A program supported by Calgary Foundation that offers solutions for those overcoming technological hurdles for people with physical disabilities.
Makers Making Change
Greg McMeekin leans forward with his chin, purses his lips and, with a puff of his breath, moves the cursor on his computer to begin writing a letter.
He’s using a device called LipSync—and considering that McMeekin is a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, it’s a pretty amazing story of how innovative technology is helping people. Add the fact that the LipSync devices were built in Calgary by volunteers as young as 16, and it gets even better.
“I’m always looking for new ways to help me do things, so when a friend told me about LipSync, I was open to the possibilities,” says McMeekin, a 46-year-old Calgary lawyer who has used a powered wheelchair since he was five.
The device allows McMeekin, and others who have limited use of their hands, an alternative way to operate a computer or a touchscreen device.
“On days when I feel tired or sick and I need to do something on the computer, it’s especially helpful,” he says. The Neil Squire Society, a national organization dedicated to empowering Canadians with disabilities, is making the device available through an initiative called Makers Making Change. It organizes LipSync builds across Canada—and more than 100 of the devices have been built in Calgary alone.
The society is helping to improve living standards, build inclusive communities and create opportunities for disabled people. In February, a LipSync Buildathon, held at the University of Calgary, attracted 20 eager engineering students.
Photography by Jared Sych