One of my listeners from the RNIB Tech Talk show got in touch this week to tell me about an app they suggested I should try out.
It’s called AccessAble and the description on the iOS app store (it’s also available on the Google Play Store) tells me it will help me by being an accessibility guide to restaurants, cinemas, theatres and more.
I’ve heard about apps like this before and to be honest, they’ve often come up short. But I downloaded it anyway. It was free after all – my favourite price!
Upon installation to my iPhone it asked me if I wanted to sign up. I didn’t at first and there is a ‘Skip’ button at the top of the screen if you just want to try it out first which is what I did. It then asks you to select which categories of disability you are interested in using Accessibility Symbols, so you might choose step-free access, a preference for an accessible toilet or perhaps if you’re going to the cinema you might prefer audio description to be available. This helps the app give you the right information. It then asks for your location and then presents you with a search field to choose a specific location, restaurant, place of interest, etc.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t always know what I’m searching for. If it’s a restaurant for example, I might just want to know what’s around me. And this app lets me do that. I can tap on the restaurants option for example (which is the first on the list) and it then displays a list of what’s around. In my search, I got around 53 results in order of distance which made sense and so I chose one to find out what information was available.
This was where things got really interesting. The particular restaurant I chose in the list was one I had been to before. I thought having prior knowledge would give me an insight into how accurate the app was. Once you’ve selected the restaurant it offers you basic info about the address, phone number, email and website. This is great because sometimes trying to get this information on the company website is a challenge. It then lets you see what accessibility symbols are available so you can check if it’s definitely got an accessible toilet for example.
Below this is a list of buttons detailing specific areas of the restaurant’s facilities. In the ‘Location’ option I was informed that there was no bus stop available near the restaurant and the closest public transport location was a train station in the next town. This was indeed accurate.
Further down the list of options I was able to find out opening times, what the parking options were and where they were (even detailing the location of the disabled parking bays), how the doors outside opened (in my case they would open outwards), and when inside how bright the lighting levels were, whether or not background music was played and even where you could ride your mobility scooter if you needed one.
When it came to food and drink options, I couldn’t find an actual menu from this restaurant. I believe others have put theirs on (so I shall be contacting them about that) but I did learn that they don’t have menus in large print or braille. Good to know.
AccessAble was able to give me a really clear and insightful tour of a venue I had already been at, even learning things about it I never knew. It really surprised me that it had such a level of detail which for us disabled people is essential when planning a trip out. I think this will really take the stress out of going out, and in my case, possibly even make me want to go out more.
I would strongly encourage to just download this app. It is free so why not. It’s another brilliant tool to have.