Innovative Technologies Profiled to Improve Lives of Adults with Developmental Disabilities

September 26th, 2013

Community Living BC (CLBC) and CanAssist profiled new technologies today which have been developed to improve the quality of life of adults with developmental disabilities.  The innovations were demonstrated at CanAssist’s University of Victoria location with Social Development and Social Innovation Minister Don McRae and in advance of October’s Community Living Month.

Last year, CLBC provided CanAssist with a $100,000 grant to develop customized technology solutions for seven individuals in Greater Victoria. Each of the participants received two to four technologies designed to address their individual needs, goals and interests in three main areas:

  • improve access to meaningful activities and recreation
  • help overcome barriers to communication
  • increase independence in tasks of daily living 

Some CLBC project participants also attended to show how new technologies have increased their independence. Examples of the technologies demonstrated included: 

  • CanPlan– A software application for the iPad or iPhone that helps individuals with developmental disabilities or other cognitive challenges to break down virtually any task into a sequence of easy-to-follow photos, along with optional audio and text.
  • Food Prep Station – A customized chopping board that allows a client with the use of one hand to safely slice and chop food, along with several other food preparation functions.
  • CanTunes – A software app that provides an extremely simple way for people with a range of cognitive disabilities to select and play music on an iPad. CanTunes promotes independence, builds confidence and reduces the need for caregiver assistance with music.
  • Customized Tablet Mounts – Three individuals received a robust mounting system that ensures their iPad stays secure to wheelchairs, chairs, beds and tables – providing many choices as to where to use the device.  

Since it was established in 1999 as a small volunteer venture, CanAssist has had a direct impact on thousands of people around British Columbia and beyond. Staff work with individuals and families across the entire disability spectrum to help improve their independence and ability to participate at home, work and in the community. In addition to developing technology, CanAssist operates a youth employment program (TeenWork) and participates in local activities to build inclusion for people with disabilities.

CanAssist received over $2 million in funding from the Government of B.C. in 2012/13 for developing and providing technologies and services that help increase independence and accessibility for people with disabilities.

CLBC is a provincial crown agency mandated to deliver supports and services to adults with developmental disabilities and their families in British Columbia. CLBC works with its partners to create communities where people with developmental disabilities have more choices about how they live, work and contribute.

For more information about CanAssist, click here. For CLBC’s 2012/2013 Annual Report, which includes examples of other CLBC innovations, click here.  

Quotes: 

Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Don McRae 

“Seeing firsthand the innovative technologies that CanAssist is developing for people with disabilities is both impressive and incredibly inspiring. These devices and technologies provide practical solutions that help a person with daily tasks and greatly improve their quality of life.” 

“October is Community Living Month in British Columbia and I’m looking forward to touring all regions of the province to hear about successes and accomplishments, as well as some of the challenges, in the community living sector.” 

CLBC interim CEO Doug Woollard

“CanAssist is a unique organization, the only known resource of its kind in North America that uses a multi-disciplinary, on-campus approach to develop technologies to help people across the spectrum of disability gain independence. CLBC recognizes that innovations are a key to helping support greater independence and quality of life to adults with developmental disabilities. We are very pleased that the outcome of this investment has great potential to make life-changing, positive impacts for people we support no matter where they may live.”

 CanAssist Executive Director, Robin Syme 

“CanAssist is committed to working with many partners to develop practical, innovative technologies that address unmet community needs. Our partnership with CLBC is an excellent example of this type of collaboration. Over the past few years, CLBC has provided CanAssist with funding to improve the quality of life of their clients. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with CLBC in the future to assist more individuals with disabilities through the development of customized technologies.” 

Media contacts:

Community Living BC, Communications
604.209.7608 

CanAssist, Communications
250.721.8730

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