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“Now, with the Access Earth app, I am able to get information about accessible places in seconds!”

My name is Diya Priyadarshi, and I’m 13. I live in Sunnyvale, California with my parents and twin sister, Siya. I have Spastic Diplegia, a type of Cerebral Palsy, due to my premature birth. I use crutches and wheelchairs to get around. I enjoy spending time with my friends, going to the mall with my mom and I love Thai and Indian food.

Living with this disability means that I need to plan my every move ahead of time. If I want to go for dinner with my family, my mom Deepika, calls restaurants to check if they have accessible bathrooms and ramps. Sometimes she even visits the restaurants earlier to assess if my wheelchair and I can be comfortable inside.

Now, with the Access Earth app, I am able to get information about accessible places in seconds! My mom and I find restaurants with good ratings, and invite my friends to have lunch there. I can even find directions, call the restaurants and get information like parking, which is useful for my mom as she drives me around.

Until now, my mom and other parents of kids with disabilities, would share notes about where to take their kids for lunch, activities and so on. Access Earth has made this so much easier and my mom recommends this app to other parents. She says it’s a scalable word-of-mouth tool which she trusts.

As for me, I had the fear that going to a new place meant being unsure of basic things like going to the bathroom or getting inside a building. Now, with the Access Earth app, I feel more independent and grown up!

Read more about how the Access Earth app is using local expertise to help people access practical accessibility information by reading the factsheet.

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“Once it becomes a norm to have 3-4 inclusive items on every playground I achieve my mission to include all children into the play, regardless of their abilities.”

My name is Eszter, I’m Aron’s mum (7) who was born with epilepsy. I have learnt about Aron’s condition when he was 1. Since then a lot of interventions happened to him from brain surgeries to daily therapies, all which are not part of most kids’ childhood. But even if I wanted to provide him the “normal” childhood e.g. visiting local playgrounds with his older brother I could not have succeeded. There was literally not one item on the playgrounds that were safe for Aron. I was frustrated. We had enough burdens already and it was just not fair that he was excluded from play provision. I felt I had to do something.

I started to talk to friends in similar situations and soon we begin to think about inclusive playgrounds, inclusive designs and how to achieve them. It took us a lot of determination and work to get MagikMe Inclusive Play where it’s now: 2 EC-certified inclusive playground products, a multi-player seesaw and an elevated sandbox installed in over 60 playgrounds in Hungary, some of them relatively close to us. One can find all the inclusive playgrounds’ addresses on our website.
Today I can bring my sons to some close-by playgrounds where Aron can play safely. What’s more he can play with his brother or other non-disabled kids on the same equipment, sharing the fun of playing together.

Once it becomes a norm to have 3-4 inclusive items on every playground I achieve my mission to include all children into the play, regardless of their abilities.

Find out more about the work of MagikMe to extend children’s access to inclusive playgrounds by reading the factsheet.

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“Sharing and learning from each other has been a key to change making and teamworking. Thanks to Meet me at MoMA, museums have increased people’s quality of life.”

My name is Halldóra Arnardóttir, a PhD Art Historian. From 2008, I have co-directed the project Art and Culture as Therapy for Azheimer in Spain and in Iceland. As a consequence of Meet me at MoMA, I initiated a similar -although contextualised- program in the Museum of Fine Arts in Murcia in 2009, a first of its kind in Spain. Later, in 2015, I initiated a museum program in the National Gallery of Art in Iceland and Reykjavík Art Museum in 2016. Before establishing these programs, today’s participants did not attend these museums but visited them without any direct objectives – merely to pass the time, if they did. Now, empathy is shown on all levels between the museums’ educators and participants with the help of the artworks. New bridges are being built and others are reinforced between the different actors. To increase the museum network in Iceland, I published a book in September 2017 where Francesca Rosenberg was invited and participated in a symposium to explain MoMA’s program in detail and train the participants. She showed an extraordinary way of connecting and drew out key elements to elaborate a conversation from the artwork at the National Gallery of Art.

Sharing and learning from each other has been a key to the changemaking and teamworking. Thanks to Meet me at MoMA, museums have increased people’s quality of life who suffer the Alzheimer disease, recovered lost memories and allowed the echo of their laughter fill their rooms. Now the aim is to reach out even further and create tools that enable museums to take their collections to day centres for more advanced individuals – they too need new bridges to express their emotions.

Read more about the variety of programmes offered by MoMA to increase the accessibility of the museum and its collections by reading the factsheet.

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“Access to news has never been so easy!”

Prashant Naik, I am a public-sector bank employee having low vision.  I am passionate about technologies for the blind as well as latest news on tech and social activities happening in the disability sector.

My need to have a low vision friendly news app is totally fulfilled by NewzHook.  App provides me ease and convenience to read and keep me updated daily.  It has simple and clutter free interface. Since its launch in March 2016, I am hooked to this accessible news app.  NewzHook is accessible for deaf, blind and surely for low vision persons like me.  It’s high contrast and large font features work perfectly.  They truly enhanced app’s accessibility.

Another awesome feature of NewzHook is news are structured in diverse categories.  I regularly check news from disability, inclusion and accessibility areas.  And yes, the ‘event’ section keeps me updated with coming up events well in advance. NewzHook sign language news is such a unique service for deaf.  Team NewzHook, you guys are doing fantastic job.  Thank you so much.

Read more about how NewzHook is breaking down barriers to accessing the news by reading the factsheet.

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“Pedius’ use of advanced speech recognition technologies has made an incredible impact for those it has reached in the Deaf community, especially myself.”

My name is Gabriele and I am Deaf. One night, I was driving home by myself and was involved in a car accident. Normally when one has an accident, they exchange information with the other driver. This was not my case. Once the other driver discovered I was Deaf, he left me stranded on the side of the road without any means of communication. My only option was to wait patiently until somebody passed by. Scenarios such as these were my biggest fear.

Now with Pedius, I do not have to rely on anything or anyone other than the comfort of my mobile smartphone. I have the privacy and freedom of a normal phone call without the use of a third party interpreter, available 24/7. The application allows flexibility for the user as a call can begin either by speech or text, and in every case when your contact speaks, subtitles of their message will appear on your device in real time.

Pedius’ use of advanced speech recognition technologies has made an incredible impact for those it has reached in the Deaf community, especially myself. In today’s world, every person relies on their mobile phone and for the first time I am able to do the same. I am able to have independence with just an application. My only wish for Pedius’ growth is the ability to keep improving technologies, expand as far and wide as possible, and keep adding services to help people like me.

Learn more about how Pedius allows people who are deaf to make phone calls without needing an interpreter by reading the factsheet.

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“Equal, inclusive access empowers everyone to achieve.”

My name is Lucy Bennett, and I’m the senior designer for AMAC Accessibility. For the last year and a half, I’ve been responsible for AMAC’s marketing media and work to make sure we’re promoting ourselves with the same level of accessibility that our services provide. I also began working as a leader in the design community to push for more accessibility and inclusion in the field for people with disabilities.

I’ve always had the desire to be a leader in the design community, but didn’t feel I had the skill or unique experience to contribute. Once I began the ICT Accessibility MOOC and learning about universal design and the ways designers can benefit from the accessible ICT practices, I found a cause to be passionate about and a unique viewpoint to share with emerging designers.

Equal, inclusive access empowers everyone to achieve. Through taking the ICT Accessibility MOOC, I’ve been able to teach others about accessibility and how it can improve the human condition. I was invited to be a member of AIGA’s Diversity & Inclusion task force; shortly after receiving that invite, I was also asked to participate in AIGA’s first multi-chapter design thinking workshop, relaunching the EMERGE 2.0 programming to help emerging designers.

Through the EMERGE 2.0 programming, we’ll craft an accessible framework that will be used nationwide to empower a new generation of designers, giving them new opportunities for growth and leadership.

Read more about the ICT Accessibility Open Online Course and how it is promoting accessibility by reading the factsheet.

Geert Dumoulin enjoying Bruges by wheelchair

“I don’t have to stay in the main shopping street anymore”

My name is Geert Dumoulin, aged 55. I am married and father of 5 children. Since I had a car accident when I was 22, I spend my life in a wheelchair.

As a passionate construction worker I had never expected that there would be so many barriers: roads and boardwalks in a poor condition, lacking signage, inaccessible entrances and barely any public accessible toilets.

Visiting Bruges wasn’t easy, then. Usually, we would only walk in the main shopping street, because I didn’t want to be confronted with inaccessibility all the time. Historical buildings typically had a main entrance with steps and practically never a ramp or an alternative entrance. Shops, pubs and restaurants didn’t have an accessible toilet. And if they had it, nobody knew. I was lucky to have a partner who could assist me.

Today, the websites www.visitflanders.com/accessibility and (in Dutch) www.toevla.be provide the necessary (checked) information to help you organise a trip or holiday.

The map and brochure ‘Bruges accessible for everybody’ help so much. The itinerary leads almost seamlessly to the highlights of the city. The description of points of interest, restaurants, pubs, etc. is a must-read. Public toilets are described in a clear way, with photographs, starting from the path towards them. For accommodation, accessibility labels are used, with more information in the specific brochures from Visit Flanders.

So, when I visit Bruges now, I don’t have to stay in the main shopping street anymore!

Find out more about how Bruges is being made accessible to visitors by reading the factsheet.

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“Now I can even invite some of my friends with disabilities to the beach.”

I am Wael Galmouch, and I have always been fond of going to the beach, where my friends and I would walk around and relax. Then I had my accident. I became physically disabled, and since the beach tents that we used to go to were not accessible for people with disabilities, I had to wait for the few occasions when my friends would carry me there. But it was not the same as before, because I had to stay in one spot. I could not reach the water, and we had to cut our trip short when I needed to use the bathroom.

Things changed, however, when the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union initiated the “Inclusive Tourism” project in Lebanon and adapted tent number 19, the dock from the parking area to the water, in addition to providing an accessible bathroom and menu. Now I am back to visiting the beach as I used to do before my accident, and I can even invite some of my friends with disabilities to join me now that it has become available for all.

 

Find out more about how LPHU are making tourism inclusive in Lebanon by reading the factsheet.

A picture of Marta Gomis.

“In our shop all persons with disabilities can make any purchase by themselves.”

My name is Marta Gomis, and I am a 27-year-old girl with Down syndrome. Since October 2010, I have been a shop assistant at the “For & From” Tempe shop in Elche. For me this job is like winning a prize, because I always wished to work in contact with people and in the world of fashion. Encouraged by my parents, I took a vocational training course on commerce. Afterwards, I came in contact with APSA Association, and with my trainers I improved my competences.

Now I have already been working in the shop for seven years, thanks to the opportunity that Tempe gave me. My colleagues and my trainer from APSA help me a lot, and together we solve the little challenges of every day.

I love to help our customers. To service people that I already know makes me especially proud and happy. The experience of these seven years has helped me to become self-confident and to perform my tasks efficiently.

Our shop is very unique since it is a fully accessible space, and is designed so that persons with disabilities like me can work with complete autonomy and independence. Since its opening, adaptations have been made in the shop so that any customer can come on their own. Today, persons with a physical or sensorial disability can make any purchase by themselves, and if they need help, I am ready to provide it!

 

Read more about how APSA provides the possibility of barrier-free Shopping by reading the factsheet.

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“The PR department has added the option of sending complaints by SMS.”

My name is Revital Swirski-Shurtz. I am a council member in Kiryat Bialik, a municipality in northern Israel. As a person using a wheelchair, I am very much aware of the need for accessibility and am very active in promoting accessibility in my municipality.
My municipality employees have attended three accessibility training sessions conducted by Access Israel, in addition to their famous “Accessibility Tastes Dinner” for the management team.

Besides the fact that the employees were all very moved and excited by the training, one consequence has been that the Collection Department – which has a lot of interaction with the local residents – installed accessibility systems for the hearing and vision impaired, added accessible seats to the waiting area, and even installed an accessible watercooler. The employees have become much more sensitive to and aware of the needs of people with disabilities and say they now feel more confident to communicate with them.
Another innovation is that the Public Relations department has added the option of sending complaints by SMS and has provided a special customized service for people with disabilities. Further, all official ceremonies and events are now fully accessible. More and more residents with disabilities have started to feel comfortable in their interactions with the municipality, and so attend more events and deal more independently directly with the municipality.

Find out more about how Access Israel has developed a business model for training service providers regarding issues of accessibility by reading the factsheet.