Insight E-Newsletter January 2014

Happy New Year and welcome to the January edition of “Insight”. This month we’re talking technology. Read on to find out how the CNIB Library has made DAISY faster, see how Microsoft is supporting CNIB’s digital growth and learn more about some of the most popular assistive technology products.

DAISY gets easier . . . and faster!

Your friend recommends a new book for you to read, so you contact the CNIB Library to order the DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) audio CD. You wait a few days and it finally lands in your mailbox. When you’re finished reading it, you package it up and head to the post office to mail it back. It’s pretty easy – but wouldn’t it be great if there was a faster way to get books?

That’s why the CNIB Library is announcing a new way to receive DAISY audio books: Direct to Player. This new way of downloading allows users to get DAISY audio books directly on their players, without having to use a computer or wait for a CD in the mail.

The Direct to Player service removes the need for users to order books through the CNIB Library, which means less wait time between book selection and Chapter 1. Direct to Player will even add books to a user’s virtual “bookshelf” for their reading pleasure, based on a number of preferences like author and genre. If the user then decides it’s not something they’re interested in, they can simply delete it and it will be replaced with a new suggestion.

“I remember the transition from cassette tape talking books to DAISY CD books in 2002 and I thought it was the best technology ever. Now, Direct to Player is even better,” says Gerry Chevalier, a CNIB Library user from Edmonton. “Instead of waiting for a CD to come in the mail, I just turn on my player each day and check the bookshelf button to see what new book or magazine I have received.”
“I no longer need to go out to the mailbox to return a CD. Just press the Return-Book button and then CNIB sends another book directly to my player. Direct to Player service is astounding!”

A pilot program was completed in 2013 with 100 CNIB Library users from across Canada of varying ages, both English- and French-speaking, and with a range of levels of computer skills. The results were positive.

“We are very excited to launch the Direct to Player DAISY audio book service. DAISY users who have tried it say that it’s a very convenient way to receive books,” says Rachel Breau, partners program lead at CNIB Library. “In addition to improving our service delivery options, the Direct to Player model has the potential to positively impact the library’s production costs over time.”

Any registered CNIB Library user with an Internet-enabled DAISY player can use the Direct to Player service. Later this year, an app will be available to download for people who use iPads, iPods or smartphones to access their audio books. Users who do not currently own an internet or Wi-Fi-enabled DAISY player can contact the vendor directly to inquire about trade-ins.

For more information on Direct to Player, please visit


Microsoft supports CNIB’s digital growth

Working in a digital world where companies are judged on the appearance, functionality and accessibility of their websites, it’s vitally important that organizations stay up-to-date on all things tech.

That’s why CNIB is thankful to have many supporters who help us continue to help Canadians who are blind or partially sighted while working to create comprehensive and accessible digital spaces.

In 2013, Microsoft donated more than $800,000 in software to CNIB to support collaboration, business intelligence and e-learning, making it possible to update the CNIB website, create learning modules for widespread audiences, improve the way CNIB does business and ultimately ensure optimal service for clients.

“This software donation will greatly improve the way we operate,” says Frank Lombardo, manager of development and enterprise data management at CNIB. “We now have better reporting capabilities, which leads to better decisions about how to best serve our clients. We’ll also be able to improve the accessibility of our website so that Canadians living with vision loss are able to access the full range of information, tools and features we offer online.”

Updated software doesn’t just improve the way organizations serve their clients; it also makes day-to-day tasks and responsibilities easier for staff, allowing them to focus on what matters most: delivering vital vision rehabilitation services to Canadians of all ages.

“Business intelligence and collaboration tools lead to increased productivity,” says Mary Rose Daigle, director of information systems at CNIB. “This donation means CNIB staff, no matter which province they live in, can share documents and work together much more seamlessly leading to better coordination of services for our clients.”

Through the Microsoft Citizenship efforts, Microsoft provides technology tools, training and resources that can help create opportunities and transform communities. CNIB is thankful, and proud, to be part of their global community!


Tech talk: How assistive technology is levelling the playing field

Today, more than ever, technology is all around us – and likely in our pockets or purses, in the form of a smartphone, tablet, eReader or wearable technology. These devices have drastically changed the way we receive news, communicate with family and friends, and entertain ourselves.

Thanks to assistive technology, people who are living with vision loss have the tools needed to participate in this revolution and be equal players in the ever-evolving world of technology.

Computer screen readers, video magnifiers, braille displays, and electronic book players are some of the most popular assistive technologies for people living with vision loss. Examples of these products include:

  • TV magnifying screen: You won’t miss a moment of your favourite television show with the magnifying screen. Place the screen in front of your TV (up to 26”) and enlarge the image to 30”. Additional sizes are available.
  • DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System:  A digital talking book player that allows users to listen to DAISY audio CDs or download audio books Direct to Player. DAISY CDs and downloadable audio books are both available through the CNIB Library.
  • Bank Note Reader: The Canadian Bank Note Reader, developed by the Bank of Canada, talks and vibrates to identify paper money for individuals who are blind, deafblind or who have low vision.
  • The BigReader Electronic Magnifier: Read books, magazines, newspapers and other materials more easily with this self-contained powerful CCTV magnifier and screen combination.

Through Shop CNIB and our ongoing work with assistive technology vendors, CNIB is committed to helping Canadians who are blind or partially sighted access and purchase the products and tools needed to thrive in a digitally-evolving world. For more information on assistive technology and the above products, visit You can also check out CNIB blogger, Martin Courcelles’ technology blog entries at



Plan your year with CNIB’s “Braille Pocket Calendar 2014” $6

This braille wire-bound calendar contains all Canadian public holidays and most days of religious observance. Calendar measures approximately 7 1/2" by 3 1/2" (19 cm by 9 cm).

Click here to order “CNIB’s Braille Pocket Calendar 2014”  To browse hundreds of other Shop CNIB products for everyday living, visit one of our 20 stores across the country, visit our webstore or call the CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642 to order a free catalogue.


Help us change the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted

Researchers estimate that more than one million Canadians are living with vision loss today. As a Partner in Vision, your generous donation of $10 or more a month will help people who are blind or partially sighted build the skills, confidence and independence to enjoy life again – to see beyond vision loss. Become a Partner in Vision


Note:The information provided in this article is for awareness purposes only, and should not replace the expertise of an eye doctor. CNIB recommends that you visit your doctor of optometry regularly for thorough eye exams, up-to-date medical information and advice tailored to your own unique vision health and family history. 

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