Apps and online maps: showing accessible places around the world
Travelling can be a better experience for wheelchair users with the support of a mobile phone app that displays where and what the accessible locations are. The following list provides a description of websites and mobile phone apps which display and categorize accessible spots around the world.
Momentarily, the website and app AXS map is available in English only. Nevertheless, compared with other maps it is probably the most detailed one. The main website has a video tutorial that explains how to use and contribute to the service.
In the map there is the possibility to narrow the research using a filter on 15 different categories. The categories are: everything, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, beauty and spas, arts and entertainment, hotels and travel, health and medical, public service, education, fitness, financial services, mass media, religious organization, and museums.
Users can contribute to the evaluation of the spots assigning stars (from one to five) to them and providing information in relation to location's bathroom, number of steps, parking, inside space, guide dog acceptance, and so on.
If a location receives many positive feedbacks it will be signed on the map with a green color. The other colors are orange, which means "poor", red means "not accessible" and grey means "evaluation unknown".
The creator of the map is Jason DaSilva who is a wheelchair user himself. His goal is to provide a service that covers the entire world even if at the moment it is spread mostly in the U.S. For this reason, he proposed the concept of mapathon, a funny way to incentivize people to test the accessibility of public spaces and bring feedback.
At the moment, wheelmap is the most famous and widespread service in regard to wheelchair accessibility information worldwide. The website and app is translated in 22 languages. It permits to identify the accessibility of POI classified in twelve categories: accommodation, bank/post office, education, food, government, health, leisure, miscellaneous, public transport, shopping, sport, and tourism.
Again, users can contribute to the description of the places with photos and comments. In addition, people can rate the toilet status of each location they visited.
Also wheelmap differentiates the accessibility of the places using three different colors (green, orange and red). The grey spots are the ones where no evaluation has been provided yet.
In contrast to the two previous maps, wheelmate focuses on the accessibility of toilets and parking places only. Users can add their contributions through pictures and comments. The accessibility of the places is not signalized with different colors but people can rate them with the option "like". A video tutorial explains very clearly how to use the service.
The website and the app are available in seven languages.
As for the other maps, the goal of the app turismo accesible is to improve the travel experience of people with reduced mobility. Since the app has been created in Spain it covers this country in a very detailed manner. Other countries included by the map are: Germany, Andorra, The Netherlands, Italy, France, Belgium and Argentina.
The service, which unfortunately is available only in Spanish, reviews the accessibility of hotels, museums, restaurants, public transports and tourist attractions. Each registered location is followed by a description of its accessibility and some general information.
Paramap is a website and app designed appositely for Switzerland. It provides information regarding eurokey toilets, parking, accommodations and bankomats of the entire country. People can contribute to the improvement of the map adding places which have not been included yet. An evaluation of the places by the users, however, is not possible.
Further information about travelling with spinal cord injury you can find here.