A career planning and employment resource for people who are blind or partially sighted

Meet Phil

Phil talks about how perseverance and learning new skills enabled him to re-enter the workforce after losing his vision.

Phil, a donor recipient himself, is a spokesperson for the Trillium Gift of Life organ donor program. For more information visit giftoflife.on.ca or beadonor.ca​.



Narrator: Welcome to Success Stories, brought to you by Project Aspiro, produced by the World Blind Union and CNIB, and funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

In this video you’ll meet Phil Goodwin, a Union Awareness Trainer at General Motors Canada, and his colleague Lisa Whiteman. 

This video includes a montage of clips showing Phil walking to work with his guide dog, talking with colleagues and working at his desk using assistive technology.


Phil: My name is Phil Goodwin, I work for General Motors, here in Oshawa, Ontario. My job title in Union Awareness Trainer. How I lost my sight was coming from a Union meeting I was involved in a motorcycle accident on the way back to work here at General Motors. I was twenty-nine years old when the accident occurred, and I would say within two years I was totally blind. 

With the help of my union, four years after my accident I was back at work again, and with General Motors they have what’s called a Placement Program, and General Motors was okay with me coming back to work with a job that I could perform. 

Lisa: My name is Lisa Whiteman. I’ve been at General Motors twenty-eight years almost. My job title is, ah, I function as a Union Awareness Trainer. Phil has probably one of the most wicked sense of humour, he is genuine, he is friendly, he is creative. 

Phil: Somebody losing their sight in mid-career, I would say to them, first of all, don’t give up. Whatever job you are doing, there very likely is someway you can continue to do all of that job, or part of it. The challenges people think they have can be overcome with technology and the things that are available to you to do a job. Don’t give up is the number one thing. 

When somebody says I cannot do something, I’ll find every way to show that I can do it. I guess that would be classified as stubbornness or bull-headedness but I don’t give up, and I think it’s very important that you do not give up, because it’s a lot easier to give up than it is to try to accomplish something, whether it’s a small task or large. 

Lisa: To be quite honest, Phil has dramatically changed my life. As far as taking a look at the extent of people with disabilities, I don’t actually look at it anymore because he is such an intricate part of the work environment.

Phil: A lot of the other people I encounter throughout my day don’t treat you as a blind person, so to speak, just another person. I don’t know how to put it in words, but they don’t treat you any different. If you take a look around at some of the people that have lost their sight, the job they’re doing, you’d be quite impressed at what they can and cannot do.