An App to Map the City's Most Accessible Routes

Google Maps is built for able-bodied people, but the AccessMap Seattle app is for everyone.

September 12, 2019, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Accesible Mobility

Blu Pixel / Shutterstock

Megan Wildhood shares news of a website and mobile app called AccessMap Seattle, where "users can find streets color-coded for steepness (green for flat, yellow for moderate, and red for steep), and the locations of curb cuts, bus stops, and elevators, as well as construction sites, which tend to sprawl and block crosswalks and sidewalks."

Nick Bolten, developer of AccessMap Seattle, is now partnering with Anat Caspi, director of The Taskar Center for Accessible Technology at the University of Washington, to further develop the app, especially in identifying different mobility challenges facing people with special needs. And there plenty of complications in the world:

The diversity of disability also complicates data collection: A map of sidewalks, curb cuts, or steepness of streets might not be sufficient for those with limited mobility. For example, are there major cracks in the sidewalk because of disrepair, tree roots, or other damage? Does the sidewalk slope at an angle dangerous to wheelchair users? To source such varying data, the AccessMap team is considering GPS navigation app Waze as a model.

The app is still in development, but some users are already testing the app. "Eventually, the team hopes, it could benefit those with mobility limitations who navigate Seattle, especially those without knowledge of the city’s lesser-known accessible routes. And it could also benefit the larger public by producing data to drive forward discussions of access and ability," writes Wildhood.

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