Mike Caley underwent surgery for a brain tumour when he was 17. Now, about 30 years later, the world of books has been opened to him, thanks to Okanagan College in Salmon Arm.
“I hadn’t read a book ever until I came to the college,” he explained Wednesday, Dec. 3, as he volunteered at displays set up at the Salmon Arm campus to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Caley can read, thanks to a closed-circuit television system/ video monitor rented from Assistive Technology BC, based in the Lower Mainland.
It magnifies and projects the words of a book on a screen so Caley, who is legally blind but has very limited vision, can read them. He also now has one at his home.
He explains that he has read a number of books including biographies of Steve Fonyo, Terry Fox and Mohammed Ali. Currently he is reading a book by local author Don Sawyer entitled The Buckle.
“Without this stuff, life would be a lot harder for me.”
He speaks highly of the North Okanagan Brain Injury Society (NOSBIS), which has supported him, as well as people at the college such as Caroline Miege.
She explains Caley is also president of Shuswap Connextions, a local self-advocacy group, so he has been researching information about how to run meetings.
“It’s kind of like one hand helping another hand, helping another hand…,” said Miege, the college’s disabilities services coordinator.
Also volunteering to show the equipment that accommodates them were Jody Hanna with her Braille noter, and Tyler Sefanyk, who is a quadriplegic with vision difficulties. He types on a computer with large keys and a large print monitor.
“Last Wednesday, I was typing out something about Charles Dickens for almost two hours,” he said proudly.
Added his assistant Tovie Green: “It’s amazing to see how excited he gets. With the two-hour Dickens, we had a celebration.”
Wanda Radies, adult special education instructor, said along with providing accommodations for people with disabilities – such as extra time for exams or recording lectures – the college’s Adult Special Education includes the PACE program.
PACE, Preparing for Access to Careers and Education, goes every two years and the next intake is September 2015. It’s aimed at adults with special learning needs who wish to develop skills on the way to employment. To learn more, call Radies at 250-832-2126.