Gordon was involved in a car accident around five years ago, and sustained damage to his back and neck. After that, he experienced two strokes which left him with 20% paralysis on his right side, no vision in his right eye, and 75% vision in his left eye.
After being unemployed on and off for a few years, he started working as a designer for solar power systems for houses, businesses, and farms in 2017. Since he didn’t have an ergonomic setup, he found it painful to work at his desk. “I couldn’t sit for more than 10 minutes. I was in a lot of pain in my back,” Gordon recalls. He contacted the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, who referred him to the Neil Squire Society.
The Neil Squire Society operates the Province of British Columbia’s Technology@Work program that provides people with disabilities access to assistive technologies they need for employment, often at no cost to the client.
After an assessment, the Technology@Work team provided Gordon a range of software and equipment to meet his needs. This included Dragon NaturallySpeaking, large monitors that linked to his laptop, an iPad Pro, an Apple Pencil, and an adjustable desk and chair. “It wasn’t any kind of a cookie cutter solution,” says Gordon, “It was very much customized to my needs.”
“[The technology] significantly helped me with my job,” he explains. “In fact, it kind of revolutionized my job and how I work. I’m now able to work full time. I’m […] working on some very impressive projects.”
Gordon found that the different equipment worked well together to give him a comfortable experience. “I can use gestures with the iPad and […] draw with one, two, or three fingers at a time – they’re all programmable on the screen. And it can also project on the monitor that the Neil Squire Society provided me.”
Since he was already computer-literate, Gordon found it relatively easy to use the equipment. He noticed an immediate increase in his productivity. “When I got [the equipment] and started using it, immediately it increased my abilities or functions with the computer probably 300 or 400%.”
Although Gordon’s contract with his employer ran out in early February, they offered him an extension for as long as he wants. There is more good news. After seeing him work with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, some of his clients have expressed interest in hiring him for logo design and for teaching.
Gordon credits this success to the Technology@Work program. “I can’t say enough good things about the support I’ve had and how thorough they were in looking at and assessing my needs,” he says. “Everyone has been so friendly and so supportive and not seeing me as somebody with serious disabilities and not able to work. They looked at me from a positive perspective all the time. It gave me a lot of confidence, to be honest.”
He adds: “It is amazing, and they’ve given me my life back, basically. I’m 55 years old and I’m able to work full time the rest of my working life. There’s really no disability or issue that I can’t overcome now.”