Victoria Wednesday, October 4, 2023 11:00 AM
“Assistive technologies make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities by helping them to overcome barriers,” said Susie Chant, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “It’s exciting to see this funding for CanAssist going toward assistive technology specifically focused on ensuring accessible employment for everybody. I look forward to seeing what the team at UVic creates and how their efforts will benefit all British Columbians.”
CanAssist develops technologies for people of all ages and disabilities when they cannot be obtained elsewhere. Attending to the requests of families and people with disabilities, occupational therapists and health-care professionals, devices that are developed can also be adapted for use of a larger group. With these funds, CanAssist will focus on tools specifically designed to support people with disabilities in the workplace.
This grant complements WorkBC’s Assistive Technology Services, which provide supports to help people thrive in the workplace, including ergonomic and mobility supports, communication and hearing devices, as well as workplace and vehicle modifications.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to apply CanAssist expertise in developing personalized assistive technologies to support individuals who need practical solutions to be successful in securing or maintaining employment,” said Robin Syme, executive director, CanAssist at UVic. “We are grateful for this investment in CanAssist as we continue partnering with the Province in support of people living with disabilities.”
Participants will be identified with collaboration between the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, WorkBC, and disability service organizations, such as Community Living B.C.
This $1-million in provincial funding comes from the 2022-23 Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement. Under the agreement, the Province receives more than $300 million each year to fund employment services and supports, including those provided through the 102 WorkBC centres throughout the province, and through the assistive technology contract.
Investing in projects like this is part of StrongerBC’s Future Ready plan to make education and training more accessible, affordable and relevant to prepare British Columbians for the jobs of tomorrow and help businesses grow.
Randy Boissonnault, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages –
“A stronger and more inclusive Canada means ensuring that all Canadians have equal opportunity to succeed in their careers. That is why the Government of Canada invests approximately $3 billion each year through Canada’s labour market agreements. These investments help more than one million Canadians every year to acquire new skills they need to build successful careers and thrive.”
Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation –
“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. Supporting CanAssist’s assistive technology will also help businesses find more people to fill the jobs they need to grow and succeed.”
Murray Rankin, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head –
“We all benefit when everyone have opportunities that help them live a fulfilling life. I’m glad that the University of Victoria campus will be the incubator of CanAssist’s new technologies, benefiting many people with disabilities. This funding will help provide them a brighter future.”
Brian Makasoff, Kelowna-area resident –
“I love my new CanPlan app and iPad from CanAssist. It enables me to be more independent at work, so I don’t need to ask for help as often. I can easily follow the steps on my checklist, and I really like how I can click DONE when I am finished with each task. I am very happy that I was selected to try out this new technology since it is making me so much more successful at work.”
Bill McCormick, Victoria-area resident –
“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. They provide life-altering changes for people with disabilities. I cannot overstate how much their devices have improved my quality of life.”
- Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program or product system used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.
To learn more about CanAssist and to apply online, visit: https://www.canassist.ca/EN/main/programs/can-we-help-you/technology-for-employment.html
To learn more about WorkBC Assistive Technology Services, visit:
To see a list of available employment resources for people with disabilities, visit:
To read the Accessible B.C. Act 2022/2023 Progress Report:
To read the StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan, visit:
A backgrounder follows.
- J.P.’s support team at WorkSafeBC asked if CanAssist could provide a software tool to help him remember tasks requiring a sequence of steps. He had acquired a brain injury while at work and was struggling to remember things. CanAssist developed an app that breaks down tasks into a sequence of photos, which can be accompanied by voiced instructions or text. The app enabled him to make a successful return to work.
- Mobility and dexterity challenges prevented Rachel from using a conventional filing cabinet. CanAssist built a cabinet with motorized doors and instead of a key, an electronic keypad to unlock them.
- Garry Curry is part of a group of artists who work at a Victoria studio. He turns slabs of stone into sculptures. CanAssist had previously made customized chisels for Curry. However, he was still struggling to securely hold the piece of stone in place when working on it. CanAssist created a device that holds pieces of stone securely, powered by an electric car jack.
- CanAssist made ergonomic handles for a professional butcher who had developed a repetitive strain injury in his wrist. The grips allowed the client to continue working and use a butcher’s knife more comfortably and safely.
- A Switch Access Interface was designed to help a client with limited dexterity control his smartphone using three accessibility switches. The device allows him to navigate and type on his phone independently. It connects wirelessly to the client’s phone via Bluetooth and has several modes of operation for typing or navigating.
- CanAssist created a cutting board that enables people to safely use a kitchen knife with only one hand. It is attached to a pivot-and-slider mechanism that lets the user easily slice, chop and move the knife across the cutting board.
This on BC Govt website go to the link here