“Bob the barber” back in business, thanks to CanAssist

Update – November 2012

The University of Victoria is deeply saddened to learn of the passing on Nov. 7, 2012 of Robert Egely, known to many as Bob the Barber. “I will never forget the second lease on life that you gave to my dad,” Egely’s daughter, Nicole Semkiw, wrote to UVic’s CanAssist organization. “I know my dad was so happy and thankful to have gotten back to being a barber again.”

“Working with this good-humoured and tenacious gentleman was a delight and an honour for our team,” says Tanya Switucka, CanAssist’s client relations manager. “Because of Bob’s amazing story and accompanying technology, we have received several queries from individuals with similar needs.”

Original story

For more than 40 years, Robert Egely was a fixture in the Okanagan town of Enderby, cutting residents’ hair in his barber shop. But in 2010, following medical complications that resulted in the amputation of both legs, Bob reluctantly hung up his clippers. This month, Egely starts up his business again thanks to a high-tech, customized barber chair developed by UVic’s CanAssist team.

The one-of-a-kind chair includes a motorized seat that enables Egely to sit alongside customers, circle them as he cuts their hair, raise himself almost four feet off the ground to achieve various cutting angles, and transfer to his wheelchair when he’s done.

Four members of the CanAssist engineering team—Brandon Fry, Paul Green, Mike Lewis and Darcy Lane—travelled to Enderby to install the chair in Egely’s shop and watch as he served his first customer—91-year-old Enderby resident John Harrison, who has been waiting for the moment when “Bob the Barber,” as he’s known around town, returns to work.

“The chair is fantastic,” Egely told the Victoria Times Colonist. “It’s like a little spaceship.”

Funding for the chair was provided to CanAssist through the Equipment and Assistive Technology Initiative, a program supported by the federal and BC governments, which helps people with disabilities achieve their employment-related goals.

“Being able to get back to being a barber gives me a sense of purpose again,” says Egely, who is 67 and has no intention of slowing down.
UVic’s CanAssist program is dedicated to developing and delivering technologies, programs and services that improve the quality of life of those with disabilities.

More information: www.canassist.ca

Video: bit.ly/canassist-barber


In this story

Keywords: CanAssist

Related stories