An almost-perfect AT device at the CMHR Winnipeg

Something that I myself have been trying to instigate in certain public venues is an accessible device that is so universally-inclusive that it will enable even those with communication difficulties to navigate and enjoy a venue such as a museum, mall, campus, or hospital.

Well, a colleague has just introduced me to a small museum, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, in Winnipeg which kind of got there first. Revised in 2015, they provide a free App (or a free loaded device) which enables visitors to navigate and enjoy the museum. The audio information is available in English, French, ASL, LSQ, and in transcript form.

I applaud this museum in Winnipeg for indeed pioneering an App that makes the building, the information, and the experience accessible for everyone. Perhaps I should not be surprised that it is the Museum of HUMAN RIGHTS which was one of the first to make this necessary leap!

You can find out more about it here:

https://humanrights.ca/blog/pioneers-inspiring-mobile-experience

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New technology enabling brain-brain & brain-computer communication

Who hasn’t tried to send a message telepathically? Whether it was in grade 5 and you were trying to tell your best friend across the room a secret message, whether it was just this morning trying to tell the slow driver in front of you to go, or whether it was your grandfather clearly trying to give you a non-verbal message which you just didn’t understand….but you wished you could understand – well, someone has actually succeeded in making it happen!

In 2014, scientists and researchers in Barcelona achieved the first non-invasive human brain-to-brain communication. For details see here:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0105225

This type of technology is called Brain Computer Interfaces, or BCI for short, and has progressed greatly in less than a century, and includes the first brain implant only 20 years ago. Although the idea that a human brain can control a robot across the galaxy seems like something taken directly from Dr Who, amputees have been using their minds to control their own prosthetic limbs for a few years now. This includes Leslie Baugh, who lost both arms in an electrical accident 40 years ago and became the first shoulder-level amputee to wear and simultaneously control a pair of mind-controlled prosthetic arms.

Never left behind in the tech scene, the gaming world has already begun testing BCI gaming and virtual reality systems for fun (https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cin/2016/3861425/) and also for physical and mental rehabilitation (http://factor-tech.com/feature/brain-computer-interfaces-the-video-game-controllers-of-the-future/).

However, the need for a communication device to communicate with non-verbal humans has been discussed for a while now (https://www.uwo.ca/fhs/csd/ebp/reviews/2009-10/Deagle.pdf), and even though limited messages have been sent as far as from India to France, John Trimper, an Emory University doctoral candidate in psychology, points out that, “It is, however, not too soon to start considering the ethical implications of future developments, such as the ability to implant thoughts in other people or control their behavior (prisoners, for example) using devices designed for those purposes. “The technology is outpacing the ethical discourse at this time,” Emory’s Trimper says, “and that’s where things get dicey.”” Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-brain-brain-communication-no-longer-unthinkable-180954948/#VXxELMtlXeiRkJoH.99

 

 

Onroule.org : a resource site regarding physically-accessible locations

Où voulez-vous aller aujourd’hui?

For anyone with persistent or temporary mobility issues in Quebec, here is a not-for-profit organization, onroule.org,  which might be able to help you plan an outing or give you a platform for your valued feedback regarding the “actual” accessibility of a location, venue, etc. If you are a business owner who would like the world to know that your business is wheelchair- and stroller- friendly, you can join the growing number of businesses that have already done so. The website is easy to navigate and use, particularly the large clickable icons on the Home page. The website is in both official languages, although a few static instructions remain in French.  I look forward to seeing this website grow to include locations all across Canada, so if you have an opinion to add about the accessibility of a location near you, perhaps the organizers would value your addition to this promising site.

Pour toute personne ayant des problèmes de mobilité persistante ou temporaire au Québec, voici une organisation à but non lucratif, onroule.org, qui pourrait vous aider à planifier une sortie ou vous donner une plate-forme pour votre rétroaction sur l’accessibilité “réelle” d’un emplacement, d’un lieu, etc. Si vous êtes un propriétaire d’entreprise qui voudrait que le monde sache que votre entreprise est adapté aux fauteuils roulants et aux poussettes, vous pouvez rejoindre le nombre d’entreprises qui l’ont déjà fait. Le site Web est facile à naviguer et à utiliser, en particulier les grandes icônes cliquables sur la page d’accueil. Le site web se trouve dans les deux langues officielles, bien que quelques instructions statiques restent en français. J’ai hâte de voir ce site Web se développer pour inclure des emplacements partout au Canada, donc si vous avez l’opinion d’ajouter à propos de l’accessibilité d’un emplacement près de chez vous, j’espère que les organisateurs apprécieront votre ajout à ce site prometteur.