In today’s world, many people, especially Millennials, are choosing where to live based on a community’s walkability. This rating is calculated from multiple factors, including easy access to public transportation, work, shopping, and entertainment. Basically, the more walkable the community, the less you need an automobile to get around. However, many times a community’s walkability score does not correspond to accessibility for people with disabilities.
Walkscore.com has ranked cities and neighborhoods across the United States. The top five most walkable cities include:
- New York
- San Francisco
However, while there are scores for walkability, being transit friendly, and bike friendliness, what is conspicuously missing is an accessibility score. Project Sidewalk, currently in beta from the Makeabilty Lab at the University of Maryland, is working to end this problem. It is a simple fact that, despite great efforts and comprehensive legislation, many cities have limited accessibility for people with disabilities.
The project hopes to create an AccessScore that will help inform people of a community’s level of accessibility for people with disabilities. Moreover, a RouteAssist function and other accessibility tools will help people with disabilities map the best way around town, and avoid obstacles, all based on the user’s mobility level. Currently, Project Sidewalk is starting in Washington D.C., but is planning to expand to other cities soon.
You can help by participating in the project. Visit the Project Sidewalk audit page. After a short tutorial, you are shown Google Street View images. You can then virtually walk neighborhoods, labeling ramps, obstacles, missing sidewalks, and other challenges. Your involvement also helps to train the project’s algorithms to learn and automatically find these same issues.
What haven’t we covered yet that is important to you? If you have any ADA building access questions or need more information, please contact us.