AEBC AGM 2016 Conference - Building Bridges


Speaker Presentation

Conference Presentation Information

AEBC AGM 2016 Conference - Building Bridges is taking place in Montreal, Quebec, at the Best Western Montreal Downtown Hotel Europa, from Friday, April 29th to Sunday, May 1st, 2016.

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) is a national grassroots, peer support organization that comprises Canadians who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted and our supporters from the public at large. We work to ensure we have a voice on all matters affecting our participation in Canada's mainstream society.

Speaker presentation - David Best, Knowledge Is Power (Shifting the Digital Mindset - Are those without sight out of sight?) - Saturday, April 30, 1:30PM to 2:30PM.

We are crossing a new frontier in the evolution of computing and entering the era of cognitive systems. scientists and engineers around the world are pushing the boundaries of science and technology to create machines that sense, learn, reason, and interact with people in new ways to provide insight and advice. A paradigm shift in society, driven by miniaturization, cloud sourcing, and wireless mobile devices, is placing greater power in the hands of consumers. However, the ability to use new emerging technologies is currently at the heart of social inclusion, with those excluded being left out of many work, entertainment, communication, healthcare and social benefits.



David Best, Accessibility IT Specialist

Business and Educational Services in Technology (BEST A11y Consulting)
Helping organizations to increase productivity and market growth through innovation and collaboration.
Office: (905) 791-1081
Skype: (716) 304-0105 or DaveBest99
BEST Accessibility
Personal profile

Important Participant Information

BlindSq Event, by MIPSoft, is a free app available on the Itunes stor

All conference participants are encouraged to use the BlindSq Event iOS App to experience the GeoGuidance while attending the conference. The BlindSq Event app works only at the time and venue of various events, which are for the Blind and Visually Impaired of particular interest.

BlindSquare, by MIPSoft, is a GPS app available on the iTunes Store

BlindSquare is a new solution that combines the latest technology to help the blind with their daily lives. It has been developed in collaboration with blind people and carefully field tested. You need either an iPhone or an iPad to get started. It also supports some additional accessories to enhance the experience. BlindSquare uses GPS and the compass to locate you. It then gathers information about the surrounding environment from FourSquare. BlindSquare has some unique algorithms to decide what information is the most relevant and then speaks it to you with high quality speech synthesis.

Customized Location Information Service (CLIS)

The Customized Location Information Service, developed by MIPsoft, allows organizations to provide customized information about their premises to blind and visually impaired guests, clients, students, or staff who use an iOS-device running BlindSquare or BlindSq Event. Through a simple online interface, organizations can enter GPS coordinates of points of interest and descriptions of these points. BlindSquare can retrieve this information as soon as it is entered or updated and will read it out to the BlindSquare user. The University of Iowa employs CLIS to notify blind students of entrances of buildings, steps, or temporary construction work, when they approach an entrance or an obstacle. If a familiar route is blocked due to road works, it is also possible to suggest an alternative route to the user. Organizations can update or add to the information any time, and BlindSquare will use the new and updated information instantly.

The Orientation and Mobility BlindSquare Project

The BlindSquare app is available to Orientation and Mobility Specialists willing to share their skills by providing data about intersections we analyse. The information provided by OMer's will be loaded into the CLOUD and then made available to all BlindSquare Users. Wouldn't it be great to be able to know how an intersection works before (from the comfort of our homes) or even at the location! All participants in this new collaborative adventure have either their Masters in OM, OM Interns, or Certified as COMS, or NOMC. All participants will receive credit for their efforts.

BlindSquare LinkedIn - Creating a safer and larger world for blind persons daily

BlindSquare combines the desire to travel with trip planning, travel guidance, route simulation, road maps, transit maps, taxi hailing and much more, at the tip of the blind users fingers. This group connects BlindSquare rabid fans with current information and insights.

BlindSquare International Awards News Releases

* CNIB 2015 Winston Gordon Award to MIPSoft for excellence in accessible technology in the development of BlindSquare
* MIPsoft wins 2015 Access Award from the American Foundation for the Blind, for commitment to innovation and access for all.
* BlindSquare wins as best app in the e-Inclusion and Empowerment category at the World Summit Awards (WSA) World Congress 2013 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
* BlindSquare, an augmented reality app for the blind, developed by MIPsoft, based in Helsinki, Finland, received the 2013 Global Mobile Award as the Best Mobile Health Product or Service at the 18th Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona.

Global Trends

We are moving toward a global digital economy by seamlessly integrating machines and people:

People Trends

Technology Trends

The Life Changing Power Of Digital Technologies

Current State Of Technology

Business analysis reports show that, over the past decade, large successful companies (like Nortel, Blockbuster, BlackBerry, and now Volkswagon) have failed due to conditions they call Cultural Arrogance and System Blindness. This has resulted in greater workplace mental health issues, reducing productivity due to absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover. Since economic growth within Canada is shifting toward entrepreneur and small business ventures, we need to focus on innovation strategies that support small business and reduce workplace stress. Since inaccessible products and services restrict market growth, and limit career training opportunities, we need to focus on greater collaboration strategies and inclusion best practices.

The blend of new digital signals and the tools to process them create new opportunities for us to rethink the way we approach traditional problems. GeoIntelligent programs can create a new framework for collecting data and shape accessibility strategies in a way that increase confidence and independence. GeoSpacing, or GeoFencing, is a living evolving hub of information, a convergence of digital and physical worlds. For individuals, this new ability to visualize and understand trends at any location offers a historical and predictive perspective for decision making. Research shows that about 80 percent of smartphone owners use their phones to access location-based information. Mining this data from more than 20 million FourSquare Check-Ins, is being used to redraw neighborhoods in several cities based on Check-In patterns. Branding these areas as "LiveHoods", governments are using this information to improve city planning, transportation services and public health surveillance. Private citizens and organizations are encouraged to add information details and build useful apps for government GeoPlatforms.

The parallel for the blind community is obvious, and the Blindsquare app is transforming lives through location intelligence. BlindSquare takes advantage of the rapidly growing GeoSpacing data analysis system services, and is pioneering accessible GPS navigation on iOS using a haptic interface with a dynamic range of user interactions.

The Power Of Digital Communications

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a web of interconnected sensor networks that automatically communicate data to people and computers in the Cloud. Each node on the network consists of a tiny smart device with built-in sensors and circuitry for monitoring, communicating and controlling just about any physical object. The IOT is the ability to communicate data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems and the Internet. New and remarkable technologies are just around the corner. Everyday objects using network connectivity to send and receive data, while collecting and storing that information electronically, is becoming an important component in our everyday lives. The ability for IOT objects to collect and exchange data is creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. Thus, the internet of things creates an opportunity to measure, collect and analyse an ever-increasing variety of behavioural statistics. Cross-correlation of this data will revolutionise the targeted marketing of products and services, but IoT devices must also exhibit interoperability, security controls, configuration management capabilities and even a degree of artificial intelligence.

The vision of the Internet Of Things has evolved due to a convergence of multiple technologies, ranging from wireless communication to the Internet and from embedded systems to micro-electromechanical systems That is transforming society and opening up a new era of economic growth and competitiveness. We are surrounded by tiny, intelligent devices that capture data about how we live and what we do. Now they are beginning to talk to one another. Soon we will be able to choreograph them to respond to our needs, solve our problems, even save our lives. The connectivity of devices, systems, and services goes beyond machine-to-machine communications, but gives people greater power to control their environment and make important decisions. This is refered to as smart wearables, smart homes, smart cities, smart environments, and smart enterprises. The designable environment is a playground for coders and engineers.

It is estimated that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things by 2020. IOT is changing the whole way we think about the division between the virtual and the physical, and the Programmable World is automating activities we normally do by hand and putting intelligence from the cloud into everything we touch. Currently, over a billion people including children (or about 15% of the world's population) are estimated to be living with disability. The lack of support services can make disabled people overly dependent on their families, which prevents them from being economically active and socially included. The Internet of Things can offer people with disabilities the assistance and support they need to achieve a good quality of life and allows them to participate in the social and economic life. One of the first and most obvious ways for IoT to impact the disabled is to extend their reach. In all likelihood, the easiest way to do this with connected devices is to enable their control via a mobile app. This would allow people with physical limitations that otherwise prevent them from direct interaction with certain things or objects in their typical locations the ability to interact with and control them through their mobile phones or other devices. People with mobility issues often have a great deal of trouble doing everyday things from turning on a light switch to getting that can from the top shelf in the pantry. However one can equip a light switch to turn on or off remotely. A door could be fitted with a device that can open it at a tap on a smart phone. Mechanical arms or other devices can take things that are out of reach and bring them down to the level of someone who is wheelchair bound.

Taking Charge Of Our Destiny

The priorities of the Canada's Economic Action Plan over the past several years, have been to create well-paying and secure jobs for Canadians, lower taxes for Canadian families and businesses, and balance the budget. However, the persistent high unemployment rate for Canadians living with vision loss has not changed despite federal government promises for greater employment supports. Canada's Economic Action Plan is not working to improve the lives of blind Canadians. The provinbcial Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities (LMAPDs) and the Opportunities Fund programs, appear to have more barriers and benefits for persons living with vision loss. The government funding appears to benefit the service organizations more than disabled individuals, as the integration of persons with disabilities into the labour market has not improved.

The Real Change, Liberal Party of Canada, Plan does not identify any specific commitment to Canadians living with a disability. Acknowledgement of human rights and inequality issues is a good start, but no different from previous governments. "Real Change" requires action with accountability and collaboration.
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, mandate:

You are expected to do your part to fulfill our government's commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure gender parity and that Indigenous Canadians and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.
Where is the mandate to improve the quality of life for disabled Canadians? Despite the fact that 1 out of 7 Canadians live with a disability and 1 out of 3 families are impacted; And more than 80% of Canadian adults living with vision loss are unemployed, with more than 20% living below the poverty line; the mandate letter ignores the employment issues of the most vonerable sector. To lead an engagement process to establish the passage of a Canadians with Disabilities Act, will require a broader collaboration effort than just the Ministery of Families, Children and Social Development. There is a critical missing link and a huge gap in the "Real Change" strategic plan.

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

I expect Canadians to hold us accountable for delivering these commitments, and I expect all ministers to do their part (individually and collectively) to improve economic opportunity and security for Canadians.

Canad is a global leader of innovation, but has failed to exploit the power of technology to improve productivity and the inclusion of disabled Canadians. "Real Change" means taking corrective actions to remove inequalities, based on knowledgeable information. We can avoid the U.S. experience of increasing lawsuits, by creating a positive environment of collaboration. The Ministries of Innovations, Employment, Infrastructure, and Persons With Disabilities, must have an integrated economic growth strategy that reflects the digital communication needs of persons with vision loss. The AEBC must partner with the business community and innovators, so as to take control of our destiny in a digital world. Let's hold Justin Trudeau to his word!

What Is BlindSquare

The BlindSquare app is a new solution that combines the latest technology to help the blind with their daily lives. It has been developed in collaboration with blind people and carefully field tested. BlindSquare, an accessible GPS app, is capable of describing the immediate environment and announcing location information, and is currently used in more than 130 countries by more than 15,000 people, in about 25 different languages. BlindSquare integrates social media services like FourSquare data with Apple's native VoiceOver technology to create a location-based virtual map through sound. Users can enhance the application with recommended accessories; such as braille displays and the Aftershokz bone conduction head set, which leaves users' ears open to natural sounds. When the app is enabled, it reads addresses, street names and surrounding locations aloud, and directions are available on demand. The BlindSquare was conceptualized and created in 2012 by Finland-based Ilkka Pirttimaa, and he calls it a mashup of GPS technology; speech synthesis, crowdsourced data through FourSquare and augmented reality with audio.

BlindSquare Video Demonstrations

QR Beacon Tim Hortons Elevator QR Beacon Tim Hortons Restroom

Getting Started With BlindSquare

BlindSquare Accessories

Aftershokz Bone Conduction Headset
BlindSquare KeyFob Controller

Since the release of BlindSquare version 2.0, we have had the ability to control BlindSquare from the wired Apple Earbud controls, or the AfterShokz headset. We now have a solution using the keyfob. The device easily fits in your hand or pocket, to allow use with BlindSquare while your iPhone is nestled in a shirt or pants pocket. The KeyFob will interoperate with AfterShokz or other wired or Bluetooth headphones.