Beginnings: 1988 - 1990
I began in the assistive technology field in 1988 while a Masters student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. I taught Artic Focus to students with low-vision, and later, Artic Vision to students who are blind. I also modified macros I had previously scripted for FinalWord II, Sprint and MS-DOS Kermit for students with disabilities. (See my 1995 article about customizing Kermit for screen reader use.) Despite having a bit of flair for assistive technology training and software customization, I planned an academic career. My field was the history and philosophy of the human body, and in my spare time, I studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music.
A new direction: 1990 - 1993
My plans unexpectedly zigzagged in 1990 after I developed severe RSIs (repetitive strain injuries) from computer and musical instrument overuse. My rehabilitation lasted five years. Driven to get my life back on track, I delved deeply into the assistive technology world. I began experimenting with DragonDictate (an early speech recognition program), abbreviation expansion and word prediction software, macro utilities, and alternative keyboards and mice. Through necessity, I began modifying tools and reorganizing spaces to accommodate my needs.
These activities led me to read extensively about ergonomics, and eventually, to write and lecture about ergonomic injuries and their prevention. A few months after facilitating an RSI prevention workshop for staff at Bloorview Kids Rehab (Canada's largest children's rehabilitation teaching hospital), I received a letter from the session organizer: "Computer related RSIs have been significantly reduced... This type of training should be made mandatory for all computer users."
Early projects: 1993 - 1995
I increased my efforts to educate people about RSI. In 1993, I approached the University of Toronto Graduate Students Union (GSU) about my concerns about preventable computer injuries. As a result, the GSU commissioned me to prepare an illustrated manual, "Preventing Repetitive Strain Injuries: a Guide for Graduate Students who Use Computers" (1993). The GSU distributed it to thousands of University of Toronto students, some of whom mailed copies around the world. The same year, the Lakeshore Area Multi-service Project began distributing my "RSI Fact Sheet" to members of its RSI Support Group.
In 1993, the Ontario Ministry of Labour contracted me to research computer injury prevention, and to serve as an assistive technologist for ministry employees. These projects culminated in a landmark paper, Repetitive Strain Injuries at the Adapted Keyboard: Preventing Computer Overuse Injuries in Persons with Disabilities, which I presented at the CSUN Conference in 1995. This was the first published paper that suggested assistive technology use could lead to ergonomic injuries.
Cantor + Associates: 1995 - 2004
Assistive technologies allowed me to complete a 150-page Master's thesis in January 1995. The following week, I launched a company, "Cantor + Associates Workplace Accommodation Consultants." My long-time association with Dena Shumila Wainwright began a few months later. For our first collaboration, we trained Sympatico executives and developers about web accessibility. Between 1998 and 2001, we consulted frequently for Hewlett-Packard: We assessed the accessibility of software, hardware, and web-sites; researched and wrote the Hewlett-Packard Accessibility White Paper; and trained hundreds of technical and non-technical staff about accessibility in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Closer to home, I began working with Barbara Roberts, who at the time was Special Needs Coordinator at Queen's University. Over the years we have pooled our knowledge and skills to accommodate university staff and students with disabilities.
Cantor Access Inc.: 2004 - 2011
I incorporated Cantor + Associates in 2001, and renamed the company "Cantor Access Incorporated" in 2004. Services the company provides include: job accommodation, assistive technology training, macro scripting, research and writing, corporate training, and accessibility consulting.
Over the years, my associates and I have worked on projects, big and small, for scores of organizations. See this client list.
Cantor Access Inc.: 2011 - present
I temporarily scaled back operations after accepting a full-time position as a Disability & Accommodation Consultant at Health & Well-being Programs and Services at the University of Toronto. After successfully orchestrating more than 400 return-to-works and accommodations for faculty and staff, I left the University to resume full-time consulting.