”Becoming a part of the infrastructure”

Our COO/CTO Sebastian Mutsson takes us through the journey of Handiscover Accessibility up until now and shares the plans for the platform.

Handiscover Accessibility is in the expansive phase of entering the market, after about two years of having an extensive focus on identifying user needs, architecting and building the product. Read all about the journey so far, the ideas behind the platform and what to expect in the future. 

The driving force behind Handiscover is making life easier for people with special needs and their families. (Read our story here) After some thought, it is easy to realize all the different touchpoints there are, just being and doing different things in this world. All these points are information translated into data – possible to collect, manage and improve. When Handiscover realized that the solutions on the market were both untechnical, modest and fragmented, the idea to build an agnostic technical platform that would be capable to process this in a simple yet effective manner was set.

Sebastian Mutsson, how would you describe the product in simple terms?
– The idea behind the platform is to be a management tool, where you easily and without technical expertise can manage your physical accessibility related to buildings. To assess, track, and continuously access and improve it. The platform brings all the concrete granular accessibility data from the physical environment together, displays it in visual data and user dashboards – and with the help of services like an accessibility widget installed on the client's webpage this is then communicated to citizens, clients and customers. So it’s both about infrastructure and communication.

To give us a hint. In a property of approximately 60 000 square meters, how much data is collected?
– Well, it really depends on the type of venue. But just the area in a shopping mall, shops excluded, can contain about 2 200 data points – be it pictures, words or other metrics.

”The platform is so mature and easy to understand now, that you don’t have to be a technical genius or an accessibility expert to do this.”

If we can get behind the scenes in this development phase. How did you and the tech team go about it?
– Since we’ve gotten grants from the EU, we had a really streamlined process of building and constantly validating the steps in short modules. It all started with having a deep understanding of the needs. We established a standard with thorough checklists divided into different verticals, based on hundreds of questions. It can be anything from the heights of coat hangers on the wall in a hotel room for people with wheelchairs, to whether or not the areas in a dynamic shopping mall are marked and accommodated for people with a visual impairment. All this data was then transferred into an architectural model capable of sustaining the coming cloud-based platform. It was also about figuring out how to improve the flow and experience for the end consumer in the platform. Parallel to this process, we have developed the services on top of this technical platform.
– Our expertise is really tangible and built-in into the platform, bridging the gap between us as experts/consultants and the client, enabling them to take full ownership of the progress and at what pace to move forward. An example of that is all the recommendations on how to improve your accessibility – the checklist – that is created during the assessment and displayed on the platform. We understood at an early stage that this journey has to be made together with customers and users, so all our processes were designed accordingly.

How would you describe our client’s journey in accessibility awareness with the support of this platform?
– As I see it, it’s four phases. First, to get a baseline during the onboarding. The next step is to adopt an accessibility mindset, both understanding the granularity involved and the approach needed through educational efforts. The third phase is about business optimizations and planning, making accessibility a part of the overall decisions to be made. The last phase is about transformation. To go from a passive mode to actually having a sense of control and taking the needed actions to do improvements. 
– When it comes to managing the accessibility data, I would recommend updating the platform and going through the data in the venue continuously – at the very least every six months since there may be changes in the information. (The system requires this assessment at least once per year.)

Can you reveal some upcoming news? (Sept 2022)
– Sure! Since our core platform is ready and optimized for desktop, mobile and tablets, the next step is to scale up by enabling the client to do the assessment without our expert team involved. We believe in learning by doing, and the relationship between the manager and the different areas in the venues brings awareness, clarity and first-hand knowledge. The platform is so mature and easy to understand now, that you don’t have to be a technical genius or an accessibility expert to do this. We have developed good usability. This is crucial for making accessibility a tangible matter, and not something abstract and a source of uncertainty or stress whether you do enough or not. 
– Anytime now, within weeks, the clients having the ”Connect” package will be able to access all the statistics and start to really manage their accessibility. (Read more about our packages here) (landing page)

In what stage of development are you in now?
– We are focusing on developing and building services and improvements based on user data, both for the benefit of our clients and the end users. The widget will have maps in the upcoming version since we understood that location gives users a powerful and meaningful context. It will be easier to give us feedback. We will also update the checklists, depending on the needs of various industries and venues. We also plan to give suggestions of suitable choices of equipment, with cost estimates. And it’s going to be possible to extract the data with the dashboards in an Accessibility Report, making it a strategic tool both when communicating with different stakeholders when it comes to D&I and ESG, but also as a support in your business strategy and financial decision making. 
– It’s a constant learning curve that can be a bit irregular at times. We will conduct research, look at feedback loops, commonalities, and different verticals and continuously analyze our data.
– Next year we will scale up the platform and enter new markets. The system is already now fit for big corporations with a multitude of brands, locations or property types. We are humble, though, when it comes to understanding that adaptations are needed due to different markets both when it comes to legislation, diligence and behaviours. It is a lot of complexity involved, just as it is generally in the world. Concerning the platform, machine learning implicates a smarter and better platform as we move ahead.

What is your vision for the future?
– The vision is to be the only platform you need to use as a property manager and property owner to be able to log accessibility-related data. We aspire to become an obvious part of the infrastructure. 

Interested in more insights?
How to report your accessibility and inclusion efforts. Learn more here.

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