Irish App Aims to Ease Travel
for People with Disabilities

Image: Access Earth

By Adam Farley, Deputy Editor
October / November 2014

Access Earth, a new app developed by a trio of computer science students and a biology student, all at NUI Maynooth, aims to make searching for and reviewing accessible hotels easier for people with disabilities.

“Back in 2012, myself and KC took a trip to London,” Matthew McCann, who has cerebral palsy and uses a rollator, told The Irish Times, speaking of co-founder KC Grant. “It said on the [hotel] website that they were accessible, but when we got there, there were three steps up to reception.”

From there, the two of them recognized the necessity of an app that is designed by people with disabilities for others. There are two other apps which perform similar functions, allowing people to preview and review the accessibility of buildings, but developer Jack Gallagher says they don’t go far enough – “They might give parking three out of five [stars], but what does that mean?”

“Ours is a rating system where you answer Yes or No questions that are easy to understand,” he told The Irish Times. The questions are based on existing guidelines outlined by the National Disability Authority and the Irish Wheelchair Association. Access Earth have already rolled out ratings for hotels throughout Ireland, North America, and Sydney, but wants the app to be crowd-sourced as well, so users can also add locations if it hasn’t been covered yet.

With support from Microsoft, the app is available for download from the Windows store, as well as on accessearth.org.

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