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Social Impact Innovations: National Council for the Blind Ireland

Exploring the Impact of Identity for the Visually Impaired

March 28, 2022

Since 1931, the National Council for the Blind Ireland has been serving blind or visually impaired persons across Ireland. In fact, NCBI has a proud and long-running legacy as being the first voluntary body dealing with a disability group in the Irish Free State dedicated to supporting, educating, and changing how sight loss is seen in Ireland.

As the leading vision loss charity in the country serving the approximately 55,000 people who are blind or visually impaired, their rich history and pioneering work have set the precedent in the provision of welfare and educational advancement for disadvantaged people in Ireland.

Today the team at NCBI continues to raise the bar for innovation in the space through NCBI Labs, their technology department. Eager to pursue and bring to life some ideas they had been incubating but mindful of the development cost of such endeavors, NCBI pitched their vision for an application, later named the myNCBI Smart Hub, to The Social Innovation Fund and was awarded capital through their Rethink Ireland fund.

At its core, myNCBI Smart Hub provides users with sight loss a way to leverage smart devices, such as those powered by Amazon’s Alexa natural language processing system. The myNCBI application was designed specifically for visually impaired users. There is no need to purchase a laptop, speech software, or a separate smart device. The all-in-one myNCBI Smart Hub is ready to use straight away with very little to no guidance with existing devices.

Using only their voice, NCBI clients can interact with their device, which is integrated with Auth0’s Customer Identity and Access Management system, to securely login to their NCBI account and connect to the charity’s full suite of services. NCBI’s clients can book appointments and get reminders sent to their assistive devices, learn more information about their particular sight loss, and interact directly with myOwn Technology Support.

Post-launch, myNCBI Smart Hub enabled virtual service access for the thousands of clients of NCBI impacted during the global pandemic. As a result, clients were able to receive uninterrupted support even when lockdowns and stay-at-home mandates were issued. Now that life is returning to a new normal, clients using the myNCBI Smart Hub continue to use the application, if not even more so. The smart hub has introduced a level of efficiency and accessibility that makes daily life for the many users and the NCBI team easier.

From NCBI Lab’s development team’s research, myNCBI Smart Hub technology has never been undertaken before in the disabilities sector amongst sight loss charities. Suffice to say, the potential for this NCBI Lab’s product could be huge and benefit many others in the years to come.

This ingenuine use of technology recently earned the team a coveted Spider Award nomination in the Best Use of Disruptive Technology category in 2021 and is slated to be awarded on March 31st, 2022. The Spiders are Ireland’s most prestigious digital awards ceremony and longest running, dedicated to recognizing companies and individuals driving digital excellence.

In addition to this recognition, the team has also been nominated in 4 other categories:

  • Digital Transformation in Industry & Infrastructure – NCBI Digital Transformation Project
  • Best in Universal Design –
  • Best Podcast – Talking Technology with NCBI Labs
  • Best Remote Team – NCBI Labs

Regardless of the outcome of the awards, Auth0 is delighted to of played a small part in enabling the NCBI Labs team to bring their vision for this assistive technology application, the myNCBI Smart Hub, to fruition. We look forward to exploring avenues to collaborate and bring safer, unparalleled access to the technology the incredible team at NCBI Labs introduces to the world.

Cheers & Good Luck, NCBI Labs Team!

We’ll be rooting for you all from around the globe.

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