Archive for May, 2011

OrbiTouch to hold event benefitting wounded veterans

ORLANDO, FLORIDA—Blue Orb, Inc., the makers of orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard and Joystix Pro gaming software, announced they will be holding an event to benefit wounded veterans.

This low-key gathering will be held on June 3 from 6 to 9 PM.  The local community is invited to enjoy drinks and 4Rivers Smokehouse Barbeque.

The event, titled Red, White, and Blue Orb, will be held at Swanson’s Ivanhoe Row, located on beautiful Lake Ivanhoe in Downtown Orlando.  Catered barbeque by local favorite 4Rivers Smokehouse will be provided.  So far, 4Rivers’ award winning beef brisket is on the menu, as is pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, and corn.

Says Director of Social Media Elizabeth Rissman, “We invite the community to come out, have a couple of drinks, and eat some good food for a great cause.  We make a great piece of technology that has the potential to help a lot of people, and supporting wounded veterans by providing the technology they need to effectively transition to civilian life after they come home is a huge deal to us.”

Suggested donation to attend the event is $25, and all proceeds will be donated to a wounded veterans organization.  Veterans, however, are welcomed to attend this event for free.

OrbiTouch: Social Media and the Next Generation of Advocacy

It’s no secret: Here at orbiTouch, we are huge advocates for providing communication technology to individuals with special needs.  We try to do our part by raising awareness through our business, but getting involved with a worthy cause—whether it is disability related or not—is easier than ever.

In the past, there was no other option besides picking up a sign and picketing the front lines if you wanted to be heard.  Nowadays, in the advent of social media ubiquity, it’s as easy as clicking the “Like” button.

Social media advocacy campaigns are often criticized because of the little effort they require.  Naysayers claim participating in social media to promote a cause is an extension of Gen Y’s ambivalence towards charity work.  In fact, the term “slacktivism” has been recently popularized, describing the tendency to half-heartedly interact with a cause online rather than actually volunteering or donating.

However, the slacktivism argument, in my opinion, is a short sighted.  Social media is a great way to engage people on a non-invasive level.  It’s the first rung on the ladder of engagement.  First, you get people’s attention through social media.  Then, you compel them to take the next step, whether it is signing a petition, volunteering, or donating.

In a recent article on Mashable.com, Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org (i.e. the organization responsible for the successful viral Internet campaign for President Barack Obama), says, “The goal here is social change, it’s not to make things difficult. It may be really difficult to go protest in person, but it might be more effective to mobilize a hundred other people using the web to simultaneously send letters to a single target.”

As I said, orbiTouch’s main focus is providing means of communication for people with disabilities, and social media has been a great way for us to reach out to new groups.  A couple of months ago when I started doing social media on behalf of orbiTouch, I found the Warrior Transition Battalion in Ft. Bliss, Texas, a center that teaches disabled veterans computer skills, through a Facebook group interested in helping wounded soldiers.  I thought their program was a great fit for our company, and after exchanging Facebook posts and emails, our company ended up donating an orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard for them to try out.  I have since learned that there is a sizable population of wounded veterans stationed in Ft.Bliss who now have access to this technology and are already having success with using our keyboard.  If we hadn’t been able to start the conversation through a mutual interest Facebook group, we probably would never have crossed paths.

So, how do you get involved?  That’s up to you.  If you are interested in working with special needs or wounded veteran groups, please visit our Facebook page,http://www.facebook.com/orbitouch, for information on accessing a variety of worthy causes.

The Importance of Autism Advocacy

During the recording of our first video blog focused on the applications of orbiTouch with autistic individuals, I was reminded of the importance of Autism advocacy.

Autism is a relatively new addition to the sphere of disease awareness. Beforehand, Autistic children and adults, most of them undiagnosed, were just thought of as eccentric, strange, or just weird overall. I think about how frustrating it must’ve been for Autistic individuals back then, and even now, in understanding their behaviors. In a society where conformity is king, many of these people must have asked themselves, “Why can’t I just be like everybody else?”

I could tell you that it is our unique differences that make life interesting (which ultimately, I do think is true), but try telling that to a person who has to live with the ramifications of being different every day. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have the gall to tell another person how they’re feeling.

It has been very recently—within the past 15 years particularly—this condition has started to receive the recognition it deserves. In fact, many people believe Autism numbers have been on the rise due to environmental factors, but according to a recent article on ArsTechnica.com, it is more likely researchers and doctors are just more adept in diagnosing this incredibly misunderstood cognitive and behavioral challenge.

It is evident that this condition must be further researched to be fully understood. In the meantime, we must have compassion as we learn more about this complex condition. We might not know for certain the causes of Autism, but hopefully with the right research and advocates, we someday will.

Wounded Warriors: Why Freedom is Not Free

Countless stories tell of an exploded Humvee in Fallujah. An IED in Kandahar. A routine excursion goes from ordinary to life threatening in a matter of seconds.  A life is irrevocably changed forever.

After the initial excitement of their return, wounded warriors must relearn and reorganize—most often time with limited technology and support—to pursue a well-adjusted, productive lifestyle.

There are many examples of courage and conviction in the perpetually unfolding narrative of The War on Terror, but for wounded warriors, the battle is only beginning when they return home.  Traumatic brain injury.  Lost appendages. Blindness. These conditions are common among injured veterans and make it impossible to use a keyboard and mouse. In the highly critical age of social media and real time communication, the inability to use a computer is devastating.

For example, social outlets we take for granted like email or Facebook are now impassable hurdles for wounded warriors who long to reconnect with loved ones and friends in their struggle to maintain normalcy. In some cases, physically wounded veterans express feeling trapped inside their own bodies.  Though their mental capacity is intact, they are unable to effectively communicate and maintain meaningful relationships because of injuries sustained in battle.

As it says on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., “Freedom is Not Free.”  Our wounded warriors serve as a constant reminder of the real cost of war.  Brave Americans sacrifice their bodies—and sometimes even their lives—so we can live in a free country.  It is the ultimate sacrifice and something we will never be able to fully repay.

OrbiTouch implores everyone to support wounded veterans anyway they can.  Volunteer.  Donate.  Spread awareness. Say “thank you.” They gave their lives for us.  The least we can do is give these individuals tools to succeed and live fulfilling lives.