Our history

A brief history BCITS

The Provincial Respiratory Outreach Program began as a dream forged out of a crisis experienced by people with disabilities who were living in the community and managing their needs for assisted ventilation.

In many cases, they had left care facilities by voluntarily signing release forms stating that they would take full responsibility for the risks associated with their decision to live in the community and they were using their own knowledge, ingenuity and self-help networks to maintain their equipment and to manage their changing respiratory needs.

The Pearson Hospital Respiratory program was the only resource available to them and the services that it offered were fragmented, inequitable, and seemingly oblivious to the urgency of their reality.

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Historical gallery

Voice Mate

Two-switch digital device, most often used as a “yes/no” communicator.
With built-in microphone, messages could be changed to something other than “yes/no”.

Enco IV

The Enco IV is a scanning switching unit which permits single or dual switch control of 5 functions.
Functions can be either on, off 115 volt AC appliances or
low voltage control circuits such as a nurse call or intercom.


Portable communication device, preprogrammed with hundreds of words,
phrases, and letters, allowing the user to access these words/phrases
by using switch scanning or direct access.

Iron Lung

The Iron Lung is a negative pressure ventilator that enables a person
to breathe when the work of breathing exceeds the person’s ability
to breathe. Negative pressure ventilation has since been superseded
by positive pressure ventilation, like the ventilators PROP clients use today.


A communication device that was accessed using direct input,
head-pointing, and scanning.


The LightWriter is a text-to-speech communication device. After typing in a message,
the device would speak the message aloud.

LightTalker w/ Minspeak

Precursor to the Liberator from PRC, the LightTalker was also a communication
device used with various input methods.
(early 1980s)

A Pilot

The Pilot was a selection device, activated by light held or worn by the user,
that was connected to a typewriter. When the user shone light onto
a letter, the light would trigger a relay connected to a typewriter letter,
causing the typewriter to type the particular letter.


Visit the iron lung project

Many people who used the iron lung have passed away. This was a time sensitive project as new patients will not be fitted with an iron lung as their first respiratory technology any longer. This is a history project with two oral interviews and one written interview. Explore the interviews of 3 people who experienced life with the iron lung, keeping the history alive!.

Iron Lung Project

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