The installation will help Alphapointe’s employees adapt to its new 140,000 square foot facility in Queens
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INDIANAPOLIS—Last March, Bosma Enterprises became one of the first nonprofit organizations in the nation to install BlindSquare, a mobile navigation technology designed to create a more accessible environment for people who are blind or visually impaired. After hearing about the positive impact the technology has had on Bosma’s employees, Alphapointe, a fellow National Industries for the Blind (NIB) agency, decided to implement the innovative wayfinding technology into its new facility with hopes of a similar outcome.
Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., Alphapointe has served people who are blind and visually impaired since 1911. Its mission is to empower people with vision loss to achieve their own goals and aspirations. Alphapointe operates in nine locations, in four states, with over 400 employees. The organization is the third largest employer of people who are blind in the U.S. and also provides rehabilitation, education, outreach, referrals and job placement to nearly 5,000 people a year.
Due to escalating rent, Alphapointe recently decided to move its Brooklyn operations to a new, wholly owned industrial space in Queens’ Richmond Hill neighborhood. The facility will house multiple lines of business including its warehouse operations, janitorial supplies production, plastics division and contact services. The move will create major savings and financial stability, sustaining the future of Alphapointe.
In order to make the move as easy as possible for the 230 employees who will work at the new location, Alphapointe called on Bosma for its help and expertise to install BlindSquare. Because the new 140,000 square foot location consists of 19 buildings, it represents a potentially difficult environment for people who are blind or visually impaired to adapt to. With the help of Bosma and BlindSquare, transition into the new facility will be made easier and more accessible for all employees.
Nationally, people who are blind or visually impaired face a 70 percent unemployment rate. Bosma and Alphapointe hope that by showing employers that adapting the workplace can be relatively easy and inexpensive, it may lead to additional employment opportunities for this overlooked population in the future.
BlindSquare is a mobile app for iOS devices developed by Finland-based MIPsoft. In outdoor environments, BlindSquare uses a mobile phone’s GPS in conjunction with data from third-party navigation apps like Foursquare to describe the environment and announce points of interest and street intersections. The indoor version of the program, called BlindSquare Event, interfaces with a Beacon Positioning System (BPS) consisting of iBeacons located throughout the building. These are small, low energy Bluetooth devices that provide data on specific navigation markers, such as restrooms or meeting rooms, while guiding the user with audio queues about their surroundings.
“Being able to serve as a national model for how technology can create job opportunities and accessible workplaces for people without vision is something that Bosma takes huge pride in,”
said Lou Moneymaker, CEO, Bosma Enterprises. “We are excited to help another nonprofit like ourselves become a leader in advocating for technologies for those who are blind.”
For both Bosma and Alphapointe, giving those who are blind the help and support they need in order to live independently is their main goal. Sharing this mission and advocating for policies that level the playing field for individuals who are blind or
visually impaired makes for an impactful partnership and can serve as a model for other nonprofits.
“Having an organization like Bosma help us install this innovative technology makes us that much more confident in the installation process,” said Clay Berry, director of rehabilitation and education for Alphapointe. “They get it. They’re seeing success with the technology and learning what works and what doesn’t, giving us high hopes for the potential success it can have in our new facility.”
About Bosma Enterprises
Bosma Enterprises is a nonprofit organization, with a history of more than 100 years, that provides training and employment for people who are blind or visually impaired. Our experienced staff (more than half of whom are blind) offers personalized programs ranging from counseling, to job placement, to training for daily living skills—helping adults gain the life skills they need to remain independent, and the job skills they need to stay self-sufficient. To learn more about how you can help our mission, or how our mission can help you, visit bosma.org.
Alphapointe, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., has been empowering people with vision loss to achieve their goals and aspirations since its founding in 1911. Alphapointe, one of the largest employers of people who are blind in the U.S., with manufacturing facilities in both the State of Missouri and the State of New York, has nearly 400 employees, of which 230 are blind or visually impaired. Alphapointe is one of the region’s largest resources for people with vision loss, offering products and services nationwide. Alphapointe’s business lines include plastics, micro-molding, office products manufacturing and sales, textiles manufacturing and sales, janitorial products, contact center services, retail stores and a comprehensive rehabilitation and education program for people who are blind or are losing their vision. For more info about Alphapointe, visit www.alphapointe.org.
Anthony Scott, Content and Communications Manager
Gina Gowin, Vice President, Alphapointe