Victorian-based service provider Villa Maria has this week launched an Australian first free smart-phone app to help carers and people with a disability find accessible venues and events in Melbourne.
Out & About – Accessing Your Community, which is currently available for Apple mobile devices, allows users to search for parks, toilets, cafes, shops and leisure and entertainment venues by suburb or distance from current location.
The search can be filtered by accessibility and venue type preferences. Venue and event locations can then be viewed on a map or in a list along with a description and list of accessibility features.
Villa Maria has created the app to make it easier for carers and people with a disability or mobility limitations to plan a day out, said Rebecca Ryan, Villa Maria’s executive manager, marketing, who described the app as an Australian first for its scope and functionality.
“The Out & About app puts information people need into the palm of their hand. People can use the [app] before they leave home or when they’re out and about,” Ms Ryan said.
“Unlike static websites which list accessible venues, the app is location based, so when you’re out and about in Melbourne, you can look up accessible places or events that are nearby, Ms Ryan said.
Users can log in and leave a review to help other users as well as suggest or recommend accessible venues and events to be added via the feedback tool.
“It’s a community-powered platform where people can suggest venues for inclusion and rate them by answering a couple of easy questions.
“They can also look out for the top rating venues, which receive a highly recommended ribbon,” Ms Ryan said.
To enhance the effectiveness of the app, Villa Maria is calling on individuals and businesses to get involved by suggesting additional places.
“We can’t do it alone; this is a community project. We are asking everyone with an interest in accessible communities to download the app, try it out, rate places and suggest more for inclusion,” Ms Ryan said.
Villa Maria’s immediate aim is to refine the app and the content in metropolitan Melbourne before making it available for Android devices and expanding it to other Victorian regions, Ms Ryan said.
“Over time as it grows we hope that Out & About will become the go-to app for carers and people with mobility limitations.”
There has also been some interest from interstate organisations but as Villa Maria is a Victorian organisation there are no plans to expand it interstate right now, she said.
The app is available now for free download from iTunes. To find out more, or submit a venue or upcoming event to be included in the resource, go to outandaboutapp.com.au.