Ins & Outs of Assistive Technology: Built-in Windows Functions

On-Screen Keyboard

For individuals with physical disabilities, accessing a computer often presents challenges, particularly with using a keyboard or mouse. Depending on the user, one of these devices might be easier to handle than the other. Tools that allow functions to be transferred between the keyboard and mouse can significantly improve accessibility, independence, and efficiency. While there are numerous external tools designed to enhance keyboard and mouse functionality—many originating from gaming or programming contexts—let’s start by exploring the built-in features of Windows.

Today Officially Marks 40 Years of Impact

An image of Neil using a sip and puff device. Text: Since 1984; Inspiration, Legacy, Impact; Celebrating 40 years of the Neil Squire Society. #40YearsOfImpact

Today officially marks our 40th anniversary! We couldn’t be more grateful to all of our participants, volunteers, supporters, partners, and everyone who has helped us on our journey to 40 years of impact.

When 21-year-old university student Neil Squire was paralyzed in a car accident, his cousin Bill Cameron, an engineer, worked with a small group of volunteers to create a device to help Neil speak. Before long, Bill realized that his mission was bigger than just helping family. When Neil passed away in 1984, a non-profit organization was formed in his name. Forty years later, Bill’s legacy continues, and Neil lives on everyday in the work we do.

A Message From Executive Director Dr. Gary Birch: The Importance of Client Centred Solutions

Gary Birch, in a wheelchair, looks over Neil, in a bed with a sip and puff device mounted.

It’s hard for me to believe that we are 40 years in and counting. In some ways, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was working with Neil as he was learning Morse code with his state-of-the-art Apple IIe computer — it had 64 KB of memory, and believe it or not, that was considered massive for a personal computer. (Compare that with the memory on your smart phone right now just to put it into perspective).

As we celebrate 40 years of impact, it had me reflecting on my early days working with Neil even before the organization was formally founded, and one particularly important lesson I learned early on.

Epic: A Digital Library for Kids

A girl wearing headphones uses a tablet.

Summer vacation is fast approaching, and you may be wondering how to keep your child engaged in reading and learning over break. And while trips to the library are a great way to do that, not everyone lives close to a library, and, for some learners with learning disabilities, printed text can be difficult to work with.

That’s what makes Epic so appealing. The app features over forty thousand books and audiobooks for kids aged three to twelve, and it’s designed to be as accessible as possible. Besides being integrated with users’ built-in accessibility features such as VoiceOver, Be My Eyes, and Live Transcribe, Epic also provides their own built-in features such as speech-to-text, audiobooks, and even their own unique approach to storytelling called Read-To-Me books. Read-To-Me books are professionally narrated books that automatically turn the pages and highlight words are they are being read.

A person using an AI chatbot on their phone, while using their laptop.

AI chatbots like Chat GPT, Gemini and CO Pilot are becoming increasingly common every day. They can be used for all sorts of tasks including research, writing, general communication, and more. These open-source AI tools are (mostly) free, but they typically offer a premium version of the software with increased functionality and limitless conversations for an additional fee.

Today we are going to do a brief overview of one of our favorite AI chatbots, and as we do, we’ll try to show a few scenarios where this software might be especially useful.

Brighterly Online Math Tutoring

A young woman uses a laptop while wearing headphones.

When it comes to learning, everyone is different, and what works for one student may not always work for another! Math apps are a great way to tackle this issue but sometimes students need something a little more hands-on. In-person tutoring is one way to tackle this issue, but depending on where you live, that may or may not be possible. So then that begs the question, what do you do when you need tutoring in math but there’s no one in your area who is available or qualified?

Enter Brighterly, an online tutoring service for students who are struggling in math. The service is designed for students from grades one to grade eight. Subjects include algebra, fractions, geometry, measurement, money, times table, number sense, numbers to word, and more.

40 Years of Impact: Come Celebrate With Us This June

Party hat and confetti, with the Neil Squire 40th anniversary logo in the corner. Text: "Celebrating 40 years of impact, join us at an event near you this June."

We are thrilled to announce that our organization is celebrating its 40th anniversary this coming June.

Four decades of technology, knowledge, and passion. From humble beginnings to impactful programs, we’ve come a long way, thanks to your unwavering support.

Please join us in commemorating this milestone throughout the month of June by celebrating with us at one of our free regional events across Canada taking place in Burnaby, Regina, Ottawa, Fredericton, and Calgary. Details are below for each event.

Lazarillo Accessible GPS

A blind man wearing sunglasses and holding a cane, speaks on the phone.

When you’re blind or low vision, finding your way around unassisted can be an intimidating and sometimes be a downright dangerous task. Some cities are built to be more accessibility-friendly than others, but even within relatively accessible cities, there are still bound to be areas that are difficult to navigate. And while we’ve looked at a few apps that are designed to assist low-vision users with tasks such as shopping, identifying faces, reading descriptions, etc., but we haven’t seen many apps that do a decent job of assisting with navigation (at least none that have good information about navigating within New Brunswick).

Neil Squire Society logo
Solutions logo
400 – 3999 Henning Drive
Burnaby, BC V5C 6P9
604 473 9360 | 1 877 673 4636
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Hearing Solutions logo
400 – 3999 Henning Drive
Burnaby, BC V5C 6P9
778 945 1215
Refer today