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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VANCOUVER, July 27, 2018: The internet of things is being re-imagined at Gateway Navigation CCC Limited. David Brun, Founder, explains, “Our Mission is grounded in two fundamental principles: First, make the world more accessible and inclusive for everyone. Second, accomplish our first principle by engaging and employing people with disabilities. Embracing these two objectives. Our organization is committed to enhance independence for people with disabilities in the areas of accessibility, inclusion, education and employment.”
Brun, who has a banking background professionally and 25 years advocating and implementing programs in the disabled community; continues, “I have always been a bit of a non-conformist, challenging the accepted status-quo, which can at times be useful. Except in banking where I was told it was an annoying trait. But on a more serous note, statistically, there has been modest to little improvement for people with disabilities in employment and if you focus on individuals with severe to very severe disabilities we are losing ground on what is already an unacceptably low number”
In 2015, while researching the possible uses and benefits of emerging ibeacon technology coupled with Bluetooth LE (low-energy) beacons and smartphones. Brun came across an audio indoor wayfinding project underway in London’s Underground Pimlico subway station. “The scope of the initiative and organizations that came together to solve a mobility challenge identified by London’s blind and low-vision youth was nothing short of inspirational.
For Brun, it joined many puzzle pieces he had been contemplating at the time. How do blind people read signs they cannot touch? How to improve employment opportunities for the severely disabled. How do we create universal solutions that work not only for the disabled but everyone?
It was a powerful moment when all these pieces came together into one picture. I’ve told and retold the concept of creating a company that improves accessibility and inclusion in our communities. By employing people with disabilities to bring their unique lived-experience and talents to a sustainable for-profit social enterprise.
Sound too simple to work?
The advisors, directors and shareholders of Gateway Navigation CCC Limited don’t think so. They are committed to creating a new business model that empowers people through accessibility and inclusion. Providing all individuals better access to services, education, employment and participation in the communities they live.
Recognized as the voice of the blind in Canada, the CCB, Canadian Council of the Blind, through the work of its member’s Corry Stuive, former Executive Director and Albert Ruel, Manager Western Canada CCB Get Together with Technology. Ensure Gateway’s initiatives reflect the values and objectives of the over 70 CCB Chapters across Canada
David LePage, Director Gateway and Principal Accelerating Social Impact CCC Ltd. Brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise regarding social enterprise. David is involved in several projects and Boards across Canada and the US. Working with Sheila Evani, an Associate with Segev LLP and Legal Counsel to Gateway. David and Sheila have developed an innovative business structure clearly meeting BC incorporation requirements for community contribution companies. Enabling distribution of profits for socially focused investors and not-for-profits looking to support innovative social enterprises through a balanced investment portfolio.
Jim Taggart, Director Gateway, whose architectural career included five years working on Vancouver’s Expo ’86 World’s Fair, is now editor of Sustainable Architecture & Building Magazine (SABMag) an instructor in the Bachelor of Architectural Science program at BCIT, and an advocate for social sustainability, including universally accessible buildings.
Tammy Berry, Advisor to Gateway Board of Directors, has a deep knowledge and expertise in finance, regulatory compliance and call-centre management at both the manager and executive level. She is a dedicated professional in financial services that is equally committed to giving her time and energy to community projects.
For more information on Gateway’s vision and initiatives please click or cut and paste the following link to your browser:
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