Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, better known in Western Canada simply as Vancity, serves the needs of almost 500,000 member-owners and their communities via 58 branches located in and near Vancouver, British Columbia. Since its inception in 1946, Vancity has grown to become Canada’s largest community credit union, with $16 billion in assets.
According to Vancity’s mission statement, its values-based banking model is grounded in the local economy, “using member’s deposits to lend and invest in local businesses and organizations that create a positive economic, social and environmental impact in the community.” And Vancity indeed walks the walk, having earned numerous recognitions for their community involvement, including the National Credit Union Community Economic Development Award 2013, Top 50 Socially Responsible Companies 2013, and 2013 Best Corporate Citizens in Canada.
Vancity has also been praised for its current Workplace Accessibility and Review Mapping (WARM) project — “a prime example of taking accessibility to the next level.” WARM is a multi-year accessibility audit that reviews and makes improvements to ensure an environment of accessibility. In line with this audit, Vancity was honored with the Access and Inclusion Award (2013) by the City of Vancouver for its leadership and work in supporting workplace diversity -- including the physical renovation of locations and addition of new communication technology to eliminate and prevent unintentional barriers for the community and staff.
Vancity recently completed an extensive installation of Williams Sound Hearing HotSpot counter loop systems. There is now one system available by request in each of a majority of the credit union’s 58 branches.
Compact and easy to use, these portable systems now readily accommodate individuals with hearing difficulties. Each counter loop system has a range of up to four feet, picking up external voices within “the loop” with an integrated microphone. The system transmits the speaker’s words directly and clearly to a listener’s hearing aid equipped with a T-coil.
Facility Planning Manager for Vancity Immanuel Starchild noted, “In Facility & Environmental Management, we aim to provide a safe, trusting and accessible environment for our members’ financial transactions, as well as an inclusive environment for our staff.” He also advised that “privacy and security of information is key. These devices are a great tool to allow that private conversation while maintaining moderate voice levels for staff and members who require adaptive devices.”
Vancity confirmed the decision to make the counter loops readily available to its entire branch network after completing a successful pilot program looping customer service counters at three of its branches in Victoria, West Vancouver, and Surrey, BC. The pilot and final installations were completed by Advanced Listening Systems, Victoria, BC, in conjunction with Thorvin Electronics, Toronto, ON.