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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

New app shows which Qatar venues are wheelchair, stroller-friendly

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

It’s not always easy to get around Qatar in a wheelchair or with a stroller.

To help residents with their navigation issues, a collection of government and private entities has launched a new app that classifies different venues in the country by their accessibility levels.

The Accessible Qatar mobile app allows users to search popular places based on whether they are friendly for those in a wheelchair, have visual or hearing issues, are mobility impaired or have learning difficulties.

According to which disability is chosen, the app color codes each venue as accessible (green), partially accessible (orange), inaccessible (red) and unaudited (gray).

Screenshot of the Accessible Qatar website's map view
Screenshot of the Accessible Qatar website\’s map view

Venues marked accessible or partially accessible provide information about how the location is and is not friendly to those with special needs.

For example, a wheelchair user can see if a particular place has ramps and elevators. Similarly, for somebody who is visually impaired, the map will identify which places have decent lighting and tactile paths.

In a statement, the app’s main developer, energy firm Sasol, explained:

“The objective of the application is to allow the disabled community and tourists to move about more confidently, knowing they can arrive and leave any spot without unwelcome surprises that limit access.

Moreover, having accessibility information publicly available on Accessible Qatar will encourage venues to make necessary modification in support of accessibility for all patrons.”

Hotspots

As the map zooms in, more locations are marked.

Fifty locations across Qatar have already been audited for the app, including retail stores, hotels and public parks.

MIA park
MIA park

For example, the MIA Park is rated not accessible (with a 1/4 score) for the visually impaired because it does not have good visual contrast, tactile paths or pre-visit information.

It does, however, have good lighting. Similarly, for wheelchair users, MIA Park is partially accessible with a 7/12 score.

It has ramps, maneuverability and specific routes, but no toilet accessibility or door accessibility.

The app also allows users to give feedback on the quality of accessibility by rating and commenting.

Group effort

The app was launched last week by Sasol in partnership with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME), Qatar Tourism Authority, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, the Translation and Interpreting Institute and Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL).

Prior to its debut, members of Qatar Social & Cultural Center for the Blind, the Qatari Center of Social Cultural, and Qatar University reviewed the app for improvements.

Launch of Accessible Qatar
Launch of Accessible Qatar

Once further audited, the app will allow attendees of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to view the accessibility of stadiums, said Fatma Al-Nuaimi, the SCDL’s Senior Legacy manager.

For now, however, it aims to makes the day-to-day lives of Qatar’s residents and tourists easier, she added.

Additionally, as part of efforts to make Qatar more accessible, Sasol is working with the MME to create Qatar’s first inclusive playground.

This will be installed in one Doha’s public parks and will include special features that allow disabled children to play safely.

Accessible Qatar is available for download on iOS, Android and Windows phones, and a desktop version if available on its website.

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