While it seems new applications that are designed to make daily tasks such as tracking diet and exercise, finding a parking space, or checking out in the grocery store are released daily, technology intended to assist those with limited mobility has lagged behind.
Fortunately, this technology gap is starting to narrow. Recently, several tech advancements were announced that seek to make life easier for those with limited mobility due to disability, illness, or aging.
- Google has added a wheelchair accessible option on their transit maps in several cities including London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston and Sydney. This will allow commuters to search for a “wheelchair accessible” route. While the availability of this feature is currently limited, you can expect this to expand in the future.
- Students from the University of Washington have developed a program called AccessMap. This app seeks to eliminate the shortcomings of mapping programs such as Google and Apple Maps by utilizing crowdsourcing and municipal data to identify barriers such as cracked sidewalks, steep hills, construction zones, and a lack of curb cuts or accessible entrances that can disrupt a wheelchair user’s commute. Currently available in Seattle, future rollout in cities including New York, Washington, DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Pittsburgh, Denver, Philadelphia and Atlanta is planned. To learn more about AccessMap, check out their website.
- Airbnb recently upgraded the ability to search for accessible properties by adding 21 search filter options including accessible roll-in showers, accessible height toilets, elevators, wide doorways (that can accommodate a wheelchair), wide hallway clearance, and step-free access. This will allow customers with specific access needs to narrow down the list of accessible properties. To learn more about Airbnb’s accessibility filters, you can read their blog post here.
While these applications may take to time to reach the masses, there is little doubt that technology has endless potential to improve the lives of those with disabilities. While tech advances for the disabled have trailed behind that of the general population, organizations like Google are starting to dedicate more resources to this effort. This type of commitment from tech innovators and developers can improve the lives of millions with limited mobility.