Editorials

Access Now

Getting around in today’s society can be difficult, especially if you have a disability that hinders your mobility. You really don’t pick up on how inaccessible places can be unless you know someone with a disability or experience it yourself. Fortunately, Maayan Ziv created an app, AccessNow, that allows people around the world to discover the accessibility of different locations and can add details about the accessibility of places themselves. They stated that their main goal “…is to map as many places as we possibly can…we want to find ways to create access where there is currently none,” (AccessNow). I personally think this is a fantastic program, as it can be extremely difficult for those with physical disabilities to navigate from place to place, and this app can make getting around simpler for them.

Before this class, I had never heard of AccessNow. However, having a brother with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, I am glad I was introduced to this app. It has always been difficult for us to go to new places because we never know if they are going to be accessible or not. It ends up becoming frustrating trying to find accessible places or having to go without his wheelchair which then ends up taking away from his overall experience – all because public places aren’t more accessible. We don’t realize how easy we have it when it comes to mobility. We complain about our legs hurting when we have to walk more than what we want. We take for granted the fact that we are able to even walk. There are people that have been in a wheelchair for as long as they can remember and would do anything to be able to walk, even if it’s just for a moment. We have the privilege of being able to walk, something not everyone has. Some may have had this taken away from them by a disability, a car accident, or another health condition. We often lose sight of this, forgetting that having the ability to walk is a privilege.

When it comes to traveling for those with disabilities, things can become tricky. Let’s say I am going to the beach with my family. We have to find an accessible house, and we want to make sure the beach access closest to us is accessible and not purely stairs. Then, we want to find restaurants that are accessible along with stores and other activities such as mini-golf (which is rarely ever accessible *insert eye roll*). AccessNow, however, would allow for us to find these things in advance, especially as it becomes more widespread. Many people don’t really think about these things when they travel, especially if they don’t have a disability or know someone who does. They have the privilege to travel, something that some may think everyone can do, but they can’t. Some don’t have the money or resources to do so. Disabilities really do take away their opportunity to travel because it is so difficult to find places that are accessible, and once you find places, especially accessible rental homes, they are typically more expensive because of the extra resources that were put into them to make it accessible. However, AccessNow is giving them their privilege to travel again by allowing them to find accessibility.

If you really think about it, the world really isn’t a very accessible place. The more you observe your surroundings, the more you will notice it. There are guidelines that businesses and companies have to follow through the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, there are businesses that put off the changes that need to be made for it to be accessible, which affects those individuals who may need accommodations to enter their business. With AccessNow, users are able to find out if a location is accessible before they arrive. Some places still aren’t “that” accessible once the changes are made however. For example, Dr. Oldman pointed out that the ramp to get from the Field House to the Quad is very out of the way. If one were trying to get to Spotts or ATS, they would have to go the opposite direction to get to the ramp and then the ramp takes them away from where they need to be. It’s accessible, but at the same time, is it? Then there’s everyone’s favorite, the curbs. Many campuses are efficient with having curb ramps in acceptable spots. However, I have seen intersections in the past where there were crosswalks, but there were no curb ramps. How exactly is that supposed to work for any individual who may be disabled?

Having a brother with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, I understand the struggles of how inaccessible places can be. Those with disabilities have many privileges taken from them due to their disability and the lack of accessibility around them. They are just like any other individual but because of their disability, they are typically “othered” in today’s society. There is often this stigma attached to them where they are looked at as being different which can make going out in public more difficult for them, especially if they don’t know whether or not locations will be accessible. AccessNow allows for them to see ahead of time if a place will be accessible or not. I think this is a great resource for the family and friends of an individual with a disability. I have already begun using this app and I have told my family about it, so it can help my brother out. I also hope to share this information with the Duchenne Community to help others find accessibility around them

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