In 1981, Neil Squire, a 24 year old pre-med student and basketball star, was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak. A relative of Neil’s named Bill Cameron, who was an inventor and research engineer, designed a machine to register a person’s sips and puffs through a straw. The machine translated these sips and puffs to Morse Code, which appeared as letters on a computer screen, giving Neil a new voice.
This would prove to be our first step in linking technology and people with disabilities. When Neil died in 1984, the Neil Squire Society was started with a mere $2,000, which had been contributed in lieu of flowers at Neil’s funeral.
In 1984, Society founder Bill Cameron envisioned a future in which technology would allow “people who just happen to be disabled” to have the same choices, opportunities and quality of life as any other person. That vision is still alive today, twenty five years later. More than 20,000 Canadians with physical disabilities have benefited from the work of the Society.
June 19th, 2009 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Neil Squire Society. We hope you will join us in celebrating this remarkable milestone by continuing to support us in our work to empower Canadians with physical disabilities.