New York is an amazing city, but also an impossible beast if you have physical disabilities. Navigation apps like Google Maps are great tools for everyday users, but they don’t address the needs of the disabled or even someone with a temporary disability. There’s a noticeable absence of accessibility assistance in the app world and sometimes, it takes a caring family member to champion for the needs of loved ones. That’s how Wheel New York got started as a Kickstarter project:
I’m a native New Yorker who lives and works in New York City. My brother Andrew is 22 years old and lives on Long Island with my family. Andrew was born with spina bifida and uses his wheelchair to get around. He’s faced a lot of challenges in his life and I want to help him overcome one of them: I want him and every other disabled person to be able to visit, enjoy, and work in New York City the same way I do.
Accesibility isn’t just related to transportation – a trip to a restaurant or movie theater can also be challenging once you get there. The best part about Wheels NY is its inclusiveness – the app will show ratings for accessible great venues, but also allows users and the community to crowd-source accessibility information to share. It’s about community, and it’s a big community that’s largely been ignored:
There are 20 million people in the U.S. with an ambulatory disability and 3.3 million of those people live right here in the NYC area. Currently there is no centralized place for them to get all the accessibility information they need to safely navigate and enjoy the city. The unfortunate reality is that the fear of the unknown (steps in front of a location, accessible bathrooms and transit options, etc.) prevents them from making the trip and taking advantage of all the city has to offer.