This week, the Mapping for Change team have been busily preparing for our Wheelmap Mapping Parties! These events will coincide with UN Enable’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities – held annually on December 3rd.
For 2014, the UN have chosen ‘Sustainable Development: the Promise of Technology’ as a theme, to highlight the promises and limitations of technology that are experienced by people with disabilities. Technology has the power to bring far-reaching, positive change, and no groups should be excluded from this.
Given the technological scope of our ongoing project, My Accessible EU, the day seemed like an excellent opportunity to host a series of activities: et voila! The idea of a pan-European Mapping Party was born!
You’re probably thinking ‘what on earth is a Mapping Party?’, and this would be a legitimate question! However, the answer is that it’s not simply for those a little too keen on geography, but is instead a fun way of getting to know new people, whilst learning about important accessibility issues AND collecting invaluable information that can help to make your city more accessible. Sounds pretty good eh?
Our Mapping Parties will be collecting data for the online tool, Wheelmap. Developed by Sozialhelden, our fellow My Accessible EU partners in Berlin, Wheelmap allows users to input the accessibility levels of different buildings and points of interes using a simple traffic lights system.
We all know that it’s sometimes necessary to plan trips in advance. However, for wheelchair users this can be absolutely essential. A recent survey by disability access advisors, Euan’s Guide, found that 95% of their readers frequently try to locate accessibility information before visiting a venue, to avoid disappointment when they arrive.
Wheelmap is ideal for this purpose; it enables wheelchair users to quickly and easily see which destinations they will be able to enter. It’s easy to upload new information too, and can be done via the Wheelmap app on Android or iPhone.
At the moment, there are places where Wheelmap coverage is sparse. That’s where our Mapping Parties come in! We will be dividing into small teams of 2-3 people, and heading out to #wheelmapLondon! These parties will be based around Bloomsbury/Soho, starting from University College London, around Waterloo and Southbank, starting from Southbank University, and in Croydon (details to follow!).
We want our impact to travel beyond London, and reach cities across Europe! Our My Accessible EU partners in Vienna and Heidelberg will also be throwing Mapping Parties. Why not join us and host your own?! Together, we can make European cities more accessible.
Join our Mapping Party from University College London here.