Perth: New app helps people in wheelchairs to plan ahead


Douglas Milne helped survey Kings Park and parts of Perth for the new app. Picture: Jon Hewson
Douglas Milne helped survey Kings Park and parts of Perth for the new app. Picture: Jon Hewson

AN app that maps cities to show the wheelchair accessibility of the area will launch in Perth later this year.

The app, Navability, is being developed by Sydney start-up Briometrix and the company has enlisted Perth wheelchair users to help collected relevant local data.

The app assesses the gradient of paths and wheelchair accessibility of other terrains to help wheelchair users plan the best route.

Briometrix managing director Natalia Verdon said there was a need to help people in wheelchairs use regular devices to help their everyday lives.

“We’re converting Google maps to wheelchair speak,” she told Community News.

“We recognised the wheelchair community was being underserviced in technology.”

Spinal Life Australia, a support network for people with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities, helped Briometrix find volunteers such as Douglas Milne to map Perth and rate the city’s wheelchair accessibility.

Mr Milne, of Cannington, went around Kings Park and parts of the city, providing information about how easy or difficult particular areas were for him to traverse.

Having been in a wheelchair since an accident in November 2010, he was certain a detailed app like Navability would help him a lot.

“It would absolutely change my life; it would encourage me to get out there in my wheelchair,” Mr Milne said.

“The public’s idea of accessibility is very different. One of the hardest things in a wheelchair; our eye line is lower than those walking. Curbs and paths are always an issue.”

“Toilets are a big issue as well.”

Ms Verdon said Briometrix wants to help wheelchair users get out, socialise and visit new places.

Mr Milne said people were unaware of the planning and research that people in wheelchairs do to perform everyday tasks, such as going to shops and restaurants.

“Knowing where to go without doing all this research would be such a time saver, we’re so time poor as it is,” he said.

“I moved into my house five years ago and I still haven’t bought a barbecue.

“When I drive past the store, I just sigh because the store does not have wheelchair access.

“They could help me out, but I want to do things myself.”