Ten years ago, on June 29, 2007, the Apple iPhone was born and a technological revolution began. A decade later, your mobile phone does far more than merely make calls – it’s revolutionised the way we live our lives. For those with limited mobility, its arrival brought with it new levels of independence and made it easier to travel and explore. To celebrate this, here we present 16 essential apps to make any journey more enjoyable.
For several years now, TripAdvisor has been building itself as the ultimate user-generated guidebook on where to go and what to see. Unfortunately however, when it comes to flagging up places of interest for people with disabilities, it loses marks. Happily, a growing number of apps are emerging that make the world more accessible for those with limited mobility.
If you’re heading out for a day out but are unsure of car parking or access at a restaurant, shop, library or museum, WheelMap (iOS/Android) and TripTripHurray (iOS/Android) will tell you where is and isn’t accessible, allowing you to plan ahead. But Access Earth (iOS/Android) is the app that really stands out. Described as a ‘TripAdvisor for people with disabilities’ — this app allows you to post reviews of where you’ve just been.
If you’re going to London for the day or your already live there, the LDN Access app is designed specifically for London. The app gives you information about wheelchair access, disabled toilets, induction loops, baby changing facilities and much more for lots of attractions and popular spots in the city. It also works offline so you don’t have to be connected to data or WiFi to access this important information!
The app Access Earth is a guide to accessible places made up of reviews from other disabled people
Long car journeys can be dull for both driver and passengers and there’s only so long ‘Eye Spy’ can hold the attention of the kids. Happily, smartphones are as much entertainment centres as they are telephones and there are thousands of apps designed to keep boredom at bay. Audiobook options from Audible (iOS/Android) and Disney (iOS/Android) offer aural entertainment for everyone.
The BBC’s iPlayer (iOS/Android) offers a download option to take programmes of every genre on your journey, including programmes for children with special needs. And countless learning apps, such as Endless Alphabet (iOS/Android) and Petting Zoo (iOS/Android), make education feel like fun and the journey fly by.
Knowing when and where to refuel is an issue for everyone, particularly when driving long distances in new places. A growing number of fuel locator apps are here to help: Esso Fuel Finder (iOS/Android) and Fuelmate (iOS/Android) locate petrol stations and show you your closest options.
One app going further is fuelService (iOS/Android), which locates accessible petrol stations. Use the app to locate a petrol station close to you, click on that station, and fuelService finds out if they have assistants on hand to help. If they do, proceed to the station, click ‘I’ve Arrived!’ on the app and an assistant will be on hand to help you refuel and be on your way. Best of all, the service can be used on any phone, smartphone or otherwise—your message can be sent by calling or as an SMS text message.
There are apps that locate your nearest petrol stations while you’re driving
Finding accessible toilets
Try to find a toilet on the road can be a very stressful experience! An app that tells you where the closest WC is located would be useful—and luckily, there are plenty of these on the market. The best of them also locate toilets close to you with disabled access. Flush Toilet Finder (iOS/Android) and WheelMate(iOS/Android) are excellent options. As is Toilet Finder(iOS/Android), an app so effectively named it deserves a special mention of its own.
Although this isn’t strictly an app, Apple recently announced their new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature which will allow drivers to completely silence their phones to fully focus on the road. Remember—always pull over safely whenever using any of these apps and never use your phone while driving!
More about the Motability Scheme
The Motability Scheme enables disabled people to get on the road by exchanging their mobility allowance to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair. Find out if you can join the Scheme using our eligibility tracker and ordering a free information pack.