Member-owned co-operative aims to better living through assistive technology
Friday September 30, 2011 — Camille Jensen
BURNABY, B.C. – A new member-owned co-operative is launching to enhance quality of life for people who have a disability through assistive technology.
The Inclusive Technologies Co-op (ITC) was announced by Paul Gauthier, the co-ops president and chief operating officer, at the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion’s (BACI) annual general meeting (AGM) Thursday, Sept 22.
Paul, who was BACI’s keynote speaker, says the co-op has been years in the making and aims to fill a gap in the marketplace by providing people with expert information and quality products and services, all at the lowest reasonable price.
Lisa Joy Trick, BACI manager of technology and an ITC board member, says good assisted technology can be life changing for people who have a disability.
“I’m passionate about the use of assisted technology to help people be more independent and help people reach their dreams and their goals, and assisted technology can do that,” she says adding this is one of her areas of works at BACI.
The co-op can also change the current uptake of assisted technology, which currently has an 80 per cent fail rate.
“That means 80 per cent of the equipment is left in people’s closets and they are not actually using it,” says Lisa. “If we can improve that, so that more of the devices and equipment is actually being used, then that will be good for the environment and good for the people who are spending their money. They will be happier with it.”
The co-op conducted several feasibility studies to ensure the organization was what people wanted. According to Paul, of the 350 people surveyed, 80 per cent said they’d be interested in joining the co-op.
Eighty-three people offered to volunteer.
“The need for reliability and impartial information was something we distinctly identified. The need for reliable and timely service was another major area identified,” Paul told the approximately 30 people attending the AGM.
Individual membership for the co-op is $20. People who have a disability, their friends and families, are all encouraged to join ITC.
While soft launching the co-op June 2, the organization plans to launch a membership drive at the start of 2012, with a goal to reach 30,000 members by the end of the year.
Once the co-op has a critical mass it will direct its energy to members’ top priorities, which could range from research and development of new assisted technologies or negotiating with manufacturers to receive better deals on devices.
“The members are the driving force, and it’s their voice and their wants that are driving the co-op, which will be a neat thing to watch because we will see what happens when consumers make decisions instead of manufacturers,” says Lisa.
“I really believe we can change the marketplace,” says Paul, adding that it’s important for people who have disabilities to demonstrate they can continually be innovative by taking risks.
BACI and co-executive direct Richard Faucher were praised for supporting the co-op’s launch by providing meeting room and an office space.
To learn more about ITC, click here.
If you have feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051 or e-mail camille(at)axiomnews.ca.