Reading about this new Access Earth project, two thoughts crossed my mind.
1. This looks pretty swell and we should tell our wheelchair friends about it.
2. I wonder if Matt Wozenilek is still out there shaking folks down for cash instead of doing something productive like this to help everyone’s cause.
The platform was developed in 2012, after Matt McCann – who has cerebral palsy – had booked a hotel describing itself online as ‘wheelchair accessible’. On arrival, McCann found steps to the entrance and rooms too small for his rollator mobility aid, sparking both frustration and a desire to help prevent these situations for others.
McCann told e-Access Bulletin: “I knew that being a software engineer I could do something about this lack of specific accessibility information.”
The site’s database of venues across the globe is currently split into four categories, covering places to eat and drink, places to sleep, shopping, and things to do. Users select a venue type and where around the world they want to search, before specifying accessibility criteria, such as step-free access, ground floor rooms, and accessible bathrooms.
Anyone can supply a venue accessibility rating, either by answering Access Earth’s ‘accessibility criteria’ or leaving a note: “This could be something like ‘the elevator is currently out of order’, or directions to the accessible bathrooms,” McCann said. “By keeping the access information up-to-date, we can ensure people have the most accurate information available to them.”
Users can also add and rate a new venue if it isn’t already on the database, as well as sharing information and tips with other users.