posted on July 20: MacShad minds come together to assist people with disabilities


The 52 McMaster Shad Valley students that travelled from all over Canada and Scotland to spend July learning more about the fields of science, engineering and business are starting to see the fruits of their labour.

Three weeks ago the senior high school students were split into four teams and presented with the challenge of brainstorming, designing, constructing, marketing, presenting and writing a full business plan for a product or service that would assist people with disabilities.

“It's been a real challenge,” admitted Edwin Li from Vancouver, B.C.

“It's not something that you think about every day and most of us have never used the types of products that we're designing – it's really opened our eyes.”

The four products designed by the student teams cater to a variety of physical disabilities.

The “Pop-A-Lid” serves as a lid and can-opening device to assist people with weaknesses in their hands or fingers, shifting stress away from the hand and allowing people to use their whole arm as a lever. A specialized cane with features that allow for greater independence in cane users includes a second handle to assist the user in standing from a seated position and a belt clip holster to free up hands while the cane is not in use.

The “Easy Handle,” a portable and adjustable device for converting door knobs into door handles, will ease discomfort experienced by individuals suffering from arthritis.

Finally, a reaching aid for people in wheelchairs will assist individuals in obtaining items that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Presentations of these devices and the accompanying business plans will take place Monday, July 23 from 2 to 4 p.m in the John Hodgins Engineering building, room 264. Several individuals from the community will provide expertise in engineering, business and disability awareness while serving as judges of the competition. Everyone hoping to learn more about Shad Valley is invited to attend.

The winning team from McMaster University will go on to compete at the Royal Bank Shad Entrepreneurship Competition held in Toronto in October.