If you have accessibility requirements, it can be useful to plan ahead for new journeys to make sure that the trip goes as smoothly as possible. One great way that you can do this is by using mobile apps.
Take a look at these 5 apps to help you stay mobile, reviewed by disability journalist Ian Cook.
Mobile apps can help make our everyday lives much easier – from finding accessible shops and restaurants to requesting passenger assistance when travelling. Here, I’ve listed some of my favourite accessibility apps that can be particularly useful for disabled people and carers.
The exciting part of some of these apps is their collaborative approach, making it possible to review and add items to support others in the community. As more people use them and leave their reviews, the apps will continue to provide more detailed and accurate information for others to see.
This app allows you to find accessible venues near you, as well as tagging the accessibility info for venues that you’ve visited and sharing venues with friends and family. When searching, you could look for a specific venue’s name (e.g., “Barefoot Bakery, Oxford”) or look up something more generally (e.g., “Cafes in Oxford”).
In the app, each venue has a pin. An orange pin means the venue has accessibility information; a grey pin means it has no accessibility information yet. Once you’ve located a venue on the map (either by exploring or searching), you can click on the venue’s pin to see ‘venue details’ which includes its accessibility information such as entrances, interior spaces, toilets, visual, hearing and sensory accommodations etc. Simply look for the tag that is most relevant to you!
Start exploring today
Get inspiration for your next day out by looking at our Places articles, which include some of the best accessible days out across the UK and lots of handy travel tips.
You can also “tag” accessible venues, and add information and reviews – even photos about more specific areas if you think that would help other app users (e.g. details about stairs, lifts, toilets, sensory accommodations and staff).
I’ve found the app easy to use and navigate. It’s particularly good for the big cities where the information has been updated by more people, but I’m sure that as the app develops it will become an even more detailed and valuable resource. The app is available on the App Store or Google Play.
This app takes the hassle out of requesting assistance when you want to travel by train. In just a few clicks you can request to book assistance, so that every train journey you take is as stress-free as possible.
After downloading the app, you need to set up your profile. This means saying your specific accessibility requirements, for example, whether you’re a wheelchair user, have an assistance dog or live with a non-visible impairment.
You can then provide as much information as you’d like, such as where you’ll be travelling to and from, on what day and at which time. All this information is then sent directly to the train operator, who will arrange assistance for you. The app tells you when your assistance has been confirmed. Then, all you have to do is book your ticket for the journey and you’re on your way!
At its simplest level, this app is basically a directory of accessible gyms and accessible workouts, ranked by different users for accessibility. But there’s also much more to it than just this, which you can make use of.
The app is also a social hub to connect you with like-minded people, and it even has a tool that allows you to build your own custom workout, set your own fitness goals and stay on track by logging your workout results, schedule workouts in y.our calendar and learning about new exercises for your impairment(s).
Interestingly, Accessercise was founded by Britain’s world champion Para-powerlifter, Ali Jawad. I found it good, although it took a bit of getting used to at first. That said, it is great to know it is highly rated, particularly by people with spinal injuries and amputees. The app is available on Google Play and the App Store.
The aim of AccessAble is to take the chance out of going out, by giving you the information you need to work out if a place you’re visiting is going to be accessible for you. Around 10,000s of venues across the UK and Ireland have been surveyed, including shops, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, railway stations, hotels, colleges, universities, hospitals and more.
This free, highly innovative app allows disabled drivers to find somewhere to park in the City of London. For anyone who has ever tried to park in the City, you will know this can be a real challenge. An estimated 300,000 people commute through, work in, or visit the City of London every day, many of them in cars.
Appyway overcomes this problem by deploying 188 smart parking sensors throughout the City of London, one for every blue badge parking bay in the City. The sensors provide real-time availability and occupancy data of every accessibility bay.
Better still, disabled drivers can link through to commonly used navigation apps such as Waze or Google Maps from the app and drive directly to the parking space of their choice.
The role of mobile apps for disabled people
Having reviewed these five apps, I am impressed by the fact that there is an app for almost everything these days – and that includes accessibility. This is good news for disabled people like me, who struggle just to get into places and make use of the facilities inside them.
All of the apps I’ve reviewed were good, and I hope that they will be followed by others that look at more specialised leisure and sporting facilities. Apps are potential game-changer for those of us who want to be included in everything that’s going on in the world around us. All power to the apps.