Not sure how to use the li­brary? There’s an app for it now

The Hamilton Spectator - - LO­CAL - CARMELA FRAGOMENI [email protected]­ 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

For Brid­gette Walker, the down­load­able pro­gram Mag­nusCards is more than an app. It’s a life­line.

Mag­nusCards gives her life skills right on her cellphone to do things in­de­pen­dently and safely.

Walker, 30, has autism, and al­though she is high-func­tion­ing, she ex­pe­ri­ences huge anx­i­ety if she doesn’t know what to ex­pect in a sit­u­a­tion, or loses fo­cus in the midst of an er­rand or task like gro­cery shop­ping or even go­ing to the li­brary.

“I use it when I don’t re­mem­ber how to do something or I want to learn something new,” Walker said.

Walker was among 20 peo­ple at the Turner Park li­brary branch Satur­day for the launch — and a tu­to­rial — on a Mag­nusCards card deck de­signed by Mag­nus­mode for the Hamil­ton Public Li­brary.

Mag­nusCards is a free app con­tain­ing dig­i­tal step-by-step guides called card decks. The deck cat­e­gories in­clude clean­ing, health, travel, self care and fun — the cat­e­gory which li­braries fall un­der.

For Walker, the cards are use­ful for re­mind­ing her of how to pro­tect against sun and skin cancer, safely re­plac­ing a burned-out light bulb, and many other un­der­tak­ings she no longer has to rely on some­one else to do for her.

Many tasks are in­tim­i­dat­ing, but with Mag­nusCards, “I can get a pre­view of what to ex­pect. … I can calm down and get through the ex­pe­ri­ence with­out a lot of anx­i­ety,” she says.

Mag­nus­mode pres­i­dent Na­dia Hamil­ton says al­though she was in­spired to cre­ate Mag­nusCards for her brother, Troy, who is autis­tic, the app can be used by any­one.

“We’re chang­ing the way peo­ple live from day to day … cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for ev­ery­day vic­to­ries, which is what it’s all about,” she said at the tu­to­rial.

An­drei Lungu, 13, at the launch with his mother, called the app re­ally cool.

“It was use­ful,” he says, “be­cause I didn’t know how to find a book, you know. I haven’t looked around on a shelf … be­cause I thought it was re­ally com­pli­cated and I didn’t know how it worked.”

On Satur­day, he found his first book on a shelf on his own. At the school li­brary, he just looks ran­domly or re­lied on the li­brar­ian to find what he needed, he says

His mother, Mi­haela Lungu, says she thought Mag­nusCards would be a good app to help her son re­search for a school pro­ject.

“It’s like a tool for kids to get to the in­for­ma­tion on time and with less ef­fort,” she says, adding, “I no­ticed this app is also very use­ful for kids with spe­cial needs.”

Hamil­ton, the app cre­ator, says it’s a tool for teach­ing and re­in­forc­ing, as well as a re­minder. The card decks can be there when helpers can’t, she adds.

“This is a bridge to in­de­pen­dence, in­clu­sion, and also a greater peace of mind for a per­son’s sup­port net­work, es­pe­cially as they be­come adults,” Hamil­ton said.

Walker says she doesn’t go any­where with­out her app.

“I would rec­om­mend it for any­one who suf­fers from for­get­ful­ness or find them­selves dis­tracted for what­ever rea­son. This is a taskbased agenda in a sense.”


Brid­gette Walker, left, with li­brary worker Ania Van Min­nen on Satur­day.

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