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Calgary’s Next Economy: Included by Design is opening doors to improved accessibility

Sean Crump has spent years in Calgary dedicated to making local businesses more accessible.

His company, Included by Design, and before that, Universal Access, has been focused on improving the physical accessibility.

“Through Covid, as you can appreciate, obviously less and less places were interested in making their space accessible when the doors weren’t even open to their general public,” he said.

“It really gave us a time to kind of have a bit of perspective on what we’re doing.”

Crump said that’s when they began developing a new, tech-driven platform called Krooshl. He wanted to look at more of the disability inclusion narrative.

“It identifies all the accessible businesses, restaurants and those types of things and allows people with disabilities to book or register for events or do anything like that on there,” he said.

It also helps businesses identify what they need to do to be inclusive. That might include things like staff training and elements that go beyond just the physical environment.

Creating a meeting point

They still do an assessment of the physical environment, Crump said. It must be barrier free for anyone to come and enjoy an event or experience independently.

One a business signs on, they’re put on the platform, and they can access support and training pertaining to disability and inclusion. They can also be recognized by Krooshl on their own web landing page as a place that all people can participate.

It’s a meeting point, Crump said.

“We’re just trying to make sure that we can create kind of a two-sided market where businesses can start showing their social commitment to being inclusive to any patron that comes through their doors,” he said.

“We can help make it easier, for not just people with disabilities, but we’re finding people that were putting on events, not for profit organizations, were starting to hire us as consultants to go out and find or vet their locations before they put an event on… or if your grandparents are coming down to visit, trying to find a place to go out and dine.”

Crump said there’s a peace of mind when guests not only identify and accessible space, but also know their needs will be understood. That could be having a clear path to a table if you are in a wheelchair or being guided to a table if you are visually impaired.

Consulting to tech

One of the biggest mindset changes for Crump, through his participation with the Alberta Catalyzer – Velocity program, was the switch from consulting on physical locations to entering the digital sphere.

He said understanding different ways of accessing the market and building something that can scale quickly.

“It’s a whole other way of kind of learning to build a business and so the Velocity program’s helping structure that knowledge into an actionable process,” he said.

“I can go about building the business with the same social mission and vision, but do it in a way that has far more impact, in my perspective, and more immediate because we can offer something to people right away.”

He said they’ve found a good early adoption crowd and market fit. Krooshl is currently launched in beta right now and they’re working on an active minimum viable product (MVP).

From here, it’s raising money and building the platform and expanding it across Alberta.

They’re also looking at technology to digitize that initial physical assessment phase through the use of LIDAR.

They’re sticking with restaurants and similar entertaining venues for now, but they may also look at workplaces or other locations in the future.

“What I’ve learned is it’s kind of crawl, walk, run,” Crump said.

“So, figure out one industry type, build, teach, use the artificial intelligence to kind of learn from that and then kind of build upon it.”