‘You are not defined by your disability.’

CNA graduate overcomes obstacles and finds her voice through assistive technology. 

Beth Penney

Ashley Doyle has always had trouble getting her thoughts on paper. She has struggled with dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia for much of her life. That was until she met Jordan Chafe.

Jordan Chafe is an employment coordinator with Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work. The organization helps people with disabilities find full-time and part-time employment.

“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the success and achievements of a client from the first meeting to when they start their job,” said Chafe.

Chafe says she feels satisfaction going through the job search process with her clients and seeing the end result.

Doyle, a College of the North Atlantic graduate, worked closely with Chafe and it was a life altering experience.

Ashley Doyle participates in Disability Justice Week at Memorial University in St. John’s. For the event, she displayed various forms of assistive technology. Beth Penney/Kicker

“There have been a lot of times, because of my disabilities, that I have been turned down for a job.” said Doyle. “I was down on my luck, and almost ready to give up the job search.”

That was until she landed an assistive technology services position with Empower, the disability resource centre. Empower, which is located in the east end of St. John’s, is an organization committed to providing support, resources and opportunities which enables people with disabilities to make informed choices about their lives.

This placement was a perfect fit for Doyle who has been using assistive technology for years. Voice recognition programs, like Dragon, help transcribe Doyle’s voice-to-text everyday.

“It’s how I got through school,” she said. “I could talk to Dragon like I am now, and it would write my words for me.”

Doyle is currently sharing her expertise of assistive technology with four interns. These interns will then teach other organizations.

If there’s one thing Doyle wants her interns to remember, it’s to put yourself before your disability.

“I am not dyslexic, I am a person who is dyslexic,” said Doyle. “You are not defined by your disability.”