WITH an increasing number of international students seeking disability support services, Faridah Wu reviews the new ‘Out & About’ app that helps people with mobility issues plan their days out on the town.
While the digital world is chock full of location-based apps for exploring cities, only a handful cater to people with disabilities. Even fewer of these apps are specific to Australia, which is home to four million people with disability or mobility issues.
A 2010 survey for the City of Melbourne revealed that 4% of the international student population in Melbourne contacted disability support services, and over half of them felt that the services did not meet their needs.
Disability, education, and senior services provider Villa Maria’s new Out & About app aims to remedy this issue, providing a wealth of information to help carers and users with disabilities plan their outings around Melbourne.
The homepage features brief descriptions of venues close to users’ current locations. Each venue listing provides information about available accessibility options, such as disability-specific parking and restrooms. There are also phone numbers listed for booking facilities like netball courts and boat hiring.
In-app search results can be filtered based on location, distance, venue types (parks, restaurants, tourist attractions) and accessibility options. This is useful if you have a specific requirement in mind, such as museums with facilities for the hearing-impaired.
This app can come in handy when planning activities for people with limited mobility, such as parents or grandparents who are slow walkers.
It’s also great for family members unfamiliar with Melbourne who want to find nearby venues with interesting activities. Even if you don’t have mobility issues, the app provides many useful descriptions of new places and activities to explore.
However, because the app was launched only recently, there is still a limited amount of information available. The app relies heavily on feedback and involvement from users.
“It’s really about having people contribute information. People can put their reviews, to send information, to alert us to the fact that they know of a venue or encourage businesses to let us know that they’ve got a particular venue that is accessible,” says Rebecca Ryan, Villa Maria’s Executive Manager of Marketing.
Users can rate the app or submit a new venue. If you wish to submit a venue, you can do so via in-app email or at their official website.
The app is available for free on iTunes.
Have you used the Out and About app? Has it benefited you or your loved ones? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.