First place winners of Dawson’s Den: Bradley Heaven and Danny O’Connor
Two and half years ago, this story ran in the Gazette about Bradley Heaven. He was looking forward to starting his studies at Dawson in Fall 2015. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/high-school-graduation-heavenly-for-john-rennie-student
Today, Bradley, who is in Social Science, and his technical aide Danny O’Connor have made impressive strides over the past five semesters at Dawson, not the least of which is winning Dawson’s Den during last week’s popular EWeek event. It was thrilling to hear Bradley’s voice making his start up pitch for All Access Life. Twenty teams presented their entrepreneurial projects on the Monday of EWeek 2017. The audiencevoted on the pitches and 10 teams moved on to the finals on Thursday; that was when Bradley and Danny blew the audience away.
Bradley and Danny can read each other’s minds. This beautiful connection between the two and their ease in working together has led them to identify a need in the community of people with disabilities. They met with Madeleine Bazerghi of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education in early October seeking advice on a website they were creating – All Access Life, a one-stop-shop for accessibility needs that would feature information about current technology, apps, resources and more. It took some convincing to get them to enter the competition during EWeek.
The Thursday jury of five judges from the business and startup communities were unanimous in their decision. Josh Miller of Fuller Landau, Liette Lamonde of La Fondation Montréal inc, Frantz Saintellemy of Groupe3737, Guy Bazinet of PME MTL and Jennifer de Vera of Sustainable Dawson awarded Bradley andDanny the grand prize of $1,000, a Google Chromebook, Business in a Box and coaching from YES Montreal. A additional new prize of $250 was awarded this year for the most sustainable project, offered by the newly created Sustainability Office at Dawson. Jenn de Vera who represented the Office, was very emotional when offering this prize to the team – The Sustainability Prize goes to the project that most reinforces the Dawson College value of Well-being for All by demonstrating a positive, sustainable contribution to society, the economy or human and ecological health
Bradley and Danny launched the site right after EWeek www.allaccesslife.org. Their next steps will be to select a legal structure and apply for grants to transform the site to WAG 2.0 (disabilities friendly). The next stop for the pair is Concours québécois en entrepreneuriat with the Centre’s continued support.
This was Bradley’s pitch:
In 2012 statistics Canada did a survey on disabilities in Canada and found that an estimated 3.8 million adult Canadians reported being limited in their daily activities due to a disability. This represents 13.7 percent of the adult population in Canada. And where do these people go to keep up to date with the latest accessible technology, apps and resources? Who has the time or knowledge to locate these resources? How can any professionals like occupational therapists for example, keep up with the ever-changing accessibility scene?
We do the research for you and provide with the top rated most up to date resources for each of our eight categories. Hi guys, my name is Bradley heaven. I was born with spastic Cerebral Palsy, it was caused by lack of oxygen to the brain during birth. This left me unable to properly control my muscles and unable to verbally communicate. Ages ago people with similar disabilities would be put in a group home, living day to day just getting by. However, in 1983 the Dynavox communication device was created. This gave people who were non-verbal the ability to communicate through technology, it gave us a voice. This was the only communication device on the market for a long time. Since it was the only device on the market, professionals like occupational therapists and technology assistants could master the device and there was no need for independent research since there was nothing else out there. However, nowadays the world of accessibility is absolutely blowing up, it’s impossible for the average person to keep up.
Well-known companies are catching onto this and making their products more accessible. Five years ago, Apple came out with an accessibility feature called switch control. This allowed switch users like myself the ability to use an iPhone, iPad or MacBook. This opened up a whole new world for me. I found myself joining my friends on apps like snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. oh, and also for schoolwork too, haha. Another example of a large company catching on to this trend would be Microsoft. Under our physical disability section you will find that they recently came out with a feature called co-pilot. This allows 2 controllers to act as one. So, disabled gamers who would normally only be able to hit 3 or 4 buttons on a control, can now hit those buttons and have a friend hit the others, allowing 2 people to play a game together as one!
Another example you could find under our visually impaired section, would be the new Nintendo switch. It recently came out with a game blind people can play. The game is based on the user responding to audio and vibration ques rather than visual ques. Now that I’ve given you some examples I’d like to go a bit more in depth on the layout of the website. We’ve done extensive research to categorize all the accessible technology, apps, resources and videos out there in various locations on the web. Due to time, we’ll only be able to focus on one category so we’ll go over General accessibility. On this page since most of the products can be used by anyone with special needs or not, we’ve added a recommended section and suggest what category of special need would benefit from the product. This is completely unique and sheds an accessible light on these mainstream products that many of them have not marketed for themselves.
As an example, this is a smart smoke detector. It does everything your standard smoke detector does and more. When smoke or carbon monoxide is detected it immediately sends you a notification on your phone or other devices. This is amazing since you can be alerted even when your away from your house. However, we thought that this would be a great tool for someone that is hearing impaired or deaf. So, we added the symbol for hearing impaired under the product image. Simply click the image, and we explain why we recommend it for people who are hearing impaired. The reason would be, since they can’t hear a regular smoke detector, they could now get a vibrating notification on either their phone or smart watch and know something is up.
Due to time, we can’t go into every product but trust us that there’s plenty of smart products and apps here that can have such a powerful impact of people’s lives. One final feature we’d like to showcase is our members forum. Since our site is 100 percent free, anyone can become a member and access the members forum. Here you can share tips and suggestions with other members, create friendships, follow other members to see when they post something new and more. This gives a sense of community to the website, it’s not only us finding the resources, but the community as a whole growing together.
One of the amazing things about our website is we have no competition. We are the only one stop shop that provides all 4 categories, technology, apps, resources and videos. Other sites exist that are masters in one area like technology for example, but many of these sites have their own products and aren’t linking you to all the other life changing resources out there. You can also find many blogs out there that will reviews technology or apps, but again these usually cover just one category. We want our site to become the face of accessibility. When you think about accessibility, you think about all access life.