Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bill Morrow rates the accessibility of his neighbourhood for AXSmap

Bill Morrow 
The AXSmap project, initiated by Jason Da Silva, a documentary filmmaker who also has MS, rates commercial establishments regarding their accessibilty to people with disabilities. In late September, after meeting him at our Emily Carr alumni reunion, I participated in one of his "mapping days" to launch the project in Vancouver. Jason has created a "Yelp style" online review site, intended to get people to take some time during their daily rounds to comment on how their local businesses are meeting their needs.

Since then I've been collaborating with my friend and writing colleague, Bill Morrow, who uses a scooter. He offered to become a reviewer after we saw a screening of Jason's documentary film "When I Walk" at the Vancouver Film Festival. Soon Bill brought me a typed list ranking 27 stores, restaurants, medical and financial places on a single block in his Vancouver East Side neighbourhood.

Bill's list of ratings for the first block
As you can see from earlier postings to this blog, I take an interest in supporting people to get over the humps, in regard to using digital technology. So when Bill asked me to work with him by uploading his reviews, I was happy to register in his name and do the entries online. Soon a cluster of coloured icons by "W. Morrow" were popping up on in a single block of the main commercial street of his Vancouver East Side neighbourhood.

For example, if you follow this link to the website AXSmap.com and search by a category such as "restaurants" in the "2500 East Hastings, Vancouver, BC" area, you will find a number of possible choices. Restaurants with coloured icons have been rated out of a possible score of five - the orange ones are "3" and greens are "5" regarding doorways and washrooms. Grey icons are restaurants which haven't yet received an AXSmap review.
Search results showing an overview

A drill down on a restaurant shows details
Bill has now completed the next block on the street, and soon I expect to be adding more reviews. Accessing the Internet -- either to contribute or to read the reviews -- is problematic for Bill, as well as for many of his fellow seniors who belong to the "COABC" (Came of Age Before Computers) demographic. However he has been able to do a technological work-around by enlisting my support.  In doing so, he is making a concrete contribution, saving time and frustration for his mobility-challenged neighbours of all ages.

Curious about how the reviewing process works? Here is a video:

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