Meet Adaptive Technologist Emily Gibson

Post Date:
May 15, 2024

Emily joined the library in July 2021 and the Adaptive Technology Centre in June 2022 where she began as the Library Accessibility Services Assistant. Emily was excited by the vastness of the accessibility sphere and moved into her current role as Adaptive Technologist at Queen’s University.  

Emily’s background is in the world of performing arts. She completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto with a double major in Arts Management and Theatre and Performance Studies. Before coming to Queen’s, she worked at The National Ballet of Canada as the Assistant Sales Operations Manager in the Audience and Donor Services department where she spent her days interacting with fellow performing arts enthusiasts and experiencing the day-to-day life of the folks who make art accessible.  

Nowadays, Emily still incorporates fun, creativity, and accessibility into her routine. Her day begins with a playlist of Taylor Swift’s finest. She says, “This really gets me into the mindset of having the best day. I’m lucky that my co-workers are also my friends, and that stepping into the Adaptive Technology Centre feels like stepping into a safe space. After saying hi to my colleagues, I start my day of emails, BSWD (Bursary for Students with Disabilities) quotes, research on technology, and student meetings. Occasionally I will lead training on accessibility or adaptive software with groups on campus. Of course, my colleagues and I need a little Starbucks treat too – nothing rewards good work quite like a chai latte! At the end of the day, I’m happy to decompress at home with a good book.” 

Emily also loves working with students. She says, “I get to meet with many different students, some of whom I end up meeting with many times during the school year and hear about their experiences.” In these meetings they work together and discuss areas where these individuals can use additional support because of their disabilities, and Emily makes recommendations for adaptive technology software and equipment.  

Because her job is so centered on people, Emily’s experience working with a variety of creative people fits perfectly. Emily says, “An adaptive technologist must have strong communication and teaching skills, as a huge part of the job is educating students on adaptive technology. It’s also important to be a flexible thinker. Oftentimes you need to think outside of the box to find the right technology for an individual. You must be passionate about research in technology to find the right solutions. Collaboration is key as well, both with students and with your team.” 

Emily also has a passion for education and professional development and is continuously learning about new types of adaptive technology and connecting with other adaptive technology professionals who work across Canada and worldwide. She says she has learned a lot about accessibility and how to best support students. She attended the University of Guelph Accessibility Conference in May 2023, to discover new forms of adaptive technology and other valuable information. She became certified in Mental Health First Aid in October 2022, and has attended sessions such as Identifying and Responding to Students in Distress, Responding to Disclosures, and Positive Space Training, so she can be best prepared to assist students and direct them to appropriate resources. 

Emily is also eager to share her learning with others. After creating a video on using the speech-to-text software, Dragon NaturallySpeaking with OMNI, she presented it to staff from Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) and was happy to know that it would help staff have a better understanding of how a student using this software would navigate OMNI. “Accessibility education and advocacy are very important to me. I am part of the OCUL Accessibility Working Group, the Network of Assistive Technologists, and QUL Strategic Priorities 5.1 (Welcoming the Queen’s Community) and 5.3 (Physical Accessible Spaces) Working Groups. With my fellow ATC Team members, my goal is to make the library accessible and equitable.” she says.  

Emily encourages those interested in this field to learn from Titans of Accessibility: “Focus on the knowledge of other adaptive technologists and folks in the accessibility sphere, whether it’s training, conferences, courses, or listservs, in person or online. Remember to balance your adaptive technology and accessibility learning with training in other spheres of I-EDIAA. I’d also recommend getting involved with mentorship programs – it’s been helpful for me to connect with a mentor who has worked in the library longer than I have and provide general guidance and advice. As a woman who is early in my career, it’s been wonderful to connect with my mentor, who has gone through what I’m going through now.” 

Emily is quick to share the credit for her success at the library with her colleagues from the ATC, “Michele Chittenden, Alyssa Lunney, and Emma Bullerwell are my biggest inspirations at the library. I feel very lucky to work with such a supportive team. We frequently collaborate and brainstorm with each other to provide the best possible services to the students who use the ATC. This team is passionate about accessibility, and they inspire me to do the best job I can do.”   

She also credits her mother with her passion for accessibility, saying, ” I’m inspired by mom’s work as an educational assistant. I grew up hearing about solving problems for people with disabilities at the grade school level. She is a hardworking, focused woman who inspires me daily to bring an equitable, feminist, and flexible mindset to each day” 

Emily continues to make time for her love of the arts, when she’s not using her creativity to find solutions for students, she is creating: “I am an artist at heart, whether it’s pottery, painting, drawing, acting, even baking. It makes me happy to be creative, especially when I get to do so alongside my family and my friends.” 

Ask Us

Ask Us

For help locating resources, using the library, or to request a research consultation, try our Ask Us service.

ask us more