Shopping, going to the doctor, picking up your children from school or even walking around town… All these everyday trips, however trivial, can become a daily challenge for some people. It is on this theme that Okeenea launched 27 years ago, putting forward the themes of disability and inclusiveness. Today, France has nearly 12 million people with disabilities out of 66 million inhabitants, or 20% of the total population. There are therefore real issues to be addressed, and this is what Okeenea has done, with the motivation of being “creators of accessibility”.
Inclusive city : The main societal challenge of the 21st century
We talk more and more often about smart cities, but we sometimes forget to take a closer look at the concept of the inclusive city, an issue that is very much part of the societal debate. This concept of the inclusive city is generally described as a process aiming at allowing the equal exercise of human rights, through unrestricted access to urban spaces, infrastructures and services from which any person can benefit. There is a strong link between social inclusiveness and inclusive cities, especially through digital solutions, infrastructures and adapted facilities. Even if large cities around the world have made enormous progress in terms of inclusiveness, the future still holds many opportunities in terms of innovations. However, Okeenea is demonstrating that it has already seized the issue…
>> To discover also our infography :
“Inclusive mobility: Not all equal regarding the mobility”
Okeenea : The French Tech carrier of accessibility
Founded in 1993 by Gilles Rochon, and now managed by Sylvain Denoncin, Okeenea is originally a French startup. Its main objective is simple: to make the city and its services accessible to people with disabilities. Namely, improving the autonomy of the disabled, to promote their independence. In 2019, the small company takes a new turn and becomes the Okeenea group. It is then divided into 4 major areas of expertise: building, digital, tech, product. Okeenea offers services or products for individuals or companies, on an international scale. In short, the objective is to offer private and public sectors solutions that improve the accessibility and autonomy of people with disabilities in urban environments.
In order to give back “freedom and spontaneity” to people with disabilities in their daily lives, Okeenea develops and makes available a variety of solutions:
- Solutions and services for accessibility work and bringing buildings up to standard;
- accessibility equipment ;
- signage for the visually impaired ;
- connected digital solutions.
Technology at the service of autonomy for all
Today, the French population includes about 20% of people with disabilities. Among them, 89% say they use a smartphone on a daily basis. This shows firstly that disability is not an obstacle and secondly that digital technology can be an effective solution. Okeenea offers its users a step-by-step guidance system, similar to a pedestrian GPS, both indoors and outdoors: the first all-disability guidance solution, “useful for everyone”. Evelity, an application adapted to all types of disabilities, whether visual, sound, motor or cognitive. The goal: to make it easier for people with disabilities to be independent and accessible, but also to help cities build an inclusive and responsible environment.
A solution stands out. In some cities, it is possible to find signage and assistance systems for the visually impaired, thus reducing the probability of accidents on foot. Indeed, despite specific floor markings, travel in urban environments can be difficult, especially if they are crowded. Okeenea offers audible signals at crosswalks and audible beacons in train stations and subways to make travel easier. We hope that in the future this will encourage more local authorities to take the plunge.