Following my Assistive Tech Tips series last year, I want to share a new post reviewing the new AccessAble App, which officially launched into the Apple and Google Play Stores. It was developed by a national disability organisation, AccessAble, who I became the Hampshire Champion for back in November 2018.
About the AccessAble App
The app aims to transform the quality and availability of accessibility information. It provides detailed Access Guides to 10,000s of places across the UK and Ireland. These Guides aren’t personal reviews, but step by step descriptions of what accessibility is like at a particular place – they are 100% facts, figures and photographs. Crucially each Guide is created having been visited by an AccessAble Surveyor, who can collect over 1,000 pieces of information for just one venue. The type of information collected is all driven by AccessAble’s 35,000 strong user community.
The need for the app has been further highlighted by the Accessibility and You Survey. Of 845 respondents 99% said they wanted to know about accessibility before visiting a new place and 98% searched for accessibility information in advance. Of those who found information only 14% got the information they needed and 80% said the information they found was inaccurate.
Watch to learn more about the AccessAble App’s features:
AccessAble App Review
Overall, I believe this app is a great tool for all disabled people. It gives clear and simple information on what accessibility features are or are not available in a particular place.
To find this information, you basically search a particular location (e.g Portsmouth) then select the category of the kind of place you’re looking for. There are 18 categories to choose from including cafés and coffee shops, restaurants, shopping centres, hospitals, tourist attractions and leisure centres.
Once you have found a particular place or venue, you can select “View Guide” and you can read the detailed access guide. Plus there are symbols indicating which accessibility features are available. In addition, you can create a profile, save your favourite guides and set your preferences as to which accessibility features you may require. For example, level access, ramps, automatic doors, blue badge parking, accessible toilets and assistive listening.
What is also useful, is that I am able to navigate the app with the accessibility features on my iPhone. I am able to use voice-over, zoom and smart invert but unfortunately it is not compatible with large text. However the app does have an easy read feature which you can enable which makes the text slightly larger but for my own vision, this is not suitable. Therefore I tend to rely on the voice-over instead.
Earlier last week, I took a trip to Festival Place shopping centre in Basingstoke to try out the app. Although I’ve been to this venue several times over the past decade, I managed to discover some new accessible features that I wasn’t aware of before including a Changing Places facility at the adjacent Mall shopping centre.
Check out my vlog here:
Suggesting additional features and locations
After trying out the app in Basingstoke, I would suggest having maps of the venue and a GPS system included. Although the app does have the names of streets and particular entrances and areas of a venue (e.g Porchester Square), it isn’t always clear where that is within the location. This is particularly difficult for those with sight loss, like myself, who cannot read a regular size map or view signs within the venue.
Furthermore, there are many places and venues, particularly within Hampshire, that are currently not available on the app. For instance, I went to meet up with a friend in Andover one afternoon and thought I would try out the app to see what kind of cafés and restaurants were available. Unfortunately the only place available on the app was the local hospital in Andover. Moreover, there is currently no information about local places in my hometown of Alton.
Luckily, AccessAble are working to grow their coverage all the time, but need to demonstrate the need for the information. If you would like to suggest an access guide for a place, venue or attraction that isn’t already available on the app, you can simply email the suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org. By letting AccessAble know what you want you can really make a difference.
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