An online platform to help disabled and deaf people find access information online for any location such as a shop, cinema, cultural event or town centre, based on the recommendations and comments of others, is set to go into beta testing next month.
The ‘GoGenie’ pilot project is initially focused on the West Midlands. Its development phase was supported by the Arts Council England Digital Content Development programme and support for the pilot has come from NESTA’s Reboot Britain programme.
Alison Smith, director of GoGenie developer Pesky People, told E-Access Bulletin the project is aimed at “taking the best of social media and using it for the benefit of everyone in planning a visit. We are not replacing existing social networks, we are working with them and enhancing them.”
The result could embrace a mix of technologies including smartphone apps and tools that can be embedded into partner websites, with each format being shaped by its disabled and deaf users, Smith said. “We are not waiting until it is perfect and launching it – the whole point of crowdsourcing is to be organic.”
Other partners for the pilot include Telford and Wrekin Council; the arts marketing agency Audiences Central; and community theatre and dance organisers Black Country Touring. “We are also in discussion with a number of cultural organisations outside of the region,” said Smith. “The pilot has an emphasis on cultural venues but has potential for wider application.”
Various members of the wider digital community, such as Will Perrin of local networking group Talk About Local and Nick Booth of community social media specialists Podnosh, have been major supporters of the project from its outset, she said. “Much of what we are doing has been influenced by attending hack days, unconferences, and networking – very much the opposite end of formal conference events and the way businesses usually operate within the sector.”
This approach brought unexpected success recently when a partnership forged with the design for all consultancy Enabled By Design and others to create an android mobile phone app in less than 24 hours ended up winning an award at Interactivism, a ‘hackday’ focused on finding accessible solutions for older people. The day was hosted by consultancy FutureGov and Google, and the mobile phone app ‘Spotted’ won the Gransnet award for most useful app.