A Toronto woman has created a solution to a problem many of us don’t realize exists.
Maayan Ziv is a wheelchair user. She thoroughly researches locations and often calls ahead before visiting them to make sure they are accessible to her. But often, even if she’s been told otherwise, she says there’s some sort of access barrier, “I show up in New York City at the hotel and there’s five steps to the entrance. They’ve come out with what seems to be some sort of delivery ramp which is absolutely not possible to be used by my wheelchair. So here I am in New York City with no place to stay, trying to figure out something last minute. And it’s just extremely frustrating.”
Experiences like this were the impetus for Access Now. It’s kind of like Yelp for people with disabilities. One in seven Ontarians has some type of disability and for many of them, a small step up means they can’t enter a store or restaurant. That’s where Access Now comes in. Ziv’s website crowdsources reviews of businesses based on their accessibility. A green pin indicates a fully accessible space, red pins are inaccessible and yellow and orange pins fall somewhere in between. Users can indicate whether washrooms are accessible, or if the business has a portable ramp to bridge a step up.
Both people with and without disabilities can add reviews and because the information comes from first hand accounts, it’s often more reliable than a phone call with restaurant staff.
So far, over 1500 businesses have been rated on access now, some as far as Australia. In a few months, Ziv hopes to launch a downloadable app to make it even easier for people to find places they can access.
Maayan Ziv says, “it’s really just about empowering each other to have independence.”