New app seeks to identify, solve accessibility barriers at public sites in Laval
Disability rights group launches Brigade Axecible to track problems
A new mobile application could be the secret to fixing accessibility problems in publicly funded institutions, such as hospitals, pools and schools, according to the Laval disability rights group ROPPHL.
In December, the group launched a new application called Brigade Axecible that allows people with disabilities to monitor and report obstacles they encounter when visiting public places.
The app includes questions based on the location and the disabilities of the user. For instance, a person who uses a wheelchair would answer a different set of questions than someone who is visually impaired.
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Although some problems can be costly to fix, many are not, says Kim Joly, executive director of ROPPHL, the Regroupement des organismes de promotion de personnes handicapées de Laval.
Simple things — like a lack of signage advertising accessible entrances — are easily fixed, she said.
When problems are flagged through the app, the group then informs the institution, and suggests how to fix the problem.
"We've often heard from partners that they want to be more accessible," Joly said. "They want to be inclusive, but they don't know how to do it. You have to help them do it."
'Doing it to help'
Right now, there are about 30 volunteers — called brigadiers — who are able to use the app to file reports but Joly says the group is in the process of recruiting more.
She says they were offering the volunteers $25 gift cards, but many refused payment for their work.
"With the app, they have a place to report their everyday obstacles that they meet in regular life. And it allows them to take part in the improvement of accessibility, so it's really empowering for them," Joly said.
Brigadier Line Goyette is visually impaired and has already filed reports from hospitals and family doctors offices.
She recalls visiting a hospital that used television screens to tell patients when it was their turn to see a doctor, and described feeling like a nuisance when she pointed out that she was unable to see the screens.
"I'm doing it to help … Because I've been struggling with (accessibility) for quite awhile, and just helping will be good," she said.
Joly said that before they built the app, the group would hear about accessibility issues in the community, but there was no infrastructure to track the problem and follow up.
She thinks having this data will be fundamental to making permanent changes.
"We are really optimistic that in the future, it will improve the accessibility of Laval," she said.
The app cost about $50,000 to create and implement, Joly said. She said the funding came from different governmental agencies, such as the city of Laval and the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec.