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Jason’s Top 5 Travel Destinations!

After visiting 44 countries, these are my favourites so far…

  1. Thailand – Inexpensive, awesome food, tons of cultural history, warm weather, lots of beaches, and a great place to party.  Most people in the tourism industry speak English well enough so it’s pretty easy to get around.  I spent a month in Thailand had a great time.  Best place was Railay (Rai Leh) Beach, just around the corner from Ao Nang which is a very scenic coast town on the Krabi coast that has a fun vibe, decent beaches, beautiful islands to kayak to and beautiful cliffs. http://wikitravel.org/en/Rai_Leh
  2. Italy – There are so many amazing places in Italy…  But Rome is likely my favourite place that I’ve been to in Europe.  The history is just mind boggling.  And there are so many ruins, cathedrals, museums, art galleries and other notable attractions.  Even if you only have a couple of days, a visit to the Colosseum, Forum and Vatican City are outstanding. http://wikitravel.org/en/Rome
  3. Nepal – A great place to experience the Indian Subcontinent without feeling as overwhelmed as visiting India itself.  The mountain tourism makes for some great tourist mecas in Kathmandu while still experiencing some of the Indian/Nepalese culture.  http://wikitravel.org/en/Kathmandu Then from there the tallest mountains in the world are at your fingertips!  Personally, I hiked to Everest Base Camp just to say that I did it, but I’ve heard that the Annapurna Circuit is the more scenic route. http://wikitravel.org/en/Everest_Base_Camp_Trek
  4. Czech Republic – Relatively inexpensive in European terms, castles on the scenic landscape, and Prague: one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with its rivers, historical streets and buildings (untouched by the world wars unlike most other European cities), and fun atmosphere.  I haven’t been here in almost 20 years but I was blown away by Prague’s beauty. http://wikitravel.org/en/Prague
  5. New Zealand – I had so much fun on the South Island of New Zealand.  Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world!  And with all the beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers, what better place.  I recommend the AJ Hackett Thrillogy (http://www.bungy.co.nz/) which involves 3 bungee jumps in different locations in one day!  And don’t miss all of the Lord of the Rings filming locations. http://wikitravel.org/en/Queenstown_(New_Zealand)

 

And for an added bonus, there’s one country that is at the top of my list of places I’d like to go:

  1. Norway – I have a love for mountains and scenic beauty and Norway happens to have an abundance of this.  From the photos and videos I’ve seen, the fjords that skirt the entire northern coast of Norway are beyond words.  The only downside (and the only reason I haven’t gone yet) is that you need a ton of time to travel it all and therefore is a quite costly trip to do it right.  It’ll happen… eventually… 
Jason’s Top 5 Travel Destinations!
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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness month. While the month may be drawing to a close, the benefits an inclusive workplace has in creating a prosperous Canada are present at all times of the year. Having an accessible website is just one way you can help ensure that people with disabilities have access to jobs, services, and information in your community. At Collaborative Haus, we are committed to designing high-quality websites that are accessible to everyone.

Patrick Bouchard – Developer

National Disability Employment Awareness Month
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#3 – The Need For Online Accessibility

Since its invention, the Internet has quickly grown from being a cutting edge tool for research and education to one of shared knowledge amongst the masses. In today’s fast paced interconnected world, it has become a vital part of everyday life, becoming even more so as technology advances. As the Internet has evolved from a luxury to a convenience to a necessity, so has the need for it to become accessible to everyone.

Individuals with disabilities also rely on the Internet throughout their daily lives. As the world continues to become increasingly digital, information is rapidly transitioned to electronic formats that computers and other communication devices can access.  Take printed newspapers for example; they posed a challenge to people who were blind, as well as individuals who had trouble physically holding or turning pages. Now, they are available online and digitally using accessible devices, as long as the organization’s website has been designed in a format that meets the current Accessibility Standards. This removes the barrier that previously existed, allowing people to independently keep up with local news in a format they can use.

If websites are not accessible, individuals with disabilities lose a convenient way of independently obtaining information. Many sites use images and flashy graphics, some have online games, and others have contests that require precise mouse clicks and timed actions. It is difficult for assistive technology devices to interpret this functionality, barring the users from equal participation. A site with tutorial videos which do not feature somebody describing the on-screen action, or a video with spoken content that is not conveyed visually or in text, prevents people with hearing or vision loss from being able to fully understand the message leaving many disabled persons at a distinct disadvantage.

There are other, more severe barriers resulting from poor accessibility. Some colleges and universities use online course management software designed without accessibility in mind. The relevant material in inaccessible images, audio only formats, non-standard buttons which do not respond to keyboard presses, unreasonable time constraints during tests, and animated content cause assistive devices to struggle with page focus.  These issues can prevent students with disabilities from independently completing their courses and obtaining good grades.

Online stores with poorly designed, inaccessible websites cause grief to disabled people as they are unable to complete their purchases. Inaccessible company websites make it difficult for some employees to be as productive as possible, which can result in them unjustly viewed as liabilities. Government forms and documents that are not accessible make it difficult for some to complete, requiring them to relinquish their privacy while somebody assists them with sensitive information.

All types of information lives on the Internet. To a person with disabilities, an inaccessible Internet is a barrier. Ensuring websites are accessible is the best way to ensuring that everybody can participate in today’s information-driven world.

#3 – The Need For Online Accessibility
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6 Smartphone Photo Tips to take Your Images to the Next Level

You would be astonished at some of the amazing and captivating images that are perfect for sharing on social media taken using nothing more than your iPhone or other higher quality smartphone. We have six tips on how to make sure you’re getting the most out of that camera in your pocket.

1. Change your perspective

Try getting lower, holding your phone over the subject, or looking at your subject from a different point of view than you normally would. Step back or step forward, never use the built-in digital zoom, as this crops your image, getting rid of precious quality and pixels. Shooting straight on can work too. Experiment to see what works best for your subject.

Tools on a wood table shot from above

2. Vary Your Subject

If you work in a flower shop, don’t just take pictures of the flowers. Take pictures of the florist creating an arrangement. If you work in a construction company, show the process of the build, your employees working, and even your tools or materials that you use every day. These in action photos create dynamic imagery that won’t become stale over time.

An artist working on his next creation3. If the image is too dark or too light,   tap the screen to adjust exposure

Tapping on the screen where your subject appears will ensure the photo exposes for that portion of the photo. You can manually adjust the exposure to find the sweet spot by dragging up and down after you’ve tapped on the screen.while taking a picture of a globe tap on the screen to adjust settings

4. Use your volume button

Pro tip alert! You can use your volume button to snap the shot. If you’re holding the phone horizontally and want to increase stability, clicking the Volume Up button on the side of the phone works as a shutter button.Turn the phone sideways and use the volume buttons to shoot the picture

5. Let there be light…Not flash

Your photos will turn out better if you have more light in the image. Using natural light will give you the best results; turning on a light will certainly help with your results as well. Of course, flash is required when it is dark outside.

Plants near a window shoot well in natural light6. Don’t shoot in square mode, or with  a filter on

Shooting in square mode or with a filter already turned on limits the ways you can use your photo later. Shoot without a crop or filter on, and you will have the freedom to add those effects later while preserving the original image.

Plate of food shown half as original shot and half with applied iphone filter

– Kevin Cascagnette • Photographer + Graphic Designer

6 Smartphone Photo Tips to take Your Images to the Next Level
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#2 – Accessibility Strategy and Assistive Technologies

The World Wide Web has become a universal part of everyday life. Whether at work, school, or home, many tasks are now difficult to complete without access to the internet. Registering for university, applying for a job, filing tax returns, or booking travel are just a few examples of tasks we complete using the Internet.

Because of the convenience and ease of accessing information, people from all walks of life are now connected. Many have varying needs and abilities and may obtain and interpret information using different senses and techniques. Consider the following examples:

#2 – Accessibility Strategy and Assistive Technologies
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#1 – What is Online Accessibility?

You’ve probably heard the term “accessibility” at some point. But what does it actually mean?

Accessibility brings to mind different things for different people. Some picture a building with a wheelchair ramp, button-controlled doors, and elevators. Some think of Braille menus at restaurants and signs with tactile print on them in hotels. Others think of fire alarms which light up and make noise, or closed captioning on their televisions. In all of these cases, there is the common theme of making aspects of life easier, or possible, for people with disabilities, giving them the same information and level of access as everybody else.

The word “accessible” is commonly defined as “easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, or use.” The majority of the definitions don’t even mention disability, or people with special needs! At its core, accessibility refers to the ability to access something, which is, not so coincidentally, exactly what the word sounds like when spoken!

For the purposes of this, and future blogs, accessibility to the web will be discussed primarily in the context of people with disabilities. In today’s ever connected world of technology, accessibility refers to the ability of all people to connect, browse, understand, and interact with a website, program or device.

#1 – What is Online Accessibility?
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Creative Design & Website Accessibility

As an Accessibility Specialist, I often hear comments from graphic and web designers that the new Ontario legislated digital accessibility guidelines limit and restrict their creativity. Many graphic designers appear to feel frustrated, angry and unaccepting of the AODA and WCAG 2.0 Level A & AA guidelines. In Ontario we’re entering a new online landscape that is throwing a different set of challenges at the digital industry.

Creative Design & Website Accessibility
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Going Above & Beyond – Providing Value Added Services to Your Customers

Want to give your customers a little something extra to ensure their experience with you is memorable? Build loyalty by improving your customer’s shopping and buying experience. Introduce small Value Added services into your regular operations to ensure you stand out from the crowd and are far superior than big box stores!
This presentation was originally given to members of the Southern Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce on February 19th, 2015 at their Business Before 9:00am speaker series.  You can find the original PowerPoint presentation or PDF file below.

Why Go Above & Beyond?

  • Gain a Competitive Advantage over:
    • Online / Worldwide Competitors
    • Big Box Stores
    • Other Small Businesses
  • Create loyalty
  • Generate new marketing opportunities
Going Above & Beyond – Providing Value Added Services to Your Customers
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