Dean has lived with polio since the age of two, acquired in the last polio epidemic in Canada in 1951 in Saint John, New Brunswick. Braces, crutches and a wheelchair were a natural part of growing up providing a natural talent for recognizing and overcoming barriers. After completing a BA in Sociology at the University of Waterloo and a MSW at Wilfred Laurier, Dean began his career as a Community Development officer at the Ontario March of Dimes and was quickly promoted to Regional Director. During his time in Waterloo, Dean discovered wheelchair sports and embraced it with passion, earning a spot on Canada's national wheelchair basketball team at the 1976 Olympiad for the Disabled, just two years after beginning, and adding a Gold Medal in Snooker at that first Paralympics, launching a competitive athletic career that would span three decades and produce medal performances at World Championship and Paralympics in five different sports. His penchant for organizational development began at that time, organizing and running a recreation program for teens with disabilities, founding the Twin City Spinners Wheelchair Basketball Association, developing a therapeutic riding program and becoming Chair of the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association.
Dean moved to Ottawa in 1980 and spent the next 10 years as Executive Director of the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association. No longer able to compete in sports governed by CWSA, Dean turned his attention to Sledge Hockey in the winter and wheelchair tennis in the summer, earning the national wheelchiar tenns champion title in 1988, and an extended and accomplished member of Canada's National Sledge Hockey (now called Paralylmpic Hockey), the Team earned Gold and Dean was named MVP at the first ever world cup in 1991, followed by a Bronze at the first Paralympics in Lillehammer in 1994, and a Silver Medal at the 1998 Winter Paralympics in Nagano.
In 1990 Dean joined the team at Carleton University as a founding member of the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities (PMC). PMC Director Larry McCloskey and Dean were responsible for founding Carleton’s READ Initiative (Research, Education, Accessibility and Design) in 2012 and he served as Acting Director until 2018. He will continue as a Special Advisor to the READ Initiative moving forward.
Dean has also enjoyed a long career in various volunteer capacities serving persons with disabilities and recently completed a three year term on the Province of Ontario Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee/Standards Development Committee. Central to his volunteer career has been a close association with the Rick Hansen Foundation, from supporting the initial concept of the World Tour to organizing the 32 events held during the five days the Tour travelled through the national capital region. He has organized Wheels in Motion events in Ottawa, served as an Ambassador to the Foundation and has regularly attended RHF leadership summits. Becoming a member of the Rick Hansen Foundation
Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) program and completing the requirements to be a Designated RHFAC Professional is a proud addition to his accomplishments.