Australian lawyer and entrepreneur Matthew Pierri created the app, SociAbility, in order to fill an “unmet need” in the disabled community.
The app is intended make it easier for disabled people in finding out which pubs, cafes, bars, and restaurants are accessible.
Pierri, who recently completed a Master of Public Policy at the University’s Blavatnik School of Government, based the idea from his own experiences as a wheelchair user in Oxford. He is the CEO and founder of the project.
The app provides details such as the number of steps, if a ramp is available, how wide the doors are, or how big the bathroom is at a particular venue.
It is reported to be launching in June this year. The app’s supporters include The Oxford Hub, Lincoln College, and the University’s Van Houten Fund.
The SociAbility website states: “By making it quick, easy, and free to find access information, SociAbility is empowering people with access needs to enjoy greater social engagement, and to socialise with greater confidence, purpose, and ease.”
It also highlights its potential effects on the social spaces themselves, arguing that “SociAbility helps [venue owners] to better appreciate how these [accessibility] barriers might be affecting your business.”
Matt Pierri told Cherwell: “SociAbility is an ambitious start-up working to empower disabled people to enjoy greater social engagement and inclusion.
“Right now, it’s simply too difficult to find out whether a venue is accessible or not. For the millions of people with access needs worldwide, this can make socialising with family and friends stressful and unenjoyable.
“The SociAbility app makes it quick and easy to find detailed, reliable and accurate access information for local venues (cafés, restaurants, bars etc) and shops. We’re building a database for the community, by the community.”
“Simply download the app, fill in key access details about your favourite venues (eg. the number of stairs, door widths, photos), and help make the world a more sociable place for all!
“This is access information that works – get the details you need to judge accessibility for yourself. We need your help, Oxford! Join the community by signing up on our website at www.sociability.app!”
You can follow SociAbility’s progress on their Twitter, @sociabilityapp, where you can find latest updates.