In mid-September 2015 we took some time off from developing and piloting our tools and headed to Madrid, where we met the members of the project’s Advisory Board of Experts to discuss crowdsourcing and online mapping for accessibility. The occasion was the 5th International Congress on Tourism for All in Madrid, a major European event for discussing the future of accessible tourism and related technological innovations. The major force behind the conference is Spain’s ONCE, one of the largest foundations for people with disability in Europe.
ONCE is a great example of how a national lottery system can help raise funds for the cause of promoting accessibility. The foundation is funded mainly from the sale of charity lottery tickets, the famous Cupóns available from kiosks and individual sellers who have become a typical feature in Spanish cities.
Accessible tourism is becoming a mainstream concern in more and more countries, as the baby boomer generation enters retirement age without losing their eagerness to travel. No wonder, then, that geoweb applications such as Wheelmap and OpenRouteService’s new wheelchair routing feature meet with a lot of interest from stakeholders.
Our workshop sought, in particular, to contribute to an exchange and deeper understanding between two major groups of stakeholders, firstly technology developers and providers of data infrastructure (including the OSM community) and secondly end-users of information on accessibility of the built environment, such as people with limited mobility and organisations representing their interests.
Among the tools we presented was our wheelchair navigation app for mobile phones, which helps persons with limited mobility select the best route to reach a destination and guides them there. It is fed by Heidelberg University’s OpenRouteService and integrates information from Wheelmap.org about accessibility of places. Work is ongoing on using landmarks (rather than distances) for providing instructions en-route. Download the first version of the tool from http://cap4navi.geog.uni-heidelberg.de/download.
We are very grateful to the Advisory Board Members Dr Ivor Ambrose (ENAT), Dr David Banes (MADA Qatar Assistive Technology Center), Michiel Desmet and Karl Thiry (On Wheels Belgium), Martina Götz (City of Heidelberg), Henk Hoff (OSM Foundation), Angelika Laburda (ENAT) and Tatiana Alemán Selva (PREDIF) for providing hands-on advice and support regarding our work in progress.