Innovative Practice 2018 on Accessibility

An app reviewing the accessibility of locations by user’s “yes” and “no”

Access Earth is a start-up company based in Dublin, Ireland, that has created a user-centric website and app to engage and encourage the disability community to find, explore, and review their location of choice. Access Earth is now available for additional content contributions in 57 countries throughout the world. The project is currently in the process of raising 500,000 Euro and estimates that it will be self-sustaining by the end of 2019.

“Since my wife became a paraplegic, it has been very difficult to find places that we can go–even for a cup of coffee. Access Earth has made that easier for us and when we travel it helps us discover new places”

James GagnonBeneficiary
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:An app reviewing the accessibility of locations by user’s “yes” and “no”
Organisation:Access Earth
Country
of Implementation
Ireland

FACTS & FIGURES

  • Access Earth is adding approximately 1,000 locations per month.
  • It currently rates locations in 57 countries.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Access Earth was founded by a social entrepreneur, Matt McCann, as a result of personal experience. Matt – who has cerebral palsy and uses a rollator – booked a hotel for a holiday at a hotel that advertised as “wheelchair accessible,” but upon arriving at the hotel he discovered there were three steps to the hotel entrance, and Matt could not fit his rollator inside his room.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

The Access Earth website and app offers users a very simple “yes” or “no” evaluation tool for questions such as: Is there accessible parking available? Is there a step-free entrance? Are the main doors wide enough for wheelchair access? Are there accessible restrooms?
Access Earth discovered that a simple yes or no answer provides much more clarity than an elaborate three-star A girl on the wheelchair with her mother. rating. One of the main focuses of the website and the app is to create an element of ease in the rating process. This allows users to make a quick, yet valuable, rating of a venue with the option to add any comments, if considered necessary.
The company is partnering with disability support organizations in each country in which it operates to run “mapping events” in their communities. This integration of existing local expertise combined with updated practical accessibility information has enabled Access Earth to rate over 80,000 places worldwide, with the major focus on Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

OUTLOOK, TRANSFERABILITY AND FUNDING

Access Earth has been growing steadily, with around 1,000 new places being added every month. The company estimates that by the end of 2018 over 5,000 users per month will be active.
The main mechanism to replicate the practice is to run local mapping events. This has been trialled in 25 cities to A girl on crutches with her mother.date where the company has partnered with local organizations, worked with them to identify and map the most valuable areas of each city, and assisted with resources to help local organization to bundle this information.
At present, Access Earth is operating on government grants. Going forward, however, it expects to receive revenues primarily from an affiliate booking model for hotels and restaurants once a critical mass of accessibility data has been reached.
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