Toronto masters student Maayan Ziv wonders every day of her life whether she’ll be able to get where she needs to go that day. Just about everything is online, she explains in this video, but until now, accessibility was a roll of the dice. Getting ready to go out on a Friday night, the twenty-five year old says she could find out how much the beer was going to be that night, and the specials, the ratings and reviews, “but not whether a place is accessible.” Maayan uses a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy. “I have to ask this every day. This is a problem in my life. There are millions of people who can benefit,” she says. “I have to do this.”
Maayan came up with AccessNow, a mobile phone app that uses crowdsourcing to collect and share accessibility information on a map. “Crowdsourcing” means anyone can add a location and an accessibility rating to the AccessNow map. By literally going out into the streets of Toronto and going door-to-door to try out shop and restaurant entrances and washrooms, Maayan and her group of volunteers mapped most of the city of Toronto. A green pin indicates a location is completely accessible; a yellow pin indicates partly accessible, and a red pin lets users know a location is inaccessible.
Launched in Toronto in 2016, the AccessNow app has data on 34 countries so far. With Maayan’s passion and leadership spurring it forward, the map is constantly growing.