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More people who have a disability leverage virtual tools

He’s mostly non-verbal and has an intellectual disability, and he’s just written and shared a story about himself, thanks to the accessibility features and a user-friendly share tool on his computer.

She is learning and practising a new behaviour with the support of an app on her iPad.

His iPad calendar is keeping him aware of where he needs to be and when. This is especially helpful for him given his different concept of time.

A few people have been able to connect with alienated family members using the no-cost, easy-to-use-by-themselves Internet search and social media tools.

What American journalist Vic Sussman described almost 20 years ago in a U.S. News and World Report article is becoming more of a reality, at least in some respects, as the above recent and real-life anecdotes involving people supported by the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) show.

“For the first time in their lives, many disabled people find themselves able to belong somewhere, a virtual community where they can be swept along by daily events, as in any other community,” Sussman wrote back in 1994, when the information superhighway phenomenon was just beginning to take shape.

Other forward thinkers have seen a bright outlook for people who have a disability as computers help them achieve more independence, learn new skills and perhaps of greatest importance, immerse themselves in a modern world that might otherwise be off limits.

BACI senior manager of technology Lisa Joy Trick says the organization has seen a growing interest from the people it supports in using computers in recent years. More people are signing up for computer training and applying for funded computer equipment. There are also a lot more young people accessing the lab.

BACI recently upgraded its computer labs to include some just-on-the-market Chromeboxes, to keep up with the demand and ensure it’s providing quality equipment.

BACI tech support staff members spend a lot of time working with people to determine what apps or methods of using the computer would work best to meet each individual’s goals and interests.

Providing computer training and operating a computer lab for the people it supports aligns with BACI’s mission, Lisa Joy says.

“Our goal is always to make sure that (people who have an intellectual disability) are more included in society, that they’ve connected with more people, that they’re building relationships and finding new ways to communicate,” says Lisa Joy.

“So if technology can help any of those things to happen then that’s great; we want to encourage that.”

Related Story:

BACI on cutting-edge with computer Chromeboxes

Feel to comment on this story below, or by e-mailing the writer, Michelle Strutzenberger, michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.



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