Milestones and awards
CanAssist announced a licensing agreement that allows its popular CanConnect technology to be distributed in Denmark. The agreement with Huset Ventures gives the Danish not-for-profit organization the option to eventually distribute CanConnect throughout the rest of the Scandinavian market.
- In the spring, CanAssist opened a dedicated machine shop in its facilities in E-Hut at the University of Victoria. The new shop is helping CanAssist to be much more efficient in the development of its customized technologies. The shop measures about 1,000-square-feet and was renovated to contain a wide range of specialized machinery. Renovations and equipment were funded primarily by Western Economic Diversification Canada, along with matching grants from a number of other organizations.
- In March, The Fregin Family Foundation provided a $100,000 grant to support the development of CanGo, a mobile tool for wayfinding and independent travel for people with cognitive disabilities. The software will operate on a Blackberry Torch device and will assist people in travelling independently by public transit systems.
- CanAssist supported its first clients referred by two new partners: the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) and the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disabilities Society (BCANDS). Both organizations asked CanAssist to develop technologies for specific clients. ICBC is the crown corporation that provides vehicle insurance in the province. BCANDS is a non-profit society serving the Aboriginal population of B.C. in areas such as disability, health information and resource needs.
- As a result of $500,000 in funding received from the BC Ministry of Health in 2011, CanAssist and the Vancouver Island Health Authority entered into a formal partnership to conduct a pilot project to demonstrate how customized technologies can help improve independence in daily living in the lives of about 37 VIHA clients with a range of disabilities.
- In February, Community Living British Columbia provided $100,000 for a pilot project in which CanAssist is developing customized technologies to increase the independence and improve the quality of life of a number of CLBC-supported clients. CLBC is a crown agency that delivers support and services to adults with developmental disabilities and their families in B.C.
- An invitation from David Mulroney, Canada's Ambassador to China, resulted in a trip to Beijing in October by delegates from UVic, including representatives from CanAssist. The group visited Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing and provided customized technologies to three people with special needs.
- CanAssist is excited to have a client referred by the Department of National Defence. The client is an individual living in Nanaimo, B.C., for whom CanAssist is developing multiple mechanical and software engineering projects. Discussions are taking place to expand CanAssist's client base with DND and Veterans Affairs Canada.
- B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced $3 million that will support an innovative partnership between CanAssist, Tyze Personal Networks and the PLAN Institute for Caring Citizenship. These partners will create Connect for Care, new online tools that will help connect clients with their families, caregivers and health care providers. An additional $500,000 was also announced by the Premier which
will support CanFITT, a partnership between CanAssist and the Vancouver Island Health Authority to prototype the use of customized technologies to improve the quality of life for clients with special needs.
- CanAssist signed its first agreement with an overseas organization. Social Development Centre (SUS) in Denmark has signed a letter of intent with CanAssist to explore opportunities to collaborate on the development and distribution of assistive technologies that will benefit people with disabilities.
- CanAssist secured agreements that will make two of its technologies available for sale to customers around the world. Licensing agreements were reached with AbleNet Inc. to sell CanAssist's very popular Adapted iPod System and iPad Adapter System (the latter is forthcoming). These devices enable people with a wide range of disabilities to control Apple's popular iPod music player and iPad by pressing a single switch.
- CanAssist, with help from several community partners, hosted a highly successful two-day forum that brought together families, educators, and health and social service providers to plan supports for children with special needs. About 100 people attended the Building Bridges Forum, which featured 24 workshops and a presentation by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth.
- CanAssist joined forces with the Vancouver Resource Society in February to hold a very special event to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities. Called Hearts for Hearts, the sold-out evening included entertainment by Grammy Award winner Michael Bolton, a sumptuous gourmet dinner, a raffle and an exciting live auction. The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation very generously provided the evening's entertainment at the River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond, B.C.
- Community Living British Columbia is providing CanAssist with $75,000 to conduct a feasibility study to determine the accessibility of various social media platforms for adults with developmental disabilities. The study will also consider industry trends, privacy and security issues, as well as offer recommendations on ways to increase accessibility.
- VOCYL (Victoria Opportunities for Community Youth Leadership) received two awards this year. One was a Youth Now Award from the United Way Youth Advisory Council, and the other a WOW! award from Community Living British Columbia. VOCYL is a youth leadership program supported by CanAssist and Community Living Victoria.
- In February, CanAssist moved to E-Hut, a building located near UVic's McKinnon Gym. It is the first time in several years that all CanAssist team members have worked under the same roof.
Under an agreement signed in July with WorkSafeBC, CanAssist will provide customized assistive technologies to improve the quality of life of select injured workers with special needs. These workers are associated with the Special Care Services Group of WorkSafeBC. CanAssist will also provide services and support to facilitate the return to work of select injured workers who are associated with the Vocational Rehabilitation Group.
- CanAssist Disability Resource Fair, where disability organizations from Victoria and Vancouver showcase their programs and services, was held in December.
- The VOCYL youth program leads 20 presentations, bringing the message of inclusion and acceptance to about 500 students in the Greater Victoria area.
- Senator Jim Munson tours CanAssist to learn about our many technologies and programs.
- Secured first service contract with SET-BC for adapted video cameras and adapted iPods.
- Two graduate students engaged in the CanAssist program successfully defend their theses
- CanAssist receives a $272,000 grant from Western Economic Diversification Canada to purchase state-of-the-art prototyping and machine shop equipment (April)
- The CanAssist team receives the Award for Societal Contribution during the 2009 Craigdarroch Research Awards (April)
- The CanAssist team receives the CFAX TeamWork Award (May)
- A small-scale pilot project is established to support eight teens with disabilities in finding meaningful paid part-time employment and volunteer opportunities. These teens receive job coaching support and assistance getting to and from work in some instances.
- During the 2008-2009 fiscal year, CanAssist established 22 new partnerships and collaborations.
- CanAssist celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Just for Kicks soccer program. Each year, from September through March, as many as 30 children with special needs take part in the weekly program at the McKinnon Gym at UVic, along with many dedicated volunteer soccer buddies.
- CanAssist receives a $3M grant from the Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance and the Ministry of Advanced Education (for general operations)
- CanAssist receives a $1M donation from the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation
- CanAssist is awarded formal organizational status by UVic's Senate and Board of Governors in May of 2008
- CanAssist initiates a supported employment program (We All Can Work), in part to complement our assistive technology services
- We partner with Community Living Victoria to grow the Victoria Opportunities for Community Youth Leadership (VOCYL) program
- We now employ ~ 25 (FTE) staff and students - and we are now the employer of the largest number of UVic Engineering Co-op students each year
- Our first two computer accessibility software tools are posted on our website, making them freely available to the general community
- UVATT officially becomes CanAssist and unveils a new look and logo
- UVATT/CanAssist engages its 2,000th student in the program
- UVATT/CanAssist engages its 200th community volunteer in the program
- UVATT/CanAssist develops its 100th unique assistive technology for the community
- Dr. Livingston is appointed full time Director of CanAssist (new UVic position)
- Four graduate students are now engaged and supported by CanAssist
- During the year, UVATT receives over 200 requests from the community for assistive technology support
- The Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance and the Ministry of Children and Family Development grant UVATT $750,000 (for general operations)
- ~ 7 (FTE) staff and students are now employed by UVATT
- Dr. Livingston is awarded the UVic Community Leadership Award
- Dr. Livingston is named Academic of the Year by the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC
- UVATT wins the Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Centre's Community Involvement Award
- Dr. Livingston, on behalf of UVATT, receives the Lieutenant Governor's Technology and Innovation Award from the BC Innovation Council
- CanAssist receives its first major donation (Great Canadian Gaming Corporation)
- During the year, UVATT receives ~ 75 requests from the community for assistive technology support
- CanAssist engages and supports its first graduate student
- UVATT technologies are put on display at our first Open House
- UVATT employs its first full time staff person
- Dr. Nigel Livingston, a faculty member in the Department of Biology, receives his first request for an assistive technology project
- The Just for Kicks soccer program is launched
- Due to increasing requests for assistive technology projects, the University of Victoria Assistive Technology Team (UVATT), which makes use of the energy and creativity of numerous (volunteer) UVic faculty, staff and students, along with many community volunteers, is founded