Welcome to AccessABILTY Business Guide’s very first blog post! Thanks for coming along for the ride. Our first post is going to share a little bit of insight as to why the app was created.
To start off here is a little blurb from our founder Megan about her work in the disability field and how she saw a need for this type of technology within communities!
I have been working within the disability field for 6+ years, mainly with youth with a rare neurological genetic disorder called Rett Syndrome. The majority of those with Rett Syndrome are females, and throughout my 6 years I have worked alongside 5 girls with the syndrome. Rett Syndrome affects individuals coordination, mobility, speech and more, however their cognition and intellectual abilities are not affected- many people describe it as being stuck within your own body, where your body does not respond to the actions your brain is signaling it to do.
Through my work with these young girls I have seen firsthand the many challenges that arise with inaccessible infrastructure and ableist mindsets. These youth are determined to access the community, the same way that their peers would, yet the community is not always welcoming. There have been numerous occasions where we call a place or check out their website to find out more about their accessibility, only to find out when we arrive that the information provided was not accurate and we either need to leave or- in moments of spite and determination- I would carry the youth into the inaccessible spaces just to prove that they do belong there. In those scenarios we are often met with apologies and sorry looks- none of which help make a difference in these situations, other times we are met with discriminatory opinions, and have even been asked to leave. As you might imagine- this mindset doesn’t fly with me, and I have been known to throw in a bit of education on Human Rights Legislation. It has been disheartening to see that inaccessible spaces are still so prevalent in our society, not to mention the ableist viewpoints unfortunately being experienced. It is 2023- the disability community should not need to continue the fight for access, but here we are, and I am here to fight alongside, as an ally, for as long as it takes to make changes! Thus, AccessABILITY Business Guide was born.
AccessABILTY Business Guide started off as a little nagging thought in the back of my mind for a while. I tried to find something already out there where you could see how others reviewed a business based on accessibility, but I wasn’t able to find something that encompassed all access needs, including, vision, hearing, sensory and mobility. I kept trying to push the nagging thought away- I was a full-time student who also worked full-time, how could I possibly have time to develop this kind of program? The thought didn’t go away though, and with every inaccessible building or ableist encounter, the nagging got stronger. Something needed to be done to make a difference in the community. I floated the idea of an application by a few of the families I worked with and friends with disabilities. They encouraged me to roll with the idea and that’s when I got serious about it! Throughout the process one thing remained constant- I wanted the ideas to come from the disabled community themselves, you may have heard of the phrase “Nothing about us, without us”, well, that phrase was a guiding factor for the whole idea and collaboration with the people with lived experiences was taken into account across the stages of development! Another aspect of the app that was vital to me was that the reviews came from people with lived experience- obviously they know best about their accessibility needs. Another aspect was that I wanted business to be able to see and respond to the reviews, so that they can take the feedback and actually make change! Lastly, the app needed to be free- for everyone, as a part of being accessible is financial accessibility. With these aspects in mind- the idea was brought to two fantastic app developers- they helped me throughout the process of designing, and all the back end techy stuff that I don’t know anything about. As they got to work on the backend stuff- I buckled down on spreading the news about the app and a few months later- in November 2022, the app went live across Canada for App Store and GooglePlay Store users. Since going live the app has received great feedback from users as well as suggestions for improvements, all of the suggestions are kindly noted and will be brought to the development team for an update soon! The app wouldn’t be possible without users like YOU- continue leaving reviews, sharing the word and get in touch with us if you want to collaborate or just chat- I am always down for a virtual coffee!