Sense of Direction

With a background in support work, employability development, and advice service, Glyn aimed to set up a social enterprise that provides an accessible navigation system for people who are blind/partially sighted.

 

This system, which avoids dependency on GPS signal, allows for more independent outdoor travel. Glyn has developed a Beacon Positioning System using BlindSquare (an accessible navigation application), which combines Bluetooth low energy beacons, QR codes, and an app to provide users with customized messages about their surroundings. This allows those who are blind/partially sighted to travel more independently and with much lower dependence on people around them.

I wanted to improve access for people who are blind/partially sighted to as many locations across Scotland as I could manage via a brilliant, accessible system. That in itself would be great, but I also wanted to generate employment opportunities for people who are blind/partially sighted and to reach a point where they were responsible for installing the systems and improving access for themselves and others. The employment rate for people who are blind/partially sighted is around 27% of working age people, which is incredibly low when you consider that the UK employment rate is about 75% for people of working age.

The biggest challenge is recognising that I am now responsible for everything! In previous jobs, I had a finance team, HR, business development, admin, communications and social media that I could rely on for things and could focus on what I needed to do. Now I need to fill most of those roles, which is a steep learning curve, but is key if I want to succeed. I am sure there will be plenty of challenges to come, but I am excited to tackle them!

I believe that in the future we will have a small and talented team made mostly of people who are blind/partially sighted, installing the accessible navigation system across Scotland and potentially the rest of the UK. We will be a key part of the drive towards fully accessible towns and cities being the norm, not the exception.


This year our Social Innovation programme will be focussing on new and emerging social innovators who are developing social enterprises that work with or deliver to, people who are affected by disability. If you have an idea you’re looking to get started then find out more on our Programmes page.