For those who use three or four wheels for personal mobility, you might be interested.  I have recently stumbled upon a website that lists places of business utilizing the Google GPS Format for mapping cities and towns in the US and other countries, and showing places of interest such as restaurants, hotels, parks, etc. as a general locater. The website allows its members to locate different areas of interest, click on a specific place shown and see if it has been rated according to accessibility or not.  Currently, since the site is so new, not many have been rated.

How it works; you can join for free and give your own personal rating of places you have visited according to certain accessible categories; such as entrance, bathrooms, crowded or spacious, noisy, accessible parking, etc.  The website is “Source Dependent”, meaning places are not automatically rated, but if someone has visited and rated a place, it will show that person’s ratings.  That someone is a member who took the time to put their evaluations into the program and rated places they have visited.  If it is already rated and you visit the place, you can also give it your rating.  Things may have changed, or even improved, since the previous rating had been posted.

I invite you to first just visit the website and look around, watch the videos to learn how it works before joining.  If you are interested, join and help populate the data for others to see.  It will be a great help for out-of-town visitors or even “locals” who would like to go a place but would like to know if it is wheelchair accessible or not.  This is a non-profit organization and the site was designed by a fellow wheel user.

I personally think it is a great idea and have already started putting in my ratings for the area in which I live, and other places outside my area that I have visited.  You can also do it from your Android smart phone or tablet while you are there.  There is a comment section where you could rate an entrance a four star out of five but it has a three, four or two inch step entrance, or several steps, but the facility has a ramp they will put down for a wheelchair to gain access.  A short tutorial video is also on the website showing how actual people rate places.

Remember, the website will only work if people like us populated it with data.  It works anywhere there is a built in Google mapping capability, I think.  I’m still trying it out.  Those in the UK might try it also.  If you like it, pass it onto your contacts and friends.  (p.s. Able Bodied people can also join in on it).  If you are a member of other organizations besides the TMA, pass this information on to those who are members there with you.

I’ve been in a wheelchair as a paraplegic with one arm using a power chair for mobility since 1994 and could really have made use of this information when traveling outside my area.  I’m looking forward to lots of data being put in so others can use it in the future.

Happy wheeling; I’m off to see what I can rate with my I-Phone.

~ Bob Cook from Spring, Texas