Amy & Kurt: A SaskTel Love Story
SaskTel prides itself on employing countless talented individuals. Amongst them is two-time Paralympic gold medalist and marketing manager Amy Alsop, and her husband, engineer Kurt Langford. Amy and Kurt not only have spent over 10 years working at our company, they met and fell in love here too.
Both happen to experience life with vision impairment, and yet have seen and experienced more of the world than most people, figuring out how to use technology to overcome challenges along the way. With October being National Disability Awareness Employment Month, we would like to share their story.
Coming to SaskTel…
"Like most people experiencing disabilities, we had a really hard time breaking into our chosen careers [after finishing university]," recalls Amy. A common obstacle, unfortunately, with high unemployment numbers amongst people experiencing disabilities. Eventually though, both Amy and Kurt found their way to SaskTel, where they’ve been happily employed for over 10 years. Kurt started as a dispatcher, before moving to his current role of engineer, and Amy grew within the marketing department working on numerous large-scale projects.
As individuals experiencing disabilities, Amy and Kurt’s approach to life is “why not.” And they are just a few amongst many individuals experiencing disabilities who excel at SaskTel by relying on their intellect, talent, and creativity. Not only are such individuals capable, but by bringing their diverse viewpoint into the workplace, they also offer a unique perspective when it comes to offering alternative and creative solutions to solving problems or accomplishing tasks.
SaskTel: A love story
While at SaskTel, Amy started a youth mentoring program that paired up employees who experience vision loss with students in schools who have similar disabilities. Amy had met Kurt before, but only in passing. Both Kurt and Amy have been working at SaskTel for 5 years before one of the mentors in the program suggested to Amy that they approach Kurt about becoming part of the mentorship program. A year into it, the duo began spending more time together. "We started talking and going to Roughriders games — and the rest is kind of history," recalls Amy. Fast forward a few years later, and the happy couple have welcomed their first child, Mason, into their growing family.
According to a 2012 Statistics Canada survey on disability, about 3.8 million working-age Canadians experience disability. When Amy first joined SaskTel, she heard of a group called SEND (SaskTel Employee Network on Disabilities) through word-of-mouth. The group consists of over 50 active SaskTel employees who experience a wide range of disabilities — whether physical, sensory, or mental-health related.
"It was really good for me, starting out, to at least know that there's a lot of other people who have faced disability at SaskTel," she recalls.
The group also functions as a forum for individuals to share their struggles or needs and acts as a resource for SaskTel when it comes to understanding disability issues and implementing inclusive programs, products, and services.
"I think it's really important for folks who experience disability to have that kind of outlet because oftentimes we feel like we are the only ones."
Technology & ingenuity at the office
"I had a larger computer monitor before anyone else had one, but now everyone has one and my huge monitor looks normal, which is fine with me," says Amy. She wears orange-tinted glasses to cut down on the glare from the fluorescent lights and computer screen.
Kurt often has to get the serial numbers off of the gateways, so he takes photos on his phone and then enlarges them. Being able to pinch in and zoom, or download photos onto the computer screen is invaluable.
The technology they use might be available to everyone, but it helps them a lot.
"We are able to use the technology we have to help us do our job and we are both lucky in that we are in jobs that require intellect, not necessarily our vision," says Amy.
Both Kurt and Amy are passionate about sports and leading an active life.
Although Amy wanted to be an athlete since the age of five, participating in regular sports was a real challenge because of her disability. In 1993, everything changed. The Canada Games were offering opportunities for athletes who experience disabilities and Amy got the opportunity to compete as a swimmer. "That really opened myself to a whole new world that had opportunities for people who experience disabilities and who were blind, and allowed them to compete against other people who were just like me," she recalls, "that was probably a huge turning point in my life." She went on to compete at the Paralympics in 2000, 2004 & 2008, winning two gold medals for goalball.
Both Amy and Kurt are also avid travelers who have visited cities across Europe, Canada, and the U.S. After all, why not?
Favourite part about working at SaskTel?
Hint: It's the people.
"I've been very fortunate that in the 10 years I've worked there, I've worked with some really great people that I look forward to working with each day. Most of what we do each day at work is creative problem solving and that's something I really enjoy," says Amy.
About the Blog
We'll share the latest stories about the quirks, culture, people and places across Saskatchewan. But more importantly, we're excited to get your point of view on what makes us all proud to be Saskatchewanians.
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