By David Brun
Director, Gateway Navigation CCC Ltd.
Public Services and Procurement Canada’s Office of Small Medium Enterprises assists entrepreneurs and business owners in understanding how to sell to the Government of Canada
Collaborating with the Canadian Council of the Blind and Gateway Navigation CCC Ltd. in creating accessible and inclusive indoor wayfinding solutions using audio-based navigation – ABN networks.
“You are in front of the Public Services and Procurement Canada – PSPC Booth. There are two people working at the booth. There are three people in front of you. Move slightly to your right. A male working at the booth is looking at you and smiling.” This description was provided through a subscription service called Aira. It is an app that connects blind users with an Aira representative via the user’s smartphone camera. The representative also has access to the smartphone tracking and positioning data. Assisting the user in navigation and interaction with their surroundings.
I was the guinea pig for a recent test of Aira at a Doing Business with Government exhibition hosted by Public Services and Procurement Canada at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster. PSPC purchased a block of time from Aira and had a geo-fence setup providing blind or visually-impaired attendees free access to the app, which included the New Westminster SkyTrain Station across the street.
There were challenges finding our way out of the SkyTrain Station. But once in route I was guided to the street crossing and then the entrance to the Anvil Centre. But the real power of the app was in guiding me through the exhibit area and interaction information with the people and environment around me. The experience to me was equal to when I had sight. It allowed me to be more efficient, independent and engaged with exhibitors and other participants. Fundamental requirements when trying to network.
Creating accessible and inclusive experiences for Canadians who are blind, deaf-blind or visually-impaired is fundamental to equal access of opportunity. As part of this ongoing assessment of how to provide equal access to the buying and selling of goods and services to the Government of Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada and its Office of Small and Medium Enterprises in British Columbia are piloting the Aira app at their office locations in Vancouver and Victoria:
To access the Aira Free Zones including the above locations the app must be downloaded to your smartphone and an account profile activated. No purchase of plan is required. Once within a geo-fenced Aira free zone the app will provide the user with the option to connect to an agent. Connecting to an agent usually is less than two minutes.
The staff at OSME will be pleased to meet with you and discuss how their services can assist you in doing business with the Government of Canada and to get your feedback on using Aira. Scheduling an appointment is recommended, but not required.
For more information Contact:
Public Services and Procurement Canada
John Johnstone – email: John.Johnstone@pwgsc-tpsgc.gc.ca
Tess Menges – email: Tess.Menges@pwgsc-tpsgc.gc.ca
Tara Hartley – email: Tara.Hartley@pwgsc-tpsgc.gc.ca
Canadian Council of the Blind / Aira and other assistive technology for the blind
Albert Ruel – email: email@example.com
Gateway Navigation CCC Ltd / Audio-based navigation - ABN Consulting
Jim Taggart – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Brun - email: email@example.com
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