Co-Founder & Program Coordinator, Get Together with Technology (GTT)
People with vision loss can face barriers and challenges in accessing media, employment opportunities, independent transportation, and more. Technology is changing that. In developing accessible technology and offering advanced training tools, companies like Bell and programs like Get Together with Technology are actively trying to help level the playing field.
The power of peer mentoring
Get Together with Technology (GTT) is a Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) initiative that empowers members of the Canadian blind, deaf-blind, and low-vision communities by offering peer support and training on assistive tools, strategies, and technology. Its coaching by and for people with low vision helps participants gain competence and confidence in the use of accessible technologies.
Nowadays, technology can aid in many aspects of daily life: mobility and transportation, health and fitness, work, education, and more. From being able to read the news and identify household items to being able to get around with ease, technology can be life-changing for people with vision loss.
“Technology has changed enormously over the last 10 to 15 years,” says Kim Kilpatrick, GTT Co-Founder and Program Coordinator. “There’s so much we can do now that we couldn’t before.”
If I’m in an unfamiliar area, [BlindSquare Promo] can tell me what street I’m crossing or what streets we’re going by on the bus.Kim Kilpatrick, GTT Co-Founder
Kilpatrick, who also works as an accessibility consultant, met with Bell — a company known to offer innovative and inclusive accessibility services and products, such as its dedicated Accessibility Services Centre — to discuss which products and services GTT participants found most helpful.
One of Kilpatrick’s recommendations was BlindSquare Promo, an accessible GPS app. “If I’m in an unfamiliar area, it can tell me what street I’m crossing or what streets we’re going by on the bus,” she says.
Another was an innovative set of headphones called AfterShokz Trekz, which allow users to hear directions from their phone while also being able to hear what’s going on around them. The headphones sit on the jaw, in front of one’s ears rather than over them, transmitting sound through the jaw bone into the inner ear. “It’s a weird feeling — like voices in your head,” says Kilpatrick.
Both products facilitate safer, more reliable mobility and opens the doors to enhanced independence.
Based on Kilpatrick’s feedback, Bell developed a specialized program to make these products more readily available to low-vision users. It worked with the BlindSquare Promo developer to get the app’s price subsidized for Bell users, and it offered the AfterShokz headphones as part of a gift-with-purchase program with one of its accessibility devices.
With programs like GTT and providers like Bell, getting on the tech train is becoming easier than ever. More independent daily living awaits.
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