Background on Colin Johanson

A brief autobiography

Also Resume available online

All my life I have lived and worked in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Melbourne was awarded 'the World's Most Livable City' title a few years back and deserves that title. It is a beautiful city located  on a feeder river called the Yarra, at the top end of a very large Bay. Melbourne has lots of sports ranging from a Formula 1 Grand Prix on its streets, to tennis, sailing and water-skiing.

Snow skiing is available at Victorian and New South Wales (a neighbour State) snowfields with well-established lifts that are open from July through to October. It is only 250 or 350 km from Melbourne to the mountain ski fields in Victoria and about 600 km to the NSW ones.

I started flying hang gliders back in 1974 after trying conventional fixed wing gliding. It was the most incredible feeling. To fly so exposed and basic, yet have the ability to surf the wind for hours with sea birds or eagles for company, was mind blowing. Thrilling sports were my addiction - in fact I was an 'adrenalin junkie'. The natural high created by a controlled, but risky pursuit, gives quite a buzz. I would kayak down a white water river, use a kayak in ocean surf, water-ski (including barefoot) or go bow hunting for mountain goats. I loved water and the outdoors.

Reality with a thump! Eventually something was bound to bring me back to reality. It happened in a big way.

In 1977, I was a twenty year old student at Melbourne University studying Microbiology, when I had an accident hang gliding. I had been hang-gliding for over three years and had helped start the Melbourne University Hang-gliding Club. I damaged my spine and spinal chord at the Cervical C5-C6 levels (broken neck), leaving me a quadriplegic. With no feeling or movement below the chest and limited movement of my arms, I now use a manual wheelchair for day-to-day mobility. Practically no functional grip has made me adapt many things so that I can use them.

I drove a car again only one year after my accident and went on to post graduate studies in ergonomics in 1981, after establishing a small manufacturing business at home. That business was based around manufacturing products for medical use on a metal lathe that I learned to use after my injury. The lathe gave me tool and material holding that my hands no longer had and the ability to accurately apply the tool to the material.

The need to have others build some parts led to me learning technical drawing, buying a manual drawing machine, that later became redundant as I developed computer skills and Computer Aided Drafting knowledge.

In 1985 I became employed full-time as a furniture and interior designer for a commercial office company in South Melbourne. After 8 years of running their design department using Autocad (Versions 1.5 through to 11) the financial slump of 1989 caught up to us in 1993 and left me without a job.

Desktop publishing was an area that I saw with possibilities and concentrated on that from 1988 till 1998. Partially completing a Certificate IV in Electronic Publishing at RMIT (two years of a three year course) to formally obtain skills and training in my field of work.

In 1999 I took on the task of Web Editor using predominately the Macromedia software that is so great for website creation. The Internet is such an amazing field to work in as it is still so young and expanding exponentially with new posibilities apearing all the time.

I enjoy creating projects using the tools and capabilities of computers that minimise a user's disability while optimising potential abilities.


I am currently employed by Kangan Batman TAFE.

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