Beating the Social Distancing Blues

Posted by Rob Mineault on

With COVID-19 being the main thing on everybody's mind these days, and given that the situations all around the world are changing by the hour, we wanted to contribute to you, our clients, in any way we could.

We consider each and every one of you our family, and want to extend our best wishes and encourage everyone to stay safe out there. We want to do what we can to help, so we've compiled a few things that have been brought to our attention in the last few days. Hopefully these will help, even if it's just in in a small way, during this crisis. So we've compiled a few resources and a bunch of ideas of things that can keep you occupied while we all engage in a bit of social distancing and wait things out.

Accessibyte online platform is Free for 45 days

With so many schools closing, Accessibyte, makers of several accessible educational software offerings, has stepped up and now offered their online platform free for the next 45 days. Among other software packages, Accessibyte makes Typio and Accessibyte Arcade, accessible educational games and software for blind and visually impaired students.

It's their hope that by offering up their packages for free, it will give students a remote education option while we are all doing what we can to stem the tide of this crisis and stay at home. 

You can find more information on their entire platform and the links to the software on their company website : 

"Meet Me Accessibly" Audiobook is now Free

Jonathan Mosen, which many people in the community may know from his work and many projects out of Mosen Consulting, has offered up his recent audiobook about the Zoom Meeting online platform for free in an effort to assist those who may need such a platform during this time of global crisis.

He writes:

Kia ora everyone, from a beautiful Wellington New Zealand.

As many of you know, I’m now CEO of a national organisation here in New Zealand. I’m no longer developing Mosen Consulting projects, but I keep titles available as long as they remain relevant. Occasionally, I check in to see what we have sold through our automated system.

Having just done this, I have noticed a sharp increase in the number of people buying my audiobook on Zoom Cloud Meetings, “Meet Me Accessibly”, which is a three-hour description of how to use Zoom on a range of platforms with a screen reader. There has been a very sharp spike in sales in just the last few days.

Clearly, this is because more people are already working from home or are preparing to do so.

I do not feel comfortable profiting from a need people have during a crisis that is unprecedented in living memory. If people need access to the material at a time like this, I can afford to give it away especially since Mosen Consulting is no longer my primary means of making a living.

I have therefore refunded in full everyone who has purchased “Meet Me Accessibly” during March, and made it free on the website. You are welcome to download it free and distribute it anywhere you want. The only thing I ask is that you please not change any of the files and that it be distributed in full.

Download it free from

I hope this helps in some small way during a very tough time for many.

There is no sugar coating the fact that we are living through a very difficult period in history. But if we follow quality advice including regular handwashing and levels of isolation appropriate for the degree of outbreak in our country, we’ll get through it.

Let’s all do our best to stay safe, be mindful of the safety of others, and be kind.

Take care.

Zoom is a great tool for staying in touch remotely, whether it's to talk to family or conference with co-workers. We use the platform all the time as part of our AT Banter Podcast and highly recommend its easy of use and accessibility. 

Many many thanks to Jonathan for offering this up to the community, and we encourage anyone who knows someone who may benefit from this audio book to pass it along.

Beat the Social Distancing Blues

The notion of social distancing and isolation is hard for us all. There's only so much Netflix we can binge before we start to get a bit of cabin fever.

Luckily, we have the technology that can help mitigate those feelings of isolation and disconnection. The Zoom meeting platform is rapidly becoming the preferred way in which people are meeting online, especially given its accessible interface.

For those looking to become familiar with the platform, there are a few options available. Our friends at the Getting Together with Technology program are now offering one on one training sessions for those who want to learn how to install Zoom on iOS devices, Android devices, or PC and Mac computers. For one-on-one free training sessions contact Albert Ruel, Kim Kilpatrick or David Green through the CCB National Office to book a time. Call toll free: 1-877-304-0968.

As yet another option, we here at Canadian Assistive Technology are also discounting our one on one online training rates and offering Zoom training. To book an online training session, call toll free: 1-844-795-8324 or email

And if Zoom isn't your thing, GTT is also offering one on one training free sessions on how to download audiobooks for your favorite library into your preferred listening devices as well as sessions on how to get set up on the Aria or Be My Eyes services. For information on these or any other sessions GTT offers, call them toll-free: 1-877-304-0968. 

Get Together With Technology

If you are stuck at home, why not make the best use out of the spare time and use it to learn or teach others in the community about different pieces of Assistive Technology? The Canadian Council of the Blind's Get Together with Technology program offers many different free sessions about a multitude of different topics on a weekly basis. You can socialize and interact with others in the community while at the same time learn a few things! Here's just a few upcoming events that you could participate in while we all wait things out.

GTT Weekly Open Zoom Chat

Starting on March 18, 2020 for 90 minutes, and On each Wednesday thereafter from 1:00 PM Eastern to 2:30 PM GTT staff and/or volunteers will host a GTT Zoom call to discuss all manner of assistive technology and adjustment to blindness issues that are on your mind.  These calls will be free, and the topics are open to your needs, so connect with us through your landline telephone, iDevice, Android device or computer as best suits your interests and abilities.
Join the GTT Program Zoom Room from computer or smart phone:
One tap for mobile phones 
Toronto Local:
+16475580588, 9839595688
Toronto Local:
+1 647 558 0588
Meeting ID: 983 959 5688

Get Your Home Ready

We are, of course, just some simple guys doing our best to run a small business, so we ourselves don't have any useful information to give out when it comes to something as serious as preparing or dealing with the COVID-19. We are in the same boat as everyone else. But we figured the least we could do is direct you to an organization that does have that useful information: The Center for Disease Control

Find the link below to the official website and their page on home preparedness, along with links and information on what to do if you are sick as well as hand washing guides.

And finally, if you have any questions about COVID-19, call 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319).

Additional Articles and Information

Information, updates, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from the ACL, Administration for Community Living, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focused on helping disabled people live independently outside of institutions and care facilities.

Update March 23, 2020

JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion free for personal computers at home.

Freedom Scientific is now offering JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion free of charge for personal computers at home, until June 30, 2020. This offer is available to every household in the US and Canada. Go get your free license of JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion from Freedom Scientific's webpage.

Scribe for Education free to Teachers and School Districts

Pneuma Solutions has announced they are giving away their accessible document converter, Scribe for Education, to teachers and school districts around the world in response to COVID-19. Apply for your free license to Scribe for Education here or call 305-720-3639

Update, March 25, 2020

National Braille Press offers three free books

To help with some of the practical challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, National Braille Press  is offering free digital downloads of three relevant books, between now and April 30th:

Dinner Delivered: Accessible and Easy Ways to Receive Meals Direct to Your Door 
by Kim Loftis and Chris Grabowski

Getting Visual Assistance with an iPhone 
by Judith Dixon

Navigating Healthcare, When All They Can See Is that You Can't 
by Deborah Kendrick

Downloadable formats include DAISY, BRF, and Microsoft Word. Hard copy versions of these books are also available at half price. 

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