Monthly Archives: May 2011

Willkommen to our German Distributors

Continuing the Parade of our international distributors are two lovely companies based in Germany.

CIB is a one man band hat helps seniors and not-so-seniors learn to use computer and internet technology. Karsten Hitze  is a Microsoft certified consultant who offers recommendations, training, support and maintenance to users who are unfamiliar with technology but who want to learn to use it.  Karsten make computer use easier than driving a car, as he puts it, and with less bumps for the novice.  Check out his site here.

Our second German distributor is Gett.  Gett is a larger company, with a very different focus.  Gett is a data input company, which means they direct their attention to the products and services that allow their customers to be more efficient with their data input.  With emphasis on products, technology, and support, Gett’s goal is to offer their consumers the specific items they need and assistance to use them well.  Check Gett out here.

Speaking of criss-crossing the map…

Speaking of criss-crossing the map, Chester Creek is traveling to Taipei! Next week, three of our diligent workers will be hopping on a much-too-long flight over a little water in order to attend the world’s second largest  computer exhibition (second only to CeBit)!  In fact, the show takes up not one or two but five full conference halls!  Since it is not open to the public, that is a lot of tech professionals.

Computex Taipei is an annual show that sees tens of thousands of foreign buyers, including Chester Creek.  In addition to buyers, this conference also attracts hordes of journalists, analysts, observers, and others.  This show will also be the platform from which some of the most important and possibly revolutionizing products of the year are unveiled.  Many of these products will not be consumer ready for several months, however.  Check out some of the great new products on display at the conference here!

Look for our report on the conference in the weeks to come!

We’re in AMORE with our Italian Distributors

Today, we’re making a stop-over in Italy. Our map will soon be all criss-crossed with dotted lines. Chester Creek has two main distributors in Italy. While I will include links to their websites, everything is in Italian, so you’ll likely need to settle for my CliffsNotes version.

Helpicare is one of our two Italian distributors. They feature a wide spread of services and offer their products and services across several EU countries. Beyond just tools, training, and resources, Helpicare also focuses on partnerships with other organizations to foster accessibility environmental control, and home automation. Founded in 2001, Helpicare has managed to become one of the largest assistive-technology companies in Italy.

Our other Italian distributor, Albamatic, focuses more on the products themselves.  Their selection ranges from simple switches to home automation to educational software.  Both of these companies carry some really cool products, like computer accessories that allow the severely disabled to use their gaze alone to navigate.

Distributors in the Land Down Under

Last week, I introduced you to some of our Canadian Distributors.  This week ,we’re going to take our imaginary jet plane all the way to the other side of the globe: Australia.  In a land often portrayed as home to rugged cowboy-types, crocodiles, adventurers, and lost but likable fish, keep in mind that there are real people with real lives just like those of us in the US.  Over half of Australians use the internet at work or school.  About 70% have access to the internet in their home.  That’s a lot of Aussies surfing the web.  And with roughly half of seniors using the internet at home, there is certainly a need to assistive technologies in computer use.  That’s where Chester Creek and our resellers come into the picture.  (Stats from wikipedia)

Effective Ergonomics started out with one person, Natalie, a director and occupational therapist.  Occupational therapists work with organizations and individuals to help people do what they need to do.  They work on ergonomics and rehabilitation to get their clients back to work or to help them continue to work.  Effective Ergonomics supplies everything an Occupational Therapist might need for his/her clients, but also offers products to individuals or companies that are looking to make their workplace more usable.

Spectronics, on the other end of the spectrum (haha) from Effective Ergonomics, is Australia and New Zealand’s largest supplier of assistive technology and software.  It was founded in 1985, much like Effective Ergonomics – by an OT who had a hard time finding the products he needed.  To solve this issue, he slipped into the role of a supplier, founding Spectronics. Their staff encompasses a wide array of professions and they work closesly with assistive-tech and special-ed professionals to offer a great selection of products.  

NovitaTech works to help individuals and organizations find solutions to the challenges that differently-abled individuals face, both at work and at home.   Like Spectronics, they maintain a staff with a wide variety of skills and work with professionals to continually adapt their product line for the consumer.  The staff work closely with customers to get them the perfect fit in assistive technology.  NovitaTech’s products range from computer accessories to wheelchairs and back again, with an easy to navigate website.

Canada, eh? Our Friends North of the Border

Chester Creek produces computer keyboards, mice, and accessories that are available world wide.  We ship right here in Duluth all the way to the land down under.  But we could never do it without help.  It’s time to give some credit where credit is due.  We’re going to start off with our nearest neighbors to the North: Canada, eh?
 
Chester Creek has a handful of distributors in the great white North that is Canada, but today, we are going to focus on just three. Special Needs Computer Solutions offers their consumers the nicest and newest assistive technology.  With hundreds  of items ranging from ergonomic work stations to portable Braille printers to large-print keyboards (you already knew that part, didn’t you?).  Special Needs Computer Solution puts the focus on support, including consultation and training for the products they carry.  Check them out online here.
 
Aroga has been providing assistive technologies to their consumers for twenty-three years.  Look to Aroga for vision aids, communication aids, physical access products, and education tools.  Not only do they offer a variety of products, they also offer a variety of resources.  Aroga provides information on training, events, and the latest low-vision news.   Find all this and more here.
 
Last but not least is Bridges.  Bridges brings together a team of professions to bring their customers great assistive technology.  They offer direct sales as well as professional developement in both English and French.  As their vision statement says, Bridges aims to:
  • To provide a wide-offering of solutions to individuals with special needs that will facilitate their successful participation in all areas of their life.
  • To promote awareness of Assistive Technology and the impact that it has on individuals with special needs.
  • To promote successful implementation of Assistive Technology through professional development programs (that increase knowledge, skill and application of Assistive Technology).

 Take a look at their offerings here.

Of course, the one thing all these companies have in common is a devotion to bringing their consumers the best new products and the most reliable old favorites – including an array of Chester Creek products.

Tricky Terms, part two: CPSIA

Earlier this week, we discussed RoHS, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive, as well as what that means for you and for us.  Today, I’d like to take a bit of your time to take a look at another acronym you will find on most Chester Creek products: CPSIA.

CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  This act was passed in 2008 in the wake of several recalls and scares involving faulty toys and products with high lead content.  It authorizes a higher budget for  the Consumer Product Safety Commission, creates stronger restrictions, imposes deadlines, and calls for increased penalties for failure to comply.

Lead
The CPSIA calls for reduction of lead in children’s products to fall first to 600 ppm, then 300 ppm, then 100 ppm, and sets deadlines for these standards.  The standards apply retroactively to everything on store shelves.

Testing
The CPSIA also make testing of all products meant for children mandatory.  Products must be tested for restricted substances and must have certificates of compliance that provides standard information, including applicable rules, dates of manufacture, etc… in English.

Chester Creek diligently ensures that all of it’s children’s products meet or exceed requirements set out by not only the CPSIA, but RoHS as well.