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A Public Transportation Game Changer for People Who Use Wheelchairs

With this new app, New Yorkers in wheelchairs will have an easier time getting around.

While Anthony Driscoll attended grad school at Parsons School of Design, his father, who has had multiple sclerosis since 2001, would come to visit. It was during these visits that Driscoll became acutely aware of the difficulties of navigating New York City in a wheelchair. They realized buses were wheelchair accessible, but maddeningly slow to utilize. After a while, Driscoll and his father decided that the 88 subway stations with elevators (out of the 468 total) were the best way to traverse the city.

But even then, as Driscoll describes on the Kickstarter page for Wheely, an app he is currently developing to help make New York a better experience for wheelchair users, there are complications. “The MTA subway is hard to decipher when looking for accessible stations and sometimes the elevators are out of service, which left us stranded,” Driscoll says. “I saw a gap in the market for a visualized accessible subway map and elevator statuses and decided to create Wheely.”

Dustin Jones (left) and Anthony Driscoll of Wheely

Driscoll and Dustin Jones, head of marketing and research at Wheely, have been creating a subway map simplified to display only the wheelchair accessible stations, and integrating Google Maps to give both exact GPS locations and street view images of the elevators. The app will also alert users to real-time elevator outages.

Driscoll says via email that the app was just submitted to the Apple App Store. “Literally just got the final build this morning,” he says.

While they have reached their first goal to build the app for iPhone, Driscoll says they still need to continue to raise funds to make it available for Android users, and eventually wants to expand Wheely to map the wheelchair accessible restaurants and venues in proximity to the 88 wheelchair accessible stations.

Photos courtesy Wheely

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