In September, the Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an announced ten winning teams in the first cycle of the Ma’an Social Incubator program.
One of them is Accessible Ad: A Platform for information, expertise, training and support to ensure effective accessibility for People of Determination in Abu Dhabi.
We wanted to know more and the following is an exclusive with the company in what will be a series of interviews to come with the other social entrepreneurs and winners of the Ma’an Social Incubator program.
AMEinfo: Why types of information, expertise and training is the platform offering?
Accessible Ad: We will be providing accessible information about services and facilities that are accessible and how they are accessible. For example, information about a restaurant that is accessible for wheelchair users, has menus in Braille, a hearing loop for people with hearing difficulties, has a fully accessible disabled toilet, has disabled parking facilities and the route from the parking space to the entrance has ramps that are useable by a wheel chair user who wants to access the place independently.
a. Is this free of charge for people of determination?
People of determination will be able to access the website and download and use the app free of charge.
b. How is the service made accessible to all people of determination?
The website and app is being designed and developed so that people of determination who require accessibility for auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech and visual needs can use them. They can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the app. We will adhere to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which has developed international Web standards for accessibility.
c. What kind of training are we talking about?
Identifying the environmental accessibility of a service or facility is only half way to making it fully accessible. It is important to ensure staff at those service providers and facilities are aware of how to support and provide an excellent experience and treat every visitor with dignity and respect. We will be offering bespoke training for staff on accessibility.
d. Why is information on the platform unique?
Accessible Apps are available in many countries/ cities around the world. The platform provides vital information for people with disabilities to access and enjoy services and facilities in their location. We want to provide people of determination in Abu Dhabi with that vital information so they too can access and enjoy the fantastic experiences that Abu Dhabi has to offer.
AMEinfo: How is the platform funded and what sustainable funding do you have in place?
Accessible Ad: The Ma’an Social Incubator program has provided the support needed to initially set up the platform. To make the platform sustainable, we will be providing consultation and training on accessibility. We are also looking for other funding sources to allow us to make Abu Dhabi accessible for everyone.
AMEinfo: Why have the needs that your platform addresses not been met before? Reasons for behind the project.
Accessible Ad: Accessible AD is an innovative solution to the social challenges of accessibility and aims to make Abu Dhabi accessible for everyone. We believe that accessibility is empowering and we want to work with businesses to identify, promote and enhance accessible services, facilities, spaces and information so that people of determination can access and enjoy the great experiences that Abu Dhabi has to offer. However, it is not just people of determination that require accessibility, everyone will benefit from making the spaces and places in Abu Dhabi more accessible. Accessibility will be required by everyone, at some stage in our lives. From families with young children to the increasing number of older people in the world. Making Abu Dhabi more accessible, makes good business sense. 15% of the global population have a disability, over 1 billion. 1.4 billion people travelled in 2018, estimates 20% have a disability. More and more spaces and places are making changes to meet accessibility requirements and this is attracting new customers. Businesses that offer accessibility will have a clear competitive edge over those that are not accessible. For example, in Europe, accessible tourism generates 400 billion euros in revenue and supports 9 million jobs; in the USA, $17.3 billion is spent by adults with disabilities on travel each year; in Australia, around 8 billion Australian dollars a year is spent by travelers with disabilities and in England, £12 billion is spent by travellers where a member of the group has accessibility requirements.
Around 1 in 7 people globally has some form of disability, including visual, hearing and physical impairments, and requires additional accessibility requirements. If you have accessibility requirements then a visit to a new place or space can be a challenging experience. That is why many People of Determination do not visit new places and spaces as the challenges of accessibility are difficult to overcome.
Being able to explore new parks; cultural centres; shopping malls or restaurants provides opportunities to socialise with family and friends and learn more about the rich culture of Abu Dhabi.
According to Insights, people with disabilities are generally ‘tech savvy’, with over 58% using mobile devices to support their travel needs. That’s why Accessible AD are creating an App that identifies and promotes accessible services and facilities in Abu Dhabi.
AMEinfo: Is this a UAE or only Abu Dhabi social entrepreneurship initiative and why?
Accessible Ad: The social entrepreneurship initiative is supported by Ma’an Social Incubator (MSI) Program offered by the Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an, in Abu Dhabi. Ma’an is a social innovation organisation and was established in February 2019 by the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi with the aim of ‘bringing together the government, the private sector and civil society to support a culture of social contribution and participation’. The MSI program focuses on encouraging social innovation and entrepreneurship in a competitive incubation space over a six-month period. The theme chosen for the inaugural MSI program was the social, recreational and economic integration of People of Determination and teams had to identify how their project would improve the overall well-being of People of Determination. Therefore our initial focus is on Abu Dhabi but we plan to grown and support the UAE and beyond to be accessible.