(CanAssist at the University of Victoria / Facebook)

Some of life’s simple joys can be taken for granted, like throwing a ball or strumming a guitar. Thanks to new devices created by CanAssist at UVic, BC children with special needs may be able to experience these simple pleasures a little more easily.

CanAssist has been hard at work with the BC Association for Childhood Development and Intervention and child development centres (CDC) throughout the province to create new devices that will help children communicate, and just have fun.

The two new communication devices include:

  • An app designed for children who have difficulty communicating that will allow them to point to pictures on a tablet to clearly indicate their choices
  • A physical device that resembles a small spinning roulette wheel that helps children indicate their choices and teaches them how to use an accessibility switch.

The four new recreational devices are:

  • An accessible gaming controller that lets children with limited hand function use popular video-gaming systems.
  • A ball launcher that allows children who are unable to throw independently to play ball with others and with pets.
  • A mobile music therapy kit that lets children, who are unable to play regular instruments, create music independently or as a group for rockin’ jam sessions.
  • A remote-control car with an accessible controller.

Lastly, a robotic grabber was also created to assist children who are unable to pick up and move everyday objects on their own.

Posted by CanAssist at the University of Victoria on Wednesday, June 7, 2017

“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 Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development in a press release.

“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?”

The $1.5 million project was developed by CanAssist, where they refined seven prototypes that were originally developed for individual clients, and manufactured them on a larger scale, complete with user guides and instructional videos for 32 CDCs throughout the province.

“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 of CanAssist in the same release.

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