Our organization was established when 21-year-old Neil Squire was left a brain-stem tetraplegic after a car crash. He was unable to speak or move his arms and legs, Neil’s family and a group of professionals in Vancouver created a ground-breaking device allowing him to communicate by using his breath to type Morse code. The technology was rudimentary at the time, but it reconnected Neil to the world, allowing him to speak with family and friends once again. After Neil passed, the small but mighty group formed the Society in his name to keep improving the lives of people with disabilities through the use of technology.
Our work is focused on four distinct areas: Innovation, Digital Literacy, Employment, and Assistive Technology. We are committed to social inclusion, economic equity, and a productive society that includes people with disabilities and gives them equal opportunity to contribute and participate. We achieve our goals through excellent planning and teamwork, ensuring that every individual effort is captured for the benefit of our clients and participants. We serve people with disabilities and their future employers, filling gaps in services. We are the Canadian leader in Assistive Technology, from innovation right through to trialing and implementation. We create affordable open source assistive technology devices as well as offer immersive programs that teach people with disabilities how to use technology and succeed both at home and in the workplace. In this process we ensure diverse employees are included in learning and development opportunities. We also provide ergonomic solutions and access to assistive technologies to help remove barriers for people with disabilities. Together, our work enables people with disabilities to achieve their goals, reach their full potential and continue living life to the fullest.
Our programs take into consideration all aspects of the human being; whether they need to improve only their computer skills or they require a more complex combination of services like learning how to improve their motivation and self confidence, while improving their literacy skills through adaptive technology, we work with each client on an individual basis to identify their particular needs and create an individual action plan for them to succeed. Our programs offer a self paced environment which allows our clients to learn at their own rhythm. This offers them the level of comfort they need to remain motivated by their own successes.
Working Together with Employers and Enhancing Employment program (WTEEE):
The Program Offers:
Individualized program plans or group-based learning environment
Career & Personal Development, Wellness for Work & Job Search Support customized to meet your individual needs
Wage subsidy may be available if needed
Continuous support from career professionals
Ergonomic and/or Assistive Technology assessments and solutions
Have a self-declared disability
Require assistance to prepare for, obtain and keep employment or self-employment
Legally entitled to work in Canada
Distance Computer Comfort:
The Distance Computer Comfort Program offers free one-to-one tutoring through a virtual classroom, working with one of our staff or a volunteer. Learn how to use your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone (including Android and Apple devices).
Makers Making Change:
The Makers Making Change program connects makers to people with disabilities who need assistive technologies. It has a list of open source hardware assistive devices, that can be reviewed by occupational therapists and other disability professionals, downloaded freely, and made by makers / engineers / tinkerers in their community. It also provides a way to connect makers to people that need assistive technology to make access solutions right in their community. We host build events, where people assemble some of devices for members in their community. Some projects including hacking toys to make them accessible for children with disabilities, making low cost access switches and writing aids, to higher tech projects including a mouth operated joystick that can be used by people with limited/no hand movement to control their computer, laptop, tablet, phone, or video game system.
Our Solutions department provides ergonomic and assistive technology assessments for home, school, or the office for individuals with physical and other disabilities. Professional and certified Occupational Therapists and Assistive Technology experts help participants identify possible solutions, setup and trial solutions, and provide ongoing training to ensure our clients can make the most out of available assistive technology solutions.
Makers Making Change offers a platform for makers (engineers, hobbyists, students, corporations, etc.) to volunteer their time to make an accessible solution from our projects library. Through the Open Source Library, makers and disability professionals can sign up to help someone in their community by printing a device. Makers and disability professionals are also able to submit, alter, improve and review the designs in the open source library which is a form of crowdsourcing. People with disabilities, their family members, or disability professionals can request a project that they feel will help address a person’s barriers. For individuals wanting to get Makers Making Change into their community through, making, teaching or hosting an event please contact us.
Volunteers also play a very important role in the Distance Computer Comfort Program. Working one-on-one with participants via online, they make it possible for you to learn at your own pace and provide you with the guidance you need to reach your goals. If you are located in Canada and would like to volunteer for our Distance Computer Comfort program – please contact us.
Donors can help “fund a build” for our participants accessing our Makers Making Change program. Many of our assistive devices can be made for 80-90% less than commercial alternatives. Past donors have funded build events, allowing volunteers to come together, assemble the devices that then can go free to people that need the solution. Here is a video university students hacking toys and making switch inputs for those toys, so they could go to families in need in the Calgary area (this event cost under $1,000 and included purchasing all toys and parts, and resulted in us having 20 toys and the accompanying switches built). https://twitter.com/ISED_CA/status/1201939198120513536
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