Disability App ‘Out & About’
Thursday, 31st October 2013 at 10:13 am
Aged and disability services Not for Profit, Villa Maria is to launch what it describes as a ground-breaking iPhone app to help people with disability or mobility issues and their carers access Melbourne venues and events.
The free Out & About – Accessing your community app will be released for download at a community event on December 1.
Villa Maria Executive Manager of Marketing, Rebecca Ryan, said the Out & About app would fill what had been labelled a “glaring gap” in the local market for app initiatives to assist people with disability or mobility issues.
“The Out & About app is a location-based tool featuring venues and events throughout metropolitan Melbourne based on their accessibility features," Ryan said.
“Users can filter their desired criteria including location, distance and accessibility options and venues of interest such as restaurants, shopping centres, museums, sports centres, parks and playgrounds, etc to find the best option to suit their needs.
“While there are plenty of websites out there featuring this type of information, there appears to be nothing locally available in the easy-to-use app form, which really has become a convenient way for people to locate information.”
Ryan said as a Not for Profit t organisation assisting children and adults with disabilities, older people, their families and carers, Villa Maria saw first-hand the difficulties faced by people with mobility issues and their carers to access their communities.
“For many people, the simple task of heading out to their local library or park to catch up with friends or take some time out for themselves, can take an enormous amount of time, effort and planning," she said.
“Usually they must call ahead to find out if the venue has accessible parking, a wheelchair ramp, non-slip surfaces, accessible toilets with handrails, or investigate how close it is to public transport.
“We feel that people should not be disadvantaged because of their accessibility needs, and hope that this app will go a long way to making outings easier for people with disability or mobility issues and their carers.”
A recent review by the Australian Network on Disability (AND) revealed there were only two homegrown apps that assisted people with a disability, though none where a business could register its accessibility features, or included accessible information at venues such as popular museums or concert venues.
The review called for an app that mapped not only accessibility of public infrastructure but also of major department stores and supermarkets, which may “up the ante” in terms of making these businesses accessible to all.
Ryan said she believed Villa Maria’s Out & About app would, over time, would fit the bill.
“This app will be a valuable tool for local businesses and venues and those planning events to ensure their accessibility features are known to the general public by sending a simple email to Villa Maria with their details and accessibility features for verification and upload," she said.
“The app is also interactive for users, allowing them to write a review of a venue they have visited which will then be visible to others users, helping them to determine if the venue has the accessibility features they need. Venues consistently rated highly will be identified with a ‘highly recommended ribbon’.
“As I’m sure people can appreciate, populating this app is a huge and ongoing task. We hope to receive continued support from the public following its launch to ensure the app is filled with as much up-to-date information as possible, making it the best tool available for people with mobility issues and their carers to access relevant information from the one place.”
The launch event, to be held ahead of International Day of People with a Disability, will run from 11am to 3pm at Albert Park opposition the Sports and Aquatic Centre.
For a sneak peek of the app go to www.outandaboutapp.com.au.