Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Twist in the Path - Volunteering with TADQ

While searching for literature and possible contacts me and Margot came across TADQ - Technology Aids to the Disabled, Qld Inc which is a is a not-for-profit organisation and registered charity that provide technical support and solutions for people with disabilities and the frail aged in Queensland. Margot said "Oh! This looks really interesting. Why don't you try and contact them." So I did. The result was wonderful. I met their development officer on 16th September at their main office at Banyo, QLD. It was such a fruitful meeting.

TADQ strive to provide people with disabilities and frail aged with affordable assistive devices in a wide range - winches, toilet steps, fold-down shower seats, writing aids, bike modifications, slope boards, communication devices and sensory dens and more. They seek the help of volunteers to achieve develop these aids. These volunteers come from all over QLD representing diverse backgrounds such as building products, engineering, design, software design, promotion and web design. Most volunteers work from their own homes and in their own time on customized and dedicated projects for specific group or a single client. It seemed to me that their and my final targets are the same although mine is more towards enhancement of communication technologies - providing the disabled with easy to use and affordable assistive technologies.

I learned that TADQ works with a strong client base in QLD for whom they develop diverse technical aids. They also have the service of an Occupational Therapist (OT) who share her expertise on people with disabilities. There are number of technical volunteers working on number of projects and few of them are fond of social networking and gaming aspects. The development officer told me that networking of people with similar interests in this area is the cornerstone of building effective aids.  I also think engaging with these personnel will help me immensely to come up with an effective solution to enhance communications of the disabled people.

All the people at TADQ were very excited about the Makey-Makey kit as I have mentioned it in my emails. These days I am planning to develop a simple controller which can be attached to it that can emulate arrow keys and Enter key. My aim is to develop a simple game which can be played by two people using this controller. They really liked the idea and encouraged me to work on it. I hope I can develop this idea in to a more usable and generalizable technology with the help of TADQ. We wound up the session with a brief site tour on which I noticed that they also have a well equipped workshop to design and develop these aids.

I received set of applications to fill-out to be a volunteer for TADQ which will be an interesting experience for me. I will have the opportunity to work closely with people who are experts in the field and make a real contribution for the disabled community. Strong network which TADQ maintain will certainly help me to make my contribution worthwhile. Now at this moment I am going through this application filled with positive feelings...

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