'Makers' aim to help people with disabilities using technology
People with disabilities can have day-to-day quality of life improved with tech, organizer says
Vancouver "makers" are in the middle of a 48-hour competition this weekend to design new technology to make life easier for people with disabilities.
Access Make-a-thon pairs a person with a disability with a team of engineers and designers to create assistive technology costing under $250.
Organizer Chad Leaman works for the Neil Squire Society, which aims to use technology to help people with disabilities.
He says while there are many funding supports available for people with disabilities to find it easier to work or go to school, there's not much out there to improve day-to-day quality of life.
"There's a big gap there. For a lot of people there are some custom things but there's not a huge market there, so if this item even exists, it costs a lot of money," he told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.
"We're looking for solutions for people to address a particular need they have to increase their quality of life."
Leaman says many of the contestants are engineering students. They will work with the people with disabilities to create something to fit their needs.
He gave the example of a female quadriplegic who struggles with using a smartphone as someone who can be helped through technology.
The Neil Squire Society, in association with Google, has been working on a device called the LipSync that allows smartphone use with the mouth.
"This is something we can mount to her chair, sync to Bluetooth, and then she uses a joystick in her mouth to go up, down, left, right and move a mouse cursor on screen and simply puff to tap," he said.
"The whole world has been designed to be mobile as you go. But if you can't use those devices it further marginalizes you."
Access Make-a-thon kicked off Friday and judges will crown a winning device prototype Sunday at the Hangar Centre for Digital Media.
With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast
To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: 'Makers' spending 48 hours on technology to help people with disabilities