Getting around the city center can be difficult, especially for people with mobility difficulties. Helping these people find a barrier-free path is the goal of a new Calgary-based app.
“Pedesting,” launched Wednesday, is designed to help pedestrians find the easiest and most accessible routes throughout the city.
The app’s co-founder, Nabeel Ramji, has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair, which can require a lot of pre-planning to get around.
“As a person with a disability, I am very anxious when I go out because of the uncertainty surrounding the obstacles I might face,” Ramji told PKBNEWS.
“I usually go somewhere the day before and even call the business owner to see if it’s accessible or not. »
This anxiety sparked a conversation between Ramji and her colleague Erin Shilliday, architect and creative director of Pedesting.
Shilliday said he and Ramji began researching disability and accessibility further, which led him to evaluate buildings aimed at improving accessibility. However, these a*sessments did not result in the change they hoped to bring about.
“Nabeel and I realized that technology was a great tool,” Shilliday said. “Since we can’t build a ramp or make all the buildings accessible, perhaps we can use technology to figure out how to get around these barriers and get to our destination.”
The duo teamed up with experts in navigation and geographic information services to begin development of Pedesting, which uses both building plans and information collected from users.
The app allows users to plan their route, identify obstacles like stairs, and find accessibility aids like ramps, electric door openers, accessible restrooms, and elevators.
“You can get this information in advance so you can plan your route from wherever you start your journey,” Ramji said.
The app currently features floor plans and directions through three areas of downtown: Arts Commons, Brookfield Place and the Central Library.
“They’ve done some of their development with some of our clients here at the Central Library,” Mary Graham, the library’s a*sistant director of service delivery, told PKBNEWS. “We were really excited to do this because of our commitment to accessibility.”
According to Shilliday, the plan is to expand the app to more areas downtown and around the city, including office towers, the Plus 15 network and post-secondary institutions.
The duo are also hoping for help from the general public to add public spaces to the app that might not be included in the plans.
“Maybe it’s a special place that they like to visit in their neighborhood, that they know is accessible and they know that it’s a great walkable environment,” Shilliday said. “It’s something fantastic for us.”
Pedesting also provides data to business owners, to help them understand how to become more accessible without major changes to their building infrastructure.
Ramji said he hoped the app would help people overcome this anxiety, replacing it with the confidence to navigate public spaces.
“Having a tool like this can really help understand space,” he said.
Pedesting is available for download on Google Play and the Apple Store.
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