Asha Horter tries out the guitar strummer, played through a foot pedal, at CanAssist at the University of Victoria. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Children were jamming, playing video games, and using robotics at the CanAssist centre at the University of Victoria Friday – everyday things that most kids take for granted but this group just gained access to with the help of unique technology.

Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development, joined CanAssist staff at UVic on Nov. 16 to see how children with special needs use seven new assistive technologies, that are being delivered to child development centres (CDCs) throughout B.C. in November, with the assistance of a $1.5-million provincial government contribution.

“It touches my heart to know that these technologies are helping children learn important skills and support their independence while they participate in fun recreational activities,” said Conroy.

CanAssist worked with the BC Association for Childhood Development and Intervention and CDC staff to pick technologies that would be most useful for children with special needs. Conroy said there was almost 100 per cent input response from the centres, a reflection of how important the project is to kids right across the province.

The seven chosen innovations were demonstrated at Friday’s event – some that focused on mobility, some on play, and some on communication.

ALSO READ: Director of new gallery looks to make art accessible to all

A gaming controller was created that allows children with limited hand function to use popular video-gaming systems, as well as a ball launcher, which allows children who are unable to throw independently to play ball with others, and two children showed off the capabilities of a remote-control car that can be operated by those who do not have the dexterity to use a similar commercial toy.

“This kind of innovation helps children join in where previously their disabilities may have limited their participation and inclusion in community,” said Conroy.

To aid communication, an app was designed which provides a way for children who have difficulty communicating to point to pictures on a tablet to show their choices, and a device that looks like a small, spinning roulette wheel was made that helps children indicate choices and learn how to use an accessibility switch.

A highlight was seeing two children use a mobile music therapy kit that enables those who are unable to play regular instruments to create music independently.

To aid mobility and independence, a robotic grabber was also designed that assists children who do not have the ability to pick up and move everyday objects on their own.

ALSO READ: New UVic buildings expand student housing by 25 per cent

The support from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, allowed CanAssist to refine these seven prototypes originally developed for individual clients, purchase parts, assemble and test the devices, develop user guides, create instructional videos and a website for the CDCs, and ship the technologies to the centres around B.C.

“This project has been a remarkable opportunity to make innovative technologies available that will benefit children with special needs around the province, whether they are located in rural communities or larger urban centres,” said Robin Syme, executive director, CanAssist.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Ethan shows Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development, one of the seven new assistive technologies being delivered to child development centres throughout B.C. for children with special needs. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Just Posted

Oil tanker ban to be reviewed by committee

Indigenous groups for and against Bill C-48 travel to Ottawa to influence the Senate’s decision

Nuslhiixwta – A Place of Treasures – celebrates new name

After months of thought and deliberation, Healthy Beginnings now has a new name.

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

B.C. businesses evacuated due to emailed bomb threat, also received in U.S.

Penticton and Comox Valley businesses evacuated Thursday morning

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Sex-assault squad investigated eight incidents at Toronto all-boys’ school

The interim president of a Roman Catholic all-boys school rocked by student-on-student abuse allegations said the football program was cancelled for next year.

Coal power in Canada must disappear by the end of 2029, new regulations say

Canada has significantly cut its dependence on coal largely due to the closure of all coal plants in Ontario.

‘Naive approach’ to China at fault in Meng mess: Scheer

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called on the Trudeau government to “unequivocally denounce any type of repercussions to Canadians on foreign soil.”

Omar Khadr ‘a model of compliance,’ wants changes to bail conditions: lawyer

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr is back in court today to seek changes to bail conditions.

B.C. man linked to human remains probe gets absolute discharge on unrelated mischief count

Curtis Sagmoen was in Vernon Law Courts Dec. 13 for a mischief trial

Supreme Court upholds Canada’s right to reargue facts in assisted-dying case

Julia Lamb and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association are spearheading a challenge of the law

Most Read