UVic gets $1M boost to help create personalized tools for people with disabilities

UVic gets $1M boost to help create personalized tools for people with disabilities
A young child in a wheelchair taking pictures at the beach. A camera setup with large buttons is mounted to the wheelchair to make using the camera easy and accessible.

The CanAssist facility at UVic has received a $1-million boost from the provincial government to help develop tools for people with disabilities.

The lab is known for helping create personalized tools and software for people with disabilities, and the $1-million funding will go specifically towards developing devices for people to thrive in workplaces.

Some examples of what CanAssist has helped create for people includes ergonomic handles for a professional butcher who had a repetitive strain injury in his wrist due to his work.

The new grips allowed the butcher to continue working safely and more comfortably.

Other projects included an app for a man who suffered a brain injury while at work. The app presents a series of photos, which could be accompanied by voice instructions or text, to help the man remember what steps are needed to complete complex tasks.

“Since my spinal cord injury, CanAssist have come up with solutions to everyday tasks such as throwing a ball for my dog, being able to transfer into my vehicle, caring for my newborn son, mowing my lawn and playing video games with my now 14-year-old son,” said Victoria resident Bill McCormick in a release Wednesday.

“They provide life-altering changes for people with disabilities. I cannot overstate how much their devices have improved my quality of life,” he said.

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Participants for upcoming CanAssist projects will be selected in collaboration between the province and disability service organizations like Community Living B.C.

The new $1-million round of funding comes from the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement, which this year includes the federal government providing B.C. with $300 million to spend on employment services and supports.

“Giving people with disabilities more independence and avenues to help them achieve their goals on their own terms is another way we’re building a more sustainable, inclusive economy that works for all British Columbians,” said B.C. Jobs Minister Brenda Bailey in a release Wednesday.

“Supporting CanAssist’s assistive technology will also help businesses find more people to fill the jobs they need to grow and succeed.”

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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