AccessNow App

A new app out of Canada, AccessNow, aims to crowdsource the accessibility of communities. Maayan Ziv, a wheelchair user, has made it her life’s work to help others know which places are accessible before going out.

As she told CBC News in Access Now uses crowdsourcing to pinpoint accessible businesses

“Recently, I went to a place and there were three steps at the entrance, and I was told it was accessible. I get to the entrance, and there are those steps and then I’m stuck in the middle of the street without any options.”

I downloaded this app for iPhone to check out what’s going on in Austin. The app doesn’t have many places reviewed here just yet, with only four entries showing up for the Central Austin/UT Campus/Downtown area.

screenshot showing 4 map pins
AccessNow map view

In addition to a searchable map display, the app also has a list view. Icons from a green thumbs up for accessible to a red thumbs down for inaccessible help users know what to expect when experiencing a mobility impairment.

screenshot of the list view of map pins
AccessNow list view

Users can outline specific issues in a description.

screen shot explaining the accessibility issues with the Austin Panic Room
AccessNow app place details

Per the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, new construction and any existing construction that undergoes major renovations are supposed to be accessible. I see how this app would be especially useful for rating those places that were built before the act went into effect.

Users who have created an account can add new entries by tapping the ‘add pin’ icon, searching for a place, then entering details. The app provides several tags like accessible parking, automatic door and ramp, as well as an area to type out a description.

screen shot of the add place screen with options to rate how accessible it is
AccessNow add new place screen

Learn more from this interview with the creator.

Sony DVD Software for Amazon Video

For me to be able to watch Amazon Video content on my TV, I have to access the service through my Sony DVD player. It’s a rudimentary display with tabbing through options one by one and using various buttons on the remote to navigate.

photo of a TV displaying software used to access Amazon Video content

To go backwards and forwards in the interface, you use the remote’s “options” button (left) and “return” button (right) as noted at the bottom of the TV screen. What trips me up is that the buttons on the remote are in the opposite positions that they are on the screen.

photo of a remote with the return button on the left and the options button on the right

It’s a small thing but I have to stop and look down at the remote every time and double-check that I’m using the right button. A simple fix would be to transpose the controls on the screen.

Polite Notice

I’m that guy. I get upset about cars and plants blocking sidewalks. A year ago I did a post on the walkability of communities using my neighborhood as an example. After notifying 311 about a couple of repeat offenders, they stopped parking across the sidewalk.

Now there are new cars and the problem hasn’t improved much.

photo of a car blocking the sidewalk, brush encroaching on the sidewalk, and landscaping blocking a way around
Let’s walk into traffic!

I decided to make a flyer I could put on windshields. In England, I saw a traffic sign start with “Polite Notice” and that’s always stuck with me. I think these drivers deserve the benefit of the doubt of not knowing this is a problem.

a flyer reading Polite Notice Please don't block the sidewalks with a drawing of people using the sidewalk
Polite Notice

I’ve yet to put any on windshields. Making the flyer was mostly a way to deal with my frustration. Lately, I get anxious during my morning walks and I wanted to “do” something. I enjoyed the creative outlet.

As I noted in my previous sidewalks post, directly confronting the driver of a car blocking the sidewalk did not go well. On a related note, I had a really unpleasant incident earlier this year where a guy had locked his dog in a car, in the sun, and I called him out on it. He and his girlfriend got upset with me, started shouting—that’s when I decided to let the police deal with things from now on.