Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The Importance of Time Management by Kiersten Robertson

Time management is one of the most important things that a person must learn in their life.  It is one that I have personal struggles with and am now even facing issues because I have poor time management skills.  
What is Time Management?
Time management is usually seen to be as simple as the word are to say. It is where you manage your time.  Unfortunately, it is not that easy.  By definition Time management is managing your time in an effective manner that when put towards a specific activity will help you reach a specific goal. It is important to use this tool as it will help you in all ways of life. Time management includes five main activities in general:
1.    Effective Planning
2.    Setting goals and objectives
3.    Setting deadlines
4.    Prioritizing activities as per their importance
5.    Spending the right time on the right activity
Each step is extremely important to how to manage your time.  I personally have missed a few steps and it is difficult to make up for what you miss out on because of poor time management skills.
Effective Planning
This is essential to have effective planning when trying to get things done in a timely manner.  If you are able to plan ahead about what needs to be done it is best to get this done early.  This step is one that gets me into trouble a lot.  I have trouble coming up with plans and when I do. I tend to forget to actually put things in to effect.  A good way to combat this would be to set reminders to do this early and not wait until time is almost out.
Setting goals and objectives
Setting goals and objectives can be both a simple and difficult task at the same time.  A goal can be something as easy or as simple as deciding what must be done. For example, “I will go to the gym today”.  That can be your goal for the day. A more complex goal might be something like “I must finish this assignment that is worth the majority of my grade”. This goal is a bit more complex as it can have many smaller goals within it such as what part of the assignment should be finished when.
Setting deadlines
Deadlines are the one thing that tends to make time management hardest for me.  Sometimes the deadlines are personal, other times they are set by others and if they are not met it can get you in a world of trouble.  I find that this step is one of the ones that I forget the most.  Not meeting a personal deadline is what gets me into the most trouble.  I may remember the hard deadlines but the ones I set for myself usually end up blowing away with the wind.  A trick I am learning to use is to set reminders on my phone for a week before my personal deadline is meant to be hit and again for a few days before.  
Prioritizing activities based on their importance & Spending the right time on the right activity
This step really has inclusions in all the other steps as well. To be able to set goals and deadlines you must be able to see what is more important than other things. Something that can be difficult is realizing one’s own faults and being able to correct the mistakes that have been made.  It is important to realize when too much or too little time has been given to a specific task so that you can try and use what time you have left to what is truly important.  I personally know I have not devoted the time and effort that I should here on Ability Online and unfortunately it is not something that can be fixed with a sorry.
Time Management is important for every person.  If I could turn back time, go back to January when I was introduced to this website would I do things differently? YES.  Unfortunately, it is impossible to turn back time.  It is my hope that I can just do better in the future.  I took the fact that I am doing this as a placement online that I would be able to focus and do things right. Now I see that without proper time management I still can make mistakes and make things difficult for those around me.  
I hope that by writing this I can help anyone that has time management problems like I do and maybe even one less person will have the problems that I deal with now.
My advice: Be organized, be focused and don’t take something for granted just because you think it will be easy. Do not make excuses and do what you must to complete your tasks and your life may have a lot less challenges. 

Monday, 25 March 2019

Financial Literacy by Ana Kirmani

Finance is a huge part of our everyday lives as children, teenagers, students and adults.  We all need to understand how to save, invest and plan our financial future. 

Here on Ability online, Elizabeth Naumovski discusses ‘Financial literacy’, without jargon, in plain language, within our Financial Literacy Forum. 

Now a little bit about the astounding women that is Elizabeth Naumovski. Elizabeth is well versed in the financial arena, having worked on Bay Street for over 20 years. She has her Chartered Marketer designation and  also has her Investment Advisor licence.

She hosts a 30 minute show called Finance is Personalwhich airs on CHCH TV Hamilton on Saturday & Sunday mornings. When the show is not on television, you and audiences worldwilde, can watch it 24/7 on YouTube. The show tackles issues women and everyone face throughout their lives financially. Topics can be the basics such as what is a stock or an RRSP, the laws of living together and marriage, teaching your children about investing, the finance of divorce, the death of a loved one, debt and budgeting and FOMO (the fear of missing out). She helps prepare you for situations that you might not know exist by discussing financial literacy and gives you the education to prepare for events when life throws you life altering curve balls financially.  

   Through her online Financial Literacy forum, she discusses important questions such as; How should we plan for our future? and When should we plan our future? With her professional guests they explain and tackle these pressing questions that we all face within out day to day lives. The financial industry has so many different buzz words and use jargon that simple things can get quite confusing, complicated and difficult. 

With the help of Elizabeth Naumovski, Ability Online has created a forum for members called ‘Finance is Personal,’ where member’s questions can be discussed and responded to. 

 Elizabeth and guest speaker Cindy Crean touch upon this in the first episode of the online series. What is the importance of a Financial Advisor? Someone who is looking out for your best interests and can help you when it comes to investing, saving, mutual funds, and stocks. Ironically, many of you had asked these same questions in the forum; regarding mutual funds, investing, saving and much more. Elizabeth responded to your questions with a great amount of detail and even gave examples as to what you can do financially and how you can achieve it. 

Now here are the tips to Financial Literacy!

Savings can be quite difficult as life can be unpredictable, and the amount of money  you have on a monthly basis might have to go towards the unexpected without any extra left over for savings. One of the best ways to save is to start now! Put aside $20 (or whatever amount you can afford) per week or per month and begin to live your life without that cash. Create a budget and see where your money is spent on a monthly basis, it will be easier for you to create a savings plan and actually stick with it if you know exactly what your monthly expenses are.  The key is to live your life without debt. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Now, there are times in your life when this is impossible and you need to go into debt. That’s why an emergency fund is important to have. Always put money aside in an emergency fund as well, so that when you have an “emergency” situation, you will have some funds to back you up.

Mutual Funds:
Mutual funds are different investment vehicles that most people mistaken as an RRSP (“Registered Retirement Savings Fund”) or TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account”). A mutual fund is the investment vehicle that you put in your RRSP or TFSA. A mutual fund is a collection of different company stocks and bonds that are part of a portfolio. Investors purchase a unit of the mutual fund so that they have invested in a portion of the mutual fund. As Elizabeth explained it's like putting items into a shopping cart, the mutual fund is your shopping cart and every item in the shopping cart is added or deleted by the Portfolio Manager. Please note, mutual funds are not guaranteed. Their value will go up and down with the stock market. If you have invested in a very risky mutual fund, then the value of that fund will fluxuate a lot. You should always invest depending on your personal risk tolerance and what makes youc comfortable and will let you sleep at night.  

When you purchase a stock, you are actually purchasing ownership in a company. For example, let’s say that your favourite make-up is a Red Lipstick (also known as the Red Lipstick Company “RLC”). The RLC is a private company, owned by one or many individuals or even employee owned.  After functioning as a small company, the RLC has decided to become a publicly traded company and sell shares into their company.

This means that the RLC is going to sell portions (shares) of the company to the public.  The RLC has a certain number of shares that are available on a stock exchange (open market) and the public can purchase or sell the shares. What you are essentially doing is purchasing ownership of the company.  Therefore, if you own stock in the company, you have become a small owner/investor in the RLC company. You are now a shareholder and can vote at Annual Meetings.

Elizabeth Naumovski

Friday, 15 March 2019

The Accessibility of Storytelling by Remy Martino

Seven months ago I decided to join the community of Ability Online; since joining, I’ve had countless conversations on message boards, and raced to keep up with the unbelievable pace of Monday Night Chats.  
For those who aren’t aware, Ability Online is a community, meant to encourage those with special needs to connect and build friendships.  We talk about things like the weather (It’s cold and snowing; spring, where are you?), our favourite things (the colour blue, Italian food, and SHORT walks on the beach.) There’s something for everyone and anyone, you just have to search the forums, and you’ll find yourself a friend.  
While I tend to hop around and answer any post, I’ve recently noticed a forum titled “Write Now.” This is a place for writers to talk about or share their writing with people who also like to write or read. After scrolling, I started thinking, and I have a thought. Here we go…
Storytelling is the world’s most accessible form of human entertainment and connection.  
Literally anyone can write, read, or share a story with minimal accommodation, and when you’re world is made up of modified or accommodated activities every day, all day…to be able to do something the way it was meant to be done, or in a way that is accepted by other members of your society, it means a lot more than you would guess. 
Some of us may require the use of text-to-speech technology, communication boards, or computers…but at least we can all tell stories that can be understood and appreciated by the people around us. I’m not saying we’re all going to be the next Robert Munsch or L.M Montgomery; but, thanks to Audiobooks, E-books, movies, television, and developmentally appropriate reading material, we can all enjoy a good story without feeling different or singled-out by our abilities. 
Listen, I know the world isn’t a perfectly accessible fairytale, and that there are many dragons that need slaying in the days to come. But, for the moment, I am happy to see that we can all curl up and appreciate a story; in whichever method we choose. 

Confidence and coming out of your Comfort Zone by Farah Panchbhaya

Confidence may be a hard concept to actually obtain for many people. Gaining confidence may be a challenge but it is not impossible. Have you ever heard of the phrase “Fake it till you make it”? well, sometimes following that may actually work. 

Let me use myself as an example. Growing up, I didn’t mind public speaking. I would even volunteer to work as assembly hosts and morning speakers in elementary school. However, by the time I reached high school, I hated it. I hated any attention that was given to me and this made doing presentations in class quite difficult. 

Now fast forward to University, I am back to enjoying public speaking and doing presentations. Why a sudden change? Confidence. Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t just come to university and suddenly love presenting again. I knew it was impossible to hide from it and so of course, I faked my confidence. Eventually, I started getting comfortable. This just goes to show that confidence is gained and achieved, and it’s not easy. I know I’m not perfect and I do get nervous quite a bit but there is nothing wrong with trying and pushing yourself to be the best you can be. 

Here are some tips to help you build confidence! 

1.    Be Fearless! 
2.    Don’t Care What Others Think
3.    Challenge Yourself
4.    Do What Makes You Happy! 

Sunday, 10 March 2019

March Break Ideas by Ana Kirmani

March Break is finally here YAY! 

    A week off of school to have fun and enjoyable break. To make memories and spend time with loved ones this March break get started with activities and things to do both at home and exploring the outdoors.  Here is a list of places to go and things to see, as well as what activities you can embark on at home.

Places to go and things to see include:

  1. The ROM (Royal Ontario Museum): March Break programs start from the 9th all the way to the 17th for all ages. From finding treasure, to meeting new species of Dinosaurs, including interactive and accessible for all. With displays and informative tours that incorporate all five senses, allows one to learn and explore information through a comprehensive experience.
  2. The AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario): Another place to visit during March break would be the AGO. With it's all inclusive march break programs and events from 10:30 to 4pm, kids and teen can participate in a variety of classes. Each day there is something recently discovered to explore and a new creative activity to make!
  3. Toronto Zoo: This year the Toronto Zoo offers a scavenger hunt along with a live screening of the latest seasons show. With the guest appearances from your favourite furry friends of course!
  4. Imagine Dragons at Casa Loma: Interactive castle experience with fairy tale like era with Imagine Dragons in Castle Loma. A series of theatrical performances from March 9 to March 17th.
  5. Crock a doodle: I have recently just found this gem not too long ago, a great way to learn pottery or select a variety or ceramics to paint with your loved ones. Crock a Doodle has a variety of location within the GTA, with their Drop in Studios just make sure you call in ahead!

Want to stay in, here are some activities you can do!

  1. Baking: March break is the perfect time to try out new recipes and have fun in the comfort of your own home.
  2. Crafting: A great way for some creative fun with you family and friends. Turn Pinterest ideas to DIY projects; for instructions or ideas members can visit Ability Online’s Fun stuff page for more crafts.
  3. Movies: Watching movies are a great way to escape our world and explore another. During the March break stay in or even go out to the movies for all inclusive experience.
  4. Games: Want to travel another realm, well through the march break you can accomplish this by playing games. Both board games and video games can help you bond, have fun, and create memories with your loved ones. Feel free to check out all inclusive games at Ability Online.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Pink shirt Day by Ana Kirmani

  Statistics say 1 in every 5 kids in Canada is bullied. This could be at school, workplace, and now even online. As technology is evolving this number will continue to grow as people are being connected vastly and much faster than ever before. To bring awareness to this issue try to use the acronym THINK, whenever posting something online. THINK stands for (True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary & Kind), remember to always think twice before posting or commenting something negative online. Ability Online strives to bring awareness to this issue as well with the Pink Shirt day on February 27th. The campaign helps bring awareness and funds programs to help build a child’s self-esteem.

     You might be wondering why is the pink shirt so important? What does it symbolize? Well, a short back story to this was an idea created by 2 students in Nova Scotia who took a stand against bullying. A student in their high school was bullied for wearing a pink shirt, so the two boys when out and bought pink shirts to wear. In honour of that event, we now take pride in the pink shirt and wear it during pink shirt day, to raise awareness for those who have been bullied as well as mental health awareness. 

      This year Ability online will be hosting a bake sale for pink shirt day at the University of Guelph Humber, near the plant wall on the first floor. Please help us stop bullying and raise awareness by sporting the pink shirt! We are supported by Motion (formerly Motion Specialties) who are working with us for the pink shirt campaign. 

     Join us on Wednesday, February 27th between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to help put a stop bullying with the pink shirt day. Stop by our bake sale at the University of Guelph Humber connected to the Humber North campus and show your support.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Setting Goals Part 2: By Ana Kirmani

2019 Goals Discussion in the Ability Online Young Adult Chatroom

Hey everyone! Thank you so much for participating in the goal setting segment with Jacob Madeiros last Monday in the young adult chat room. We shared many goals and gave each other encouraging advice to accomplish them. An important step is creating and sharing goals with others to brainstorm and hold each other accountable for progress towards the endeavour. As discussed in the chat the key to setting a goal is to start out small, this allows one to stay motivated and not procrastinate as there is not as much pressure put on getting the task done. Another tip is to stick to one goal, instead of overwhelming yourself with a couple it is best to tackle a task one at a time to ensure progression and that the task has been completed to the best of your ability. 

Now, to touch upon some of the goals that were shared on Monday night’s chat.  Some of the recurring goals discussed on the chat were; procrastination, eating healthy, Saving money, motivation, Fitness and Planning. Though these were just a few it shows that many of us really want to improve and overcome some of our struggles and weaknesses. This is completely normal and actually very relevant to many people in current society. To start off with the goals discussed the following being procrastination and motivation seemingly go hand in hand. Though this is open to discussion there is a link with procrastination and how it contributes to that because of a lack of motivation. When someone is not motivated in a situation or even when it comes to a goal, it will usually lead to procrastination because of the lack or dread that you associate with that task. So in order to beat procrastination is to stay motivated, if you need help or inspiration check out the Motivation tag in the Young Adult forum for more help.

Two other goals that intertwine are health and fitness, I noticed that many members wanted to go to the gym more or even start eating healthier. Which is a great goal for both your mind and health. Eating healthy is a good start, you will find an increase in your energy, mood, and overall tasks you are trying to accomplish. Though fitness ties into it as well, you can be eating a healthy diet but will still need some form of physical activity to burn off necessary calories and unhealthy fats. Which ultimately leads to a happier you!

Another goal that was recurring between members, was saving money whether for travelling or just increasing your savings account. This is very relevant for many of us, as the holidays have drained most of our bank accounts and we are searching for that warm travel destination during the coldest of months. Savings will always help whether it is a rainy day or not. 

Lastly, one of my favourite hobbies was also mentioned during the chat which was planning. Many members expressed that they enjoy using their planners/agendas and scheduling their time wisely. As I am an avid planner and love to learn my agenda into a scrapbook, I completely get the satisfaction when it comes to checking tasks of your daily to-do lists. Actually writing things down and keeping track of certain tasks will stay in your mind even if you don't look at your agenda that certain day. The task has already entered your subconscious, so when the day arrives you will find yourself wanting to complete it or doing the task already. Thank you to the members who participated for the goal setting segment and a special thanks to Jacob Madeiros for hosting the chat!

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Setting Goals for the New Year - by Ana Kirmani

Setting goals may probably be one of the hardest when starting a new chapter, task or personal endeavour. Which is why Ability online will be having a speciality chat on Monday, January 28 with Jacob Madeiros and Michelle McClure on Goal setting in the young adult chat room from 7 to 8 pm. This will give all the opportunity to set and brainstorm goals to start off the new year. 

Goals can be underestimated and passed off quite quickly as something not important or distracting you from the task. However, this is not the case; a goal is the first step in planning your journey. It allows one to focus, measure progress, be motivated as well as overcome procrastination. When you take on projects step by step it eliminates the anxiety and stress of the situation, which makes one focus on the smaller pieces that make up the bigger picture. For some coming up with a goal can be as easy as being more organized. but to others who may not have any goals for 2019, this chat will help you; as others will be brainstorming, discussing strategies, and sharing what they want to achieve in the new year. 

Now you might be wondering; why is it so important to create goals? The short answer is getting things done. You finish one task and move on to the next without giving it a second thought. In a sense, you become self-reliant and stronger. The long answer is that it is a way to take control of your life and be the person you aspire to be through progress, self-building and motivation. Finding a greater purpose as one may say or even the pursuit of happiness. Once you get into the habit of tackling and finishing tasks the more progress you will see a change in your attitude along with approach and the more motivated you will become. 

For those who participate in the Monday evening social time, do not be worried we will still be having that chat room open from 8 to 9 pm after the event. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions in this forum and we are looking forward to connecting with all of you on January 28th.

If you are not already a registered member of Ability Online, join for free today! 

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The Kamloops Self Advocate Podcast - by Krystian Shaw, Ability Online member/volunteer

I Started a new podcast in conjuction with my newsletter business called The Kamloops Self Advocate newsletter.

I focus on all disabilities including mental health issues. I interview people ranging from  disability sports like Special Olmpic atheles and Paralympic atheletes and so many other cool people like mental health advocates etc.

i also have a message for anyone out there with mental health challenges and other kinds of disabilities, you are not alone with your stuggles in your life. I would love to interview the exective director of Ability Online and others about their successes with ability online or other issues that they want to talk about. feel free to download the google  play  app for anchor so we can talk and it's a free app. so you do not need to give out your personal info for safety reasons and join in the conversation by sending voice messages etc. Remember I am here to support you all with your struggles in life and to promote different disability services like Ability Online. 

I would like to get connected with special olympic athletes and paralympic athletes about their personal experience living with a disability. feel  free to message me on Ability Online in a private message to set up a time for an interview, even if you don't want an interview, just listen to my podcast called disability awareness and success stories at anchor.fm/krystian4 and it's a free podcast hosting software. They also provide if you are USA citizens but are expanding to other countries soon is sponsorships for your podcast. so I found a company audio marketing platform in Austria that is world wide with sponsors/advertisers that added me to a data base to get sponsors for my podcast. 

I also would love to stomp out stigma and discrimination world wide. I am also on itunes with my podcast and other podcast distribution platforms too.  I am branching out with free podcasts for the  world as well now I have forums etc that is a social network part to my business about disability awareness and success stories etc. if any parents would like to be interviewed about their son or daughter and how they are proud of them please feel free to message me thanks at Ability Online in a private message to set up a time, please do so or e-mail thekamloopsselfadvocate@yahoo.com 

Interview with Michelle McClure from Ability Online, January 8, 2019.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

The Vision of Modality by Sarah Evans, Guest writer and Ability Online member/mentor

When Ian Hanson bought his first smart phone in 2015, he hated the keyboard, just like he hated the keyboard on the iPad he had borrowed a few years before. “I couldn't even come close to making full use of my fingers, I didn't like holding the phone in my palms and scrunching my thumbs up, and a one-thumb action was very cumbersome and slow and forced my thumb all over the screen for simple words like ‘and’ and ‘all’".  According to Hanson, there are inherent deficiencies in the standard keyboard, especially for a phone. So, as a creative person, he decided to create a keyboard that would work for himself and the millions of other people who type on their phone. “I wanted to type, and be able to type thousands of words in a day, and be able to use my phone to do it." 

To accomplish his vision, Hanson created a technology company, which he called Joyful Machines. Ever since his dad brought home a TRS-80 computer from Radio 
Shack, which he called a “Trash-80", technology has been a tool for Hanson. He is passionate about using technology to bring people together. 

It took Hanson three and a half years to get Modality to where it to today. At first, he thought of creating a simple re-arrangement of letters, similar to what August Dvorak tried to do for the typewriter in the 1930's and 1940's. But he soon realized that the system was moving toward what he calls “group typing" whereby several letters appear on the same block. He was overwhelmed by the possibilities. “Imagine navigating this wide-open field of knowing that you wanted to group letters together, but there are literally no limitations to how." For the first version of Modality, he went through hundreds of arrangements, starting with small circles and ending up with a diamond. But there were problems with the diamond. Taking a suggestion from someone, he had put all of the vowels together in one block, along with the letters Y and R. But this didn't work because there were so many ambiguities, making it hard to get to the word you wanted. For example, the words ‘foot’ and ‘feet’ appeared together when pressing the same combination of buttons, along with many other words. “I used to have to go to the fifth screen of words just to get to ‘piano’,”Hanson explains. 

The other issue with the first version was that users had to identify the first letter of each word, meaning two taps were required to get each word started. Hanson says this was lame for two letter words like ‘to’ or ‘be’. 

For the next ten months, Hanson took the keyboard apart and rebuilt it. "I had to overcome a lot of personal fears to develop Modality 1.0 into Modality 2.0,"  he said. "But Modality 2.0 is, in fact, the very best that I can do." 

His greatest inspiration in creating the new keyboard was to arrange the letters by shape. It was similar to a party game he used to play, but he again went through hundreds of letter arrangements to be sure it was the best. 

When Modality 2.0  was complete, it had five buttons. But again, someone challenged Hanson to make it four buttons, and so he did.

“It's a four button typing system that has perhaps a limitless number of applications, but in the end is natural and comfortable." 

While building the keyboard, he realize that it was the perfect size for a watch but could also work for tablets and screens as large as televisions. 

In fact, he consistently hears from users of the Apple watch and Samsung watch that there is as better system for typing on those platforms. He also says that he's received encouraging feedback from people who don't want to or can't easily move their limbs or digits. Moreover, visionaries speak well of the keyboard and point out its benefits, “trailblazing the way for people who will eventually love Modality but don't know it yet."

One of the most rewarding parts for Hanson is interacting with customers.  He says the company is committed to reaching out, listening to its customers’ suggestions and personally thanking them for their support.  It is especially encouraging when a customer makes a suggestion that is in line with what Hanson and his team are  already thinking for a future update.  "It clearly indicates that we have begun to express our vision more clearly and that the customer can see that vision and wants to be a part of it." 

Modality for four platforms  - iPhone/iPad, Android, Apple Watch and Samsung Watch - is available at joyfulmachines.com. For more information or support, email support@joyfulmachines.com.