Archive for June, 2011

Two domes. One mission. Independence.

With the July 4th holiday weekend fast approaching, one’s mind almost can’t help but turn to the issue of independence.  Of course, Americans celebrate Independence Day as an homage to our forefathers who fought for freedom from what they deemed an oppressive government.  But when talking about what we do in the assistive technology realm, the term independence takes on an entirely new meaning.  For a person with a disability, he or she isn’t fighting against an unfair political system, but rather overcoming his or her personal physical or mental challenges.

Independence in this context represents the ability to be self-reliant, to have the freedom to do everything and anything you please.  You are the controller of your own destiny.  You may succeed.  You may fail.  But the point is you have the ability to live your life on your own terms.

Independence and the ability to communicate is at the center of why we do what we do.  We live in a digital age where if you aren’t online, you can’t join the conversation.  You feel isolated, frustrated, and alone.  Other people can communicate, share thoughts and feelings, and build connections.  For example, if I am a wounded veteran with a permanent hand injury who has just returned from Afghanistan, and I want to connect with old friends and family members, I can’t because my disability precludes me from doing so.  I can’t use all of these platforms (social media, email, etc.) that are highly integrated into how people nowadays communicate with one another. If quality of life is determined by the strength of your social connections, then the inability to connect with others is devastating.

This is why we designed an alternative to the standard keyboard.  If normal keyboard use is not an option for you because you have limited mobility in your hands, orbiTouch could be a great alternative for you.  It gives you the chance to communicate using a computer.  And in the digital age, almost nothing is as important as the ability to share ideas.

We recently came up with a new slogan for our orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard.  It is:  “Two domes.  One mission.  Independence.” We hope this communicates how this product works and the power this it has to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

We’re not saying to give orbiTouch a try because it’s different or it will increase your typing speed, but because it represents the ability to express your personal thoughts and opinions, whatever they may be, despite physical and mental challenges.  You have the unalienable right to be your own person, and if we can give you the tools to do so, then we’ve done our job right.

The troops are coming home. But what waits for them?

In his address to the nation Wednesday night, President Obama announced 10,000 U.S. troops will return home before the beginning of 2012 and all 30,000 surge troops will come home by the end of next year.  For families and friends with loved ones abroad, this announcement is nothing short of a God send.  But what waits for our troops when they return home?

Last week, a colleague of mine and I made the trip over to the Orlando VA Medical Center to take a tour and drop off  funds we raised through an event benefitting wounded veterans.  We sat with the director of donations and volunteer programs as we discussed how to best allocate our contribution.

The director suggested the money go towards buying work boots for homeless veterans who are looking for jobs.  I was shocked to hear of the veterans who are able to work, many have to pass up opportunities because they don’t have the proper shoes.  This certainly doesn’t help the already abysmal veteran unemployment rate, which is an upward of twenty percent in some states according to Bureau of Labor statistics via CBS.com.

As we toured the facility, the most striking feature was simply how busy it was. Veterans, family members, volunteers, and staff filled the hallways.  Many of the waiting areas teamed with activity as veterans waited patiently to receive treatment.  Additionally, we were told the program that houses homeless veterans in dorm-style living at Orlando VA is also at capacity.

For wounded veterans, It is no secret that their personal struggle will only be beginning when they return home from war.  Even though the VA is opening an additional hospital in the Orlando area, a promising facility in Lake Nona, it is evident our resources to rehabilitate wounded veterans, both physically and mentally, are already under serious strain.  What happens when 30,000 troops come home looking for jobs and medical care?  If veterans continue to inundate the already maxed out federal programs, the future is uncertain at best.

The solution comes from being proactive and promoting awareness. On our side, we will continue to do what we can to keep this issue in the forefront of people’s minds. But there’s something you can do as well. Veterans need our support now more than ever. If you are interested in supporting your local VA, please visit http://www.orlando.va.gov/ for information on voluteerism and donations.

OrbiTouch to donate arcade game to Easter Seals Camp Challenge

ORLANDO, FLORIDA–OrbiTouch will donate an arcade game equipped with an orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard and the highly popular Bubbles Blaster tutorial software to Camp Challenge, a summer camp for children and adults for special needs directed by Easter Seals of Central Florida.

“We are really excited about this,” says Director of Social Media Elizabeth Rissman. “We think combining the appeal of arcade games with the communicating power of orbiTouch will be a hit with the campers.  Easter Seals’ Camp Challenge is a place where kids with disabilities can play outdoors in a stigma-free setting, and we hope the addition of an arcade cabinet will add to the fun.”

Arcade games like Pac-Man, Galaga, and Centipede got their start in the early 1980s, but orbiTouch has given this fun pastime a new twist by adding an orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard to the control panel so campers can play the child-friendly Bubble Blaster game, which teaches typing with orbiTouch.

OrbiTouch Keyless Keyboard is an ergonomic keyboard that requires no hand or wrist motion to operate.  It helps those who experience limited mobility their hands, such as individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, autism, low vision or blindness, and an array of other physiological and cognitive challenges.  For people who experience discomfort when using standard keyboards, the orbiTouch is a great alternative.

The OrbiTouch arcade game is the first of its kind, and will primarily be used during registration on the first day of camp.  Camp sessions are one week long with starting dates on June 12, June 19, June 26, and July 3.  For more information on Camp Challenge, please visit the Camp Challenge Official Website