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Update March 8, 2015

Welcome to the iHabLog from iHabilitation Canada! We sincerely thank you for dropping by, and we hope you will find what we do to be helpful.

What is iHabilitation Canada? From whence evolved the name and concept? Well, first we have habilitation, which we essentially do more or less from the time we’re born. Then, there’s rehabilitation, where the necessity arises to learn new ways of doing old things. So now, we come along with iHabilitation – a process where one can achieve a higher comfort level with the digital habitat that is an iDevice. Our first project in this regard has been to develop tactile screenshot diagrams, which can facilitate iHabitat exploration for many users, especially those who are blind or deaf-blind.

As for who’s who around here, that’s easy, since there is only two “staff” so far, though we hope that will change in the future.

Tom Dekker is a semi-retired vision rehab teacher and assistive tech instructor, with a particular passion for maps and diagrams. He knows how important they can often be, for understanding so many different kinds of things. Abe is his faithful guide dog, a gorgeous and playful yellow Lab/Golden hybrid from Seeing Eye, who really knows how to work.

Ken Sudhues is Tom’s partner in crime, all-round business associate, personal coach and assistant. He has many years under his belt as a government administrator, along with a real aptitude for utilizing a computer to get things done. This aptitude has allowed him to become an expert with the Tactile View software that we use to produce our diagrams.

OK, so who is writing the iHabLog, and what is its purpose? We’ve all heard lots of stuff about the importance of writing in general, or in maintaining a blog in particular. It apparently helps one to clarify objectives, etc. And as one learns to write this “diary”, one gets better at using it to shape the future. So, since we’re both very new at this whole entrepreneurial thing, it’s probably just a good idea to try it and see what happens. Let’s just say that the author of this blog is more or less an amalgam of our higher selves, trying to keep our everyday “lower selves” moving forward along the right track.

Tom, Ken & Abe, Cattle Point Park, Oak Bay BC
Tom, Ken & Abe, Cattle Point Park, Oak Bay BC

This writing finds us in the midst of preparing the new AccessTouch tactile diagrams designed as an add-on to the iOS Master Series about to be launched by Fedora Outlier LLC. There is a virtual launch party at 7 pm Eastern time on Sunday, March 15… featuring us! Register here and then join the party.

At the same time, we are imminently expecting National Braille Press to announce the availability of our “iFeelaGrams: Tactile Screen Shots for iPad, iOS8”.

Considering that it was only July 2014 that we just went for it – quit our day jobs, moved from Toronto to Victoria, bought the Everest embosser and got to work, well, we’re happy with our progress so far, not to mention the support we’ve received along the way.

There’s no question that entrepreneurialism is fast becoming a much more viable means of generating income these days. So it should be no surprise to see more and more people from “special population groups” getting involved. The number of virtual and other enterprises run by and for people who are blind or vision-impaired, or whatever, is growing. And while the tactile graphics market is a very tiny one indeed, it is also a very specialized yet under-served niche market. The people who benefit from tactile graphics do so greatly. Developed alongside audio and video aspects, the tactile graphic component can often be what really brings it all together for people who are blind, but who still happen to be visual learners.

And so, by operating and promoting our little “niche market” enterprise, we hope to increase the availability of tactile screen shot resources where they are needed. iFeelaGrams for iOS, WinFeelagrams for Windows Phone, or even aFeelaGrams for Android? They all have potential and we will very much enjoy exploring how that potential can be realized.

One early success for us has been the financing of the very first privately-run rehab center for adults with vision loss in Cuba. A relatively small investment from us has reaped great rewards for our friend Eddy Marco Vives Pupo and his center, which he has christened El Rayo de Luz, A Ray of Light. Since opening at the end of December, Eddy has been offering independent living skills instruction and support every Saturday to a group of adults with varying levels of vision loss. He has been visited and given glowing reviews by the national association of the blind and been the subject of a TV documentary for broadcast across the island. El Rayo de Luz is being held up as an example of Cuba’s new economic model. Find out more here.

El Rayo de Luz, Bayamo, Cuba
El Rayo de Luz, Bayamo, Cuba

We are also interested in the kind of information access that can help to improve the quality of life. Many folks find themselves in poorer health simply because they don’t have access to resources that promote good health. Healthy choices at the grocery store depend on the ability to read labels or locate healthy recipes.

In January 2015, we completely changed our diet. This has caused us to experience a dramatic increase in energy levels, a greatly improved sense of wellbeing and greatly reduced stress. We will be saying more in future blog posts as to how we’ve gone about this. But for now, let’s just say that somewhere around half of our food shopping time is spent reading labels. Eating healthy means knowing a lot about what products contain, how they are made, and where they come from. A print disability pretty much precludes doing this kind of shopping independently. We hope to write more about how we accomplish our diet-related objectives, with a focus on gaining access to the required information particularly through the use of hand-held touch-screen devices. Indeed, with the advent of health-related apps, wearables and other cool devices, the whole area of accessible healthy lifestyle will be fun to explore.

Well, that’s it for the inaugural iHabLog. Welcome aboard! We look forward to your questions and commentary as motivators for us to produce more content. And don’t forget to come celebrate with us at the Fedora Outlier AccessTouch virtual launch party on Sunday, March 15 at 7:00 PM eastern.

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