Neil Squire Society
Our Impact Why We Exist
The Neil Squire Society began with Bill Cameron who created the society in honor of his cousin, Neil Squire. When Neil was paralyzed from the neck down in a car accident in 1980, Bill created a sip-and-puff machine that connected to an Apple IIe computer. This allowed Neil to communicate using Morse Code – each breathe or suck transformed into a dot or dash, and the resulting letter was shown on a computer screen. Bill and a group of volunteers began teaching rehabilitation patients to use computers to enhance their independence with a variety of customized accommodations. After Neil’s death in 1984, Bill decided to name the organization in his honor and the Neil Squire Society was formed.
Our Story What We Do
The Neil Squire Society, headquartered in Burnaby, British Columbia, is a national non-profit organization that empowers Canadians with physical disabilities through advocacy, computer-based assistive technology, research and development, and employment programs. The Society serves a culturally diverse population that is not limited to any specific type of disability. They focus on providing people with the right tools and resources to be active members in today’s society. Their programs computer skills tutoring, preparing for employment, finding employment, maintaining employment, and assistive technology services to provide people with disabilities with the right tools to participate in work, school, and in everyday activities.
For the last fifteen years, the Neil Squire Society has expanded their services by partnering with community based agencies in other communities. Utilizing online learning systems, the Neil Squire Society skills development and employment programs are able to complement existing community services and fill gaps in those communities. Since March 2004, the Neil Squire Society has been working directly with the Penticton Indian Band to serve people with disabilities -- both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal -- throughout the South Okanagan. This partnership has served hundreds of people through various programs and enables people, regardless of their disability, to make the most of their ability and contribute back to their community as employees, business owners, students, and volunteers.
Our Programs How We Do It
In partnership with the Penticton Indian Band, the Neil Squire Society offers the following programs in the Southern Okanagan through the Footprints to Technology Center:
- Free online computer skills tutoring
- A great starting point for adults with disabilities to develop basic computer skills
- Self-paced, client-centered learning
- Ongoing technical support
- The option to participate from your own home or a community site.
- A 12 week pre-employment program with modules on a dual focus on career development and wellness for work
- Learn how your skills, abilities, and interests map to local employment opportunities
- Learn about careers, labour market information, average wages and necessary training
- Prepare resumes, cover letters, or school funding applications
- Practice for job interview
- Build a foundation of wellness with workshops on self esteem, communication skills, anger management, and managing your disability.
- Wage subsidy employment program for persons with disabilities
- Provides wage subsidy to employers who hire participants
- Removes barriers and introduces potential employees to job opportunities
- Wage subsidy is provided by financial support of the Government of Canada.
- Community Navigators are leaders in their communities. We recruit and train Aboriginal Peers and Elders to provide Peer Support
- Help link Aboriginals on Reserve to provide information and referrals to community and Band services.
What You Can Do
There are three main ways people of the South Okanagan can assist people with disabilities:
- Volunteer - many of our participants begin by working one-on-one with a volunteer computer tutor. With a commitment of just two hours a week, you can help someone with a disability increase their computer skills. You work with the person on their goals, such as using google to find information, using social media to connect with peers, or using Office software to increase their employ-ability.
- Hire - Did you know that almost half of people with disabilities have a post-secondary education? Or that people with disabilities often take less sick days? That they stay with their employer for a longer time than people without disabilties? Or that businesses that have a diverse work force that include people with disabilites are often more profitable? These are just a few of the reasons to hire a person with a disability at your workplace, as found from a 2013 Government of Canada Report, "Rethinking DisAbility in the Private Sector." We can help you fill an employment need with skilled talent that just happens to have a disability.
- Donate - the Footprints to Technology Center runs on a thin budget with less than 5% overhead. Your donation directly impacts people with disabilities served throughout the South Okanagan. Your support can cover the cost of providing a program graduate with a refurbished computer and the assistive technology they need to be connected.