Neil Squire Logo

A11y Spotlight: Neil Squire Society

10 Jul 2020

Helping people with disabilities gain confidence and independence through the computer

When Bill Cameron’s cousin, Neil Squire, was in a car accident that left him unable to move his leg or arms or to speak, Bill was determined to find a way to help Neil to communicate. 

This determination eventually led to the Neil Squire Society, an organization that provides programming, training, research & design and funding to help people with disabilities throughout Canada access and confidently use technology. 

The Society’s employment programs help prepare people with disabilities for sustainable employment, and offer guidance to employers on how to reach and accommodate candidates with disabilities. There are also programs where training, technical assistance and an actual computer are available for people with disabilities at no charge. These programs range from helping a person who is blind learn to use a smartphone, to bringing together video game users with disabilities to compete with one another while trying out new games.

Why the focus on technology and  free computers? For many folks with disabilities, computers are a means to independence and oftentimes, to self expression. Without the computer/smartphone/assistive technology and the fluency that is needed with them, the independence and expression are held back. 

The Neil Squire Society continues to move digital accessibility forward by conducting research projects on various assistive technologies in order to make sure their programs stay relevant and best suit the needs of those they serve. They also run focus groups and product design tests with users with disabilities–which not only improve accessibility of products–but also give people with disabilities a voice in a space (design) where they are usually left out. 

As the Neil Squire Society reaches its 35th year of empowering people with disabilities through technology–just as Bill did for Neil–let’s build our products and services with inclusion at the forefront of the life cycle because everyone deserves to experience independence and self expression.

Video about and produced by the Neil Squire Society. Captions available