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News & Press: FOCUS

Accessibility for Everyone through Able Eyes

Friday, May 4, 2018  
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Imagine a website that allows you to tour your next restaurant stop or virtually visit a potential family vacation destination before making the commitment.

For many, a simple virtual tour, like the ones provided through Able Eyes, gives people the confidence to experience new opportunities.

“A lot of families that have a child or a family member with a disability sometimes don’t have the opportunity to experience all the aspects of life that someone without a disability does,” Meegan Winters, co-founder of Able Eyes said. “Maybe out of the fear of not knowing or they’re afraid of how a child with autism might react in a new situation.”

Meegan’s extensive background with special education and the passing of a dear friend to muscular dystrophy sparked the idea behind Able Eyes.

Her husband, Evan Winters, made a connection with Brian Town, CEO of Michigan Creative, who already implemented 360 tours into their marketing tactics. Shortly after, Meegan, Evan and Brian made the idea into a reality.

“We decided this was something great for the Lansing area and beyond to create a more accessible community for people of all abilities,” said Meegan.

Left to right are Evan Winters, Brian Town and Meegan Winters.

In August of 2017, the website was launched and it’s been growing ever since. What initially started as a plan to help those with disabilities has also transformed into a marketing tactic for businesses.

Businesses can request to be an Able Eyes accessible website. In addition, if users request a certain business, Able Eyes will reach out asking they donate to the cause, while creating a resourceful marketing tool at the same time.

“It’s going so incredible. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we would be where we are right now. This community is so embracing of people with disabilities and wanting to help,” said Meegan. “We have so many sensory friendly and special needs events that are taking place to create a more inclusive community and this is just another piece of it.”

Another feature on the website is the ability for users to upload teaching videos from their perspective. With the use of a GoPro, the user can show viewers the exact experience they went through.

“Anxiety is another one of those things that’s becoming more prevalent in our community and everywhere,” said Meegan. “People are nervous about new experiences. We have this information at our fingertips. They are likely to access the videos to feel more comfortable. That’s with or without a disability.”

The most popular video currently is ‘What to Expect When Going to the Dentist.’ Able Eyes encourages high school and college video production classes to support the project and upload useful videos.

Moving forward, Meegan said they will continue to add tours from Lansing area businesses but also expand into other communities to make everywhere more accessible.

Click here to download the May issue of FOCUS.

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