WIP Mike May (2)

DEIA: Technology’s a big part of getting to a job, maintaining that job, and performing

A conversation with Mike May, chief evangelist, GoodMaps

My guest this week on the Work in Progress podcast is Mike May, who holds the title of chief evangelist at GoodMaps, a tech company helping the visually impaired navigate large venues such as convention centers, universities, hotels, and rail stations.

“We take the outdoor navigation that everybody’s used to and turn it into turn-by-turn navigation with GPS indoors. We do outdoors, but for most people, you lose your route and your directions once you go inside,” explain May.

May and I met at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January. He has firsthand experience with the challenges of navigating a big space such as the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is a whopping 4.6 million square feet. May was blinded in an accident when he was a young child.

May says there is a 70% unemployment rate among blind people — he is among the 30% with a “good, viable job” as he describes it.

“Technology’s a big part of getting a job, and getting to a job, and maintaining that job and performing, but there’s also about attitudes. And that’s something that’s going to be an ongoing process for everybody to understand that we’re all individuals, not all blind people operate the same way,” he explains.

He says technology such at GoodMaps can help increase the potential for hiring and advancement for people like him once they enter the workforce.

Mike May, chief evangelist, GoodMaps at CES (Photo: WorkingNation)

Here is some of what May told me at CES.

“In terms of blind people, the better you get around, the better you engage in life and in a career. And so if you go to a company these days and they have hoteling, or open desks, how do you find your desk when it may not be in the same place every day?

“What if you go to see a client and you want to get to somebody’s office without having to have sighted assistance? So we’re providing independence and really the opportunity for career advancement and keeping a very precious job and doing it well by having the navigation component part of that equation.

“I’ve talked about how getting to and from a job and navigating within that job is important, but there’s a huge component about the tools that are available in a job. And there’s so many pieces of software these days that are marginally accessible.

“I could be sitting at my desk and only get 10% of the information that’s on the screen. And a lot of these big companies have software that’s not fully accessible. And so I may get through the hurdle of getting hired for a job, but then I can’t manage the payroll software, or the sales software, or something like Salesforce, which takes a lot of training.

“Even though these companies are making efforts to make this stuff accessible, that tends to be the most significant barrier once somebody does get hired.”

You can listen to the full interview here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode 260: Mike May, chief evangelist, GoodMaps
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch and Melissa Panzer
Theme Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0
Download the transcript for this podcast here.
You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts