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William L. Hudson BVI Workforce Innovation Center secures contract for Satpaq® satellite messaging accessory

December 17, 2018
Wichita, Kan. – Envision announced today that the William L. Hudson BVI Workforce Innovation Center has received a contract to provide customer service for SatPaq®, a lightweight pay-as-you-go satellite messaging accessory sold by Higher Ground LLC, based in Palo Alto, Calif. The product delivers connectivity to smartphones in areas outside of cellular coverage. This is the first contract to be awarded to the BVI Workforce Innovation Center, which was launched earlier this year by Envision and Durham-based LC Industries, two of the largest employers of people who are blind or visually impaired in the country. The center’s objectives are to train individuals with visual impairments, place them into skilled positions and provide accessibility inclusion expertise to businesses around the United States.
As part of the agreement, a team of representatives with visual impairments who are fully versed on SatPaq and its customer service protocols will offer first-level interface and support from within the BVI Workforce Innovation Center, housed on the fifth floor of Envision’s Wichita headquarters. Customer inquiries will be received by email and phone and typically responded to within 24 hours.
The innovative SatPaq technology has been in use since last December by National Park rangers, county search and rescue teams, Homeland Security agents, U.S. Army Special Operations Forces and power hikers. In addition to inexpensive two-way text messaging, the device provides access to location-based precision weather services, on-demand AI-guided first aid advice, roadside assistance, tracking, social media posting and 24/7 emergency assistance. Late last month, Higher Ground made SatPaq available for purchase by outdoor enthusiasts, those caught in the midst of natural disasters and others who find themselves with no other means of communication.
“This is a very exciting partnership for us,” said Mike May, executive director of the BVI Workforce Innovation Center. “As an organization that employs staff with visual impairments, we have great appreciation for technologies that break down barriers to connectivity and communication. Our team has been trained to handle a wide range of issues and respond quickly and professionally. This will be a great opportunity to show how simple – and effective – it can be to put willing and able employees who are blind or visually impaired to work in technology jobs.”
Currently, opportunity in employment is out of reach for the majority of people who are blind or visually impaired. The 70 percent unemployment rate within that segment of the population has remained disproportionately high compared to individuals without a disability. Lack of inclusion, accessibility and accommodation in the workplace create significant barriers to the generation and availability of jobs. Higher Ground and the BVI Workforce Innovation Center hope their partnership will be an example to businesses everywhere about the need for workplace inclusivity for people of all abilities.
“We are very pleased to be working with the BVI Workforce Innovation Center and be part of groundbreaking efforts to expand employment opportunities for adults who are blind or visually impaired in professional positions,” said Rob Reis, president of Higher Ground LLC. “We were impressed by the skills and capabilities of the team in Wichita who were very eager to learn and even more eager to help. I’m very confident they will form a very efficient, effective interface with our customers.”
For additional information about the BVI Workforce Innovation Center, visit its website at www.workforceforall.com.
About Envision: Envision promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision. Founded in 1933, Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation. Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., Envision’s mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. For more information, visit www.envisionus.com.
About LC Industries: Founded in 1936, LCI’s mission is to provide meaningful employment for people who are blind. Since its founding, the company has grown to manufacture more than 2,500 different products and supply more than 4,500 products to military bases from its 36 Base Supply Stores and two distribution centers in Durham, N.C., and Las Vegas, Nev. For more information, visit www.lc-ind.com.
About Higher Ground: Higher Ground LLC, a Silicon Valley technology company, is the fourth successful start-up from serial entrepreneur, Rob Reis. Investment capital for Higher Ground provided by KFI, BergVC, Global Real Estate and Intelsat Corporation. For more information about SatPaq®, visit www.satpaq.com.

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