Conference on Disability, Aging, Caregiving and Technology hits Toronto, June 5-8

From June 5- 8th, 2011, for the second time, world experts on topics from multiple disciplines are gathering in Toronto for a one-of-a-kind festival. Co-Chaired by Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) and March of Dimes Canada and building on the success of the inaugural event held in 2007, The Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving, Disability, Aging and Technology (FICCDAT) will bring together six concurrent conferences to address research, policy and practices that will help an aging population with disabilities to live longer and better.

FICCDAT delegates include professionals from different backgrounds, academics and government members as well as businesses supporting seniors, people with disabilities and caregivers.

The six conferences offered are:

· Growing Older with a Disability

· Caregiving in the 21st Century

· Advances in Neurorehabilitation

· ICTA/RESNA – Advancing Rehabilitation Technologies for an Aging Society

· 34th Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Conference

· International Conference on Best Practices in Universal Design

“One important feature on FICCDAT is that it includes a major emphasis on technology,” says Dr. Geoff Fernie, Vice President, Research, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab).

“The technology ranges from high-tech machines that support people in hospitals to devices that make life easier and safer for families caring for older relatives. The Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society meeting is primarily concerned with the technologies that help people recover in hospital; the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America focuses on the technologies that support people living at home and increase the mobility of people living with disabilities, the Conference on Universal Design concerns itself with all aspects of the built environment and transportation, which makes things accessible for all people,” adds Dr. Fernie.

“FICCDAT is that unusual confluence of the academic and the practical, bringing together practitioner and researchers in an environment of shared learning and knowledge transfer, explains Andria Spindel, President of March of Dimes Canada and Co-Chair of FICCDAT.

“The multiplicity of disciplines presenting at six concurrent conferences is unique in the world, encouraging all segments of society, all areas of practice, to collaborate for the betterment and quality of life for people living with a disability,” she continues.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation is committed to making FICCDAT as inclusive as possible, and contributed a $101,800 grant earlier this year that will allow informal caregivers, people with disabilities and seniors to attend the conference, as well as supporting assistive devices and technologies for attendees. The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Some examples of how FICCDAT is fostering the sharing of knowledge are seen in the collaborations of its six conferences. Registrants of one conference will be granted access to a session in the other five conferences. This is meant to promote the festival’s cross-disciplinary theme and encourage delegates to experience atypical professional platforms.

Even though FICCDAT is predominately a professional educational event, the topics being discussed touch the lives of everyone. Festival hosts March of Dimes Canada and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, two organizations dedicated to improving the lives of individuals recovering from, and living with, disabling injury and illness and age-related conditions, have opened up the festival to consumers. The FICCDAT Exhibition, which features new technologies to help people age in their homes, unique services available to caregivers, and a sneak peak at future state-of-the-art laboratories where future innovations will be created will be open to the public from 2-5pm on June 6th and 7th for a $15.00 fee.

The FICCDAT Steering Committee is comprised of Andria Spindel, March of Dimes Canada
Dr. Geoff Fernie, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
Sally Horsfall Eaton, Honorary Chair
Kelly Duffin, Alzheimer Society of Canada
Bianca Stern, Baycrest
Bill Laidlaw, Canadian Assistive Devices Association (CADA)
Katherine Hum-Antonopoulos, Canadian Hearing Society
Dave Gretzinger, Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society
Ross Mayot, CARP
John M. Rafferty, CNIB
Jennifer Moles, The Health Technology Exchange
Dr. Jane Barratt, International Federation on Ageing
Diane Varga, Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat, Ministry of Tourism & Culture
Paul Foster, Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat, Ministry of Tourism & Culture
Ellen Waxman, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, Ministry of Community & Social Services
Kent Bassett-Spiers, Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation
Sandy Keshen, Reena
Nell Bailey, RESNA
Dr. Deb Fels, Research and Innovation, Ryerson University
Judith Shamian, VON
Jane MacDonald, VON
Len Wechsler, Finance Committee Chair
Mary Frances Laughton, Operations Committee Co-chair
Dayle Levine, Operations Committee Co-chair Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
FICCDAT Secretariat
Helen Gurlesky, FICCDAT Coordinator

Visit to learn more about FICCDAT and the six international conferences.

About March of Dimes Canada

March of Dimes Canada is a nationally registered charitable organization providing support services to close to 50,000 people with disabilities, their families and caregivers across Canada. For more information please visit the website or call 1-800-263-3463. In 2011, March of Dimes Canada celebrates its 60th Anniversary.

About Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab)
Toronto Rehab is one of North America’s leading rehabilitation sciences centres, Toronto Rehab is revolutionizing rehabilitation by helping people overcome the challenges of disabling injury, illness or age related health conditions to live active, healthier more independent lives. Affiliated with the University of Toronto as a teaching and research hospital, Toronto Rehab integrates innovative patient care, groundbreaking research and diverse education to build healthier communities and advance the role of rehabilitation in the health system. Find out how at

Ruth Kapelus, Media and Public Relations

March of Dimes Canada

10 Overlea Blvd, Toronto, Ontario M4H 1A4

Phone: 416-425-3463 ext. 7258 or Toll-Free: 1-800-263-3463 Fax: 416-425-1920

Email: Join us: Facebook Twitter YouTube President’s Blog

Support March of Dimes Canada, celebrating 60 years: 1951 – 2011, by visiting

Text ‘DIMES’ to 45678 to donate $5

March of Dimes Canada and Toronto Rehab Institute invite you to the Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving, Disability, Aging and Technology June 5th – 8th, 2011 in Toronto. Six conferences for the price of one! Get more info at

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