There are around 185 million wheelchair-users worldwide. Additionally, there are many more who are mobility impaired either constantly, or at one point in their lives. Think about senior citizens with a walking aid or parents with a stroller. Barriers in public environments constantly prevent mobility-impaired people from free movement and participation. A narrow doorway here, a step there - that’s all it takes.
To make things worse, information on the accessibility of public places is poorly available. Hence, mobility-impaired people are shut out from public transport, restaurants, shopping etc.. This lack of participation and visibility in society is not contributive to an inclusive society. However, 155 countries committed themselves to guaranteeing the full inclusion and participation of people with a disability by signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Charter of Human Rights, Chapter 4). So, it’s time to change things.
Barriers + No Information = No Mobility, No Participation, No Inclusive Societies
Raul Krauthausen created a tool that empowers the global ‘accessibility community’ to collectively promote their interests and to enforce change. While working for the Right Livelihood Award and a radio call-in show for people in emotional distress, he was confronted with social issues that added up to his own experiences as a mobility-impaired person. Fed up with waiting for change to happen he thought ‘Let’s just start!’. Together with a friend who was tired of meeting at the one wheelchair accessible place they knew in the neighborhood, he started the Wheelmap. The simple idea was to create an easy to use and sustainable online tool that people could use to share their knowledge so that others could benefit from it and find information on the wheelchair accessibility of public places.