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July 2021 issue

Travaxy: Accessible Travel Solutions

Travaxy: Accesible Travel Solutions

Man in wheelchair posing in an airport

Turning travel agencies into accessibility experts

Lioz Amar. CEO, Travaxy

July 2021 issue

CHATS Antigua: Changing the disability narrative

Chats Antigua Changing the disability narrative

A building with blue walls
Woman in red posing in front of a while background

Mona Gardner

An office lobby with green walls
A playroom for children
July 2021 issue

Tips for travelling with someone who has Alzheimer’s/Dementia: careful planning will help

Tips for travelling with someone who has Alzheimer’s/Dementia

July 2021 issue

YAI Leisure Trax: Virtual travel nurtures relationships and sparks curiosity amongst people with disabilities

Virtual Travel Nurtures Relationships and Sparks Curiosity Amongst People With Disabilities

Logo of Young Adult Institute
Man in colorful shirt in Las Vegas

Omari Cohen

Man in a blue coat posing in front of a farm

Ashley Smith

A group of pandas playing

Pandas on a Zoom Virtual Travel event

Man in a panda costume

Zoom Virtual Travel event from Chengdu, China

July 2021 issue

Accessible Ventures, Sint Maarten: Transportation for the disabled

Accessible Ventures, Sint Maarten. Transporting people with disabilities.

People in wheelchairs being assisted in boarding vehicles
Man in pink shirt sitting on a chair
July 2021 issue

Humanity and Inclusion (HI): Helping the world’s most vulnerable

HI: Helping the world’s most vulnerable people

Children drawing in their classroom
July 2021 issue

Botswana Council for the Disabled, the voice of people with disabilities in Botswana

Robotic arms and temporary motorisation the next generation of wheelchairs

by Julianna Photopoulos

Logo of Botswana Council for the Disabled
July 2021 issue

Robotic arms and temporary motorisation
the next generation of wheelchairs

Robotic arms and temporary motorisation the next generation of wheelchairs

by Julianna Photopoulos

Man with robotic arms interacting with a child
July 2021 issue

Easter Seals Canada: Programs in Alberta

Easter Seals Canada: Programs in Alberta

Equipment and Support Services Program

Provides funding for specialized mobility and adaptive equipment, based on financial need, with full equipment grants, cost sharing,
and interest free loans available. Long term equipment loans are also available through partnerships with other funding organizations.

Access ABILITIES Home Automation Program

This program provides Albertans living with a disability a means
to move, communicate, experience the world, and to access life with the click of a button. Home Automation can control lighting, climate (thermostat), entertainment systems, and appliances. It may also include home security such as access control and alarm systems. The program precisely matches individual needs with technology that can be used from their smartphone.

Give a Kid a Lift Program

Through a partnership with Garaventa Lift, this program provides a residential elevator in the home of a family with a disability and is open to anyone with a disability that needs a residential elevator in their home.

Phyllis Davidson Easter Seals Scholarship

Offers post secondary academic scholarships to students living with physical disabilities that require a mobility aid (wheelchair, scooter, crutches, etc).

McQueen Home

This Home in Edmonton is a nine-bedroom home for individuals living with a disability and high medical needs who are unable to live independently without support. The residents are able to connect and actively participate in their community, including volunteering, attending courses, working part-time, and spending time with family and friends.

Camp Horizon

offers a unique opportunity for campers with disabilities and medical conditions to build self-esteem and independence.

Easter Seals Canada

Inspired by the formation of the National Society for Crippled Children (later Easterseals) in the US three years earlier, Easter Seals in Canada had its beginnings in the province of Ontario on November 28, 1922, when 10 representatives from seven Rotary Clubs throughout the province came together to form the Ontario Society for Crippled Children (later Easter Seals Ontario). As was the case with their US counterpart, this organization’s concern was the lack of services and resources available to children with physical disabilities, and its goals were to ensure adequate treatment and raise public awareness about the needs of these children.

Over the next 34 years, similar organizations that would eventually become part of the Easter Seals family were established across Canada. In 1937, the Ontario Government turned to Easter Seals for expert assistance following a devastating poliomyelitis (polio) outbreak. That same year, Easter Seals in both Ontario and Nova Scotia opened the first Canadian adaptive camps for children with physical disabilities.

Today, Easter Seals and its ten independently governed provincial affiliate organizations have offices and provide programs and services to people living with disabilities in provinces and territories all across Canada, and plans are well underway to celebrate Easter Seals’ 100th anniversary in 2022.

July 2021 issue

Interview with Danny Weissberg & Sara Smolley, Co-Founders of Voiceitt

Interview with Danny Weissberg & Sara Smolley, Co-Founders of Voiceitt

Voiceitt provides independence to its users

Woman assisting a child in wheelchair

What is Voiceitt, how is it used and how does it help people with disabilities?

[Danny]: Voiceitt is an AI-powered speech recognition app for individuals with speech impairments, which translates atypical speech to allow users to communicate in their own voice with loved ones, caretakers and others. The app also facilitates communication with smart home devices such as Alexa, enabling those with speech impairments (which are often coupled with other disabilities) to perform daily tasks independently such as turning on lights, turning on the TV, playing music and more. Voiceitt is integrated with Amazon Alexa Services, meaning that users can control Alexa-connected smart home devices seamlessly with the Voiceitt app, offering them a whole new level of independence. 
[Sara]: When setting up Voiceitt, users are prompted to train the application on specific phrases so that the app can learn each person’s unique way of pronouncing that phrase. Voiceitt comes with suggested phrases for various environments and uses like schools or smart homes, as well as an option for a customized dictionary created by the user.
The Voiceitt app has two modes; Talk, and Smart Home. Voiceitt Talk translates atypical speech and plays the desired output using a unique automatic speech recognition (ASR) engine. Voiceitt Talk helps in everyday situations like allowing the user to order food in a restaurant or communicate with caretakers or loved ones using their own voices.
Voiceitt is integrated with Amazon Alexa, allowing users to control their voice-activated connected home with their own voice independently. The user can send a command to the smart assistant, e.g., Amazon Alexa, through an integrated API. The desired command is relayed to the smart assistant seamlessly through the Voiceitt app, allowing the smart assistant to carry out the task. In this way, users can perform daily tasks such as controlling channels on their TV or turning on a light – offering them a new degree of independence they never had before.

What led you to start Voiceitt and when was it started?

[Danny]: I grew up very close to my grandmother, when suddenly, as a result of a stroke, her speech became impaired. After a number of visits to see her, I realized that the nurse who cared for her was able to understand her speech. It was then that I had an epiphany: if a nurse can learn to comprehend difficult-to-understand speech, why can’t technology? That began my mission to create Voiceitt, an app that makes speech recognition technology accessible to everyone, giving a voice to all. I formally co-founded the company with Stas Tiomkin in 2012.

[Sara]: I joined Voiceitt as a Co-Founder a few years after Danny and Stas started the company. I was always interested in combining business with social impact and finding ways to use technology to truly improve lives. I continue to be inspired by his and our team’s passion and commitment to using the best that AI driven technologies have to offer to make lives and society better.

Voiceitt can help more people than just those with disabilities. What organizations are you working with to offer Voiceitt? How does it benefit the organization? Are there limitations?

[Sara]: We work with a number of organizations across the globe. In the US we are working with Easter Seals of Greater Houston, an organization that provides people with disabilities access to educational and therapeutic tools, which conducted a pilot with Voiceitt as part of their BridgingApps program. We also worked with the Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) of Tennessee, which, along with The Arc of Tennessee, participated in a pilot of Voiceitt’s technology. We also work with the Karten Network in the UK, IMEC in Belgium and other organizations globally.

[Danny]: These organizations share Voiceitt’s vision of improving the lives of individuals with disabilities, and they look for technology or products that not only assist and help the communities they serve, but which also empower them.
We are currently working to have Voiceitt covered or subsidized by insurance and/or government programs so that the people who most need it can access it at no cost to them.

Any expansion plans?

[Sara]: We launched our app to the public in June this year, and are always looking to expand and bring Voiceitt to more people who need it around the world. A unique aspect of Voiceitt is that the technology is language independent, so you can use the app in Spanish, Japanese or Swahili. We have plans in place to partner with more organizations and companies, and integrate with other technologies. We are working hard to make speech recognition technology accessible to everyone, so stay tuned for exciting updates

Are you looking for investors? If so, how can they reach you?

[Danny]: We are always looking for investors and partners so we can expand our team, develop new features and ultimately provide the best product and service to the communities we serve. We also offer the option for corporations to sponsor Voiceitt on behalf of individuals with disabilities through non-profit organizations. You can always get in touch with us on our website.

In conclusion
Voiceitt isn’t just an app, it’s a way of communicating, promoting inclusion and independence through the power of voice. Voiceitt’s mission is to help those with non-standard speech use their own voice to communicate and be understood as well as control their smart homes independently.

Being reliant on someone else has an impact on one’s sense of self and independence. Using the Voiceitt app, individuals who once had to call someone to turn off a light can now turn it off themselves, change the TV channel, or play their favorite music, creating a sense of self-reliance that is empowering.