Google Maps has become very useful to many people today. The app provides direction as well as aerial imagery of the place you want to go making navigation easier and faster. However, for wheelchair users, finding ramps, lifts and other wheelchair accessible areas can be difficult. Good thing a new app that addresses these needs has been introduced.
Access Map, also known as Hackcessible, is a new web app that helps travelers who use mobility devices to plan for travel routines and have a view of possible obstacles and difficulties that they might encounter in a certain city or country they wish to visit. The app, which won first place at a civic hackathon, is still in beta testing but people can already try and use it.
The developers of the app include:
- Veronika Sepeeva
- Nick Bolten
- Allie Deford
- Reagan Middlebrook
Upon learning about the issues and problems people who use mobility devices face when travelling, the team gathered together at the initial meeting of the hackathon event. With Dr. Anat Caspi, director of TCAT (Taskar Center for Accessible Technology), and Dr. Alan Borning, a professor at the UW’s (University of Washington) Department of Computer Science and Engineering, highlighting the problems, the team better understood the dilemmas people encounter every time they visit other cities or countries.
Bolten stated that during the meeting, the members began telling his team about accessibility issues in Seattle. Right then and there, all of his teammates were so hooked about helping improve the lives of an under-served community by contributing their ideas, time and effort in making the city more accessible. He also said that it was during the meeting the idea of developing Hackcessible started.
The new app is designed wherein information about elevation changes and obstacles are displayed to help the wheelchair user know other possible routes. Though the app is primarily designed for wheelchair users, people with temporary movement limitations due to injury can also make use of it.
To better understand the app, the developers use several symbols on the map to indicate obstacles and other things like a bus stop.
- Elevation – represented in the map by yellow, red and green sidewalk segments
- Curb ramp – represented by a blue circle
- Construction – represented by a yellow-filled diamond symbol wherein a man-like figure shoveling is seen inside it
- Bus stop – represented by a blue-square with a bus in it
- Elevator – represented by two arrows, one pointing up and the other pointing down, enclosed in two blue rectangles
With the help of Hackcessible, people who use mobility devices can avoid obstacles and cruise the city faster, easier and more conveniently.