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Forging a new educational path

MaKami College provides resources for every student to succeed

Jay Naidoo is one of many massage therapy students at MaKami College. The only difference is he happens to be blind.

You wouldn’t know at first. The 37-year-old, who eschews using a cane and walks confidently through the halls, brings that same confidence to school.

A few years ago, Naidoo was competing with his dragon boat racing team in Italy. While he was there, an injury from a previous car accident flared up. His friend Jaimey is a massage therapist and worked on him three to four times a day.

“He helped me with my arm and shoulder and got me going,” said Naidoo. “Watching my friend work was amazing. He worked on a lot of athletes and people on the dragon boat team.”

The experience gave him more respect for massage therapists and piqued his interest. Naidoo, who previously worked at AVIS Budget Group, took time to think about switching careers. “I researched MaKami and Grant MacEwan, but the reviews for MaKami were so high.” 

He said he’s enjoying the program, especially the hands-on component. But he admits his main challenge is actually the theoretical aspects of the program. “I do have an enhanced sense of touch I think due to my impairment, but the theory includes numerous diagrams and illustrations. It’s not the easiest thing to grasp, but the staff really helps. There’s a whole team that helps me out.”

“Whatever he needs, we’ll figure it out,” agrees Olakunle, an academic strategist with an occupational therapy background. Olankunle is part of SAS team (Student Advisory Services) and leads SALT (Strategic Academic Learning Team). Both departments are dedicated to assisting students and are involved in Naidoo’s education and in any student with impairment.

“The program has been flexible in supporting people,” he adds, explaining the college constantly develops different ways for students like Naidoo to learn.

Every student receives an iPad with built-in voice-over functionality. The college also loads iPads with an app called Voice Dream Reader for anyone needing help with reading comprehension. The app has a variety of functions. Instead of a student reading text, the software reads the text to the student from programs like PowerPoint and Word. It also creates documents from voice input.

Besides the iPad, braille materials are available and if a student requests it, staff read tests to students. Since repetition helps with memory retention, Naidoo records lectures. MaKami also has a tutoring lab and tutoring allotment.

Olakunle is confident Naidoo will succeed. “Jay is an inspiring story. He’s gonna be fine. He’s got the right mindset and the right support.”

MaKami College is attracting a diverse range of students looking for new opportunities in the current economic climate, including restaurant servers and male students. Find out more or book a campus tour by calling 403-474-0772 in Calgary and 780-468-3454 in Edmonton.