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BC children benefit from CanAssist devices

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On Nov. 16, CanAssist was delighted to host an event celebrating a project funded by the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, which involves providing innovative technologies to 32 Child Development Centres (CDCs) across BC.

Minister Conroy and a CanAssist staff member watch a visiting child try out the Accessible Gaming Controller.

CanAssist worked with the BC Association for Childhood Development and Intervention and CDC staff to select technologies that would be most useful for children with special needs in these CDC environments. Innovations include:

  • an accessible gaming controller that enables children with limited hand function to use popular gaming systems, such as Xbox;
  • a ball launcher, which allows children who are unable to throw independently to play ball with others and with pets;
  • an app designed for children who have difficulty communicating, which provides a way for them to point to pictures on a tablet to clearly indicate their choices;
  • a mobile music therapy kit that enables children who are unable to play regular instruments to create music independently or as a group to simulate a “jam session;”
  • a device that looks like a small, spinning roulette wheel that helps children indicate choices and learn how to use an accessibility switch – a critical milestone for many kids who have difficulty communicating verbally;
  • a cool remote-control car that can be operated by children who don’t have the dexterity to use a similar commercial toy; and
  • a robotic grabber that assists children who don’t have the ability to pick up and move everyday objects on their own.

“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 Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy, who attended the Nov. 16 event. “This kind of innovation helps children join in where previously their disabilities may have limited their participation and inclusion in community. How can that not mean more fun, more learning and more joy – for everyone?”

This project, which was supported by a $1.5-million contribution from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, allowed CanAssist to refine 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 across the province whether they are located in rural communities or larger urban centres,” said CanAssist Executive Director Robin Syme.

Quick Facts:

  • Staff at the 32 Child Development Centres selected which technologies would be included in the core suite that each of them receive. In addition, each CDC could choose two “bonus” technologies from the suite of seven.
  • As of mid-November 2018, five technologies have been provided. The final two will be delivered early in 2019. In all, almost 500 technologies will be delivered to CDCs, most in multiple units.

Learn More:

To see videos of these technologies visit:

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