Tag Archives: accessible

Clickability, the Australian website giving people with disabilities a strong consumer voice

If you wanted to find out how good that shop is down the road, there’s a bunch of apps and websites that could help you out. But what about if you have a disability and you need to find out if they have the right facilities to suits you best?

 

People with disabilities living in Victoria and New South Wales (Australia) can now do it, and all thanks to Clickability.

Clickability is a new website funded by two Australian women in Melbourne, with the intent of helping people with disabilities find the help they need. How does it work? Simple, it’s an online directory that allows local disability care and support options to be listed, rated and reviewed.

 

Jenna Moffat and Aviva Beecher Kelk both come from a background as social workers (picture: thecusp.com.au)

 

Dubbed by some a “TripAdvisor for disability support services,” the concept developed by Jenna Moffat and Aviva Beecher Kelk is impressive. Their intent is to target anyone affected by a disability and empower them with a unique chance to be able to pick and choose what service really suits them, rather than having to adapt to whatever is on offer.

 

The source of this idea comes from Beecher and Jenna’s background as social workers. They came up with the idea while after noticing that they kept having to reach out to their professional networks or use Google to find support networks for clients.

 

“We were gatekeeping so much information, I was literally calling people I did my Masters with to ask about homelessness services, for example, or domestic violence services,” and also “We just saw this huge gap there in terms of consumer rights … In this industry, that’s a gap in human rights as well,” said Aviva.

In few words, Clickability places information on disability services all in one place.

 

 

A key point about the startup is that its mission aligns with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a significant social welfare project for people living with disabilities being rolled out by the Australian government.

Aviva added: ‘We just saw this huge gap there in terms of consumer rights … In this industry, that’s a gap in human rights as well.’

Under the NDIS, support services will have to see people with disabilities as customers, she explained.

 

As Aviva pointed out, people with disabilities on the NDIS are in many cases expected to make their own decisions about which support service to choose. “Government money used to go to service providers to distribute services, and it’s now going to individuals to purchase the services that suit themselves,” she explained.

 

 

“Likewise, consumers have to start thinking about themselves as customers. How do I assert my customer rights? How do I articulate what I need? How do I get what I need?”

 

 

Unfortunately, in her view, the information to back up that decision-making is just not there, and it’s certainly not the kind of relevant, reliable peer-generated information that exists in other industries. That’s where Clickability comes in.

 

 

 

To list and rate services is free on Clickability, but subscribers can reply to comments and personalise their page, among other features. The next step in Clickability’s development will be to make it easier to use for visually impaired and blind people.

 

“The big thing for us is how do we make this accessible for people with intellectual disabilities?” says Aviva. “We also collect [reviews] in-person sometimes at conferences and events from people with all sorts of different access needs. It’s really important to us to find a way that everyone can have a voice.”

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

Six Accessible Travel Apps To Make Your Holiday Easier

You’ve researched the location, booked everything that needs to be booked and packed your bags. You’re ready to go on an adventure, or just relax somewhere on the beach, and the only thing left to do is enjoy the trip and get the most out of your holiday. In recent years a whole host of apps have been released to help you do this. Apps that will help take the hassle out of certain aspects of travel – from translation to finding the best place for lunch – and many of these are accessible and of particular use to people with a visual impairment or disability. In this blog we’ve rounded up all the different accessible travel apps that will make your holiday easier so you can download them and be completely ready for that well deserved break.

 

1. Money Checking Apps

Like with many of the apps on this list, Money Reader is an app that could also be incredibly useful in your day to day life if you have a visual impairment. It’s a very simple app but one that is absolutely invaluable. You simply place your money in front of the camera and it will tell you exactly what denomination and currency you’ve got.

At £4.99 it is a little bit pricey, but you could save yourself that in one go if you accidentally hand over a $20 bill instead of a $5 to an unscrupulous vendor. The app includes information from twenty one different currencies, including the US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Brazilian Real, British Pound, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Indian Rupee, Japanese Yen, Kuwaiti Dinar, Mexican Peso, Russian Ruble, Saudi Arabian Riyal, Singapore Dollar, and United Arab Emirates Dirham. It’s also very accessible to use and is compatible with VoiceOver technology.

 

2. Photography Apps

It often surprises people, but there are scores of visually impaired and blind people who love photography and take amazing quality photographs. This can range from people who do fine art photography and fascinating photo essays to those who just want to take a picture of their family on the beach. If you fall into the later category and just want to take a few fun snaps on holiday, there are some great apps that can help you take the best possible photos.

TapTapSee is a multi-award winning app that is one of the most popular amongst visually impaired photographers. It utilizes your phone’s camera and VoiceOver functions to photograph objects and identify them out loud for the user. To use it you just double tap on the screen to photograph any two or three dimensional object at any angle and it will be accurately analyzed and defined within seconds.

 

3. Translator Apps

These translator apps aren’t exclusively accessible travel apps as pretty much anyone who isn’t a language expert could benefit from them, however they can be especially useful at times for people with a disability. iVoice Translator Pro is an excellent app that allows you to translate in real time, enabling you to translate conversations whilst you have them. You can also save favourite phrases to speak out as required, which makes it very useful for a user with a speech impairment.

Google Translate also has an excellent video feature. It’s almost ridiculously sci-fi, but if you’re struggling to read a sign or a menu, just video it through the app and it will automatically translate the text into your native language and display it clearly for you to read. Being a Google App it also utilises Android’s accessibility features.

 

4. Map and Travel Apps

Navigation in a foreign country can be a nightmare at the best of times, and whilst some people might say getting lost is part of the fun of exploring, it’s always best to know that you can find where you want to go. For that one of the best apps is Blindsquare. It uses GPS and the compass to locate you, and then gathers information about the surrounding environment from FourSquare. BlindSquare has some unique algorithms to decide what information is the most relevant and then speaks it to you with high quality speech synthesis. BlindSquare is aware of when you travel by car, bus or train and starts to report interesting places in front of you (for example, the next stops) and street crossings when you are passing them, so even when you’re in a foreign place you can find where you want to go. It costs quite a bit (£22.99), but it’s not just useful as an accessible travel app, it’s one that can be invaluable for everyday life.

Citymapper is also an amazingly detailed navigation app that has won awards for its accessibility, and it’s always worth searching for specific accessible travel apps for your destination. For example London has London’s Nearest Bus, which allows the user to find the nearest buses and live departure times from their location, and Station Master, which offers detailed accessibility information for every London Underground, Overground and DLR station. Edinburgh has the excellent Talking Buses app and The Netherlands has Ongehinderd (translation: Unhindered) to help with accessible travel, so it’s always worth checking for apps specific to your destination.

 

5. Apps for Checking Accessibility

It’s great being able to find your way somewhere, but what if you get there and the accessibility is terrible? That’d be a nightmare. You can check online, but often what a website says about accessibility isn’t what you experience in real life. Luckily a few great apps have been developed to address this problem.

AccessEarth, WheelMap and Euan’s Guide are all essential accessible travel apps that use crowdsourcing to generate reviews of accessibility from disabled people who have actually visited the place in question. That way you can find out exactly what to expect from the destination and how you need to prepare.

 

6. Apps for Reading On The Plane

Now we’ve got the travel, money and translation stuff out of the way we can move on to the most important thing. What are you going to read in the sun on the beach?

Luckily this one is pretty simple. Kindle and iBooks have excellent accessibility features, allowing you to make the text larger and if required get your tablet or phone to read the book to you. Audible is also an excellent source of audiobooks and has great accessibility, so if you’re more of an audiobook person that’s probably your best bet.

 

So those are our favourite accessible travel apps that should make each aspect of your holiday a little bit easier.  Do let us know if we missed any accessible travel apps that you think are great, and remember to share with the travellers in your life!

Accessible Days Out For The Summer Holidays

The Summer Holidays can be a tricky time for anyone. The struggle of trying to keep your children occupied and happy without breaking the bank and, hopefully, getting them some exercise or education in the process. It’s a minefield! This can be an even bigger issue if you or someone in your family has a disability because not every activity is accessible. So with that in mind we decided to compile a blog of our favourite accessible days out in the UK, and we’ve split it up so that everyone in the family, from the thrill seeker to the history buff, can find an activity they love!

 

Accessible Days Out For Nature Lovers

Being out in the wilderness can sometimes feel quite a daunting prospect if you have a disability, however there are numerous accessible days out in the middle of nature around the UK that everyone can enjoy.

One of the best places to start is the National Trust website, which has some great information for visitors with disabilities. As an organisation The National Trust is “committed to developing and promoting inclusive access solutions … that are creative and sensitive to the surroundings,” and they have numerous great policies to back this up. Unless otherwise mentioned all their locations have adapted toilets, many locations provide manual wheelchairs and mobility vehicles are available at some of the larger gardens and parks. They also provide accessible resources with Braille and large print guides for visually impaired guests, and in many locations they have sensory exhibits with items that can be touched, as well as particularly important sounds and scents that relate to the property. All their locations have accessibility information online, and you can also do specific searches for properties that have facilities for disabled visitors.

A picture of Portstewart Strand, showing people and cars on the beach, which makes this one of our favourite accessible days out

The Beach at Portstewart Strand

Some of our favourite specific locations include the Brockholes Nature Reserve, which has a wonderful floating and accessible Visitor Village and nature reserve. The Baggy Point Walk in Devon has a wheelchair-friendly path with fantastic views and chances to spot seabirds, and Haldon Forest Park has amazing graded walking, cycling and riding through the Devonshire woodland. Portstewart Strand in Northern Ireland has a glorious beach walk that can be made accessible by paying a few pounds to take your vehicle.

 

Accessible Days Out For Animal Lovers

If you and your family love meeting creatures big and small then the UK has numerous great locations for accessible days out where you can come face to face with all manner of weird and wonderful animal. Paradise Wildlife Park is one of the UK’s most accessible animal parks, with discount tickets available for both disabled guests and their cares. The whole park is designed with accessibility in mind, and you can see everything from Wolves and Tigers to adorable Monkeys from a raised and accessible walkway. For children they also have an accessible play park, including full support swings and a wheelchair accessible swing, and the descriptions of the animals include sign language images. If you require a guide dog then you can bring one, however you need to call them in advance to organise it.

Other great accessible days out for animal lovers include Longleat House and Safari Park. The great thing about Longleat being a safari park is you can enjoy it from the comfort of your own car. This means you get to see the animals in a bigger, more natural habitat, and it also means as long as your car is accessible then the entire park is your oyster! The stately Longleat House itself is very accessible with wide corridors, spacious rooms and lifts, whilst the grounds outside have flat, even pathways and the miniature land train and boat trip are also wheelchair accessible.

Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire, Wales, is also a great day out and very accessible. The paths around the site are flat and should provide no trouble to wheelchair users, the Land Train that travels around the site is also accessible and the Pembrokeshire Big Wheel has a wheelchair accessible carriage. An induction loop is fitted in the interactive centre and theatre, and assistance dogs are welcome throughout the whole site, including the zoo and farm. They also offer a discounted price for people with a disability and can offer free entry to carers, and have free disability parking and wheelchairs available to hire free of charge.

 

Accessible Days Out For History Buffs and Culture Vultures

Over the years Museums have become more creative in their attempts to be inclusive and accessible, with one of the best examples being the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Last year the V&A launched its first sensory backpack for the Ceramics Gallery. The bags contain a variety of objects that the guests can pick out and touch as they travel around the gallery, with the experience using objects, textures, sounds and smells to tell the story and include movement around the gallery. The guide takes the form of a story that provides active instructions to get families moving around the two ceramics galleries, creating an innovative and unique experience for visually impaired guests.

Another great museum for accessible days out is the London Transport Museum. There is level access throughout the museum, with lifts and ramps that are suitable for unaccompanied wheelchair users. The audio-visual guides are all subtitled or fitted with loops, and there are induction loops at the ticket desk, cloakroom, library and information desk. The museum itself is packed full of exhibits from London’s history, but there is still space to navigate easily and some of the old carriages, such as the Victorian tube, have been made wheelchair accessible.

As well as being the best place to see The Bard’s plays, Shakespeare’s Globe is one of the most accessible locations in London. In addition to having a fantastic viewing platform and accessible entrance, the Globe puts on a series of plays every year for people with disabilities, such as signed, audio-described and captioned performances. To find out when these performances are and any other information you can call their dedicated Access Information Line which operates from 10.00am – 5.00pm or visit their very informative website.

 

Accessible Days Out For Thrill Seekers

People often don’t associate thrill seeking with accessibility, but we’ve written before about things like disability extreme sports that prove people with disabilities love to get their adrenaline flowing just as much as the next person! One of the best accessible days out for thrill seekers in can be found at Adventure Island in Southend. The theme park is one of the most accessible in the country, with almost all the rides, including the The Barnstormer and Green Scream roller coasters, being accessible. The park also has no turnstiles on the entrance, lift access to the park, and hearing loops are available. You can read their full accessibility information pack here.

If you want to go even more extreme then why not try the Lee Valley White Water Centre in Hertfordshire. This is the venue that hosted the white water events in the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, so the rapids they have are serious! You don’t need any experience and the centre welcomes people with disabilities, however all participants do need to complete an activity assessment before booking. You’ll be taken down the records with an experienced guide and if you phone the centre in advance they can tailor the conditions to match your capabilities. People with poor swimming skills or a disability are also given yellow helmets so that they can be spotted straight away and helped, just in case things get a little bit too wet!

If you’d rather stay dry, one of the most unique accessible days out can be found with Walking on Air in Scotland. Walking On Air is an organisation that gives disabled people the opportunity to try out flying in a specially modified glider. Trial flights begin at just £50, and if you’d rather just take in the splendid views and watch other people fly, they have an accessible restaraunt, bar and accommodation for those who prefer keeping their feet on the ground.

So those are our favourite accessible activities for the summer holidays in the UK. We hope that they’ve given you some ideas for things to do with your family, and do let us know about your favourite accessible days out in the comments.


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