Ean Price

BC SCI Network Member, Volunteer, Entrepreneur

There are so many people that rely on these organizations … I think that we are so fortunate that I almost take it for granted that these services are available.”

Ean Price has lived in British Columbia his entire life. Born in Dawson Creek, his family moved to the Okanagan when he was five years old, “after being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at 10 months, my parents decided that I was going to be way too high maintenance to live in the bush.” He grew up in Peachland and about 12 years ago moved to Kelowna.

Now nearly 40, Ean owns his own technology company, ICAN Resource Group Inc., works as the Innovation Strategist for Technology for Living, serves as the President of Adaptive Sailing Kelowna, volunteers with a variety of non-profit programs, and so much more. On top of his impressive resume, he finds time to enjoy life to the fullest, “I’m one of those work hard, play hard tech guys.”

Ean relies on a feeding tube to eat or drink and a ventilator to breathe, “I can breathe on my own for about 30 or 45 minutes. If I’m in the wheelchair and if I’m laying down, I’m good for about an hour or so.” His mobility is also limited, “I only have the use of my thumbs. And that’s how I control my wheelchair and my computer.”

Seeking resources to help him with some aspects of living with a disability, he learned about the five BC SCI Network partners at different times, “they were introduced to me through occupational therapists, physical therapists, etc.” He is now a regular participant, partner, and volunteer with programs led by the Neil Squire Society, the Disability Foundation, and Spinal Cord Injury BC. Although Ean hasn’t participated in any official sports run by BCWBS or BCWSA, he noted while grinning that with hockey sticks duct-taped to his wheelchair he’s a fantastic goalie, “not trying to brag here, but my chair is so wide that nothing gets past me.”

Ean travels often and has been to the Caribbean, Europe, South East Asia, and is planning a trip to South Africa in 2022. Leading by example, he wants to “inspire people to get out there and see the world because it’s an amazing place.” He also enjoys camping, having visited Agur Lake, an accessible campground in Summerland, BC earlier this year. “The older I get, and the more assistive technologies, or accessories as I call it, I need, it’s nice to not sleep in my wheelchair and sleep in a tent while being able to have the luxuries of home, but also be out in nature. It’s absolutely wonderful.”

One of the biggest ways the Network has positively impacted Ean’s quality of life is through assistive technology. Getting involved with the Tetra Society of North America, an affiliated society of the Disability Foundation that connects skilled volunteers with clients to make custom assistive devices not available commercially, Ean served as Chapter Coordinator for Kelowna until 2018. “The shower chair that I use when traveling was built by Tetra volunteers.” Without it and other Tetra devices, Ean wouldn’t be able to travel as easily, “I wouldn’t have the confidence in the equipment that I’m bringing.” This sentiment is not limited to international travel, “I don’t mean travelling to Jamaica, even though that’s a bonus, I mean travelling to the Lower Mainland for specialist appointments.”

Likewise, he often works with Neil Squire’s Makers Making Change program team to test out new devices like the LipSync, a mouth-operated computer joystick he now uses regularly, “I’m definitely a guinea pig beta tester whenever [the team] comes up with a new idea.” Ean says the timing of the LipSync was perfect, “I went to a SCI 5 conference and they were releasing their first prototype.” Shortly afterwards he broke his arm, “I wasn’t able to use my computer.” After a quick call to Neil Squire, the prototype was sent, “that allowed me to get back to work and also be able to connect with family and friends that were freaking out because I looked like I got hit by a car (which for the record, I didn’t, I broke my arm at the mall).”

When attending events and conferences run by the BC SCI Network organizations, Ean often runs into familiar faces, “it’s wonderful to see people engaged […] it shows that people are interested in what we’re doing.” He especially appreciates the collaborative nature of the programs, both internally and with the community, “it makes our job a lot easier to be able to receive feedback on what can be improved, what technology we’re not providing, or what the SCI Network isn’t providing that most of the time could be an easy fix.” 

An underrated element of the Network, Ean’s involvement has provided him ample opportunity to expand his social network and build the disability community into what it is today. He’s taught computer software like Dragon Naturally Speaking and website design through volunteering with Neil Squire’s Computer Comfort Program, reached new Technology for Living members through a ConnecTogether virtual presentation with the Disability Foundation’s ConnecTra Society, and shared his lived experiences in Spinal Cord Injury BC’s discussion and virtual peer groups. In the latter of these, he’s able to “talk about real life problems; good things, bad things, and simply talk about life. And the objective is to help create a safe space where people can talk about anything and share their stories, experiences and help one another.”

He believes that the presence of the SCI Network is “a strong component of a bigger picture of the entire network of services available for people with disabilities.” Over the years he’s learned that “different organizations have different specialities” and work together to create a whole, “without these five that would be a huge piece of the puzzle missing.”

It has not always been this way, “there used to be more division amongst all the organizations.” Prior to the Network, people with disabilities were often left to figure things out for themselves, “the funny thing is, there are usually a lot of people who have similar challenges and they’ve created similar solutions […] it would have been nice to collaborate and not tried to re-invent the wheel.” 

Ean’s observed that this has improved, “now, even beyond the SCI Network I feel like organizations are more open-minded to partner on projects.” He added that “fortunately with technology and all of these wonderful organizations, there is so much networking and communication amongst peers.” He often finds that if a request is outside of the scope of one organization, they will refer the project to a different partner, “I believe this is very, very important. Because without that connection amongst all organizations people fall through the gaps.” Ean believes this has made a huge impact, “myself and others don’t feel like we’re in silos – we don’t feel isolated.”

Better communication has had a positive effect across the board, “there were services that might have been available that I never knew of, and they are now offered in a different manner where they feel more attainable.” Overall, he feels “the Network does a fantastic job and I’m really fortunate that these services are available.”

Comparing British Columbia to other parts of the world, Ean says the accessibility here is “quite high,” but notes that “there’s always room for improvement.” He hopes that some of the things that have been promised by the government could come to fruition and “will be taken more seriously.” However, often speaking with friends located in other areas, “it breaks my heart when I speak to people, that are not even in different countries but in different provinces, that aren’t receiving the same services that we are and I think that really shows how great of a job BC is doing.”

When asked about his hopes for the British Columbian disability community in the next five years Ean stated, “I think we’re moving in the right direction.” “There are so many people that rely on these organizations,” he added thoughtfully, “I think that we are so fortunate that I almost take it for granted that these services are available.”

Learn more about Ean and his company, ICAN Resource Group Inc. at www.icanresource.ca.

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