George Reed Foundation research making a difference

Posted: February 12, 2016 4:00 p.m.

(l-r) Dr. Harold Reimer, Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies (KHS), Brenda Rossow-Kimball, Fellow of the George Reed Centre for Accessible Visual Communications and Assistant Professor (KHS), George Reed and President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Vianne Timmons.
(l-r) Dr. Harold Reimer, Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies (KHS), Brenda Rossow-Kimball, Fellow of the George Reed Centre for Accessible Visual Communications and Assistant Professor (KHS), George Reed and President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Vianne Timmons. U of R Photography.

The University of Regina and the George Reed Foundation have signed a Memorandum of Agreement that will continue research and initiatives taking place at the George Reed Centre for Accessible Visual Communications in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies.

The Memorandum of Agreement will provide $250,000 for the Centre, which was originally established in 2014 through a gift of $150,000 by the George Reed Foundation.

“Since it was created through the initial funding provided by George and his Foundation, the George Reed Centre for Accessible Visual Communications has made significant strides for those who cannot communicate in traditional ways, and this new funding will help build on that work in exciting new ways,” said University of Regina President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Vianne Timmons.

The George Reed Centre for Accessible Visual Communications serves as the focal point for pictogram research provincially, nationally, and internationally. The Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies houses the Centre as it complements the Faculty’s academic and community programs.

“On behalf of the University, I want to thank George for his commitment to our institution and the people we serve throughout the province and beyond,” says President Timmons.

The mission of the Centre is to foster, co-ordinate and promote research activities in accessible, visual and inclusive communications when conventional communication is not possible due to disability, language barriers, literacy challenges, or health issues.

Pictograms, a symbolic language system, are sometimes used by individuals who do not use conventional communication. Pictograms illustrate objects, concepts or actions and provide opportunities for communication for those who require adaptations. Used widely throughout Sweden and Japan, the concept of pictogram symbolism is internationally accepted as a mode of communication to support people in a non-verbal context.

Since the establishment of the George Reed Centre for Visual Communications in 2014, the Centre has:
•    Funded a collaborative project between Wascana Rehabilitation Centre and the Faculty of Science to develop applicable software programs to enable children and adults to use visual communication;

•    Established a collaborative study with Engineering and Fine Arts professors to examine the effectiveness of pictograms on electronic devices in situations when other forms of communication are impaired; and

•    Jointly collaborated between Saskatchewan’s universities to develop an app to be used by individuals who require assistance to relate their daily living needs to others.

“He is a selfless, compassionate, and caring person who is a hero in our province, and a leader in our communities,” adds President Timmons.

The new funding will further recognize diversity in meaningful and inclusive communication.

•    Listen to Dis Community Arts Organization Inc. has enabled people of all ages who are experiencing a range disabilities to create and participate in art for the betterment of their health, for recreation, and for the development of themselves as emerging and professional artists. Working alongside a diverse group of community partners who represent dance, theater, voicework, and visual art, Listen to Dis will continue to offer the community more opportunities to connect, grow, collaborate, and learn from people experiencing disabilities while focusing on their strengths.

•    Astonished! is a grass-roots, user-led organization who enlists the expertise and knowledge of young adults experiencing complex physical disabilities to build inclusive community. Through their work in the A! Teaching and Learning Centre where young adults communicate their strengths, dreams, and needs in a meaningful way, and the establishment of the Literacy Program in which young adults develop the literacy skills they were often denied in traditional school settings, they will work toward building an inclusive community that focuses on strengths.

To learn more about the George Reed Foundation, please visit here.