During a time when we are physically separated from family, friends, and our peers, technology helps to bridge the gap and encourage social connection from afar.
Although checking social media platforms, browsing the internet, and navigating video and audio streaming services are considered normal interactions, they also open doors of accessibility for others.
For Steven, a man with deafblindness, Facebook and email connect him with the outside world. “I communicate online because I like to talk to people… it is faster and easier [for me] to communicate.”
Deafblindness, a combined loss of hearing and vision, impacts access to information, communication, and mobility. Born with Rubella, also known as the German measles, Steven is profoundly deaf and blind in his left eye. He is legally blind in his right.
Professional intervenors connect people with deafblindness, like Steven, to other people and their community as a communication partner. Amy, one of the intervenors who supports Steven, has worked in the field for 17 years; 12 of those with DeafBlind Ontario Services.
Amy and Steven take a Total Communication Approach, which uses as many methods of communication as needed to facilitate the exchange of information. Steven uses Signing Exact English (SEE), a system of manual communication that strives to be an exact representation of English vocabulary and grammar. He also utilizes Braille and large print, along with large print notes for those with little experience with sign. In recent years, Steven has benefited from technological advancements, especially with respect to communication.
He uses an iPad and laptop on a daily basis to email, share on Facebook, converse through Facebook Messenger, and video chat with his family, friends, and intervenors. Steven also browses the internet to search areas of interest, coordinate plans, and set his weekly budget.
According to Amy, “Steven likes a variety of ways to communicate with friends and family that do not live close to him. Without the internet and social media, Steven would not be able to socialize as often with everyone in his life and stay connected.”
Now, more than ever, these mediums are integral to Steven. “I cannot go grocery shopping, or out to buy the essentials for my apartment… I am ordering everything online. My sister can’t come visit [because of social distancing]. Since I cannot use the phone to talk to people, my iPad and laptop are important for me to be able to stay in touch.”
Steven also uses his laptop and iPad to stay informed about COVID-19.
While Steven’s world is augmented by these mediums, accessibility-related barriers can also prevent people with disabilities from engaging online.
A barrier is anything that keeps a person with a disability from participating in the social or economic life of our communities. With respect to technology, this can mean websites, apps, PDFs, and videos that are inaccessible to assistive technologies.
During challenging times such as these, we must ensure that people with disabilities like deafblindness are protected. This means accessible media communication that is available when information is given, official information about COVID-19 in accessible formats, along with digital media that is accessible or made accessible upon request.
Thursday, May 21, 2020, marks the ninth annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). This day aims to raise awareness about digital (web, mobile, software, etc.) access and inclusion for those with disabilities.
“Digital innovations continue to reshape society on many levels; their potential to advance and impact daily living, like for Steven, are undeniable. However, over 15 per cent of Ontario’s population has a disability, whether visible or not, including more than 40% of people over age 65. This number will only continue to grow as the population ages. We must look at making technology accessible and useable by persons with disabilities,” said Chief Executive Officer, Roxanna Spruyt-Rocks.
DeafBlind Ontario Services, which is based in Newmarket, provides accessible residential and customized support services across the province. Their holistic approach to Intervenor Services empowers people with deafblindness to achieve their goals and dreams. To learn more, visit deafblindontario.com and celebrate GAAD on May 21 using the hashtag #gaad.
Social media helps solve mystery of lost camera found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek – Globalnews.ca
Brianna Irawan, 13, was extremely happy after finding out on Thursday that her prized underwater camera that had been lost for almost a year had been found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek.
The Williams Lake teen was visiting relatives in Kelowna last year when she lost the camera while jumping into the waterfalls at Mill Creek Regional Park.
“We were on Mill Creek, jumping into the water and I put my camera underneath my clothes,” Irawan told Global News on Friday.
“When I jumped, I forgot about my camera, so I walked back up and then I picked up my clothes and I forgot my camera was underneath and it fell into the water.”
Social media helps solve mystery of lost camera found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek
She went back the creek several times over the next few days, but eventually had to write her camera off to the river gods.
The Fujifilm XP model wasn’t seen again until almost a year later when Calvin Van Buskirk found it caught up in some debris downstream.
“What makes it even more interesting is we found a GoPro there last year. You guys [Global News] were able to get the images and the videos off it within hours it found its way back to its rightful owner,” Van Buskirk said.
Construction crew makes unusual find near Kelowna
It took less than 24 hours for images retrieved from the camera to make their way around social media and back to their owner.
Kyla Irawan, Brianna’s mother, sent a message to Global News on Thursday afternoon through Facebook to say the photos had come from her daughter.
On Friday, Global News returned the camera — still in working order — to Brianna’s uncle, Travis Whiting, who is also Kelowna’s fire chief.
‘This is the craziest thing,’: Lost GoPro owner reunited with camera
The Irawans shared a message of gratitude with Van Buskirk.
“Thank you, Calvin, we totally appreciate your honesty,” said Kyla Irawan.
“Thank you for putting it on Global so I can give my daughter the opportunity to have all those memories back.”
For her part, Brianna said she can’t wait to see her FujiFilm XP model again.
“Soon as I get it, I’m going to transfer the photos” to a computer, she said.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Former UBC basketball assistant coach criticized for social media activity – The Province
Long-time assistant men’s basketball coach Vern Knopp will no longer work next to head coach Kevin Hanson.
The University of B.C. is distancing itself from former assistant men’s basketball coach Vern Knopp following questions about some of his activity on social media.
A Twitter account called Muted Madness pointed out on Thursday that Knopp had hit the like button on a video posted by conservative comedians the Hodge Twins on June 3 that claims the Black Lives Matter movement is a “leftist lie.”
A number of other Twitter users echoed the criticism of Knopp, who served as head coach Kevin Hanson’s volunteer assistant for the past two decades.
Later on Thursday, he shared a comment on his account, which is set to private: “So I never knew some likes to conservative posts would cause this shit storm? However my LIKES are those of mine and have nothing to do with UBC! I had told Coach Hanson months ago that I wasn’t returning to UBC but I just not (sic) made it public, only to my family.”
Reached via direct message on Friday, Knopp said he’d told Hanson about his decision in May as well as some parents on the team, but declined to make further comment.
Later on Thursday, Kavie Toor, UBC Athletics’ managing director, distanced the university from Knopp.
“Vern Knopp’s personal opinions, beliefs and social media endorsements do not represent the ideals and values of the UBC Thunderbirds. Vern Knopp is no longer a member of the Thunderbrids men’s basketball coaching staff,” he tweeted.
On Friday, the university’s athletics department declined to comment further.
The Alma Mater Society, a UBC students’ union, expressed support for the university’s position.
“The AMS is committed to supporting students from the Black community at this time, and we are actively working to develop programming to help combat anti-Black racism at UBC. The sentiments expressed by Mr. Knopp have absolutely no place at UBC, and society in general,” they said in a statement.
“We are encouraged to see that UBC Athletics and Recreation has taken a zero-tolerance approach to this issue.”
On Tuesday, the department shared a message on Twitter from university president Santa Ono.
“As Thunderbirds we join all of UBC in condemning racism in all forms. We are committed to an inclusive and respectful environment where we listen, learn and continue to grow together,” the department said in a tweet.
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Saskatoon police Cst. placed on leave in connection with 'concerning' social media posts – CKOM News Talk Sports
The Saskatoon Police Service has placed a constable on administrative leave regarding concerning posts on their personal social media account.
On Friday morning, police say they were notified about private posts that a member is accused of making on his personal social media account.
Police say the posts were harmful and offensive to the gender and sexually diverse community.
As a result, the member was immediately placed on administrative leave and an investigation was initiated regarding his conduct.
In a release, Chief of Police Troy Cooper said, “The relationship we have with the gender and sexually diverse community is incredibly important to the Saskatoon Police Service. I was to assure the public that we take these complaints seriously. We have acted swiftly to address the issue and a thorough investigation will occur.”
The 12-year member will remain on administrative leave while an investigation takes place.
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