AccessNow empowers community of people living with disabilities to find access


Maayan Ziv understanding the struggle to find information on wheelchair accessibility first hand; growing up with spinal muscular atrophy, Ziv says one of the top questions she asks restaurant owners or hotel managers on a regular basis is whether or not a place is wheelchair accessible.

For the four million other Canadians like her living with a disability, Ziv launched AccessNow, one of the most recent pitches on The Disruptors. AccessNow is a crowdsourced web app that allows users can skim through restaurants, cafes, and hotels in their city to find out if that place has the accessibility features they need, such as elevators, ramps, or braille menus. For places that aren’t already on the map, users can contribute their own information to the directory. Currently, AccessNow is concentrated in Toronto, but people in other Canadian cities like Edmonton, as well as cities in the US and Europe, have begun adding pins.

“I launched AccessNow out of the need to solve my own problem, as someone with a disability myself, I’ve also encountered that frustration whenever I’m trying to find an accessible place,” said Ziv. “I figured, why not be able to provide a platform that would allow anyone who shares the same kind of barrier in their life to exchange information?”

Co-host Amber Kanwar said that while Google has the geolocation market down, startups like AccessNow are carving a niche in the market. “This is a great thing for all entrepreneurs to be able to do. It’s to borrow from somebody else’s playbook, but make it fit your needs.”

As Ziv is a member of The Next 36, co-host Bruce Croxon had the chance to meet with her in the past. “When you get an example of somebody that has lived their life a certain way, and then develops their app directly from a need they’ve experienced, it’s a recipe for success.”

Watch the whole pitch below:

BetaKit is a production partner on The Disruptors. Tune in to BNN every Thursday night at 7pm for full episodes!

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.

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