It can sometimes take a lot of planning to work out where to go out when you have a disability. If you are looking for somewhere to relax, spend time with friends, celebrate an achievement, or explore somewhere new, you may need an accessible venue or need to be close to public transport or a car park.
Until recently, perhaps you needed to make phone calls to venues to ask about accessibility. Or you may have looked up accessibility websites or read Divine.
Now a new app aims to revolutionise the experience of going out for many people in the community. Out & About is a free app, accessed using an iPhone or iPad, that provides wider social options for people with a disability. It does this by providing information about accessible venues and events across Melbourne.
The app was launched on the weekend by Villa Maria who is one of Victoria’s largest providers of disability, education and senior services. People at the launch day enjoyed food, sports and various music groups including Orchestra Victoria.
Australian Network on Disability is a not-for-profit organisation that advances the inclusion of people with a disability in all areas of business. It found there were no Australian accessibility apps that covered museums or concert halls or allowed businesses to register their accessibility features.
Out & About fills this crucial gap. Businesses, app users and the general public can contribute to Out and About by adding venues to the app. Over time users will increasingly benefit by being able to locate a greater number of accessible venues.
Rebecca Ryan from Villa Maria says,
It is a vibrant, useful tool, which will only continue to grow and be made better.
It is also hoped that it will serve as an incentive for businesses to improve their accessibility.
How does it work?
To find information users filter criteria on Out & About. You can filter by suburb or where you are, the place you want to go to (for example, a park, beach, cafe, museum, business, restaurant) and the kind of accessibility required (for example, wheelchair user, limited walking/balancing ability, hearing or vision impaired, companion card friendly, nearby parking or public transport). When you have entered these search criteria the app then provides a list of potentially suitable venues.
The app allows users to give feedback and ratings on any venue for the benefit of other users, or to add any accessible venues or upcoming events not already on the app.
Ms Ryan says,
It is a tool that [people] can use, and help to grow and make better.
Out & About covers the whole of Greater Melbourne. Not every council or shire area has complete listings as yet, but the app will continue to become more populated over time. There are currently around 1500 venues on the app. The app is also useful for visitors to Melbourne who can use the app to find destinations either before they travel or once they arrive here.
We can all help
Using the app or Villa Maria’s website form, you can let Villa Maria know of any great accessible venues or upcoming events. Villa Maria hopes the wider community will become aware of this app over time so that it can continue to grow, and benefit the maximum number of users.