Monday, 19 February 2018

Avra Labs Eye Control

There's a new technology emerging that's inclusive for any person that struggles with typing has the ability to use. Avra Labs Eye Control was developed by Rishi Kapadia and allows members with mobility issues to operate a computer with only their eyes. By simply using an eye-tracking bar and downloading the necessary software, members will calibrate their computer to work with their eye strength. This works by a tracking device located at the base of the monitor.

In the summer of 2017, Rishi was working at a large tech company and noticed one of his team members struggling to use a computer. “His condition was an essential tremor and I noticed that it took him about five seconds to be able to move his mouse cursor across the screen and typing on his keyboard was a struggle,” said Kapadia.

Researching various solutions that could work as a hands-free alternative to using a mouse and computer left only a few useful options. While there were several other products on the market, none were as efficient to any skill set as the eye gaze technology was.

The next step was to test out the competition. Although eye gaze was the most effective option available to use a computer, most were slow and inconsistent to use. “After ten minutes I didn’t want to use it anymore because of how cumbersome it felt (slow, not accurate enough which would cause it to click places I didn't intend it to, and it felt like a pain in the eye),” said Kapadia. The majority of the products were also overpriced and with the technology available in the world today it was time for a change.

Accessibility is an issue across Canada, which should not only relate to outside of the home, but also while using technology that is supposed to be available to everyone. “After doing research, I recognized that there are millions of people around the world who have difficulty using a computer due to their physical condition. It became my goal to bring these individuals a computer usage experience they can enjoy,” said Kapadia.

At the Abilities Expo the technology was brought to life when Sarah, Ability Online’s own was able to use the software. She was able to type and control the computer with her eyes and with minimal clicking involved. “It was cool to try. I can type quickly, but I think that this technology is going to be really great for people who have trouble with their arms and have issues typing,” said Sarah.

For more information on how to use Avra Labs Eye Control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrxC0ceRO2s

To contact Rishi with any questions email: contact@avralabs.com


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Heads Up: Dealing with a Concussion

The frightening term being tossed around regarding our favourite athletes as of lately is concussions. Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the biggest names in the NHL and missed 8 weeks with a concussion he received during a game in late October. Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots is one of the latest concussion victims in the NFL.

How can a knock to the head be so serious?

The risk of having a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become a significant injury across Canada. Although they are often viewed as minor, they can have lasting, detrimental effects. Concussions have developed into complex issues, in which one’s brain is injured as the result of a direct force to the body, such as a blow to the head that causes a shaking or jarring to the brain.

There’s no set way to prevent a concussion from happening. In sports, helmets only protect the bones of the skull, but they do not protect the actual brain from experiencing trauma. It’s important to be mindful of concussion symptoms.

Symptoms of a concussion can include:
·      Headache.
·      Dizziness and balance issues.
·      Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly.
·      Blurred vision.
·      Insomnia or fatigue.
·      Memory loss.
·      Nausea or vomiting.
·      Sensitivity to light and sound.
·      An increase in anxiety and irritability.
·      Depression.

The full recovery from a TBI can last months to years depending on the severity. Every single brain injury is unique. Each will have different symptoms resulting in varying recovery time. It may seem frustrating at times, but it’s important to stay positive and take various steps to help the recovery process along.

Ability Online offers great services to help deal with a concussion or TBI. There are multiple forums where members can chat with each other and with professionals to understand this injury better.

Helpful resource pages are available including a concussion handbook, better night sleep tips, and returning to learning. We are also partnered with Holland Bloorview in order for parents to have the best research about TBI’s available to them.

There’s no avoiding a concussion, no matter how carful you may be. I suffered a concussion playing hockey in my teens and it was so scary. The first minute after being hit I was in such a daze and had no idea where I was. Thankfully, my symptoms didn’t last long and I was back to playing in no time. For others it may take time and be frustrating to overcome, but concussions can be defeated.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Valentine's Day Campaign

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. This year, instead of buying chocolates why not donate to Ability Online?

The average amount Canadian’s spend on candies and chocolates for their special someone each year is $191. We think that donating to Ability Online for Valentine’s Day can help make a lasting difference.

In reality, most gifts don’t have a continuous impact: roses wilt and chocolates tend to go bad. Make your present to a loved one a donation that not only shows how much you care, but is also a gift that gives back.

Over the last 27 years Ability Online has been a free, supportive online community for kids, teens and young adults with all kinds of disabilities or health challenges. It’s become a place for those who need help to get advice from role models and mentors. Highlighted in our blog and across our website, our members have accomplished some pretty great things.

Without Ability Online, many members and parents would feel alone. Building an online community where they can seek support and make new friends is the boost most need to succeed. Donating will insure that our members will continue to receive the online support they need.

This Valentine’s Day, help our kids accomplish even more incredible things.



Monday, 29 January 2018

Abilities Expo 2018

“The event for the disability community.”

The second annual Abilities Expo on Canadian soil was held January 19-21 at the International Centre in Toronto. The Abilities Expo promotes greater independence and offers a chance to discover life-changing products, services and workshops to those with special needs. Different events ranging from wheelchair dancing and basketball, face painting, service dog demonstrations were available all weekend.

This year for the very first time, Ability Online was able to participate. Ability Online had the chance to reconnect with members from the past and present at our booth. Highlighting ways that kids, teens and young adults with disabilities as well as parents and professionals can connect to get support in a safe environment.

Products and Services: A wide variety of products and services were available to try all weekend for anyone to test out including mobility products, devices for those with developmental disabilities, other medical equipment, necessary services, and more. Not-for-profit organizations (like Ability Online) were also on hand to provide helpful resources.

Sports and Dancing: Physical activity has always been a key to better health. Attendees of any ability could test out their skills with sports like hockey, basketball, rugby, tennis and sitting volleyball. Dancing queen Auti Angel and Wheel Dance offered interactive dancing workshops that got the entire crowd moving.

Assistance Animals: Animals have always been near and dear to our hearts, but even more so to the disable community. Service dogs are essential in guiding, hearing, diabetic alerts, autism support, and seizure alerts. Service dog demonstrations offered information about how these animals can improve ones life.
Go check out Ability Online's social media to see some more photos from the event and sign up today!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Don't "Dis" My Ability by Danielle Pellerine


Hi, my name is Danielle Pellerine. This is my story.

I live with a condition called spina bifida, which is a birth defect where you're born with a hole in your spine. I also have hydrocephalus, a condition where too much fluid accumulates in the brain. Due to these conditions, I was required to have multiple surgeries, including repairing the hole in my spine and inserting a shunt in my brain to drain the fluid. The exposure of latex gloves from surgeries has caused me to develop a latex allergy. I also have a non-verbal learning disorder. I started wearing glasses when I was 9 months old  my George Burns glasses! I live with a dislocated hip that doctors have tried to repair twice, unsuccessfully. This requires me to use a wheelchair to get around, but I don't let that stop me from enjoying fun adventures and accomplishing big things. 

I enjoy trying different wheelchair sports. I play sledge hockey and I love it! I was given the honour of being chosen as captain of my hockey team! I've also tried wheelchair basketball, bowling, as well as skiing and hiking with an all-terrain wheelchair called a Hippocampe. I even performed in a couple plays with my school's after-school drama club  Cheaper by the Dozen and being a mermaid in the Little Mermaid.  

I was asked to be a Rick Hanson Ambassador for my local area one year, where there was a big walk to raise money to buy a lift for the pool at the local university. During Rick Hansen's 25th Anniversary Relay, I wheeled as a medal bearer. It was such an honour to wheel with Rick Hansen's medal! 

My biggest accomplishment, however, was completing 23 courses in an online Library Information Technology program and graduating as a library technician. Wheeling across the stage at graduation was definitely my proudest moment in life, to date. I work part-time in two local public libraries, and am also a Facebook Administrator for one of those library systems.

I hope you enjoyed reading my story. "I have a Disability yes that's true, but all that really means is I may have to take a slightly different path than you."  - Robert M. Hensel

I'm just a girl who experiences the world using a set of wheels. Don't "dis" my ability.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Ways to De-Stress by Shandi Pace

Stress is a part of our daily lives. Worrying about so many daily activities at once can lead to severe physical effects in the future. Ranging from health issues to irritability, it’s important to be aware to what may be causing your stress. For the most part, you can’t change the source of your stress, however you can change how you deal with it.

There’s truly no way to live a completely stress-free life, but these are a few tips on how to stay relaxed.

Exercise is a simple way to relieve your body’s pent up energy. Even by doing just 30 minutes of activity a day your overall mood will change dramatically. Self-paced exercises tend to get the best results.
·      Best exercises to try: Yoga, High-Energy Activities (running, dancing), Tai Chi.

Healthy eating ensures that the body has energy and nutrients it needs to maintain concentration and for the brain to function properly. Although junk food might taste better, superfoods are packed with vitamins and minerals that will leave you feeling less bloated.
·      Best foods to try: Asparagus, avocado, blueberries, salmon, almonds.

Get some sleep! Make sure your body isn’t getting in the way of your ability to reciprocate in stressful situations by heading to bed earlier. Your mood can also be altered depending on how much sleep you’ve had. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night is what’s recommended most.
·      Tips to try:
o   Unplug all electronics 10-15 minutes before bed.
o   Read a book or magazine to tire yourself out.
o   Try heading to bed earlier.
o   Make sure your room is as dark as possible.

Talk it out. Opening discussing what’s on your mind with a trusted family member or friend helps introduce a new point of view. If more attention is needed, seek out support groups or check out Ability Online’s forums with multiple mentors always available. Keeping a journal is another way to also “talk it out” if the problem is more personal.

Do something you love. Always take time out of your day to do the things you love the most. If something is causing an issue, take short breaks and step back from what’s causing you stress. Most like to listen to music, take a nap, colour in an adult colouring book, take a bath or play video games. Regularly make time for whatever it is you enjoy most.

Schedule your time accordingly. Make a list of priorities you want to accomplish over the span of a week. Organizing your time and not taking on too many responsibilities will lower your stress. Also, allow for time to do your favourite hobbies and interests.

Stay Positive. Living life to the fullest is the most straightforward way to cut stress out of your life. Studies show that laughter lowers the levels of stress hormones and reduces inflammation in the arteries. Overall, having a positive attitude will not only reflect how you feel, but the people around you as well.

Do you have any special ways you deal with stress? Comment below!

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Happy New Year Greeting 2017



Executive Director Michelle McClure reflects back on Ability Online's 27 years. "This is the year we take the 'dis' out of disability and help our members focus on what they can accomplish and that they can proudly say, #IAMAwesome."