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Canadian tech company thinking outside the box on accessibility issue

Last Updated Nov 2, 2016 at 8:52 pm EDT

For most people things like Facebook or Skype, even just turning on your television, are a simple touch away. But what about those living with limited mobility?

One Canadian tech company says accessibility is more than just ramps and elevators. Digital access is just as important and at times even life changing.

Komodo OpenLab, the maker of Tecla, is using a little box called the Tecla Shield to approach the issue of accessibility. It gives people living with limited mobility a way to access technology hands free.

The Tecla Shield is a Bluetooth-powered wireless device that works by integrating itself into existing accessibility software. The creator, Mauricio Meza, says it gives people with limited mobility access to just about anything through their smart devices using the movement they do have.

“So it could be something really simple like a button that someone can use with their head or shoulder or elbow, to more complicated devices,” explained Meza. “You can control your phone or tablet by blinking or blowing through a straw or the device can be integrated into wheelchairs and the same way a person drives their power wheelchair, they can use their phone or tablet.”

Meza says the goal is to give those with disabilities a whole new level of independence.

“Home automation technology, for us it’s kind of cool, you can turn on your lights from your phone. But for people that cannot use a light switch, having access to turn those devices on from the phone, it’s the only way,” he said.

“Just having the ability to make a phone call, send a text message when you’re out in the community, for our users it’s something that they didn’t have.

“For everyone technology makes a significant change of how we do things, but for people that have limited mobility the benefits are way greater.”

The Tecla Shield goes for about $500 but can be subsidized by the Assisted Devices Program under the Ministry of Health.

Tecla will be launching an updated version in 2017.