Lighthouse Honored as 2012 NonProfit Organization of the Year for Advocacy

Dr. Elly du Pré
2-1-1 Broward photo
March 5, 2012
Lighthouse Executive Director Dr. Elly du Pre, eighth from left, with the other 2012 NonProfit Award Winners

 

THE CANON COPIER PROJECT

 

The Lighthouse of Broward in partnership with Wood Business Systems initiated the successful

development, production and sales of a fully accessible copying machine by Canon, Inc. The idea for this

project was generated in early 2011, out of a conversation between Lighthouse executive director Elly du Pré

and Wood Business Systems major account manager Peter King. Fort Lauderdale-based Wood Business

Systems is one of the largest independent digital solutions providers in the United States, and a vendor to the

Lighthouse.   Through Wood’s contacts at Canon, the copier was produced and sales have begun. The US

Government has already purchased 97 units for the IRS, which has a strong program of employing blind

people.  

 

For the first time, a totally blind person can be completely independent in the operation of all the features of a

high quality, multi-function copier/scanner/printer because it has speech-output and a simple button array for

input. This opens up an enormous opportunity for employment of totally blind people in entry level to advanced

professional jobs. One of the first totally blind people to use the copier, Kathy Martinez, US Dept of Labor

Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy, said it was the first time in her life she ever operated a

copier independently. 

 

Recent legislation signed by President Obama requiring all Federal Contractors to have higher standards of

compliance for information technology (ADA 508 regulations), opens opportunity for blind people that can be

realized in part by this new copier/scanner/ printer. Actually, the Canon machine is accessible to people with a

wide range of other disabilities besides blindness.

 

The next stage of our efforts is to implement a pilot project with an employer so that the story of a successful

placement can be part of outreach to agencies serving the blind throughout the State of Florida and the United

States (FAASB and VisionServe Alliance members). The pilot project will show how a person who is blind or

visually impaired can use the Canon copier to perform successfully either in an entry level or advanced

employment position in a very wide range of businesses. 

 

The long-standing goal of all placement professionals working with people with disabilities has always been

to open doors to jobs that actually meet the interests and skills of the applicant. Achieving that kind of freedom

of choice has never been fully met, but the development of the Canon copier has helped move us all closer to

that dream. A blind or visually impaired person will have a much broader range of employment options,

looking in industries or businesses that match his or her interests instead of having a narrow set of

opportunities that have been carved out. 

 

Ultimately the goal for this project is to sell this copier to other government departments and procure it for

employers of blind people throughout the United States and to increase long-term employment with

advancement opportunity for blind people. It is anticipated that this goal will be achieved.

 

For this achievement, the Lighthouse of Broward recently was honored as 2012 NonProfit Organization of the

Year for Advocacy by BankAtlantic and the Wasie Foundation. Wood Business Systems shared in the honor.

 

To see a video of the copier showing how it is used, go to YouTube.com and search for “Canon Voice

Guidance and Voice Operation wmv”  and it should be the second choice on the list. 

 

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