Halton Hills resident Brandon Melo has a brand new iPad thanks to the federal Emergency Community Support Fund and the Community Foundation Halton North, which approved the grant request submitted by Sensity on Brandon’s behalf.
To the delight of Brandon and his mother Maria, the space grey iPad Air 10.5-inch engraved with Brandon’s name arrived by courier just in time for the August holiday weekend. Intervenor Melanie Laforme, who works with Brandon, helped him set up the new tablet.
Sensity applied to the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) on the basis of “technology to help a person who is deafblind during COVID-19 isolation.”
“The current pandemic has greatly affected everyone, but specifically for Brandon he has become isolated at home with only his Intervenor, family and other support staff to socialize with,” Maria said.
Prior to COVID-19, Brandon was active in his community with many friends in different areas of his life, such as his day program, Friday Friends Club, swimming class, volunteer work, cooking class and activities with Sensity.
The iPad enables Brandon to connect with them once again virtually. It also helps fulfil his SMART goal, which is to increase social connections through technology.
The iPad Air 10.5-inch screen, 256 GB with Wi-Fi was chosen specifically to meet Brandon’s needs. The larger screen benefits his residual vision. Wi-Fi allows him to use his iPad wherever he is in the house. The large hard drive space accommodates apps and accessible games.
Often Brandon needs alternative seating throughout the day, so the iPad enables his to stay connected and entertained without having to be in his wheelchair to use his office computer, Maria said.
Some things he can do on it include playing games with friends, sensory apps, video chats with family and friends, hand-under-hand activities with his intervenor, posting pictures and communicating on Facebook, and creating tactile and visual art.
Using his Red Switch Button, he can independently play cause and effect games.
“iOS accessibility features allow us to use a switch to mimic a ‘touch point’ on the iPad’s screen. Some of them are pre-installed, like ‘touch the middle of the screen’ or ‘touch left or right side of the screen.’ We can also make our own using something called ‘custom gestures.’ This will help Brandon gain a stronger sense of independence, Maria said.
The grant included two accessories for the iPad. Wireless ear pods benefit Brandon’s residual hearing. An iPencil enables Brandon to do more hand-over-hand activities with his intervenor for longer periods of time.
“His finger mobility is limited so the iPencil would be easier for him to hold and point on the iPad,” Maria said.
Thank you to intervenor Melanie for sharing a number of photos of Brandon using his new iPad to help with this story.
Community Foundation Halton North is creating video stories about its ECSF recipients and will use some of the photos for a story about Brandon.
Brian Shypula, manager of strategic engagement, participated in a recorded Zoom interview with CFHN’s Jessica Zujko as part of the project.
“I think it’s absolutely critical to have an organization like Community Foundation Halton North in the community. CFHN is managed by a volunteer board whose members are in touch with the community. They know the community and where help including financial assistance is needed most and will make the greatest difference,” Shypula said.
“Support from CFHN contributes to the quality of life for groups and individuals like Brandon in the community. Really, it’s about building a caring community,” he added.