A SMALL Scottish business has been nominated for an award alongside Facebook and Microsoft.

Edinburgh-based Neatebox is up for a prize at the Disability Smart Awards at a ceremony tomorrow.

Neatebox was set up by Gavin Neate, who spent 18 years working for The Guide Dogs for the Blind as a guide dog mobility instructor, and 10 years before that working as a dog trainer in the military.

Neate turned his attention to utilising technology as a resource for disabled people in 2008. He said he realised technology could be a “conduit, a gateway, a bridge for people who are disabled to actually interact a lot more with their surroundings.”

A big focus for Neatebox is to help provide an accessible tool for disabled users to use to help with inconsistent customer service. Using proximity aware technology and geofencing, Neatebox created Welcome.

The app informs a business’ customer service team about the approaching app user, notifying them of who they are, a picture of them, information about any conditions they want highlighted and a message about what they want to achieve in the visit.

The app is free for users, and is entirely funded by the venue that applies the technology. Neate explains: “They pay a monthly prescription, we never charge or advertise to the disabled person. It’s totally free to them and they are not taxed for their disability. They are just given a greater opportunity to spend their money in the businesses that are participating.”

“There’s £249 billion a year, that is equal to the 20% of people who are disabled, or are disabled in some way. That’s a lot of spending power to provide services for people who are disabled. You’re missing out on people coming in and using the services.”

The app is used by Scottish Parliament, Hilton, House of Fraser, Jenners, City Council buildings, and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Neate added: “This isn’t just about a disabled person having stuff done to them, or not even about a disabled person getting better service, it’s also about the person helping the disabled person by removing their anxiety.

“There’s a lot of anxiety for people to actually interact, so what we’re doing fundamentally is we’re improving human to

human communication.”