Deaf entrepreneur wins American leadership award

Tuesday, 29 March 2011 14:34pm

Catharine McNally, a co-founder of Keen Guides, has been awarded one of two Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards for 2011 by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

Developed after a disappointing experience in a museum for McNally, who is Deaf, Keen Guides is a mobile application that provides accessible video tours of museums, colleges and public venues, with the objective of producing cultural experiences that appeal to everyone.

The Keen Guides application, available on iPhone and Android devices, applies universal design principles, offering an educational, entertaining and accessible alternative to standard audio and live tours.

For her work in developing Keen Guides and promotion of universal design, McNally has been awarded a Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award. The awards are given to emerging leaders within the national disability community and are managed by the AAPD, the country’s largest cross-disability membership organisation.

McNally advocates designing products that benefit as many people as possible, regardless of background or ability. She hopes to help businesses and organisations understand that tweaks to their products can make a huge difference.

"I don't think businesses fully realise yet just how many people need some kind of accommodation – think about foreign language speakers, aging baby boomers. Accessibility isn't just a business or legal requirement. It's about opening your doors and saying, 'We want you here’," McNally said.

McNally hopes to build the Keen Guides’ library to 1,111 videos by 11 November 2011.

McNally is also a keen moviegoer and has trialled the CaptiView closed captioning system and blogged about her experience.

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