Ryerson graduate creates app pinpointing accessible businesses

Feb 29, 2016 | News

Christiana Chan

Accessibility is something that most people take for granted. But for others, reliability on public places offering wheelchair accessible services can be challenging.

By having people who use a wheelchair share their experiences, Maayan Ziv created the Access Now app in Toronto.

“Pretty much my whole life experience, and frustration of trying to find out if the places I want to go are accessible or not, without really many recourses to give me answers to those kinds of questions,“ said Ziv.

Ziv was studying her masters in Digital Media at Ryerson University when she had the idea to start the app.

“I realized there are pretty much apps for everything but there isn’t an app for accessibility, and so I decided to build Access Now to bring in a community of people to share their experiences on places they’ve been.”

With no experience in coding, Ziv spent three semesters coming up with prototypes by networking with different people and asking questions so that she could move forward with what she wanted to do.

The app primarily available in Toronto, but many other cities such as Vancouver, Guelph, and Halifax have shown interest in using Access Now.

“There’s a lot of interest in accessibility overall. Finding a way to actually change what we see and change the barriers that many people face is something that I think many people get excited about,” said Ziv.

Matthew Fleet, an accessibility specialist from the Coalition for Persons with Disabilities in Mississauga, said this app is a great step forward.

Fleet said it is important to acknowledge that those with disabilities are diverse when crowd sourcing. One person who uses an automatic chair may be able to access a business, but someone with a manual may not.

Ziv has big plans for her app, aiming make it available worldwide.

She also hopes to make the business industry more considerate towards accessibility.

“Partnering with companies and businesses who understand the need for accessibility and actually work to make that happen,” said Ziv.