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)

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Just Posted

Soccer player Ethan Finnigan juggles the ball at Oak Bay High. The Grade 12 student was injured much of last year and was relying on his senior year to score a scholarship and play at university. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
High school athletes remain on sidelines across B.C.

Recruiting for university on hiatus, future unknown

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

The street value of the more than one-and-a-quarter kilograms of cocaine seized by VicPD officers was over $150,000. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police seize fentanyl, more than $150,000-worth of cocaine

Charges laid against two Victoria men in months-long investigation

A byelection will be held in Victoria on Dec. 12. (Black Press Media file photo)
Nomination period for Victoria’s byelection now open

Prospective candidates have until Nov. 6 to get papers in

Items seized over four days of targeted vehicle checks Nanaimo and Victoria by members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC photo)
Gang enforcement team seizes drugs and weapons in Victoria and Nanaimo

Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. checked 33 vehicles over four days

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

The Calgary Zoo is aiding in recovery efforts for the Vancouver Island marmot, an endangered species. Pictured here, a marmot at Mount Washington. (Black Press file)
Despite challenges, 2020 good year for Vancouver Island marmot population

In 2019, the foundation counted 60 pups; this year, it reached 46

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

FILE – The Queen of Alberni ferry leaves the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta bound for Vancouver Island, Sunday, July 29, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) CANADA
Mechanical failure leaves nearly 200 passengers stranded on BC Ferries ship for hours

A tug arrived after dark to safely nudge the vessel into a berth so travellers could finally disembark

Ridge Meadows RCMP (Black Press)
Maple Ridge X-ray tech convicted of sexual assault dating back 30 years

Allen James Brooks is expected to be sentenced in January 2021

Most Read