When Liana started a new position as a facilitator and community teacher, a role in which she helps people find employment, she wasn’t used to long hours sitting down at a desk.
“When I first moved into this role, I was spending quite a lot of my time, probably about 80 – 90% developing curriculum or writing workbooks,” she explains. “[Previously], my position involved a lot of going from client to client on the computer helping them with resumes or job searches. So, I never really spent a lot of time sitting at a desk for great periods of time – it was always up down, up down.”
Liana had injured her shoulder and back in a car accident a number of years ago, which has lingering effects to this day.
A motor vehicle collision over 20 years ago left Garry with chronic pain, fatigue, and muscle tightness in his neck, shoulders and lower back.
Garry, who works both from an office at home and on the road as he travels across British Columbia for his job, had made adjustments to his workstation on his own. He alternated between using a traditional worktable, a stand-up desk, and a reclining chair.
“In my situation, I need to move often to relieve muscle tightness, and shifting from the desk to the recliner to the stand-up workstation helps,” he explains.
Grant Pearson, a Professional Engineer and the Vice President of Business Development for an arctic construction company, lives with an inherited, degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Grant had 20/20 vision when he first noticed symptoms of the disease ten years ago, but is now legally blind. “I can’t read without some sort of assistance, I can’t read my own handwriting, I can’t see people’s faces, can’t drive,” he says. “There are limitations around what I can do and what I can see.”
Despite his disability, Grant maintains his demanding job. “I travel around a lot to various jobsites. In Canada, we work mostly in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Ontario,” says Grant. “We build all-weather access roads. We do contract mining, airstrips, industrial site development.”
Paige works with the Aboriginal community, particularly the disenfranchised and homeless. She assists them with everything from housing and finances, to mental health and addiction. Due to her various medical conditions including psoriatic arthritis, drug-induced lupus, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Paige was facing multiple barriers at work. “Mobility-wise, it affects my joints, ligaments, and muscles,” she explains. “Everything from being able to hold a pen to sitting for any length of time, or standing for any length of time [is difficult].”
Her chiropractor recommended the Neil Squire Society’s Technology@Work program. “He saw how much I was struggling and I was coming in to see him weekly, I was having a lot of issues with my disability,” Paige says. “So I got the card, I made the call.”
For the last 25 years, Lori has been a tireless advocate and volunteer in the blind community. Currently the National First Vice President of the Canadian Council of the Blind, she has spent much of her life giving back to the community.
Born with a genetic condition that affects the retina, Lori has had vision loss all of her life. “I’ve always been legally blind my whole life. I’ve always had ten percent vision or less,” explains Lori. “I’m down to about one percent [vision], I have no sight in my right eye whatsoever.”
A web designer, inventor, entrepreneur, advocate, and much more, Ean is a man of many talents. His company, ICAN Resource Group Inc., is just as diverse, with services ranging from medical assistive technology to multimedia development.
Based in Kelowna, BC, Ean is an advocate for independence through technology. With help from his father, he invented a retractable straw device to remove saliva from his mouth, as he is unable to swallow.
With so many projects, Ean is a busy man.
However, he needed a tablet to communicate his ideas to clients, as well as a Bluetooth module to interface the tablet with his chair.
Being partially sighted and night blind, the commute home from work used to be a nightmare for Rod Tam.
“Night travel used to be a very stressful adventure,” explains Rod. “Being night blind, I always have to guess what is in front of me and around me when I am walking in the dark.”
Rod is a credit adjudicator at a financial institution. Working in Vancouver, but living in Coquitlam, Rod has to make the trek to and from work every day of the work week via transit. The bus loop on his way home is a wide open space and poorly illuminated.
“Finding the bus stop on my own was an impossible endeavour,” he says.
In August 2015, the assessor conducting a workplace accommodation assessment at his office referred him to the Neil Squire Society’s Technology@Work Program to help him overcome his barrier.
“It’s absolute freedom,” Rahul Ray says about the hand controls installed in his car with funding through the Neil Squire Society’s Technology@Work program.
Technology@Work Participant, Rahul RayRahul was a partner at an environmental consulting firm ten years ago when he woke up with his right calf numb. A high level soccer player for many years, at first it seemed like it might just be a pinched nerve. But a few months later, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis(MS).
“I was diagnosed almost to the day I became a partner at my firm. I asked what I am I supposed to do with this MS thing? Can I keep on working? After some research, I decided to stick with it, and became a leader and eventual owner of my company.”