Seattle can be a difficult place for someone in a wheelchair to get around. Construction, curbs, and hills are constant obstacles, but now people with mobility challenges have a new way to navigate.
"Necessity is the mother of invention," said Anat Caspi, director of the University of Washington Taskar Center for Accessible Technology. She's also the mother of a 4-year-old girl who is in a wheelchair.
It was Caspi's experiences as mom and at UW that motivated her to develop a new interactive guide called the Access Map.
It displays the locations of steep hills, curb ramps, construction closures, elevators, and bus stops throughout Seattle, and helps people in wheelchairs plan a trip that avoids those obstacles.
"A trip even five blocks away to the post office requires a circuitous route, because of curb cuts, for example," said Caspi.
This was true on a recent walk with her daughter Aviv, who has a muscular condition which has left her paralyzed and on a ventilator.
Now even parents with strollers and travelers with wheeled luggage are using the map to get around.
The technology is still in development. Soon, the team behind it hopes to add navigation, so the program will automatically plan the most accessible route.
Developers say they recently met with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to talk about ways to expand their program and help planners design a more accessible city.