Whether it be a product, service, unique invention or idea, it’s a great time to be innovating. At AccessNow we are pretty obsessed with new technologies that are empowering people with disabilities. Accessibility Innovation has the potential to enable us all and create real impact that can change the world. Since it’s National AccessAbility week (May 28 – June 3), we couldn’t think of a more fitting topic than Canadian innovations. Lets take a look at a couple really cool Canadian organizations making waves in the accessibility space.
Here are a couple accessible Canadian innovations that caught our attention:
1. StopGap Foundation
Its no secret that AccessNow and the StopGap Foundation are friends. Both organizations were founded in Toronto as grassroots strategies to increase access in the city. Frustrated with all those one-step barrier storefronts, our pal Luke Anderson set on a mission to supply local businesses with affordable stop gap solutions after he experienced a biking accident that changed his perspective. Today you can find these brightly coloured ramps all over the city and beyond with over 1000 deployed and counting. Also check out the AccessNow app for the StopGap filter.
Tecla is a Toronto based tech company that we have the pleasure of being office mates with at The DMZ. This revolutionary assistive device allows people with limited upper body mobility to use touchscreen devices like smart phones and tablets through the use of easy switches, buttons, sip and puff options or even wheelchair controls. The company recently launched the new Tecla-e, a sleek design upgrade compatible with assistive switches and now connects to Internet of Things (IoF) devices. Basically the Tecla can access any Bluetooth compatible device which means you can control your entire environment from a switch on your wheelchair.
3. Tangled Art+Disability
Tangled is a not-for-profit organization promoting excellence amongst artists with disabilities. They host art events, provide opportunities for creative artist development, and showcase incredible work in their gallery space. Their galleries are low cost or often free and work diligently to be accessible for everyone to enjoy. Tangled has grown so much since founding in 2003. We love seeing how they continue to advocate for inclusion in the arts whilst promoting and inspiring individuals with disabilities to pursue their creative passions.
4. The DanceAbility Movement
Founded by two occupational therapists in Ontario, DanceAbility brings children of all abilities together in an environment that is supportive for everyone to experience the arts. The idea is to invite all children to dance and be creative while building a community of people who partake in the studios. The movement has spread throughout Ontario, creating awareness about the healing power of dance. They are constantly looking for volunteers so if you like to get your groove on be sure to check them out.
5. Reveal by Awake Labs
Awake Labs is the innovative tech company behind Reveal: a wearable wristband designed to help people with autism and caregivers make informed decisions. The product is an elegant and sophisticated innovation that harnesses machine learning to better understand behaviour using prediction. When paired with a smartphone, Reveal sends physiological information of the wearer that can help a parent or caregiver track many things, notably anxiety. Users can also customise the app to better the overall experience.
The eSight wearable technology is designed to enable those who are blind or have low-vision. The company has built a solution that mimics, as closely as possible, how sighted people see, by developing a technological breakthrough that is hands-free, provides instant sight, enables mobility, and is versatile. With the use of high speed, high definition camera capture, LED’s in front of the user’s eye provide an image for enhanced visibility, that has virtually no lag and a tilt technology that can be personalized to maximize results.
7. Kinova Robotics
This montreal based company is the mastermind behind the JACO robotic arm. The arm was initially designed to empower people with physical disabilities to be more independent by providing an ergonomic solution that can be used in a variety of ways. Use the arm to pour yourself a glass of water, or take something out of the fridge, pick up something off the floor or carry a heavy object. It clamps onto a wheelchair and can be controlled by a simple joystick or switch. This innovation is quite pricey but can greatly improve the quality of life for those who are lucky enough to own one.
Legworks is making prosthetics more affordable and durable for use around the world with their main product the AT-Knee or All Terrain Knee. After carrying out rigorous testing in countries such as Myanmar, they discerned that their knee was in fact durable enough for use in harsh conditions. Today Legworks is making a name for itself in the developing world, by serving a large population that benefits from this affordable yet innovative solution.