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22nd January 2015

Apps that can help the disabled find accessible bathrooms, parking spots, and more

Are you a wheelchair user? Do you have mobility issues? Do you worry about finding accessible bathrooms and parking lots when you’re out and about?

Thankfully, with the rise of smartphone apps, there has been a flurry of tools created to help disabled people. Recently, a few apps have been introduced to address the unique challenges in accessibility that are faced by wheelchair users.

Wheelmate, a free web and mobile app helps those with physical disabilities find accessible bathrooms and parking lots wherever they are, through an easy-to-use map. Around 7000 people have already downloaded the app, which launched in 2012.

The database of locations is entirely maintained and updated with the input from users. They can also comment, rate the quality of the facilities, and mark their favourites. The app also allows users to create a printable list of locations with accessible facilities, should they need to plan a trip in advance.

Wheelmate is available in various languages, has an impressive amount of information on accessible bathrooms for many cities in Europe, and best of all, it is free. There are currently 30,000 locations in more than 45 countries.

Another free app designed to help wheelchair users find accessible spots in their outings is the Wheelmap, allowing wheelchair users to rate the accessibility of various locations, such as restaurants, bars, and supermarkets.

Like in Wheelmate, the information in the Wheelmap app is crowdsourced, being provided by wheelchair users themselves. Users can write comments and also upload photos to describe the accessibility of a location.

The app is available in 21 languages, and has more than 400,000 user-submitted ratings. It counts with around 35,000 users per month. It is a mobile app on Android and the iPhone, and is also available online.

Woussoul is the third app with a similar profile, though on a smaller scale (currently 100-500 installs). It helps in locating wheelchair-accessible restaurants, shops, or government institutions. Based on reviews, the app calculates overall accessibility. With a Moroccan-based developer most locations so far are based in the country and the app is available in English, French and Arabic.

For wheelchair users looking to become fitter and more independent, PhysioAdvisor is a free Australian app created to help make people with spinal cord injuries be able to improve their fitness without needing the assistance of a physical therapist.

The exercises can be searched by keyword, or filtered by condition, available equipment, age and body part. This impressive database contains over 600 exercises specifically for people with spinal cord injuries, and is available in English.

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