The BoeingBerry Project - BlackBerrys Help Deaf Employees Communicate At Winnipeg Boeing Plant

Boeing Berry

No blogs from me yesterday as I spent the better part of it in airports and on airplanes as I traveled home to Winnipeg from Florida (where I got to hangout with the awesome Smartphone Experts team for a few days). But even though BlackBerry representation was one Winnipegger short for a day, a fitting made-in-Winnipeg BlackBerry story hit the news...

Marty Rabu, a tooling technician at a Boeing plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, has been given an International Award  from Boeing for his "Boeingberry" project which has been recognized within the corporation as a model for other facilities worldwide. 

Rabu, who is deaf and has difficulty speaking, has been an employee at the plant for over 30 years, during which time the company and his colleagues always put in their best efforts to communicate with Rabu. Despite the efforts, in 2003 Rabu found himself the last person in the building after a fire alarm went off nobody informed him:

"Nobody was left in the cafeteria, and I thought, 'Where is everybody?' " he said. "I was the last person to leave the building during the fire alarm, and I felt really unsafe at that time."

This provided the catalyst to for Rabu to take things into his own hands. Rabu launched the "Boeingberry" project, making the BlackBerry into lifeline for himself and 23 other deaf workers at the facility. Rabu's co-workers now send text messages (Berry Messenger) when necessary.

Boeing Berry
By Kevin Michaluk on 13 Sep 2007 10:05 am EDT
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No blogs from me yesterday as I spent the better part of it in airports and on airplanes as I traveled home to Winnipeg from Florida (where I got to hangout with the awesome Smartphone Experts team for a few days). But even though BlackBerry representation was one Winnipegger short for a day, a fitting made-in-Winnipeg BlackBerry story hit the news...

Marty Rabu, a tooling technician at a Boeing plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, has been given an International Award  from Boeing for his "Boeingberry" project which has been recognized within the corporation as a model for other facilities worldwide. 

Rabu, who is deaf and has difficulty speaking, has been an employee at the plant for over 30 years, during which time the company and his colleagues always put in their best efforts to communicate with Rabu. Despite the efforts, in 2003 Rabu found himself the last person in the building after a fire alarm went off nobody informed him:

"Nobody was left in the cafeteria, and I thought, 'Where is everybody?' " he said. "I was the last person to leave the building during the fire alarm, and I felt really unsafe at that time."

This provided the catalyst to for Rabu to take things into his own hands. Rabu launched the "Boeingberry" project, making the BlackBerry into lifeline for himself and 23 other deaf workers at the facility. Rabu's co-workers now send text messages (Berry Messenger) when necessary.

"We don't have to depend on our non-deaf colleagues to tap us on the shoulder, as we did historically," Rabu said. "We just get the e-mail or Blackberry message that there is an emergency in the building, and then we can evacuate along with everybody else. It makes us feel alive and very involved and equal participants in the Boeing workplace," he said.

From a fellow Winnipegger and fellow BlackBerry User, congratulations on the intiative and the award Marty! Well deserved!!

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Topics: Editorial

Reader comments

The BoeingBerry Project - BlackBerrys Help Deaf Employees Communicate At Winnipeg Boeing Plant

4 Comments

Another way blackberry is incorporating themselves in everyday life. An example that every company with deaf personnel should follow.

I'm deaf and have a Cochlear Implant (bionic ear) and I just got my BlackBerry 8830. Already, I've seen the immense possibilities that my BB opens up. I agree, many companies should think seriously about using BlackBerrys as a reasonable accomodation for their deaf and HOH (hard of hearing) employees! Nothing else is as simple to use and integrate into the workplace as a Blackberry!