Animals of the Tech Expo: Assistance Dogs

Thanks to the modern age in which we live, a quick internet search can turn up information on just about anything we can think of. And when we perform a search on our beloved assistance dogs, we learn from Morieka Johnson that they can “accomplish pretty amazing feats on a daily basis. Bethe Bennett’s miniature schnauzer nudged her back to consciousness after a fall. The trained service dog also retrieved an emergency phone list so Bennett could call neighbors for assistance. A pooch named Mr. Gibbs totes Alida Knobloch’s oxygen tank so the 2-year-old can dash around with other children. Mr. Gibbs even braves playground slides with Alida…[and] Sandra Leavitt also relies on a service dog to help battle her rare seizure disorder” (Source).

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The statistics tell us: “According to the University of Arizona, 0.9% of persons with disabilities are partnered with service dogs. In 1990, Congress found that there were 43 million Americans with disabilities, suggesting there are approximately 387,000 service dogs across the US” (Source). The times have progressed since 1990, and we certainly hope that the stats have progressed as well. Fact is, for the number of disabled persons existent in America, the amount of them who could use an assistance dog is probably vast.

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At the Tech Expo in Sonoma County, our friends from Canine Companions for Independence help us to challenge those stats by bringing their wonderful animals for everyone to get to know.

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From their website, we can learn a lot about this amazing company: “Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. Headquartered in Santa Rosa, CA, Canine Companions is the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs, and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. The result is a life full of increased independence and loving companionship” (Source).

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Maybe you’d like to see about getting an assistance dog for yourself, or maybe you know someone who could really benefit from the skills a companion like this could provide. Or maybe you’re interested in learning more about the people who train these remarkable animals, or maybe you’re just in need of some serious dog loving.

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Whatever the case, DSLC’s Tech Expo 2015 is the place to go and learn more about assistance dogs and the dedicated people who bring them into our society.

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How can you possibly resist?

Join us for Tech Expo 2015!

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Becoming Independent

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If there’s anything in the world that is understood at a Tech Expo, it’s that gaining independence is the motivating factor behind the effort. When a person is faced with the prospect of relying on others in order to accomplish their daily needs, the reality of it can be daunting. That is why the Tech Expo was founded, so that an information campaign could take shape so as to let the world know, independence can be gained; and here’s how.

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There is a line to be drawn between having someone help you get the things you need, and the ability to get them yourself. In essence, this is the line between feeling trapped and feeling free. Staff and exhibitors at the Tech Expo know this; many have lived it; and that is why the Tech Expo is so important. The technologies and services on display are there for the purposes of showing those — who might not otherwise know — how to become independent, because independence is freedom.

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Interestingly enough, one of Tech Expo’s sponsors just so happens to be entitled Becoming Independent. From their website we learn, “Becoming Independent serves people with varied interests and life objectives who share the common goal of realizing their abilities. They are workers, artists, gardeners, physical fitness buffs, family members and neighbors. Close to 1,000 individuals seek exploration and development through four key offerings at BI: Community Living Supports, Personal Enrichment, Employment Services and Transportation” (Source).

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Like what you’re reading? Join us at Tech Expo 2015 to find out more about Becoming Independent, and to learn more about “becoming independent” in and of itself.

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Snoopy Supports Tech Expo 2015, Santa Rosa, CA

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Universal Design

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Can you imagine the structures of a world without barriers? In truth, the prospect has been contemplated, due in large part to the disabled community. The notion comes off as so rewarding to society that a website has been devoted specifically to the cause. And it is here that we can find a well-articulated definition of exactly what Universal Design is:

“Universal Design involves designing products and spaces so that they can be used by the widest range of people possible. Universal Design evolved from Accessible Design, a design process that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. Universal Design goes further by recognizing that there is a wide spectrum of human abilities. Everyone, even the most able-bodied person, passes through childhood, periods of temporary illness, injury and old age. By designing for this human diversity, we can create things that will be easier for all people to use” (Source).

How do you like that? Universal Design considers more than just producing structures that are accessible for the disabled community; not that this isn’t worthy in and of itself. It sounds as though Universal Design is a philosophy that the creative minds and engineers of the world should embrace. It is a way of thinking that is inclusive, a way of bringing humanity together. Consider a great, visually presented example:

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The effect here is stunning. A simple comparative analysis tells us precisely what the captions convey, that when thinking with the diversity of society in mind, the outcome eliminates the potential for polarization and instead, incites unification along with — satisfyingly enough — aesthetic principle. The second picture presents us with an ideal world that not only serves scope of utility, but brings out the beauty to be found in architectural creativity. Here we have the idea embodied in a more modern form:

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Coined by Ronald L. Mace of North Carolina State University, Universal Design has come to be further studied through collaboration with architects, product designers, engineers and environmental designers, culminating in seven basic principles:

1. Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
2. Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
3. Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
4. Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
5. Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
6. Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably with minimum fatigue.
7. Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility. (Source)

To think of Universal Design applying primarily to architecture is understandable, but we can find elements of the philosophy in one of our most used products of daily life, the standard door knob:

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In the next case, we have the features of a bathroom accommodating the products we use, as well as accommodating the need for safety — the items in view have been sleekly modified so that they can be used as grab bars:

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One thing you can count on is that Disability Services & Legal Center (DSLC) supports the philosophy of Universal Design in its entirety. To celebrate and empower the cause, DSLC conducts a technology exposition on a yearly basis, right here in Santa Rosa, California. Here you can learn about the products and services which embrace Universal Design as they are united in a day of presentation and exploration. We hope you’ll take a moment to come and see the wonderful displays and the people who accompany them, which is really a fancy way of saying:

Join us for Tech Expo 2015!

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