|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
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
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.