Irish startup Access Earth is taking on the challenge of creating a crowdsourced map for people with disabilities.
Started by National University of Ireland Maynooth graduate Matt McCann, who has cerebral palsy and uses a walker to get around, Access Earth looks to become "the world's most accessible accessibility information platform." McCann was inspired to create the platform, after his own experiences with locations marketing themselves as accessible but not actually being up to code. In an interview with Mashable, McCann described a hotel that claimed to be accessible but, instead, had three steps leading up to the entrance and doorways too small for walkers and wheelchairs. "At that point, how are they accessible?" he said. With Access Earth, McCann hopes to build a global user-generated map that is searchable for data on accessibility in hotels, restaurants, stadiums, and more.
Currently, Access Earth has only two full-time employees: McCann and his business partner, Ryan O'Neill, who oversees the business development side of the platform. The two also have volunteers and friends helping out, as they seek to expand. Access Earth participated in Microsoft's Imagine Cup in Seattle and the Enactus World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa, though it did not win either of these contests. Access Earth's website is in beta, with a focus on Dublin, but anyone can register their interest in the service. Access Earth also offers an ambassador program for volunteers who will actively rate premises to add to the database and promote the app. "Within the next 12 months, we want to be in the United States as our second country," said O'Neill. "We built up some connections through competing in competitions over there, and that will be our next step."
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