Europe needs to become more accessible. Too often, buildings and ways cannot be easily reached and passed by everyone. This does not only concern wheelchair users but also elderly people with walking aids, parents with pushchairs, or anyone whose walking ability is permanently or temporarily limited. This applies to many millions of people in Europe.
MyAccessible.EU is a three year research project funded by the European Commission. It aims to make cities’ built environment more accessible for disabled and older people by challenging social attitudes, raising awareness and delivering assistive mobile applications. These mobile applications will provide tools for collectively gathering and sharing information about accessibility of public spaces.
With a diverse range of partners from across Europe, the project brings together disability activists, software developers, social innovators, project coordinators, community mapping experts, accessible tourism advocates and experts on the needs of senior citizens. Based over four pilot sites (Heidelberg, Vienna, Elche and London), and with partners in several other European locations, MyAccessible.EU is well-placed to achieve significant outcomes for accessibility across Europe.
Mapping for Change are responsible for the London pilot site. Our work involves engaging with community and end user groups, identifying major accessibility issues, collaborating with relevant secondary stakeholder groups, and organising awareness raising activities.
We will also be working with disabled and older people to test online and mobile applications developed in the project, to ensure that the project’s technical outputs are user-friendly and beneficial to the groups who will be using them.
My Transport Stories
A lack of accessible public transport is a major barrier to many people’s independent mobility. From the groups MfC have engaged, the vast majority reported a range of problems including poor physical access to vehicles, a lack of staff awareness, and negative attitudinal experiences from transport staff and fellow passengers.
To address this, and provide a platform for people to report these issues, we developed a Transport Stories Community Map. You can use the map to report any kind of accessibility issue faced when using public transport, anywhere in the UK. We will share your feedback with the relevant transport providers.
As part of the project, a number of tools aiming at improving accessibility for people with reduced mobility have been developed. All of these are freely available and can be accessed on the MyAccesible.EU Tools page.
In 2012, the Big Lottery Fund in England invested £1 million in 150 neighbourhoods for its Big Local initiative. Northfleet, Kent, was one of the first 50 to be selected. The grant aimed to equip local communities with skills and tools to identify key areas and issues where action was reqiored in their area.
Mapping for Change in collaboration with the Humanities Education Centre (HEC) and local specialist on learning and ‘place’ Maggie Hewitt, worked with three schools in Tower Hamlets (Columbia School Community Map, Arnhem Wharf School Community Map and John Scurr School Community Map) to pilot a brand new process in which Year 4 pupils develop personalised maps of their local area with their own likes, memories and views on change.