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unsustainabledevelopmentgoals_brand-01The third of December marks the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme is the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by countries all over the world on September 25th, 2015. These goals look to move towards the ending of  poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.

We asked our friend and colleague Lana Miley to speak to one of the Sustainable Development Goals and tell us what it means to her as someone who lives with a disability. Lana chose goal number nine: Industry, innovation and infrastructure. Here’s what she had to say about it:


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International Day of Persons With Disabilities: AccessNow

December 3rd, 2015 marks the United Nations Enable initiative of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme for this year’s Day is “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities,” and we thought we would ask our friend Maayan Ziv to tell us about her new app, AccessNow

AccessNowEver since I was a little girl, Muscular Dystrophy Canada has been in my life. From supporting my family as I grew up with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, to now acting as an ambassador and photographer for MDC myself.

I am so excited to be guest blogging today to share with you a little about a recent project I have launched called AccessNow. (This is actually my first time ever guest blogging, so here goes…eek!)

“Is it wheelchair accessible?” This might be the number one question I ask on a regular basis. Every time I want to go anywhere new, the first thing I must know is will I have access? Often getting an answer to this question isn’t so easy. “Is it wheelchair accessible? Does your location have a barrier free entrance? Are there any steps at all? Can you go check? Are you sure?”


International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Keith Knight

As the world celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, 2014, we decided to take a look at some of the interesting ways those in the Muscular Dystrophy Canada community use technology.

We asked client Keith Knight to tell us about how he uses technology to raise awareness, funds and to simply have some fun!


20121004_170042As an individual with a neuromuscular condition, I’ve grown to rely on technology. Through the use of my computer, I’ve been able to reach hundreds of thousands of people and show them that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I’ve made friends from all over the World when before I struggled to make friends where I live because they only saw me as different. All of this has been from my involvement in playing computer games.

I’ve played video games since I was a little kid as it was one way for me to connect with my peers that wasn’t physically limiting like sports as long as I 20131004_183508could find a way to play. As I got older, playing console games became more challenging as the remotes got more complex, so I transitioned to computer games. Over the years, I’ve tried everything from touchscreen to voice recognition to motion sensors to interface with a computer to find a best method. Every solution has its own merits and downsides, and the method I use changes depending on the game I’m playing. I currently use a combination of switches by my feet and elbow, typing with a pen in my mouth, and moving my mouse with my cheek/earlobe. While this method is quite low tech compared to the alternatives out there, I’ve found that things like motion sensors and neural sensors have too much of a delay in their current forms to compete in most games. With that said, the future is bright for individuals with neuromuscular conditions who enjoy playing video games. Neural sensor based controllers will one day be good enough to allow us the freedom of being restricted by our physical limitations, and I look forward to that day.


Here is a great short documentary on Keith, showing both his gaming and his day to day life.



You can check out Keith’s YouTube page so see videos of him in action – like this one:


International Day of Persons with Disabilities: JACO Robotic Arm

As the world celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, 2014, we decided to take a look at some of the interesting ways those in the Muscular Dystrophy Canada community use technology.

Photo Alexandre St-PierreOne use of technology that members of our community have had the chance to use and benefit from is the JACO Robotic Arm. Many of our clients have had the chance to try out the device at various gatherings, and one lucky client won the chance to have use of a JACO Robotic Arm for a full year!

Alexandre St-Pierre said that he was more independent during his time with the JACO Arm. “I use the JACO Arm to work on my computer, to place a music CD into the drive. I use it to open the cupboard and take some treats for my dog, to use the elevator in my house. It helps me to drink a cup of coffee, to eat, hold a bowl of popcorn, take the remote from my bother… to be more autonomous!”

During Empowerment In Action this past August in Richmond, British Columbia, we held a Vendor Marketplace where Kinova Robotics, makers of the JACO Robotic Arm, demonstrated the device. Many of the delegates had the chance to try the device for themselves. Keith Martin had this to say:

“I had the incredible opportunity to test out the JACO robotic arm at the Empowerment-In-Action conference’s ‘Vendor Marketplace.’ Having some background in robotics from my university engineering degree, I was fascinated with how the arm worked, and excited to give the controls a spin!

B3EQRs7IAAAOgAXWith the help of Kinova Robotics’ representative, I learned the different functions needed to control the arm and hand. After a few minutes, I was able to manoeuvre the arm to pick up a glass of water, bringing it up to my lips for a refreshing drink! The whole experience was a blast, and it easily made for my favourite picture of the EIA conference.”

Recently, Charles Deguire, the inventor of the JACO Robotic Arm won one of the 2014 Ernest C. Manning Awards.

For most of his life, Deguire watched his great uncle Jacques live with muscular dystrophy. Despite being unable to move more than one finger, his great uncle overcame his adversity and enhanced his independence by building himself an assisting arm out of household items, which he controlled with his active finger. Deeply moved and inspired by his great uncle’s experience and intuition, and motivated by his family’s entrepreneurialism, Deguire decided to dedicate his life to solving mobility problems for people living with physical disabilities.

Read the full article from Macleans here.

To learn more about the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, please click here.


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