) is a group which meets on a monthly basis to discuss technology, share resources, take training sessions, and so on.  From their blog:

The quest for a high contrasting black mobile phone experience for low vision users

I am a perfect example of someone who needs a high contrasting color scheme to be able to effectively use an interface.

Talk to the President March 2013 Edition

Dear fellow AEBC members:
Well, we're almost there!  Our AGM is practically just around the corner and I am looking forward to meeting those of you who will be attending.  This is going to be a very exciting AGM and we are hoping that you will come out of this particular AGM all revived and ready for action.  Please take the time to read our call to the AGM, and don't forget to drop by and give us your platform for running for a spot on the board!  The more the merrier!
 
Please also if you can attend either in person or via the Internet, come by and listen to our keynote speaker Paul Edwards; probably the most prestigious keynote speaker that the AEBC has ever had at any of its AGMs.

Talk to the President February 2013

Dear Fellow AEBCers: 

Not in Canada, you say. Pity!

Since the advent of the internet, at least three chat sites designed specifically for people who are blind or partially sighted have been established. I refer to: http://www.for-the-people.com, http://www.vipconduit.com, and http://www.out-of-sight-net.

These sites are each divided into several rooms. There are rooms where you can play games, and others where you can play music for one another. There are rooms for people with diabetes, and others for those who are newly blind. There are also rooms specifically dedicated to musicians, piano tuners, handymen, and other occupations or professions.

While it’s true that anyone worldwide is welcome on any of these sites, it is also true that most of the participants are from the United States.

Your Next AEBC President

Dear fellow AEBC members: 

I hope that this blog finds everyone well.

As our 2013 AGM fast approaches, I thought that the time would be now for me to tell you that I will not be running for a second term as president of the AEBC.  With attending Law School, running my own business, and other family commitments, time would not permit me to give enough commitment and effort to the AEBC.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who took the time and made the commitment to help me over the last two years and I thank the AEBC members for having given me the opportunity to be your president.  It has been a privilege and a great learning experience for me and I wish each and everyone of you the very best in your future endeavours.

Talk to the President January 2013 Edition

Dear fellow AEBCers:
I hope that everyone is well and like me, counting down the days to spring.  I again thank everyone for their feedback and comments.  My quote for this month is as follows:
 
"True success is not necessarily about being the best at all cost.  It's about DOING your best at all times.  If you do that long enough, who knows, you might just end up being the best."
Tope Popoola
_________________________
 
*****
In board news

Melatonin Can Mean Better Sleep for The Totally Blind

 

We’ve heard a lot in the past couple of years about a study being done in the U.S. on a medication designed to assist those without light perception to establish a normal sleep-wake cycle.  Blind people who experience sleeplessness during the night as well as daytime sleepiness are said to have a condition which has been called non-24 sleep-wake disorder, or non-24.  

Here are some startling statistics from a November 2012 article that appeared in Alyssa Botelho's Boston Globe article, "Blind often afflicted with rare sleep disorder":

Talk to the President December 2012

Dear fellow AEBCers:  Ah yes!  2012 will soon be in the history books and it will be that time again to say "happy new year" to loved ones and a big hello to 2013.

I'd like to thank those of you who took the time to stop by with your feedback and especially to those of you who committed endless hours to the work of the AEBC for this past year.  We should be proud of what we have accomplished for 2012 and let's raise our glasses to a better 2013!

My quote for this month is as follows:
"Learn to get in touch with silence within yourself, and know that everything in this life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from."
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
_________________________

Ham Radio as Necessary as Ever

Every day, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern, ONTARS—the Ontario Amateur Radio Service is operational at the bottom end of the 80-metre band.  The net control, or host changes hourly.  Often, the net control is someone who is blind or partially sighted, or, in ham radio jargon, a whitecaner.

E-Band Music Software

Hello fellow readers I just recently discovered a fantastic tool for musicians called E band from Boss Corporation.

I'm sure that anyone reading this blog might be asking themselves "what the heck is E band?"

Well, E Band is a system which allows musicians to practice their music soloing skills when it comes down to playing bass or guitar, or vocals.  E band allows you to take any mp3 song, or a standard audio file and allows you to import the file in to the unit.

Furthermore E Band also allows you to change the key of a song, and also allows you to slow down the song to allow the musician to be able to pick up a guitar or bass passage.

Imagine the great classic hit song from the Eagles called Hotel California?

Update on Windows 8 -- 2nd Review

Hello there fellow readers, as promised in an earlier blog I told you that I would get back to you all on Windows 8.

At the same time that Windows 8 was released Jaws for Windows had also made its release to version 14.0.

In actual fact I ended upgrading my Jaws before installing Windows 8 in its upgrade mode.  I figured that it wasn't worth reformatting my drive, and doing a fresh install of Windows 8, since everything was going fine and well with Windows 7.

Accessible Metronome

I just recently purchased a metronome that was going to be accessible to me.  Nowadays, most of the metronomes on the market are digital and do not cater to people who have a visual impairment.  However I did find a metronome that was accessible. The metronome model is from Korg and I'll explain later on how I think it's accessible.

Talk to the President November 2012

Dear fellow AEBC members:  Ah yes!  November is quickly fading away and in a moment's time December will be saying a huge hello to us all!  Are you ready to welcome in the holiday season?  Have you told Santa already what you would like for Christmas?  I am going to go out on a limb and say that all
of you AEBcers have been nice rather than naughty so please Santa!  Let's
have a great December for us all and for the AEBC!

I thank those of you who have taken the time to drop by with your feedback
and encourage you to keep doing so.  My quotation for this month is as
follows:

"If I feel depressed I will sing. If I feel sad I will laugh. If I feel ill

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