Abilities Centre

PearTree is proud to support the great work of Abilities Centre

Abilities Centre, located in Whitby, Ontario, is a fully accessible, state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility that is committed to the development of an inclusive and integrated environment, where respect, understanding, cooperation, innovation, and education form the core values of the facility and the people within. This universal designed, 125,000 square foot facility houses three full regulation basketball courts surrounded by a 200 metre, six-lane track. Fully equipped and universally accessible cardio/fitness, weight, and sensory rooms offer unparalleled opportunities for physical activities for people of all ages and abilities. Drama, music, art, and life skills programming will transpire in the performing arts theatre, music studio, library, and life skills room. http://www.abilitiescentre.org/

A remarkable young man and a night to remember

Callum “sings” the National Anthem at the “Where Stars are Born” 7th Annual Dream Gala on November 17, 2012 at Deer Creek Golf Course in Ajax.

Cal has ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). He was diagnosed at the age of 13 months. He is non-verbal but has been learning ASL (American Sign Language) since he was five years old. In 2008 he received a Dynavox communication device. The device included PECs (pictures with words) and an on screen keyboard for typing, and converted text to speech, so that he would be able to communicate with people who did not sign, but was quite heavy and bulky to carry.

In December 2011, HB traded in the Dynavox for an iPad2, which is much lighter, thinner and more intuitive. The text to speech software that is loaded on the iPad2 is called Proloquo2Go. Cal learned how to navigate the iPad and Proloquo2Go software himself with no instructions or overview from a HB speech path and is now able to compile sentences with it to help people understand what he is trying to say.

A friend of Callum’s, who is the same age, recorded the national anthem on a CD. Cal’s HB speech path and other technical support staff broke up the song into 10 verses using Audacity software, it was then saved to the MP3 files on his home computer, then downloaded to his Dynavox.

For this year’s gala Callum’s family copied the 10 MP3 files from our computer into iTunes then uploaded them to his iPad as 10 separate playlists saved as ‘O Canada 01’, ‘O Canada 02’, etc. At the gala he ‘sang’ the national anthem by opening the ‘iPod’ icon on his iPad and pressed each verse (playlist).


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