After much planning, code writing, and discussions about our methodology and how our search and review platform should work, we are excited to announce that on June 3, the NEW AbiliTrek is going live and will be available to YOU! This online hospitality tool is for persons with disabilities to better navigate their hometown as well as other cities when planning everything from going to restaurants and coffee shops to staying at hotels.
Both the travel and service industries are behind in accommodating accessibility needs. When a place is not accessible, one tends to not return. And, after enough strife, those of us with disabilities may just stop traveling all together lessening revenue for businesses. People with disabilities do love to travel, we do have money, and we are ready to use it to explore the world. The only question is, when will the world be ready for us to do so?
In 2010, the United States Census Bureau determined that one in five adults live with some sort of disability; today, nearly 52 million adults in the US have a disability. There is currently a mismatch between access and ability and this is the definition of disability. Access is the key to an equal opportunity; without access comes disability. Access is simply a set of tools that allow people to complete daily tasks throughout their lives; access is no different than a pair of glasses. Everyone, at some point in their life, will have an access need and therefore a disability.
The travel and service industries need to utilize the market from the disability community, now, and the only way to ensure this is by creating an accessible environment; this is crucial for the future of the economy, and with AbiliTrek, any business can answer this need for access.
The Unique Features of AbiliTrek
- The Personalized Profile: The profile is personalized; when creating a profile, one should answer the questions pertaining to their accessibility needs so AbiliTrek understands what each individual’s needs are.
- The Personalized Search Results: The search results are also personalized. AbiliTrek’s platform seeks to provide each individual with specific search results based on their accessibility needs specified in their personalized profile. Example: If a person searches “coffee in Bellingham” and has mobility preferences marked such as flat-in entrance and automatic door opener, but does not need any vision or hearing accommodations, a coffee shop that has stairs at the entrance but provides a braille menu would not be accessible to this person and therefore the rating will come up as poor and indicated by a red wheelchair. However, this same coffee shop would be accessible to anyone who needs a braille menu and can access stairs. For this person, the accessibility rating would be calculated as good and indicated by a green eye.
- The Personalized Review(s): Reviews can be personalized in that the questions asked are based on the answers given in one’s profile. However, no matter what one’s accessibility needs are, anyone can create a review on all mobility questions, all vision questions, all hearing questions or all questions as well.
- Not just accessibility: AbiliTrek is an innovative search and review platform in that it provides search results based on accessibility needs. However, AbiliTrek provides a “one-stop search” in that it not only provides the highly necessary accessibility aspects of an entity but the price range as well. This means one does not have to cross-check a location, such as a restaurant, with another rating and reviewing site.
Providing complete access to an additional 20% of the population can improve the long-term revenue for businesses. AbiliTrek provides a platform for the disability community to spread the knowledge on where it is and is not accessible for people. The more there are reviews about places that are accessible and inclusive for people, the more those with disabilities will enjoy their trek; therefore, potentially sharing their positive experience with others or returning themselves. Accessibility is not just good for the consumer, but for the business as well!
In the long-run, we hope that AbiliTrek will not only become a wealth of knowledge for people traveling with disabilities, but a positive reinforcement for entities to become more accessible to more people. People return to places that are welcoming to them, this includes accessibility. AbiliTrek will show where it is and is not accessible, funneling people in the direction of accessible locations. Once businesses realize accessibility is a competitive advantage and helps their bottom line, this benefit will create competition to be more accessible than the rest. Businesses need to realize that investing in accessibility is not only financially beneficial but no matter the business benefit, it is time to start asking how to make places more accessible, not why. Every one of us may have a different access need, but we are all human and desire to be treated as so. AbiliTrek recognizes this and we hope that our new platform will help others understand this concept as well.