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Date: April 15, 2009

CanConnect Provides Better Communication, Worldwide

UVic invention keeps seniors and those with special needs in touch

Seniors and people with cognitive and other disabilities from around the globe will soon find it easier to communicate and stay in touch with their families and friends thanks to a one-of-a-kind invention by CanAssist (www.canassist.ca), the University of Victoria’s leading-edge disabilities support program.

CanConnect is a very simple and user-friendly Skype interface that allows users to make free telephone calls and have face-to-face chats in real time over the Internet. It is designed for people who have never used computers before, are extremely intimidated by them or unable to use a mouse or keyboard. The basic configuration presents users with a gallery of photos of contacts—typically three or four and when one of these contacts is online, the picture is enlarged and placed in the centre of the screen. In order to establish contact the user simply touches the screen or hits a button. The idea came about because of a request from a CanAssist client whose elderly mother has dementia.

“This program will relieve a personal despair I have felt, knowing that it is important to be near mother in these ending years of her life and not having the means to do that,” says Victoria's Ann Jacob whose 92-year-old mother lives in a nursing home in Tennessee. “I so look forward to seeing her every day and more then once a day saying good morning and giving her a kiss goodnight, reading her a story or a poem, doing some of the sweet things that we do together, sharing more in her life and especially being able to 'be' with her as she goes through something difficult, and that is really the most important use of this visual connection. Happy moments together are wonderful but it is especially relieving and reassuring to have family nearby when you aren't feeling well.”

“Everyone, regardless of the challenges he or she may face, deserves to be given every opportunity to participate fully in life and contribute to society,” says Dr. Nigel Livingston, founding director of CanAssist. “Our mission is to develop and provide the devices, technology and services that will improve the quality of life of those with disabilities worldwide.”

To find out more about CanConnect visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM1hnWuVfaA and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0Yvy7QEBT0.  CanConnect is currently in the testing stage. CanAssist is seeking financial support for the project.

 

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Media contacts:

Dr. Nigel Livingston (CanAssist) at (o) 250-721-7121 (cell) 250-812-5585 or njl@uvic.ca
Leo Spalteholz (CanAssist) at (o) 250-721-7302 (cell) 250-885-6252
Ann Jacob (CanConnect user) at 250-592-4928 or annstan@islandnet.com
Maria Lironi (UVic Communications) at (o) 250-721-6139 (cell) 250-213-1705 or lironim@uvic.ca
 


Backgrounders:
CanAssist
Research In Action

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